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"acquainted with the needs and opinions of the fishing community of the district".
We do not want the IFCAs to be unwieldy. As the hon. Member for Brecon and Radnorshire (Mr. Williams) knows, we love committees in Wales, but it is good to have them doing something instead of just existing, and IFCAs will need to be very effective and efficient. Also represented on the IFCAs should be
"persons with knowledge of, or expertise in, marine environmental matters."
The new IFCAs have been welcomed by a wide range of stakeholders. They will have a clear duty to ensure that the exploitation of sea fisheries resources is carried out sustainably, and they will have a greater focus than the sea fisheries committees on the impact of fishing activity on wider marine eco-systems. That is part and parcel of the Bill. Significantly, IFCAs will have a new duty to protect the marine environment and promote its recovery from the effects of exploitation.
Martin Salter: I thank the Minister for that clarification. He will be aware of representations from the Angling Trust, which broadly welcomes this Bill, that the current composition of sea fisheries committees has left the recreational angling sector very poorly represented. Will that wrong be put right? In addition, the current system allows local authority representatives to name substitutes, if someone cannot make a meeting. It is important that that right is extended to other stakeholders, who will have an active role to play in the new IFCAs.
Huw Irranca-Davies: I confirm that what we all want-and what the Bill is designed to do-is to ensure that those interests represented on the IFCAs are genuinely representative. Where there is a strong recreational sea-angling fraternity-or sorority-in an area, it will want to have its say as well. Having that local determination and representing genuinely local interests is key, including in Newlyn, for example, where there are significantly different types of fisheries. Whether those involved are commercial or recreational anglers, they need to be able to have their say.
The balance of members appointed by the MMO to each IFCA will reflect the economic, social and environmental needs of that IFCA. Members will therefore be appointed according to the relevant expertise that they bring, which is the right way to proceed. The detail of the appointment process will be drafted in guidance, which will be helpful to members and which we will consult on in 2010. That will help to ensure that the membership of each IFCA has the right representation and knowledge across all the relevant sectors, exactly as I have been saying. Given the level of sea angling in the inshore area, however, we expect sea anglers to continue to be represented on IFCAs.
Andrew George: The Minister has mentioned Newlyn. He will be aware that there are conflicts between different fishing sectors operating within the 6-mile zone, and also out to the 12-mile zone, although we are primarily talking about the 6-mile zone. He has referred to clause 151, and although I do not expect him to prescribe the answers today, will he acknowledge that there are conflicts among recreational sea anglers, as well as among different inshore fishing sectors? That, too, needs to be resolved through the process that he is describing.
Huw Irranca-Davies: I agree. There are, and will continue to be, different priorities in different parts of the fishing fraternity. However, one of the benefits of the consultation will be that those interests are genuinely represented in that process. That does not mean that there will not be difficult challenges that will require people to sit down and agree the priorities in their IFCA area. However, the important thing is first to ensure that the membership is properly representative and then to argue that out. The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right that the worst possible way forward would be for a Minister to prescribe exactly who should be on or to say arbitrarily, "We'll make sure that we have one recreational sea angler, one rod-and-line angler," and so on. That is not the way, because things will differ among the 10 IFCA areas.
Huw Irranca-Davies: Not only will the IFCA membership be decided in consultation, but everybody will have the opportunity to put their views forward. I am sure that some people will feel that they are not represented fully, but that can change from time to time as well. We are enhancing the membership of IFCAs, so that they will have more than the traditional expertise of sea fisheries committees. It is worth putting on record the fact that there is a genuine body of expertise in sea fisheries committees around the country, but we are talking about an enhanced role, with other people involved. Rather than having me prescribe what will happen, everyone will have the opportunity in the consultation to put in their two-penn'orth about who should be represented.
The hon. Member for St. Ives talked about disagreements, which touches on the point that the hon. Member for Leominster (Bill Wiggin) has just raised. If there are disagreements, there is a duty in clause 169 for IFCAs to co-operate with other local bodies. We expect them to work closely together, as they do now. Local issues should be looked at locally, without nanny-state interventions or a Big Brother or big Minister stepping in. We are confident, by and large, that it will be possible to resolve such issues locally.
The hon. Member for St. Ives asked why we have chosen a five-year review and how disagreements will be resolved in between. New clause 4 says "no later than" every five years. A review could therefore be conducted sooner if, for example, there were representations from a relevant body, or if the Secretary of State decided, in respect of representations made to him, that there was a need to review the situation on the ground.
I welcome the support of the hon. Member for Broxbourne (Mr. Walker) and his work on the issue over some time. It is pertinent that he has recognised that the new clauses and amendments deliver common sense-we cannot always say that about legislation, but they are common sense. My hon. Friend the Member for Reading, West (Martin Salter) was challenged on the definition-I understand the point about the definition. This is a practical way forward. It will not be necessary arbitrarily to define the definition, because it will be known from the people who are out there doing the work and patrolling. The amendment will allow a local definition to be introduced. I welcome the support of my hon. Friend and others as the Bill went through Committee; it delivers common sense.
I welcome the intervention by the hon. Member for Castle Point (Bob Spink), who is a strong advocate on behalf of his constituents and the fleet in his area. In the light of the comments that I have just made, I confirm that IFCAs will receive representations from fishing interests, and I have tried to make it clear that we want to ensure that those interests are genuinely represented, as clause 151(2)(a) provides.
The hon. Member for Brecon and Radnorshire referred to Wales, and I am pleased that it has arisen early in the debate. Who speaks for Wales? The hon. Member for Brecon and Radnorshire rose to his feet. Nothing in the Bill requires the Welsh Assembly Government to obtain permission from my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on IFCAs and delegations. The Bill does not require that, and I shall explain why.
I thank the hon. Gentleman for tabling amendment 27, which is pertinent. His intention is to allow Welsh Assembly Ministers the same flexibility as that prescribed
for England in Government amendments to delegate IFCA functions. However, the stated intention of my colleagues in the Welsh Assembly Government, from the start of the Bill, was to take the same functions as IFCAs in-house and explicitly not to allow delivery of those functions by other bodies. That is the premise on which we proceeded.
In response to that, the Bill does not prevent Welsh Assembly Ministers from working closely with the Environment Agency to ensure good management of the inshore area, including estuaries. The Government of Wales Act 2006 and the Environment Act 1995 allow the National Assembly for Wales to pass secondary legislation at the request of the Environment Agency, and for agency officers to be cross-warranted to enforce against the legislation.
Huw Irranca-Davies: I shall explain the contrast and then give way. That is not the case for the Government amendments on IFCAs. Welsh Assembly Ministers already have the power to make legislation on behalf of the Environment Agency and to delegate functions to the agency. That power would not be available to IFCAs in England without the amendments tabled by my hon. Friends in Committee, which we have introduced. I understand the intention in amendment 27, and it seems sensible, but raising the matter so late in the process, without the scope to be clear about how accountability of the functions could be ascertained, does not seem right. The Bill can and does deliver to Welsh Assembly Ministers the powers that they requested. I urge the House to leave further flexibility for delegation to be given due consideration by Welsh Assembly Ministers, and to be dealt with by other legislative means, at their behest rather than in the Bill.
Mr. Williams: I thank the Minister for spelling out the matter in such great detail. Is he saying that the Welsh Assembly has the power to make secondary legislation to achieve those powers, rather than having to return to this House for a statutory instrument to provide the powers?
Huw Irranca-Davies: No, that is not exactly the case. However, the situation on the ground in Wales means that by virtue of the function of the Welsh Assembly Government to take these powers in-house-the Welsh Assembly Government will effectively become the IFCA for Wales-they already have the power to make delegations. If they were to want such powers, they would indeed have to return here, and I am sure that, on these Benches at least, we would be open to that possibility. As I hope that I have explained, the history of the journey to reach this part of the Bill was very much predicated on, and reflects the initial concerns and interests of, Welsh Assembly Government Ministers.
Attempting to unravel all this at such a late stage would be complex: it would involve more than amendment 27, as there would be a great deal of detailed
read-across in respect of much of the Bill. We are now in the final stages-I hope so, Mr. Deputy Speaker-of this landmark Bill, and I do not want to revisit an issue as fundamental as this one, particularly when the trajectory that we followed was initially set by Welsh Assembly Government Ministers. Welsh Assembly Government Ministers have some flexibility to delegate functions, even though they are taken in-house, but the situation in England is very different. We need to provide this flexibility to the IFCAs we are setting up, so that they can work collaboratively on the ground.
To clarify, Welsh Ministers have the power to make orders that would assist the Environment Agency to undertake management functions on inshore fisheries. There is some flexibility, as I have said, but this would need to be brought back to this House to provide the sort of mechanism that the hon. Member for Brecon and Radnorshire is asking for.
With the assurance that what we have now is a genuine undertaking reached in discussion with Welsh Government Assembly Ministers very early on, which explains how we have got to where we are, and with the flexibility to take the matter in-house and to issue other ways of working to the Environment Agency, I hope that the hon. Gentleman will feel confident enough to withdraw the amendment. There may be a future opportunity to provide the sort of mechanism that he wants, but it is not appropriate right here or right now.
Mr. Williams: I thank the Minister again for going into so much detail, but he will understand that there are still some reservations about this, particularly the fact that the Welsh Assembly will have to come back to this place to assume powers that are now available to IFCAs-and only with the permission and consent of the Secretary of State. I understand the Minister's point that it would be a complex matter to table further amendments at this stage, but is there no possibility of doing so in the other place?
Huw Irranca-Davies: No, not least because, now that the Bill has come through Public Bill Committee and travelled through the other place with extensive deliberations having already taken place, the process of rewriting complex and detailed further amendments-not just the hon. Gentleman's amendment 27-would be extremely difficult, because of the scores of read-across issues. I have to say that that prospect is too nightmarish to behold at this stage. We are now at a certain point in the parliamentary cycle and at a certain point in the Bill's passage. If we were in the pre-consultation period-we should bear in mind that, with all the lobbying, the Bill has already taken six years or longer to get to this point-we might be able to build this concept into the Bill. As I have said, however, to unravel all that now would be to the detriment of the chances of this Bill ever succeeding.
Welsh Ministers will have the same level of powers to manage fisheries as will be available to IFCAs in England. In those cases where Welsh Ministers want to delegate functions to the Environment Agency, they would need to make orders on behalf of that agency-and they can. This would enable them to ensure good management of the inshore areas, including estuaries, in Wales. Welsh Ministers have argued in the past that the inability of the Environment Agency to introduce legislation for sea
fisheries would interfere with the lead role in implementation of the water framework directive and make it more difficult for Wales to comply with WFD obligations. That relates to the quality of water, fish and invertebrate fauna.
It will be possible for Welsh Ministers to make statutory instruments on the request of the Environment Agency. Although this will not be as flexible as giving the agency direct powers to make legislation, the Welsh Assembly Government chose to bring inshore fisheries management powers in-house, thereby complicating any subsequent proposal to delegate them. The Welsh Assembly Government would effectively give the agency powers to make byelaws. The issue would require considered, careful exploration. In the time available, it would be extremely difficult to draft a sensible proposal, with input not only from the Welsh Assembly Government but from external stakeholders.
Martin Salter: May I throw the Minister another argument that he might wish to pray in aid? If the Welsh Assembly Government and Welsh Ministers are so concerned about the issue, why, when the Bill is one of the most scrutinised pieces of legislation before Parliament and spent the best part of a year in a Joint Committee, did we get not a peep out of the Welsh Assembly Government?
Huw Irranca-Davies: My hon. Friend has made a helpful intervention. I would not want to say that the co-ordination with the Welsh Assembly Government has been less than exceptionally good throughout the Bill, but sometimes items come forward relatively late in the day, when the Bill has formed itself in a certain way and is hugely difficult to unravel. I hope that the hon. Member for Brecon and Radnorshire, whose amendment is well intended, understands that such a change is completely infeasible at this time. However, as a result of the Bill, WAG will take IFCAs in-house and be able to delegate functions, by order, to the Environment Agency. They have flexibility, although it might not be as neat as they now want. However, they can get on with it, which will be a massive improvement.
(b) the Secretary of State is satisfied that at least one of the purposes or functions of the body, or bodies of the description, to be added to the list is, or is related to or connected with, an inshore marine function.
(4) In this section "inshore marine function" means any function which relates to, or whose exercise is capable of affecting, the whole or any part of the English inshore region.'.- (Huw Irranca-Davies.)
(3) An approval given under section [Power to enter into agreements with eligible bodies](1) may provide that subsection (1) or (2) of this section does not apply (or that both of them do not apply).'.- (Huw Irranca-Davies .)
(2) An IFC authority may, under an agreement, authorise an eligible body to perform a function even though, under the enactment or subordinate legislation conferring that function on the IFC authority,-
(a) the function is conferred on the IFC authority by reference to specified circumstances or cases and the same type of function is conferred on the eligible body in different specified circumstances or cases,
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