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Earl Howe: The main effect of Amendment No. 327, spoken to by the noble Earl, would be to allow internal drainage boards, and local authorities acting as drainage bodies, to undertake drainage works and water level management in order to facilitate spray irrigation. It would not, however, amend the corresponding definition in Section 113(1) of the Water Resources Act 1991, and the result would be that the agency would not have similar powers to those of other drainage bodies in relation to its flood defence functions. I think it would be undesirable for the definitions of "drainage" in the Water Resources Act 1991 and the Land Drainage Act 1991 to diverge, since they derive from a single provision in the Land Drainage Act 1976.

Further, the amendment would reverse the decision taken in 1976 when the Land Drainage (Amendment) Bill was being considered. Then the definition of "drainage" was amended to exclude spray irrigation, for

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consistency with the definition in water resources legislation which has now also been consolidated in the Water Resources Act 1991.

Although in the past IDBs concentrated on drainage matters, over the years there has been a change of emphasis, and indeed the purpose of Clause 82 is to clarify that drainage bodies can undertake water level management, for example for conservation purposes. I recognise that there are also arguments for changing the definition so as to include spray irrigation but, on the other hand, it would be important to ensure that any such change did not have unforeseen adverse repercussions on the water abstraction provisions in Part II of the Water Resources Act 1991, which will continue in force, in particular Section 29, which deals with the right to abstract for drainage purposes. We do not think it would be appropriate to extend the exemption from restrictions on abstraction, which drainage operations enjoy, to cover spray irrigation.

Given that the definitions were made consistent in 1976, the Government could not accept an amendment of this kind unless they were satisfied that it would not cause problems for the management of water resources by the agency. Against that background, I hope that the noble Earl will wish to reflect and at this stage would not wish to press the amendment.

The Earl of Lytton: I am grateful to the Minister for that reply. As is always the way when dealing with amendments at second hand, I have to declare that there are elements where, to use a colloquialism, I am out of my tree! The Committee will already know from what I have said previously that I farm on top of a hill and not on the level areas of the eastern counties.

As I understand it, the anxiety is that the internal drainage boards have duties now not only to drain away water and ensure that it goes out to sea, but also to maintain water levels, perhaps for environmental reasons. All I wish to ascertain is whether the interests of spray irrigators and, therefore, the economic aspects of the areas which are so heavily dependent on that type of activity will be among those taken into account. It is no more nor less than that.

In answer to the noble Lord, Lord Crickhowell, obviously I did not stress sufficiently that the existing environmental duties remain in place. All I seek is to ensure that we do not reach a situation where we are managing the water only for environmental purposes and not in any way for economic purposes as well.

It is obviously a complicated area. I am not entirely sure that I am satisfied with what the Minister said, but I shall read it carefully in Hansard. In the meantime, while reserving my position, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 82 agreed to.

Clause 83 [Grants in connection with drainage works]:

4.45 p.m.

Earl Howe moved Amendment No. 328:

Page 89, line 19, leave out ("protection") and insert ("defence against sea water").

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The noble Earl said: In moving this amendment, I wish also to speak to Amendments Nos. 329 to 333. All the amendments are of a minor, technical nature. Amendments Nos. 328 and 332 are to clarify that grant applications must relate to plans for sea defences rather than coast protection works, which are subject to separate legislation.

Amendments Nos. 329 and 331 change singular words to plural equivalents for consistency with references to drainage bodies in Section 59(4) of the Land Drainage Act 1991. Amendment No. 333 deletes subsections (3) and (4) of Clause 83, as we think it is unnecessary to extend the new grant provisions to works carried out by an internal drainage board or local authority on behalf of another person, as in practice such cases are extremely rare and the new provisions are unlikely to be relevant. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Earl Howe moved Amendments Nos. 329 to 333:

Page 89, line 33, leave out ("it") and insert ("them").
Page 89, line 40, leave out ("it") and insert ("them").
Page 89, line 41, leave out ("its") and insert ("their").
Page 89, line 41, leave out ("protection") and insert ("defence against sea water").
Page 90, leave out lines 8 to 31.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 83, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 84 agreed to.

Clause 85 [Other marine or aquatic environmental conservation powers]:

The Earl of Lindsay moved Amendment No. 334:

Page 92, line 19, leave out from ("section") to end of line 21 and insert:
2 of the Inshore Fishing (Scotland) Act 1984 there shall be inserted—

"Powers to restrict fishing, or to prohibit the carriage of specified types of net, for marine environmental purposes.

2A.—(1) Any power to make an order under section 1 or 2").

The noble Earl said: In moving Amendment No. 334, I shall also speak to Amendment No. 335. Clause 85(2) matches the provision in Clause 84 relating to inshore fisheries. It proposes to authorise the Secretary of State for Scotland to exercise his regulatory powers under Section 1 of the Inshore Fishing (Scotland) Act 1984 for marine environmental purposes. That brings the Secretary of State's powers into line with the powers of those bodies that regulate inshore fisheries in the rest of Great Britain. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

The Earl of Lindsay moved Amendment No. 335:

Page 92, line 23, after ("1") insert ("or 2").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 85, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 86 [Fixed penalty system for certain fisheries offences]:

Earl Howe moved Amendment No. 335ZA:

Page 93, line 43, leave out ("(4) (b)") and insert ("(4) (a)").

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The noble Earl said: I shall speak to Amendments Nos. 335ZA and 335ZB together. They are both minor technical amendments. The first simply corrects a reference to an earlier subsection, while the second reinstates words that were unfortunately omitted in error from the Bill as published. Without the amendments, the relevant provisions would not make sense. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Viscount Mills moved Amendment No. 335ZAA:

Page 94, line 17, at end insert:
("( ) the monetary amount of the fixed cost which shall be paid").

The noble Viscount said: I welcome the introduction of the new fixed penalty scheme for fisheries offences in Clause 86. The purpose of my amendment is simple. It would allow the agency to recover costs—not the fines themselves—from offenders in fisheries cases. That would be consistent not only with the other cost recovery provisions in the Bill but also with the present situation. At present the costs awarded in fisheries cases are paid to the NRA. In contrast, Clause 86 does not enable the agency to recoup costs in a similar situation.

Although the overall costs of administering the new scheme will be less, the inability of the fisheries service to recover its own costs will result in a significant loss of income. The NRA currently takes some 5,000 cases a year against unlicensed fishermen fishing for trout and coarse fish. I estimate that the costs of taking each case under the new system would be £20, totalling some £100,000. That is a considerable sum. It will be lost to the agency and will no longer be spent on enforcing fisheries regulations. Furthermore, the cost of regulating the fisheries will fall entirely on those anglers who have purchased a rod licence rather than on the offenders who break the regulations.

It might previously have been argued that, because the Government partly fund the fisheries service, it is reasonable for the costs that are recovered to be repaid to the public purse. However, following a further reduction in grant-in-aid last year, trout and coarse anglers now pay, through the purchase of their rod licences, for all of the management and regulation of their fisheries. I suggest that it is inappropriate that the Government receive the costs from offending anglers when legitimate anglers have to foot the Bill.

The Government have made it very clear that they wish for the fisheries service to recover costs wherever possible. It is only a matter of consistency that the agency should have that facility. Indeed, this amendment provides that facility in relation to fisheries cases. I hope that my noble friend the Minister will find it possible to accept this amendment. I beg to move.

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