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21 Nov 2002 : Column 822continued
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.
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.
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:
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 mentionedI could have listed many othershave 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
I feel sorry for the Minister because with all his knowledgeI have acknowledged his understanding of such mattersand 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.
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: 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: 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. Simmonds: May I assure my hon. Friend that the fishermen in Boston are against regional controlthe regionalism that the Liberal Democrats purport to supportand very much for national sovereignty in fishing policy.