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21 Nov 2002 : Column 822—continued

Sir Robert Smith: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Lawrie Quinn (Scarborough and Whitby) rose—

Mr. Hayes: I will not give way because I want to make progress and the Minister is chivvying me to conclude my remarks. He does not like it and he is looking up at the clock, thinking, XHow long is this going to go on? I can't take much more of this pain and punishment." I do not want it said that I will be the man to inflict that pain on him. I will give way to the hon. Member for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine (Sir Robert Smith) after I have given way to the hon. Member for Scarborough and Whitby (Lawrie Quinn), who made such an important point about regulations.

Lawrie Quinn: I thank the hon. Gentleman for his comments. The name of the place that I represent is Whitby, not Whitney.

Mr. Hayes: I did say Whitby.

Lawrie Quinn: There seems to be a problem of geography, but never mind. The hon. Gentleman is welcome to come to Whitby whenever he likes.

The hon. Gentleman gave a compelling diagnosis of the problems in the industry. I am sure that many people in the ports that I represent will have found his comments sensible, but they will be waiting for answers. Everyone in the House would like him to provide the answers, rather than going down the well trodden route taken by previous Conservative spokesmen and spouting Eurosceptical dogma.

Mr. Hayes: None of my Eurosceptic views is dogmatic. I am familiar with Whitby. How could I not be familiar with the birthplace of Captain Cook?

Lawrie Quinn indicated dissent.

Mr. Hayes: Captain Cook was not born in Whitby? He lived there. There is a huge statue of him in Whitby and he had associations with the town. I am not going

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to give way so that the hon. Gentleman can correct me. I will give way instead to the hon. Member for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine.

Sir Robert Smith: I am concerned that the hon. Gentleman dismisses regional management too quickly when many in the industry view it as crucial. Fish do not respect national boundaries, and it is far more important to manage what happens within the regional fishing area, such as the North sea. If we did not have management across the whole of the North sea, over-fishing on one side would have meant recovery programmes on the other side failing completely. The industry has been demanding regional management, so that those who are affected by the decisions have a say in the results.

Mr. Hayes: The industry would have said that once. When, as a member of the Select Committee, I looked at these matters in great detail, that view was expressed by some in the industry. However, there was division and some believed in national control. Now the industry has changed its view because it is increasingly coming to believe that we can no longer pretend that the common fishery can be made to work. It is rotten at its very core.

The hon. Gentleman made sound points about local sensitivity and about involving the industry through proper collaboration and consultation. There is also a need for proper co-operation between nations. The Minister wrote to me in October, saying, sensibly, of course we need Xinternational agreement and co-operation." However, he said in the same paragraph:

That is the error—we can have international agreement and co-operation, which is an inevitable part of dealing with fishing because, as the hon. Member for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine rightly says, fish know no boundaries. However, the accountability for that, and the management of it, should be vested in nation states. The Minister looks surprised, but he knows that that is precisely what happens in some of the most successful fishing nations in the world, including New Zealand, Namibia, Iceland and Norway.

Mr. Morley: The hon. Gentleman is, to use a fishing phrase, going a bit adrift. Theoretically, of course, a number of fisheries nations can pursue different policies, but we share the North sea and the English channel. Is the hon. Gentleman suggesting that we draw a line down the middle and have one catch on one side of the line and a different catch on the other? Should we have different mesh sizes on each side of the line? That is not a conservation policy; it is anarchy. No matter what terms the hon. Gentleman uses, there has to be a common framework in European waters.

Mr. Hayes: The hon. Gentleman is being a little disingenuous because he knows very well that the countries with governance of their own waters that I have mentioned—I could have listed many others—have agreements of the type that he describes. He knows very well that the European Union has an agreement with Norway; he was talking about negotiating such an

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agreement only a few moments ago, when he was challenged on why he will not let the fishermen around the table given that Norway is very happy to do so. Of course there are agreements on the very subjects that he describes, but the fact is that the governance and accountability for the policies that a nation develops about its fishing industry should rest where sovereignty rests—and sovereignty should rest in the House.

I feel sorry for the Minister because with all his knowledge—I have acknowledged his understanding of such matters—and all his good intentions, the truth is that he cannot do many of the things that he would like to do. He is stuck in an amalgam, in which people always want to find some shoddy compromise, rather than to pursue the genuine interests of the nations of Europe.

Lawrie Quinn rose—

Mr. Hayes: I will let the hon. Gentleman intervene again, so long as he does not talk about Captain Cook.

I refer not only to the interests of Britain because the Minister will know that the common fisheries policy has been a disaster not just for Britain, but for many European countries. I would make this argument if I were a representative of several other countries of Europe. For example, the hon. Gentleman will know that the EU has had to buy African fishing rights. There are very real concerns about the cost and effect of that on those African nations. Not only have they suffered from deaths caused by the very large boats using their waters, but their own fishing industries have been damaged economically, and their local communities have been damaged by those activities. That has happened in a desperate effort to prop up the Spanish industry, so the Spanish industry, which has also declined, has suffered from the common fisheries policy. This is not a narrow or xenophobic point because I am not a narrow or xenophobic person.

Lawrie Quinn: I am most grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way for a second time. He has demonstrated his prowess as a student of history and geography this afternoon. My hon. Friend the Minister asked him about a putting a north-south line down the centre of the North sea, but where would the hon. Gentleman put a line between the Scottish and English fisheries? The right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) is here, and I am sure that he would be very interested to hear the hon. Gentleman's answer to that question.

Mr. Hayes : That problem is not as significant as the hon. Gentleman pretends.

Lawrie Quinn indicated dissent.

Mr. Hayes: Well, many of the issues that we are debating today are common to the industries of Scotland and England. We talk about conservation, aid to the communities, the effect of the changes and the impact of regulation and inspection, but there is not much difference between the impressions of English fishermen and those of Scottish fishermen.

Mr. Salmond rose—

Mr. Hayes: Before I give way to the hon. Gentleman—I do not want him to breach the unanimity

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that I hope to achieve as I approach the last part of my speech—I wish to tell the hon. Member for Scarborough and Whitby, who raises the issue of my knowledge of geography and history, that he will be sorry to know, given my earlier remark that I am trained to teach history, whereas I have only an O-level in geography. I plead guilty to the point about geography, but not to that about history.

Mr. Salmond rose—

Mr. Hayes: I shall let the hon. Gentleman intervene very briefly because I want to make some progress.

Mr. Salmond: I know that the hon. Gentleman has been reading up, but he should be aware that the Conservative party and the Labour party combined in 1999 to transfer 40,000 square miles of Scottish waters to English jurisdiction, and I can tell him that that was opposed by every Scottish fisherman; there was no division on that.

Mr. Hayes: There are always local difficulties between those splendid nations that are happy to be part of this glorious United Kingdom, and I know that the hon. Gentleman celebrates precisely that.

Mr. Simmonds: May I assure my hon. Friend that the fishermen in Boston are against regional control—the regionalism that the Liberal Democrats purport to support—and very much for national sovereignty in fishing policy.

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