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Mr. Paul Tyler (North Cornwall): I apologise to you, Madam Deputy Speaker, and to the House, because I was not able to attend the early stages of this debate. I was dealing with a watery problem of a different nature as an amateur plumber's mate.
I take this opportunity to congratulate the hon. Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Randall) for presenting this important Bill to the House. I congratulate him particularly because I cannot imagine that he has a constituency interest in the matter. It can hardly be a parochial concern for himfar from it. However, I am delighted to be able to participate briefly in this debate, not only because of my constituency interest but because when I was elected again to the House in 1992 I chaired an all-party group on coastal concerns, and one of our anxieties related precisely to the subject of this Bill.
These amendments are extremely important. If we do not have an effective management structure, I fear that the good will that has been invested in this Billon all sides, but particularly by the hon. Member for Uxbridgemay not be fulfilled. I want to emphasise to the Ministershould he need a reminderthat effective management will have cost implications, particularly in the early stages. That was referred to earlier in the context of the sea fisheries committees, but other official and voluntary bodies will clearly have difficulty in meeting their obligations under the Bill.
The sea fisheries committees are already under great strainthey are not alonein terms of the resources made available to them. Surely the time has come to review the way in which they are able to fund their activities. At present, as we all know, the burden falls on local government and some local authorities already have great difficulty in coping with it. The teething problems that the Bill will inevitably create will be costly to deal with, so the Government should take the opportunity to review the way in which funding takes place.
It is already the experience of the sea fisheries committees that a special area of conservation or a site of special scientific interest with a significant marine interest can cost about £10,000 to £20,000 to monitor and to manage responsibly. In those circumstances, we must be sure that the funding will be made available. The Minister referred to funding, and I would like to be sure that these Government amendments will not place new financial responsibilities and new financial penalties on bodies that are already hard-pressed.
Mr. Dismore: The nub of the disagreement between me and my right hon. Friend the Minister relates to amendment No. 60, which I tabled, and Government amendment No. 1. I do not understand how we can make the Bill effective without a management scheme for each of the areas selected. When the right hon Gentleman replies, perhaps he will cite examples of the areas that he thinks would not require a management scheme. That might help to put my mind at rest.
Earlier, I gave examples of sites overseas where there were or were not management schemes. The marine park of Alonissos and northern Sporades has been a great success but, in the absence of a management scheme, all the local interests involved feel very vulnerable about their ability to continue to maintain the park effectively. Co-operation has enabled the park to work well, but it might be vulnerable to predators from outside who might come into the park to fish. At the other end of the scale, the Great Barrier reef has shown how a management scheme can work effectively. Although the Bill does not make provision for sites of that size, I hope that my right hon. Friend will tell us the sort of areas where a management scheme would be appropriate and those where it would not. If he does that, I will be able to withdraw my amendment.
I am glad that we have taken on board the need to consult. Many of my amendments were geared towards creating the need to consult all those involved, and I do not intend to say any more about that. Perhaps great minds think alike, because I am pleased that my right hon. Friend has come up with the same formula for the review of the management scheme as I did. A period of five years is sensible in terms of allowing the marine site to settle down and of keeping matters under review.
The hon. Member for North Cornwall (Mr. Tyler) asked about the costs involved, an issue that I raised when we debated the second group of amendments and which is mentioned in my amendment No. 64. In setting up management schemes it is important to identify where the funding will come from. As I said earlier, the marine park at Zakynthos is funded through a variety of sources, including local businesses, central and local government in Greece, and major conservation bodies, producing an effective funding partnership even without a management scheme. However, it is important to recognise that a cost is involved and to identify where the money will come from, whether from the Government or otherwise. I hope that when my right hon. Friend the Minister replies, he will give us some guidance on that.
The hon. Member for North Cornwall (Mr. Tyler) raised two perfectly relevant and important issues, and my hon. Friend the Member for Hendon (Mr. Dismore) has just reiterated one of them. All Bills that will have a significant effectthis Bill will have an important effect in enabling a national system of marine sites of special interest to be establishedrequire adequate resourcing, and we have fully taken account of that.
As I said earlier, we shall increase resources to English Nature to take account of the Bill's requirements and we expect English Nature to make equivalent amendments to its corporate plan to ensure that it is properly resourced. We have examined the costs of monitoring and managing sites, but the full implications of that will only be certain in time. However, we have made what we believe to be adequate provision.
As I said in the previous debate, the Government recognise that the adequacy of the role and, in particular, the funding of the sea fisheries committees is under review, and that a review of their funding will have to await the review of the common fisheries policy, but I would expect any funding review to consider the implications of their environmental duties.
Mr. Tyler: Whenever a Minister refers to waiting for the review of the common fisheries policy, or, indeed, the common agricultural policy, my heart sinks, because that usually means many years of discussion, and there will be an intervening period when the sea fisheries committees will be under severe financial strain.
Mr. Meacher: I hear what the hon. Gentleman says, but I can only repeat that the Government are extremely keen to see the review of the common fisheries policy undertaken and completed. Until that review is complete, it would not make sense to consider the funding of the sea fisheries committees. That is not because we hope that that review will drag on for years, so that we need make no provision with regard to the sea fisheries committees. There is a logic in this and, I repeat, it is the Government's view that we will have to wait for the completion of that review. The hon. Gentleman may want to pursue the matter with some of my colleagues who are more closely associated with it than me.
My hon. Friend the Member for Hendon asked in what instances a management scheme would not be needed. I agree that a management scheme would be a helpful tool in the vast majority of cases, and we will encourage the development of such schemes. However, there may be cases in which no operations are taking place but a scheme is necessary. I think that that must be assessed as sites are identified and notified, and as experience develops, including in relation to the pilot schemes that are now being undertaken in certain European marine sites.
I am glad that my hon. Friend and I take the same view on the review period. All that I can say with regard to his final pointas I said, I do not think that management schemes are needed in every caseis that I would be reluctant to include provisions that prevented the notification of sites and the recognition and protection that it provides before a management scheme has been established. Such an arrangement would be the wrong way round, so I hope that he will not press the matter.