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The threat to species and the depletion of certain stocks need dramatic action on a collective basis. This is even more the case as the 2002 reforms were not up to the much more fundamental task now on the composite agenda of the European Union. Persistent overcapacity of the main fleets, poor records of compliance and excessive centralisation have all highlighted the growing malaise. Despite tabloid frenzy, no one in his right mind, even in this country, is suggesting repatriation on the lines of the fisher folk-our wonderful fisher folk as we always say, but other people's fisher folk are not like ours. All these foolish themes have now been superseded by the need for collective action on a serious basis. With a single market in fish, in which all member states' interests are taken into account, including those of the states furthest from the sea, drastic losses of fish stocks are the urgent priority, and I welcome the Government's commitment to getting common sense by the end of the current target year. The sub-committee rightly insists on an end to the spiral of negligence. Here, state aid should also be eschewed, especially on fuel costs, and should focus on decommissioning incentives.
On these Benches, we welcome the almost universal enthusiasm for the broadly based regional advisory
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Quite rightly, sub-committee D is blunt about the need for a new approach partly to rescue fishing stocks from the overfishing disaster. A range of policy instruments are spelled out, including the quota approach, science-based technical conservation action decisions, effort controls, continuing with the central TAC configuration, but on a lower basis, as the noble Baroness and other noble Lords said, and, if necessary, a ban on certain species, as the Canadians had to do many years ago. We must all hope that the micromanagement mistakes of the past will yield to a new era of regional differentialisation running smoothly by 2012, which would also be an education for the Council of Fisheries Ministers and the Commission itself.
Lord Taylor of Holbeach:My Lords, I join the noble Lord, Lord Dykes, in thanking the noble Lord, Lord Sewel, and his committee for their industry in producing such a thorough and, as we have learnt to expect from the noble Lord, well thought-out report. Indeed, the European committees set an authoritative base for debates in this House, and it is a pleasure to see their chairman, the noble Lord, Lord Roper, in his place. It is regrettable that it has taken so long for the report to be presented for debate. It is now more or less a year since it was published, and it does nothing to address the urgency of the subject matter that we have not been able to debate it earlier.
Lord Taylor of Holbeach: My Lords, I understand the reason for the delay. However, delay seems to be built in to the process and a sense of urgency is important in trying to move this subject on. I was going to say that on the plus side we have had a comprehensive response from the Government that indicates that they are broadly in support of the report, its analysis and its recommendations. The affirmation by the noble Lord, Lord Sewel, that the committee's report has been listened to in Brussels is good news. Would that their views on CAP health check were similarly powerful, but that is another story. I expect the Government are not alone in depending on Commissioner Borg. When he announced his review in September last year, he commented:
"There is no alternative to the common fisheries policy when it comes to managing the mobile international resource that our fishing industry depends on. But, in its current form, the CFP does not encourage responsible behaviour by either fishermen or politicians".
The problems and issues with the CFP identified by the Commission, clearly in tune with the committee's sentiment, include overcapacity in the EU fleet, which has been mentioned already by noble Lords. The fleet is capable of catching between two and three times the maximum sustainable yield. I will return to this later.
Fishermen must be made responsible and accountable for the sustainable use of a public resource. The goal of ecological sustainability must be placed before economic and social sustainability, because it is the precondition that makes economic and social sustainability possible. There has to be a clear hierarchy in the decision-making process between principles and implementation, in order to simplify regulation at EU level and encourage regional management solutions wherever possible. The CFP will have to be aligned with the marine strategy framework directive that has recently come into force, which obliges member states to ensure, by 2020, the good environmental status of the seas under their jurisdiction. Having recently been involved with the Marine and Coastal Access Bill, I can vouch for the significance to the United Kingdom of that legislation.
Europe needs a joined-up approach to fisheries management that will include the onshore and market dimensions of the industry, as well as the capture sector and aquaculture, in line with the EU's new integrated maritime policy and its focus on sustainable growth in coastal regions. The role of the below-10-metre fleet in sustainable fishing communities is vital. The Commission has since launched a consultation phase that will provide the basis for future reform of the CFP, and it is expected that these reforms will be outlined by 2012 at the latest. I hope that the Minister will tell us that the committee's report has the support of the Government and is being used in this consultative phase.
One recurring theme of the committee's report is the complaint that the CFP is overcentralised and unwieldy. Will the Government assure us that their future efforts in influencing reform will focus on improvement in this important area? The report spoke favourably of the regional advisory councils, and the Government set great store by them for their role in improving stakeholder consultation. However, the report pointed out that they could be improved by being given a more flexible and independent role. Have the few that have been set up progressed in this direction, and will the Government ensure that British fishermen get the best deal in this respect when they come to influence reform?
I said recently that the CFP appears neither to conserve fish stocks nor preserve the livelihood of fishing communities. This is more than a neat turn of phrase. It sums up the full tragedy of a policy that is failing. I hope that the Government will confirm that their policy on forcing reform is underpinned to a significant extent by the need to ensure the survival of our fish stocks for future generations. The report points to "alarming" declines in fish stocks and landings over the past 25 years and issues the stark warning that,
Given that overcapacity appears to be a key element-the Community's fleet size was identified as a problem in the 2002 reforms, and has again been identified as a problem by Fisheries Commissioner Joe Borg-what assessment has been made of fleet size changes, and what is the Government's attitude to the below-10-metre fleet? After all, they have only 3 per cent of the UK quota. This is an important element of Community fishing around our shores.
I close with a few comments on the question of control and enforcement. The noble Lord, Lord Sewel, euphemised this by talking about a "degree of deficiency of rigour". Nothing angers our fishermen more, when they are tied up, than to see others fishing what they consider to be their native grounds, seemingly heedless not just of the consequences to existing stocks, but of the need to re-establish stocks to a sustainable level. We rightly operate a highly effective and disciplined regime. The quid pro quo must be to ensure that others exercise similar control. If they fail to do so, there should be sanctions. They should be subject to dual policing if the Community Fisheries Control Agency cannot guarantee compliance. In the end, our duty is to Britain's fishing communities, and to the fish stocks that we ask them to ensure that we conserve.
Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, it is a tall order to analyse the problems of the common fisheries policy, produce the Government's response to the problems, reflect the nature of this excellent report and respond to speeches that have been very precise with reference to the report, but have also raised issues beyond it. I have less than 15 minutes, so the House will forgive me if I produce somewhat more abbreviated comments than otherwise I would have done on a number of issues.
First, I congratulate my noble friend Lord Sewel both on his introduction to the report today and on the enormous amount of work that went into the report, which analyses the situation in such a way that the Government are in a position to endorse a great deal of it. As my noble friend made clear, it was important that we should have this debate against the background of the Commission's Green Paper, so that we have a context in which to work as we seek to produce changes on these matters in Europe.
I turn to one or two extraneous points. My noble friend Lady Jones indicated that we should take more interest in the carbon footprint of the food stocks that we use, particularly fish. She gave us a very interesting analysis of how fish arrive in the shopping basket. We now have clear food labelling that helps us to identify where food has come from. It gives us the chance of some long-term sustainability of the European Union's fish stocks through improvements in traceability and a full audit trail of fish products. I want to reassure my noble friend that we have in mind the issue that she raised.
The noble Lord, Lord Dykes, asked me to consider where the World Trade Organisation's principles might fit into the common fisheries policy. The UK agrees that subsidies which give rise to distortion of commercial
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On the more general issues raised by the report and in the speech made by my noble friend Lord Sewel, we endorse the committee's main statement that the common fisheries policy has failed to deliver sustainable fisheries. My noble friend, I think, referred to it as broken and busted. The Government might not go quite so far in their language, but we accept certainly the trenchant criticism of the CFP, which is why we are concerned to effect changes. Reform of the CFP must be radical and we intend to make progress as far as we are able. This report is timely in these terms, as is the Green Paper. The House will recognise that changes in Europe are such that we have a timetable whereby we can now influence the emergence of the new CFP. Of course, we have a great deal of work to do on that. The main principles behind the debate, my noble friend's speech in introducing the report and the Government's position are largely coincidental on what needs to be done.
Certainly, I would want to emphasise that a reformed CFP cannot exist in isolation from other policies. The noble Lord, Lord Taylor, and others who served many long hours on the Marine and Coastal Access Bill are all too well aware that that Bill raises issues which interrelate with the fisheries policy. We need to ensure that our marine environment is analysed, exploited and conserved as a whole, rather than in terms of partial individual polices.
A reformed CFP must be an appropriate and effective policy for managing not only fish stocks but also managing the impacts of fishing activity on marine resources and the marine environment more widely. The UK and other member states need effective measures at their disposal by which to limit the impact of all fishing activity where we have clear conservation objectives, while at the same time ensuring that fishing is able to develop in a much more successful way than in the past. We all know the problems which the common fisheries policy has failed to solve.
It is early days in the debate on CFP reform, but Commissioner Borg has acknowledged the importance of integrating better fisheries policy with others elements, such as marine environment policy. I hope that his successor recognises that importance also. We will certainly be pressing along those lines.
A reformed CFP also needs to be based on economically rational principles. It should enable a more prosperous, economically resilient and efficient fishing industry and promote vibrant fishing communities. Again, that important matter was expressed by the committee. It is distilled from the evidence that it
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The noble Lord, Lord Cameron, referred to discards in very emphatic terms, as did my noble friends Lady Jones and Lord Sewel. We clearly need to reduce discards. The report makes clear that action is needed to drive down discard levels incrementally. Changes could be made now to the current system to reduce discards. Ultimately, we need to see a fundamental change in the way in which the CFP influences decisions taken by fishermen on a daily basis. After all, a discarded fish is in the main a dead fish. No one derives any benefit from it-not the fishermen or the consumer and certainly not the fish stocks on which the fishermen and the consumer depend. A reformed CFP must provide the incentives and regulatory framework to enable us to catch less, but land more. Those are the principles we wish to see taken forward in our pressure for reform.
I agree with my noble friend Lord Sewel on his point about the registration of buyers and sellers and how that has improved the position on enforcement. There is no doubt at all that our implementation of registration has made a difference to the level of unreported landings, and the UK takes every opportunity to urge the European Commission to ensure that every effort is made to implement that regulation and all enforcement issues equally across the EU. As the report indicates, however, and as noble Lords who have contributed to the debate have emphasised, the issue of enforcement is of very great significance. For that, we need agreement on the principles of what needs to be enforced, and it is a drive towards that which is the Government's goal in building on this report.
Of course, we agree with the report that the current CFP is overcentralised and that greater emphasis should be placed on the regional advisory councils. We can see progress from these councils in terms of a more intelligent strategy for fishermen and the acquisition of their consent regarding the objectives laid out at a more local level. We certainly need to end the overcentralised CFP which now exists and develop the regional advisory councils, which will help toward achieving the objectives indicated in the report. We also cannot escape one of the themes of the report: effective control and enforcement. One of the contributing factors to poor compliance is overcapacity. After all, that is what puts more fishing vessels at sea than have the right to take the catches. The European Commission's Green Paper on CFP reform suggests that overcapacity may be tackled by a combination of rights-based management and targeted decommissioning. We agree with both those strategies.
We therefore have a report that has been extremely well worked through and well thought out, based on evidence taken from a wide group of well-informed sources-a report which, this evening, has had the
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It is a major task ahead-a battle for which the Government are girding their loins. We have encouragement from Commissioner Borg in his analysis of the position, we have the Green Paper from the European Commission, and we have this report to help guide us. On that basis, I have no doubt we will make progress in seeing a radical reform to the common fisheries policy, which all who spoke in the debate agree needs very radical reform.
Lord Lucas: In moving Amendment 91A I shall speak to the other amendments in the group. These amendments are intended to give us a chance to look at Clause 40 as a whole and to discuss how the relationship between a local education authority and the colleges now being brought back under its wing is to be conducted. The Government express the core of this in Clause 40(1) which states:
I take that as pretty strong control and indeed that seems to be the way it is being interpreted by local education authorities, which even now are tramping around colleges saying, "We are not going to allow you to do that because we want you to do this", and generally putting a rather dirigiste interpretation on how the relationship will run. Indeed, that is the flavour I get from it as well. If a local education authority has a duty to secure that a particular kind of education is available, one that it decides on because it has to settle that the education is suitable, presumably it will use these powers over its colleges to make sure that they provide that education and do not provide other things.
Amendment 91A substitutes for the word "secure" the words "satisfy themselves" to indicate a different kind of relationship where it is the responsibility of the local education authority to make sure that education of a suitable kind is in place, but makes it clear that the authority itself is not responsible for providing that
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That theme is pursued in most of the other amendments in the group, and certainly in Amendments 91B and 91C. Amendment 91D seeks to leave out lines 23 and 24. That is an amplification which really asks why a local education authority should be concerned about,
Again, that moves into the timetables of the colleges subject to the local education authority's edict. I do not see why those details should be of concern to the authority. Amendment 91E provides that if the authority is going to take on all this control, it ought to be subject to the opinions of the people on whose behalf it says it is acting. Local education authorities appear to be doing this out of their own invention and direction rather than paying any attention to the people they should regard as their customers and, indeed, their masters in this matter.
Amendment 93A follows the general line I have laid out, while Amendments 100A to 100C underline what I said earlier in that they seek to change the relationship of the authority from one of master to provider. In other words, the relationship would change from one of controlling what colleges provide to looking at what the customers-the individuals who require the education or training-actually want.
That is almost the end of the group. Amendment 102B looks at the duty of LEAs to co-operate with each other. It seeks to reinforce the duty requiring local authorities to co-operate, particularly when there are a lot of authorities involved. A large further education college may well be serving 20 or so local education authorities altogether-some of the very big ones rather more than that. I want to increase the duty on local authorities to co-operate and make it clear what sort of co-operation is expected by saying that they have to co-operate not only in the interests of persons resident in their area but in the interests of persons resident in other areas. Colleges that they are responsible for, although in their area, may well be offering education to a very large number of people from outside their area. The whole direction the college takes, and the management of that college, should be in the interests of all the people it serves and not just the people in whose area the college happens to be. It does not seem to me that the local education authority's duty to those people outside its own area is clear enough. I beg to move.
Baroness Sharp of Guildford: I am interested in these amendments that the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, has put down-somewhat belatedly, if I might say so. It would have been good if he had alerted us to them a little earlier. I take on board the points he is making.
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