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We spent some time in Committee and on Report debating the Part 5 provisions and how they can be further strengthened. We have listened carefully, and I
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The crux of the issue lies in the fact that noble Lords were concerned that a lot of trust was being put into non-statutory guidance on the selection of marine conservation zones. While the Bill sets out conditions that our network must meet, and the MPA strategy and guidance underpinning the selection of marine conservation zones sets out the principles of ecological coherence in more detail, there is concern that the Government are not being clear enough about the overall guiding principles for the selection of marine conservation zones to ensure that these sites, together with other types of marine protected areas, deliver an ecologically coherent network, based on our current understanding of that concept.
For this reason, I have tabled a series of amendments which will require the appropriate authorityScottish Ministers, Welsh Ministers and the Secretary of Stateeach to lay a statement before the relevant legislature. The statement is to set out the principles that each will follow in contributing to the UK network and may also set out any other matters that they consider might be relevant. The statement must be made within two months of the commencement date for the nature conservation provisions set out in this Bill and must be kept under review and updated in accordance with any future changes to the design principles.
The Government would use this statement to set out their intention to use the principles of ecological coherence and to say what those principles are. The design principles are described on page 30 of the recently published draft strategy for marine protected areas. The amendments ensure that if any changes are made to the design principles driving the network, a revised statement must once again be laid before the appropriate legislature. I am confident that the amendments will allow scrutiny of the design principles for the network. Most importantly, they respect the evolving nature of the concept of ecological coherence. They will allow us to ensure that the design and designation of the network can reflect the latest scientific evidence and adapt with our understanding of ecological coherence.
I pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Greenway, for his input on the issue of recreational vessels and, more specifically, for ensuring parity in the by-law restrictions placed on recreational and non-recreational vessels. I promised to consider this point on Report and now table Amendments 14, 15 and 16 to meet the concerns that were expressed then.
The Government are firmly committed to ensuring that marine conservation zones are effectively protected. It is important, as the noble Earl, Lord Cathcart, said
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Amendment 14 to Clause 128 therefore removes recreational from subsection (3)(b), ensuring that, if the conservation objectives for a site require it, the MMO can make by-laws which restrict all vessels entering into or moving within marine conservation zones, provided it complies with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. As we have removed reference to recreational vessel in Part 5, I have consequently tabled Amendment 16 to Clause 146, which removes the definition of recreational vessel.
I am confident that these amendments address noble Lords concerns and ensure that we are not placing disproportionate restrictions or burdens on recreational vessels. Instead, we have now ensured a system where we can focus on furthering the conservation objectives for a marine conservation zone and, where necessary, restrict all vessels entering sites.
I have also tabled Amendment 15 to Clause 140. Following the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Greenway, in Committee, we have also looked again at this aspect of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. Our analysis of the text is that it is only once we have declared an exclusive economic zone that we can apply the general offence to vessels from third countries. The amendment therefore applies the general offence of deliberately or recklessly damaging a marine conservation zone to third-country vessels once the UK has declared an exclusive economic zone. Part 2 of the Bill gives us the power to declare such a zone.
There are then a series of minor and technical amendments to Schedule 11. The effect of Amendments 23, 24, 25 and 26 isto adapt provisions on MMO by-laws and Welsh Minister orders for the protection of European marine sites so that they could apply more logically to such sites. These amendments do two things. First, they ensure that by-laws may be made for the protection of European sites, rather than for the furthering of conservation objectives which do not necessarily exist for these sites. Secondly, they more selectively apply the by-law provisions of Part 5 to the European sites. In particular, the power to make interim by-laws in Part 5 is not relevant in the European site context, and so is not needed.
Lord Taylor of Holbeach: My Lords, I thank the Minister for bringing forward these amendments. The successful establishment of an effective conservation zone is one of the fundamental aims of this Bill and perhaps the most difficult to achieve. The designation
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The amendments bring some much needed transparency and therefore some effective accountability to the whole designation process. Likewise, the later amendments also assist the process of by-laws on all vessels. We therefore welcome the amendments.
Lord Greenway: My Lords, I think my maritime interests are generally well known around the House, but they are on the record and they are non-pecuniary. I thank the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, for being as good as his word and agreeing to look again at the amendments I moved at an earlier stage which aimed to meet the concerns of the boating authorities that recreational vessels were being singled out above other types of vessel when it came to by-laws restricting their entry into marine conservation zones.
As the Minister said, he and his team have looked again at UNCLOS and have come round to my way of thinking, and for that I am most grateful. In fact, the government amendments achieve very much what I was seeking to achieve, and I am grateful for that.
This could well be the last time I speak on this Bill. I must confess that when I was asked to chair the Joint Committee looking at the draft Bill last year, I never in a million years thought that I would still be discussing it more than a year later. I must express my gratitude to the noble Lords, Lord Hunt and Lord Davies of Oldham, for their unfailing courtesy and helpfulness during the many long hours that we have discussed the Bill. I can only commend their stamina and fortitude.
Lord Greaves: My Lords, I think we support that, and may say so in greater detail later as I do not think this is the last time I shall speak. On behalf of the Liberal Democrats, I welcome the amendments. They are in response to the concerns of the noble Lord, Lord Greenway, which we very much support. The legal advice that the Government have received is welcome indeed.
The network of marine conservation zones was one of the major debating points as the Bill went through your Lordships House. I have no doubt that it will also be one of the major debating points in the House of Commons, when it gets there. The amendments are a very welcome move towards the kind of strengthening that my noble friend Lady Miller of Chilthorne Domer was asking for. Again, as with the Marine Management Organisation, I do not think it is just the changes that have been made in the Bill. The explanations that have been given and the understanding of how it is intended to work have very greatly strengthened confidence that the system is going to work. We will see, but the debates that have taken place, the explanations that the Ministers have given and the briefings that have been provided have been extremely helpful.
We can send this part of the Bill on its way, with greater confidence that marine conservation zonesand particularly a coherent network of marine conservation
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Lord Eden of Winton: My Lords, I warmly support the words expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Greenway, in appreciation of the work of the Ministers in charge of the Bill. At the same time, I should also like to extend congratulations to those who have laboured behind the scenes in doing some extremely skilful drafting work, some of it fairly rapid, in bringing the amendments forward in the way that they have done.
I am greatly encouraged by these amendments and by the words that the Minister used when he talked about the evolving nature of the concept of ecological coherence. It is important that the legislation should contain sufficient flexibility to allow improvements to be generated as further knowledge is gained from the experience of the establishment of the marine conservation zones.
The Minister referred to one other thing that was not totally clear to me. He talked about guarding against excessive recreational use. I wonder how that is to be assessed. It seems to me that the most important thing is to have a very alert monitoring system so that there is effective policing as life goes on, so that those who are responsible for adjudicating in these matters or for policing the operation of the MCZs are ahead of the game and know when action is necessary, because in order to introduce the necessary action a certain amount of time will have to have passed.
With those words about welcoming the amendments and my slight concern about the interpretation of excessive recreational use, I again thank the Ministers very much indeed for the wholly constructive way in which they brought this measure to the House.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have spoken for the generally warm welcome that they gave to this group of amendments. I am also very grateful for their generous comments about the officials working on the team. They very much appreciate those comments, which I of course endorse.
The noble Lord, Lord Eden of Winton, spoke passionately on these matters, particularly in Committee. He still has one or two concerns but I think that we have gone as far as we can to reassure him about our commitment to MCZs and to ecologically coherent networks. I think that he is right about flexibility. The construct of the Bill as it now stands allows flexibility for adjustments to be made as we gain more experience and as more scientific knowledge becomes available. I agree with him about monitoring, which is very important indeed, and it will be important that the regulatory authorities can respond quickly and effectively in the light of that monitoring. I absolutely endorse that. We will ensure that the spirit of that is conveyed to those who will have the very grave responsibility of taking these matters forward in future.
(a) prepare a statement setting out such principles relating to the achievement of the objective in subsection (2) as the authority intends to follow when complying with the duty imposed by subsection (1), and
(b) lay a copy of the statement before the appropriate legislature.
(5B) A statement prepared by the appropriate authority under this section may also set out other matters relating to the achievement of that objective which the authority intends to take into account when complying with the duty imposed by subsection (1).
(a) keep under review any statement it has prepared under this section, and
(b) if it considers it appropriate in consequence of a review, prepare a revised statement of the principles referred to in subsection (5A) and lay a copy of it before the appropriate legislature.
(a) in relation to the Secretary of State, Parliament;
(b) in relation to the Welsh Ministers, the National Assembly for Wales;
(c) in relation to the Scottish Ministers, the Scottish Parliament;
Lord Greaves: My Lords, this comes back to a small but important issuethe size of the board of the Marine Management Organisation. It is identical in meaning to an amendment that I moved on Report. The only difference is that it uses words that Government draftsmen prefer rather than those that I had written. That seems to be perfectly reasonable.
We had a long discussion in Committee about the size of the Marine Management Organisation. As set out, there will be at least five and not more than eight members, plus the chairman; so the total will be between six and nine, including the chairman. There was discussion about whether this was big enough, and what the right size was. The Government made clear their intention that the size will be eight plus the chairman, at least in the beginning. The amendment I moved on Report stated that the provision that the Secretary of State has in the Bill to change the range of five to eight, plus the chairman, should not be used to reduce the size below five, which would not be satisfactory. That is the point I put forward on Report and that is what I put forward again in the amendment. I thank the Government for their assistance in drafting the amendment. I beg to move.
Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, lest it be thought that I was a little churlish earlier when referring to the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, let me say how delighted I am to see him in his place, moving an amendment with which the Government agree completely.
(1B) Subsection (1A) does not have effect in relation to an Order in Council to the extent that it contains provision made by virtue of paragraph 4 of Schedule 3 (functions exercisable beyond the territorial sea).
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, Amendment 18 corrects an unforeseen anomaly that has arisen in connection with the transfer of functions in respect of the Welsh zone that will be created by Clause 42. The policy intent is that where a function in the area of the Welsh zone beyond the territorial sea is transferred to Welsh Ministers under Section 58 of the Government of Wales Act 2006, the transfer will be restricted to functions connected with fishing, fisheries and fish health. This is spelt out in the amendment to that section contained in paragraph 9(2) of Schedule 4.
However, that provision could be read as contradicting the existing provision in paragraph 4 of Schedule 3 to the Act. This provision provides that the power in Section 58(1)(c) to direct that functions relating to Wales must be exercised after consultation with Welsh Ministers also applies in relation to certain specific environmental protection functions exercisable in relation to an area defined in the Act as Welsh controlled waters. Welsh controlled waters, like the Welsh zone, include that part of the sea adjacent to Wales that is beyond the seaward limits of the territorial sea, and we want to ensure that our fisheries restriction is not read as contradicting this separate power. To rectify this, an additional subsection (1B) is being inserted into Section 58 of the Government of Wales Act. Let me reassure noble Lords that this amendment is purely minor and technical. I beg to move.
The Duke of Montrose: My Lords, this is a useful tidying up amendment, as the current text might have been interpreted as interfering with powers that might be available to the Welsh Government beyond the territorial sea.
During the debate on amendments that the Government introduced on Report, we were quite involved with seeing that the Welsh Assembly Government were given adequate powers, in particular relating to the management of fisheries, some of which extend beyond the territorial sea. This takes us into the area of the different zones that have been determined as part of devolution under the Bill.
I thank the Minister for a very useful and lengthy briefing that I have only just received on cross-border powers and arrangements. It was phrased in relation to the Solway Firth but must apply equally to the Bristol Channel and the northern boundary of the Welsh inshore area. The point is clearly made that because the MMO, which will be operating in the English sphere, is a non-departmental public body, whereas Marine Scotland is an arm of the Executive of Scotland, and in Wales the Executive will also be taking charge, it is not appropriate for them to form a joint subordinate body. Perhaps the Minister can explain some of what that paper contains or make sure that its content is contained in a paper available to all those who have to work with these cross-border arrangements, as it goes into great detail of how it would all need to be worked out.
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