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Nick Ainger: In light of the Minister’s assurances that something will be brought forward on Report, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause 141 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Clauses 142 to 144 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Schedule 10 agreed to.
Clauses 145 and 146 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Schedules 11 and 12 agreed to.
Clauses 147 and 148 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Schedule 13 agreed to.

Clause 1

The Marine Management Organisation
Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.
Mr. Richard Benyon (Newbury) (Con): May I seek your guidance, Mr. Gale? I have a clause stand part query. We had a very good debate on Tuesday about the planning side of the legislation. The Committee came to a decision that needs to be reflected in this part of the Bill. I very much hope that that will happen so that the Bill is kept balanced.
The Chairman: I will take that as a point of order. I will allow the Minister to make an observation in a moment. However, if I understand the hon. Gentleman correctly, I have to say that we must consider the clause as it is, not as we would like it to be, because there are no amendments tabled.
Huw Irranca-Davies: Thank you for giving me some latitude, Mr. Gale. I will try to be helpful and to bring some clarity.
Following our debate and subsequent vote on Tuesday morning, I have had some time to reflect on the strong views of the Committee on some of the proposals, including those put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Test. In response to our discussion about furthering sustainable development, which is material to the clauses we are coming to, he said:
“My hon. Friend makes a strong point about the comparative read-across of wording in the Bill, with other pieces of legislation that have or may not have a bearing on it. Schedule 5, however, is only relevant to the Bill and does not read across to other Acts. An amendment to that schedule, particularly to paragraph 7, could reflect the substance of this amendment. If he tabled such an amendment on Report he might secure a great degree of cross-party support.”——[Official Report, Marine and Coastal Access Public Bill Committee, 30 June 2009; c. 18.]
I can report to the Committee what has happened in the very short period since that debate. An amendment of such scale and potential impact would read across to Whitehall Departments and devolved colleagues—of course this is a UK Bill. On reflection, I am minded to take constructively my hon. Friend’s comments and to work with other Departments, devolved colleagues and members of the Committee in the weeks ahead to try to introduce something on Report that will satisfy my hon. Friend.
We need to make sure that the Bill maintains the right balance. The question surrounding a reporting function on the furthering of sustainable development is important, but placing such a duty on the Marine Management Organisation or making it part of a marine policy statement would risk causing an imbalance among the various interests under the Bill.
Mr. Benyon rose—
Huw Irranca-Davies: I shall give way to the hon. Gentleman.
The Chairman: Order. The Minister cannot give way on a point of order—and I take it that he is making a point of order. If the Minister has finished, I will be quite prepared to call the hon. Member for Newbury, but the Minister cannot give way.
Huw Irranca-Davies: My apologies, Mr. Gale.
As I have said, I am willing to work with members of the Committee, and across Whitehall Departments and the devolved Administrations, to consider how to address genuine concerns about furthering sustainable development, but we are looking for an appropriate place to put it in the Bill. Given the constructive comments that were made on Tuesday morning, I urge hon. Members not to imbalance the Bill by imposing such a duty on the MMO or in the MPS. I might have to address those issues at a later stage, but I urge hon. Members to explore the constructive approach, as I am willing to do, of introducing a measure at a later stage, rather than imposing something elsewhere in the Bill.
Mr. Benyon rose—
The Chairman: Further to that point of order.
Mr. Benyon: Yes, Mr. Gale.
I am interested by the Minister’s development of the suggestion made by the hon. Member for Southampton, Test, but we have the opportunity of balancing the Bill later and accepting the Committee’s earlier decision. My worry about this part of the Bill is that the MMO will not be as strong as many of us would like. If we do not balance the Bill—I am choosing my words extremely carefully, as I do not want to re-enter a debate that we concluded on Tuesday—we will further weaken it. I want a strong MMO, so I believe that we have to reflect the decision that the Committee made on Tuesday.
The Chairman: All that might be true, but none of it is a matter for the Chair. When I say that it might be true, I mean that it might not be as well—I do not wish to take sides in this argument. It is for the usual channels to sort this out and to table such amendments as may be necessary. I repeat that it is not a matter for the Chair. The only question for the Committee at the moment is whether clause 1 should stand part of the Bill.
Question put and agreed to.
Clause 1 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 1

The Marine Management Organisation
Mr. Benyon: I beg to move amendment 4, in schedule 1, page 227, line 11, at end insert—
‘Chief engineering adviser
15A (1) The MMO must appoint a person to be its chief engineering adviser.
(2) The chief engineering adviser is an employee of the MMO.
(3) The MMO may only make an appointment under sub-paragraph (1) with the approval of the Secretary of State as to any terms and conditions of employment not falling within paragraph 17 or 18.’.
Science and engineering are very different disciplines. This will address the needs of an engineering discipline, such as marine renewable energy. Therefore the MMO will be allowed to appoint a Chief Engineering Adviser.
The amendment would provide that a chief engineering adviser would be appointed to work alongside the chief scientific adviser in the MMO. With renewable energy technology changing at such a rapid pace, and given the importance of climate change mitigation within the marine environment—I have tabled other amendments related to that area—it is important that the MMO is equipped with the appropriate expertise to deal with this very important area of marine management.
Science and engineering are very different disciplines, although there is a common misconception that they are synonymous. The appointment of a chief scientific adviser to the MMO is important for marine conservation, but it will not necessarily cover the needs of climate change mitigation and marine renewable energy. The appointment of a chief engineering advisor would be beneficial to a range of other marine users and industrial user groups, including those related to ports, cables and dredging. I re-emphasise that there is a rapid movement in green energy technologies, particularly in the marine environment, and the MMO needs to be equipped to deal with them. It needs to be able to give the Secretary of State good engineering advice. In addition, in its capacity as the champion of our seas, if it is properly to consider the sustainable green development of areas of our ocean, it needs to have the correct engineering advice.
Mr. Hugo Swire (East Devon) (Con): I rise to support the amendment. I would have thought that the proposal was fairly uncontentious; indeed, I am rather surprised that such a measure is not in the Bill. If the MMO is to function properly, it must take into account all competing demands and certainly the development of green energy. I wonder whether I am losing the Minister’s attention, Mr. Gale—[Interruption.] Ah, the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland will respond to the debate, which just shows the importance of having two people. That is why we need a chief engineering advisor and a chief scientific advisor—in case one or the other is off.
Offshore technology of one sort of another will be in demand in a lot of the areas we are talking about. We have already touched on offshore wind farms and wave projects, and a good wave project down in Plymouth is being funded by the South West of England Regional Development Agency, as the hon. Member for Plymouth, Sutton will know. Such projects will require infrastructure and cabling—the energy must be brought onshore—but a chief scientific advisor is not necessarily the correct person to make judgments on those things. He would be well backed up by a chief engineering advisor, and the two people working together would cover almost every conceivable eventuality. The disciplines are different, and an engineering adviser would add to the MMO. I hope the Government will accept the amendment.
Andrew George: I support the amendment. Given the strategic importance of the UK’s marine energy resource, the timely delivery of renewable energy targets should surely be part of the MMO’s remit and objectives. The fact is that some in the renewable energy sector are concerned that the MMO will be answerable solely to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and not to other Departments, and therefore that the organisation might have too much of an environmental base and might not be sufficiently considerate of the Government’s climate change objectives. Those wider, global conservation considerations must surely be part of the MMO’s activities.
The hon. Member for East Devon mentioned the South West of England RDA’s wave hub project. In fact, it is not in Plymouth; it has been proposed and recently licensed for the north coast of my constituency. The cable will be set out from Hayle and anchored about 10 km off the north coast of my constituency. It is an exciting and experimental project, and it is vital that the UK takes the opportunity to lead the world in that aspect of scientific and engineering development. Such a window of opportunity has been provided by the licensing and preparatory work that is in place. I would be significantly reassured, not only on offshore wind facilities, which hon. Members have mentioned, but on tidal and wave renewables facilities, if the MMO had the capacity to consider not only the science, but the vital and complex engineering challenges that many stakeholders must consider. I hope that the Minister will take the amendment on board. Extending the appointments from science to engineering and ensuring that the organisation has such capacity is something that the Government should support.
1.30 pm
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Ann McKechin): Thank you, Mr Gale, good afternoon. Everyone will have welcomed the announcement early this morning that Christopher Parry will be chair designate of the Marine Management Organisation. That shows that we are making progress on the necessary preparations.
I do not accept the contention in the explanatory statement to the amendment:
“Science and engineering are very different disciplines.”
My late father spent many years lecturing thousands of engineering undergraduates in physics, and I am sure that he would say that science underpins an understanding of and is the basis of engineering. Engineering today requires knowledge of mathematics, physics, geology and biochemistry, particularly in the field of renewable energy, which, I fully accept is key to our economic growth and potential. Our chief scientific adviser, Professor Sir John Beddington, is not only the head of science in Government but of engineering, and represents the interests of both. The understanding has always been that chief scientific officers in Government encompass both disciplines, including engineering skills and the practical application of the sciences.
I do not know whether the shadow Chancellor, who keeps saying that the Government need to consider cutting bureaucracy and costs, would consider the appointment of yet another highly paid and pensioned civil servant a positive step. I shall leave that to one side.
Serious and genuine points about offshore renewable energy licensing have been made today. To be seen as a credible marine regulator, the MMO must be able to draw on its expertise to inform decision making, and we recognise that energy expertise must be part of that skill set.
Clause 2 requires the MMO to take account of all relevant facts and matters when making decisions and carrying out its functions. Where engineering expertise is relevant, the MMO will, of course, draw upon it as and when needed. It is not necessary to require the MMO to appoint a chief engineering adviser specifically. We have amended schedule 1 to require the MMO to appoint a chief science adviser in recognition of the cross-cutting and truly fundamental role that science will play in the new MMO.
I am not disputing the fact that engineering is important, not only for renewable energy, but for many other areas, such as oil and gas marine structures and the move to carbon capture, which require specialist engineering skills. It is important, not to justify and advise, but to ensure that we have in the MMO the necessary expertise and can call upon it. We are confident that the issue can be addressed as part of the MMO’s wider recruitment and that the MMO will be able to bring in expertise through other means, because, depending on the type of application, special consultancy, rather than full-time staff, may be more appropriate.
The MMO will need to recruit new staff and develop them through training and interchange to ensure that the appropriate expertise is available from day one. Interchange is also a mechanism whereby the MMO can build its knowledge base through exchanges and strengthened links with partner organisations and industry. In addition, if the MMO decided that it needed to bring in further engineering expertise, it has the flexibility to do that without the specific power being included in the Bill.
Paragraph 16 of schedule 1 allows the MMO to appoint other employees. That could include specialist engineering staff, but that would be a decision for the chair and board, based on an analysis of the requirements at the time. To make prescriptions such as those in the amendment would be to micro-manage and remove the MMO’S responsibility for regulating its own staffing and resource requirements. As an independent non-departmental public body, those decisions should be left to the MMO.
I hope that I have reassured hon. Members that the necessary plans are in place to ensure that the MMO has access to engineering expertise. I do not believe that that should be specified in the Bill, so I urge the hon. Member for Newbury to withdraw his amendment.
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