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Common Fisheries Policy

2.59 p.m.

Lord Campbell of Croy asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Lucas: My Lords, the Government have welcomed the report as making a constructive contribution to debate on how best to improve the common fisheries policy. The period of public consultation on the report has recently ended and the Government will respond formally to the report in the light of the results of that consultation.

Lord Campbell of Croy: My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for his encouraging reply. As the group recommended reform rather than unilateral withdrawal, do the Government recognise the strong support also from the fishermen's organisations representing the large majority of fishermen in this country? Do they also recognise that the EU requirement to reduce our fleet by 40 per cent. cannot be considered seriously unless it applies equally and fairly to the other members of the EU, and unless the quota-hopping boats are not counted as being in the British fleet?

Lord Lucas: My Lords, I cannot but agree with everything my noble friend says.

Lord Carter: My Lords, is the Minister aware that the central problem for the UK in the review of the

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common fisheries policy is quota hopping? Is he further aware that quota hopping can happen only if UK licence holders sell their licences to foreign owners? How many licence holders have been forced to sell because the UK Government refuse to use the European grants to assist in decommissioning? If boats had been decommissioned the owners would not have been forced to sell their licences. The Government have much to answer for on the problem of quota hopping.

Lord Lucas: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Carter, is stretching the possibilities in his allegations. I do not follow his logic; nor do I understand how it is possible to suggest that our not taking up a grant for which we were not eligible diverted people from taking a free decision to sell their boats or their quota or that they might have taken other decisions. The noble Lord is far too speculative. I do not recognise that the consequences flow as alleged by the noble Lord.

Lord Carter: My Lords, is the Minister saying that the Government's support of the free market in licences is not a key factor in quota hopping?

Lord Lucas: My Lords, the free market licence is part of the single market. There is no way in which we could overcome that without amending the Treaty of Rome.

Lord Beaumont of Whitley: My Lords, will the Minister comment on the report in the Sunday Telegraph of 6th October? It stated that not only is there a plan far advanced in Brussels to finish the CFP in the year 2002 in favour of a permit system which would probably work even more against Britain, but also that his department has so far denied the existence of such a plan.

Lord Lucas: No, my Lords. It has always been known that in 2002 the current arrangements come to an end. It will then be necessary to negotiate their continuance. I have been made aware of the allegation that there is some great plot to create a single European fisheries policy, policed by a single European system and run entirely from Brussels as of 2002. We have seen the reports of the recent goings on where every single country in the European Union reacted fiercely against the Commission's proposals on fisheries. Anyone who has read those reports will realise that such allegations are complete nonsense.

Lord Tebbit: My Lords, will my noble friend say what will happen in the year 2002 if the United Kingdom resolutely resists the ideas which will come

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forward from the others--no doubt to cheat us still further? There will be no common fisheries policy or regime. What happens then?

Lord Lucas: My Lords, I hope to be alive then, but not to see that.

Lord Mackie of Benshie: My Lords, is the Minister aware that without some form of common fisheries policy there will be no fish?

Lord Lucas: My Lords, it is also possible that even with the common fisheries policy there will be no fish.

Teaching of English

3.3 p.m.

Lord Quirk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they propose to take concerning the teaching and examining of English in view of the data comparing 1980 with 1994, published by the University of Cambridge Local Examination Syndicate (Occasional Research Paper 1996).

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Lord Henley): My Lords, maintaining high standards is at the heart of the Government's approach to education. Since this small-scale study was conducted, we have further strengthened English standards in our schools. Separate marks are required for spelling, punctuation and grammar in all GCSEs. A revised national curriculum that focuses on the basics and new GCSE syllabuses aligned with that have been introduced from this September. This summer's GCSE certificates show separate grades for spoken English, focusing attention on its importance.

Lord Quirk: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for that response. Is he aware that many of us have felt for years that the quality of teacher training lies at the heart of our educational problems? We are therefore relieved to know this summer that the Government propose to take action on the matter. As for the University of Cambridge report which I have with me, it is small-scale, yes, but any of the mitigating factors that one might think of in countering the report were taken seriously into account by researchers involved. They came to the conclusion that all the mitigating factors had to be rejected. Is not the plain fact that the writing of 16 year-olds in 1993 and 1994 was found to be starkly inferior to that of their counterparts in 1980?

Lord Henley: My Lords, on the noble Lord's first point, he is right to emphasise the importance of teacher training. That is why my right honourable friend the Secretary of State announced this summer that the Teacher Training Agency is developing a new curriculum for initial teacher training, beginning with primary English. We must get that right before we do anything else.

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On the noble Lord's second point, I wish to stress that it was a small-scale report. As I understand it, the survey was an analysis of just 20 scripts from the three years involved. It examined merely the fourth sentence of each of those scripts, as I understand it. As the report itself made clear, it lacked:

    "sufficient empirical evidence to conclude safely that overall writing in 1980 was better, grade for grade; or that grading standards which involved further judgments about reading and speaking etc. have changed".
Nevertheless, having said that, it is important to take note of the report. We have done so and will continue to take note of it.

Lord Morris of Castle Morris: My Lords, is it not a fact that this Cambridge report--which is not exactly small-scale, if you have to sit down and read it--plus the Southampton report which came out at about the same time and the Coram report the same year, proved irrefutably that standards of literacy had declined markedly since 1980? Why is it that the Government have stubbornly refused to implement the recommendations of the Kingman report of 1988 which stressed the importance of the teacher training element in reforms in the teaching of the English language? The Kingman report seems entirely to have vanished until this summer when we received the recommendations on teacher training, which appear to have come out of the air, from the Secretary of State. It is all there in the Kingman report. Why has it been ignored?

Lord Henley: My Lords, I am sorry if the noble Lord rejects my claim that it was a small-scale report. One can only say that it was small-scale since it considered merely one sentence--the fourth sentence in each script--in 20 papers over three different years. I quoted from the report, making it clear that one could not read much into it. Nevertheless, we have done a great deal since the Kingman report and over the past few years. I could run through a whole host of different initiatives, starting with the national curriculum, virtually all of which have been opposed by the party opposite. I went on to emphasise that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State recognised the importance of those matters and of getting right the teaching of English, standards of grammar and so on in schools. That is why she announced that the Teacher Training Agency was developing a new curriculum on such matters which would come forward in due course.

Lord Quirk: My Lords, is it not the case that the research report showed repeatedly or at least alleged that grade C in the current GCSE for 1993-94 corresponds to grades D or E in the GCE of the 1980s? Is the Minister concerned about the apparent grade inflation that has occurred?

Lord Henley: My Lords, the report makes allegations of that kind. In both GCSEs and A-levels it is important for us to be sure that we have maintained standards over time. That is why, a little under a year ago, my right honourable friend announced that there would be an

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inquiry under both SCAA and Ofsted into standards over time. However, it would be wrong to make judgments on the basis of a small-scale report of this kind before SCAA and Ofsted have reported, which they are to do later this year. When they report, we shall respond.

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