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My noble friend will recognise how important the local and regional aspects are with regard to the Bill, particularly as we spent a good part of this afternoon debating where the devolved authorities fit into this. Even less significant bodies than the devolved authorities have a part to play in the development of marine plans and marine conservation zones. Therefore, we are reluctant to put into the legislationon which in so many of the local dimensions it is important that bodies have their saya national list which might look pre-emptive over them. That is why I am not persuaded of the virtues of the amendment.
I would be failing in my duty to the Committee if I did not indicate that the Government fully share concerns on the question of our heritage with even the most enthusiastic Members. That is why we are putting forward two positions. This Bill necessarily is drawn in fairly broad terms with regard to marine heritage, because of the other considerations that inevitably are of great significance within the framework of the legislation. However, we will pursue the heritage protection Bill in due course. Noble Lords will accept that we have that Bill in draft, and we merely await the parliamentary opportunity to introduce it. Therefore, I hope that noble Lords will feel that on an important part of this Bill they have pressed their case for concern for the historic environment within British waters, and that the Bill provides the opportunity for the Government to fulfil our obligations in this respect. I hope that the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw her amendment.
Baroness Hooper: I thank the Minister for his comments, and I thank all noble Lords who have supported the amendment. It is very clear to me, as it is not at all clear in the Bill, that there is considerable interest in getting the references correct and in making it absolutely clearin a way that the noble Lord has made in his statement just nowthat these issues of cultural heritage and the historic environment are included in the Bill.
Before I refer in detail to some of the other issues that have been raised, I must apologise to the noble Lord, Lord Tyler, because I had understood that his Amendment 106CA might be grouped with our Amendment 106C, which introduces the concept of seascapes. Therefore, I did not make any comment on it. It must have been recently added to the group. That means that we will have another bite of the cherry and that we will be able to return to this aspect at a later stage.
I am grateful for all the support that has been shown. The argument about the heritage protection Bill, which is over beyond the horizon somewhere, is not satisfactory or sufficient to cover the importance of the issues that we have been discussing. I have always worked on the principle that a bird in the hand
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The issue of statutory consultees was not adequately covered. The noble Lord, Lord Howarth, in speaking to the amendment, made the position perfectly clear and, in questioning the Minister, asked for further help, and did not get it. An organisation such as English Heritage has a special status. It is not just an interested person or body. It may well be that statutory consultee is not a felicitous term; perhaps we should find some other way of describing them. There has to be some way in which we can get this very important requirement in the Bill, to give comfort to those who are interested in this issue and who wish to play their part fully, to ensure that their role is not overlooked.
I am not entirely happy with the Ministers response on this occasion. I said at the outset that these were probing amendments, so, although I am a bit tempted, I am not going to test the feeling of the Committee on this occasion. I feel sure that, given the interest and wide support, we will return to these issues. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Lord Taylor of Holbeach: This amendment will presumably come as no surprise to your Lordships. Much as we support the overall provisions of this Bill, we are, as I and my noble friends have said before,
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The Minister will no doubt say that flexibility is needed in the event that the MMO proves incapable of exercising these functions effectively. Surely, however, if that were the case, the Secretary of State would, first, withdraw the functions back into the department and, secondly, reconsider the whole approach to marine planning, with the appropriate legislation following. Watching the MMO fail and not taking the proper steps to dissolve it and to replace it with a more effective body would be the worst possible way to proceed.
Of course, this principle also applies to marine licensing. Although I have not tabled an amendment to that part of the Bill, I hope and trust that the Governments intentions are to delegate the relevant licensing powers to the MMO. However, this is nowhere indicated in the Bill. Perhaps the Minister might consider ways in which this could be made more explicit in the wording of the Bill. I beg to move.
Baroness Hamwee: Can the Minister confirm my reading of the Bill that the direction could designate a statutory undertaker as a public body? Statutory undertakers now are largely private sector. If I read it right, I have a question mark over that provision.
Surely the Welsh Assembly is a public body. I know that the Minister has said that co-operation between Welsh Ministers and the MMO will be the procedure. I really find the exclusion of the Welsh Assembly in this context unacceptable.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: This is an interesting question, on which I would like to allay the concerns of the noble Lord, Lord Taylor. I would also like to comment on the wording of his amendment. It would have the effect of limiting to the MMO the public body to which the Secretary of State, Welsh Ministers and the Department of the Environment in Northern Ireland could delegate their marine planning functions. It would be unusual to place a greater limit on the discretion of the Secretary of State, Welsh Ministers and the Department of the Environment in Northern Ireland to choose their delegate than is placed on Scottish Ministers. We certainly would start from the premise that each marine plan authority should have equal status, including in their ability to choose a suitable delegate to carry out their planning functions.
Let me make it clear that we intend to delegate our planning functions in the English inshore and offshore regions to the MMO, but we disagree with the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, on the virtue of limiting ourselves to doing so under this Bill. He has anticipated the reasons why we will resist his amendment. The system is new. We are pretty convinced that we have got it right and that this is the best way to do it, but changes to the remit of the MMO might need to be made in the future, which might mean that it would no longer be the best body to carry out marine planning. In those circumstances, we do not want to be tied by statute to delegating marine planning functions only to that body.
I know that the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, has said, Well, if that were the case, it would show that the whole system was not working, and the Government would have to come back to your Lordships House and the other place with new legislation. However, marine legislation does not come along very often. We heard in the previous debate about legislation that was long anticipated but, alas, had not quite reached your Lordships House. There is a genuine concern that, if we were to specify the MMO as he wants to, the result could be very inflexible if there were changes to be made in the future in the light of experience.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The noble Lord asks me to anticipate a circumstance that I hope will never arise. He will know that I cannot do that; all I can say to him is that it is best to leave some flexibility in that regard.
The noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, asked me to interpret public body. Clause 312Interpretationon page 206 makes it clear that a public body includes a government department, a Northern Ireland department, a local authority, a local planning authority or a statutory undertaker, although there is a further definition in relation to that in Clause 312(2).
We think that we should retain some flexibility here, to keep the option open of delegating specific functions within planning to specialist bodies. There are circumstances in which we might want some other body than the MMO to perform, for example, public consultation elements if there were a good reason for that.
We have had debates on the Severn. I have explained why there cannot be a joint plan, because of the devolution settlement, but there can be a lot of working well together. It would be possible for UK and Welsh Ministers to direct the same cross-border body to undertake public consultation in relation to both plansboth the Welsh plan and the plan covering the English part of the Severn environment. We think that there needs to be a degree of flexibility. We certainly do not think it appropriate to designate the MMO as the marine plan authority. We believe that the adoption of plans is a policy decision that should remain at ministerial level. That is why we have provided a mechanism in
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I know that, behind the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, is a concern that the MMO will not have the degree of authority that he wishes it to have. I well understand that concern. However, we have deliberately set up the MMO as an independent bodya non-departmental public body. That gives the organisation the independence and status that it needs to deliver on behalf of the Government as a whole.
The marine environment covers policy areas of direct interest to nearly every central government departmentdefence, shipping, ports, renewable energy, fisheries, aggregates, the environment, recreation and more. While the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs will be the sponsor Minister, the organisation will deliver on behalf of all departments. It will be better able to deliver with the new marine planning system, with objectivity and propriety on behalf of the UK Government. It will have a crucial role, building on the experience of fisheries and environmental licensing to deliver more joined-up decisions and a much better and faster one-stop-shop service to developers. It will play a key role in integrated coastal zone management, in helping to deliver important reforms and link conservation with fisheries management, and in managing and regulating a new and flexible tool to enable conservation benefits to be delivered, while encouraging important economic developments such as marine renewable energy to proceed.
These are major policies that run through the Bill. They mostly arise because of the need to deal with the increasing and conflicting pressures on the sea. We are equipping the MMO to deliver sustainable development in the marine environment. There should be no question about the importance of the Marine Management Organisation, or that we wish to fetter it in any way, apart from in the terms in which it undertakes its duties in accordance with the Bill. In the end, it ought to be up to each marine plan authority whom to delegate their functions to. I have made it clear that, as the UK Government, we will delegate those functions to the Marine Management Organisation. However, we retain the right for some flexibility in future if required. It would not be appropriate to limit Welsh Ministers and the Department of the Environment in Northern Ireland to using a UK government non-departmental public body. Those Administrations ought to be allowed to make decisions on the arrangements that work best for them.
I reiterate to the noble Lord, Lord TaylorI hope that he will agreethat the Marine Management Organisation will be extremely important and that it has the powers to do the job that we have set out for it.
Lord Taylor of Holbeach: I am grateful to the Minister for that response and for the way in which he addressed the issues. One question that my amendment raised but to which I did not speak was about the devolved authorities in Northern Ireland and Wales. I have no wish to tangle with the noble Lord, Lord
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I suspect that this is likely to be a bit of a running argument throughout the Bill. We know from the early stages of our proceedings on the Bill that the Minister was keen to vest in the MMO the authority that he manifested in the speech that he just gave. However, we are not entirely sure why there is a certain withdrawal at this point in the Bill. If it is the Governments intention to vest the authority of the Secretary of State and the planning authority for England in the MMO, why do they not say so in the Bill? What circumstances could arise in which the MMO was not the capable body? If the MMO performs badly as an executive function, that will need to be addressed by the Government. The powers vested in the MMO will have to be exercised in some way or another through some body or another, and that body needs to be the MMO, as the Government have clearly decided. I find it hard to understand why they draw back from putting that into the Bill at this stage. It would enhance the authority that the Government are seeking to vest in the MMO. From this Bench our view is that, if we want adequate authority from that body, we should make it clear that it has the full authority of legislation.
Baroness Hamwee: This amendment was tabled by my noble friend Lord Greaves, who has attached the name of my noble friend Lord Tyler to it; I do not know whether he was aware of that. The noble Baroness, Lady Young, has her name to it and to Amendment 92, I am glad to see. Amendments 93 and 94 are also in the group. The amendments are about a matter to which we have alluded beforethe relationship between this legislation and the Planning Act 2008, particularly applications for development control for nationally
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As the Bill stands, it seems to my noble friend that there is a lesser test relating to the marine policy documentsthe policy and the planwhen the application is to the Infrastructure Planning Commission than with an application for authorisation by the Marine Management Organisation. The IPC will be subject to a requirement to have regard to the appropriate marine policy documents, but in other caseswhere we are dealing with an authorisation or enforcement decision by the Marine Management Organisationthe decision must be in accordance with the appropriate marine policy documents unless relevant considerations indicate otherwise. Amendments 91 and 92 remove that exception.
Our other two amendments in the group are more specific. Amendment 93 is about offshore energy and would remove generation of more than 100 megawatts from the Infrastructure Planning Commission and put it into the marine regime. My noble friend describes this as a bit of kite-flying; he might not thank me for repeating that, of course. If there is to be a marine planning regime, it should cover everything. We had difficulty on the then Planning Bill in anticipating this legislation but, now that we have this large and generally admirable Bill, we find that decisions of the Infrastructure Planning Commission could ride roughshod over the new marine regimes. We know that the Government want to co-ordinate everything. Part of our task is to see whether it is co-ordinated.
We accept the need for security of energy supply, but should it take precedence over other marine considerations and should it fall within this legislation and be dealt with in the way that this legislation compares and balances the different matters that need to be taken into account? We find ourselves in the ironic position where an application for a smaller development for generating less energy will be taken into the balancing judgment of the Bill but, with a substantial generation of more than 100 megawatts, you can somehow leave all that aside, at any rate so far as concerns this legislation.
Amendment 94 is about decisions taken by the Infrastructure Planning Commission. It states that the marine policy statement and marine plans are the policies that should be relevant, rather than national policy statements. I tabled amendments referring to the potential conflict within the marine policy statement. This extends to the national policy statement. Again, the Government told us in effect not to worry because there will be proper co-ordination, but we are concerned about which should prevail if there is a conflict. I beg to move.
Baroness Young of Old Scone: I rise to support Amendments 91 and 92, to which I have put my name. The noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, said it all: this is the perennial argument that we had in debating the Planning Bill, and will have here, about the relationship between national infrastructure decisions and the marine policy statement and marine plans, and how much
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Earl Cathcart: We have already spent some time dwelling on the relationship between the MMO and the IPC. It is clear that the issue of the relationship between land and sea, development and conservation, planning and protection, and who should be in charge of each of these sectors, is one of the major themes of the Bill. I declare my full support for all that has been said by the noble Baronesses, Lady Hamwee and Lady Young.
As I have mentioned previously, in Committee on the Planning Bill my noble friend Lord Taylor said that he was unhappy about the fact that the IPC was considered above the MMO when it came to offshore developments, or those greater than 100 megawatts. We are still concerned. It is important to join up these two disparate and inextricably linked pieces of legislation and to make sure that marine plans are given the authority that they deserve. We on these Benches want to achieve consistency, clarity and effective marine management with the Bill. Therefore we agree that the IPC should have to make decisions in accordance with,
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