HC Deb 03 April 1962 vol 657 cc279-84

(1) Section sixteen of this Act shall extend to the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

(2) In section eleven of the Sea Fish Industry Act, 1959 (which provides for the extension to the Channel Islands and the Isle of man of certain enactments, including section seven of that Act and section two of the White Fish and Herring Industries Act, 1948), references to the said section seven and the said section two shall be construed as referring to those sections as amended by the Second Schedule to this Act, and as including references—

  1. (a) to sections ten and eleven of this Act, and
  2. (b) to section thirteen of this Act except in so far as it relates to offences under section twelve of this Act.

(3) Her Majesty may by Order in Council direct that, subject to such extensions, adaptations and modifications (if any) as may be specified in the Order, the provisions of sections fifteen and seventeen of this Act shall extend to the Isle of man or any of the Channel Islands.—[Mr. Vane.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

6.45 p.m.

Mr. Vane

I beg to move, That the Clause be read a Second time.

This new Clause makes provision for the application of certain provisions of the Bill to the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. It is not unusual, in this connection, to have such a Clause, and I hope that hon. Members will not be disturbed by the fact that it is introduced at this stage.

Although it was clear that provision would have to be made for the application of some parts of this Bill to the Islands, it was not possible to bring in this new Clause before, because until the Bill had progressed we could not tell what its final shape would be in respect of certain matters which would be of interest to the Islands, and, further, we had to consult them about the extent to which various matters should be applied. I assure the House that the Islands are fully in agreement with this new Clause. They have asked for these provisions.

The effect of subsection (1) is to apply the provisions of Clause 16 of the Bill, which sets out the increased fines which foreigners may incur for illegal fishing in our territorial waters. Subsection (2) is rather more involved. The present position is that the power to restrict fishing given by Section 7 of the Sea Fish Industry Act, 1959, and the power to require the licensing of fishing vessels given by Section 2 of the White Fish and Herring Industries Act, 1948, are covered by a provision in the 1959 Act which enables them to be extended to the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man by Order in Council. Since, under the Bill, we have amended those two Sections, it is right that any extension to the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands should be of the two Sections as amended, so the two provisions are exactly parallel.

Mr. Hoy

I think that the hon. Gentleman had better explain what this does. It is not good enough to say, "If I amend this it will bring it into line with something." What does it do by bringing it into line with something else? This is bringing into operation a new Clause which will effect this country and it is proposed to apply it to the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

Mr. Vane

I was proceeding as shortly as I could because I thought—

Mr. Hoy

This is the most important part of all.

Mr. Vane

The first part make applicable immediately to the islands the increased penalties which foreign vessels may incur. Subsection (2) of the new Clause says: In section eleven of the Sea Fish Industry Act, 1959 (which provides for the extension to the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man of certain enactments, including section seven of that Act and section two of the White Fish and Herring Industries Act, 1948),… Section 7 of the 1959 Act covers the power to restrict fishing, and Section 2 of the 1948 Act covers the licensing of fishing vessels.

Those are the two powers, and they can be extended to the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man by Order in Council. I am sure the hon. Gentleman will agree that if a power to restrict fishing or to licence a fishing boat is to be extended to any of these Islands by Order in Council, it should be parallel to the legislation which is operative in this country.

In Clauses 10 and 11 of the Bill we have amended those earlier provisions, and it is now our intention that the powers to be extended to the Channel Islands and to the Isle of Man should be those originally provided, as amended by the Bill. I am sorry if I have not made that entirely clear.

Lastly, subsection (3) makes it possible for two Clauses in this Bill again to be extended by Order in Council to the Islands at their request; that is Clause 15, which makes it an offence to be in possession of undersized fish for the purpose of any business—and the hon. Gentleman will remember that the Clause was to cover what was really a loophole in our conservation measures—and Clause 17, which allows exemption to be given for operations carried out for scientific purposes which would otherwise be contrary to the fishery regulations.

These three subsections all include reasonable provisions which it is appropriate for us to extend to the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, who have asked for these powers. I hope that the House will agree that it is proper for us to include this new Clause in the Bill.

Mr. Hoy

This is a very important Clause, and I am a little surprised that the Parliamentary Secretary should have dealt with it quite so peremptorily, because it is to apply to the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man what the hon. Gentleman says we have already done in the Bill. As a matter of fact, what he is now saying is that we are to extend the power of the Government to control the fishermen from the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man both inside and outside territorial waters. That is what the new Clause will do, and it is from that point of view that we have to consider it.

The hon. Gentleman says that the Government were invited to do this. Invited by whom? Who, from all the islands in the Channel, came to see the Minister to say that he ought to impose these restrictions on the fishermen of these islands? Who came from the Isle of Man to ask him to do it? The Minister had better be a little more forthcoming. He has no right to ask for powers of this kind to deal with these islands unless he can produce the proof as to who invited him to do it, and, in addition to that, tell the House with whom the consultations took place. Obviously, consultations had to take place.

Secondly, having told us that, he had bettter tell the House when the consultations took place, because we find it a little difficult to understand. I do not want to say that we actually disbelieved what the Parliamentary Secretary said, but the hon. Gentleman said that it is not unusual to have a Clause of this kind in a Bill of this kind. I do not think that it is unusual. What I think is unusual is this. Having given what the Minister said was a very long time in Committee to the Bill—and he did not complain that there had been any holding up of the Committee, though it had gone on for a very long time—the Leader of the House made the same statement last Thursday when he said that we ought to be prepared to deal with the Bill rapidly because it had been before the Committtee for such a long time that we ought to understand it from A to Z. If, in fact, that was so, why did not the Minister have this Clause in the Bill? If it is not unusual, why did he not have it in the Bill?

The hon. Gentleman went on to say that, although it is not unusual, he then had to wait to see how the Bill went. What did he mean by that? Surely, he knew what he wanted to do. I can hardly believe that the Minister waited until we had had this very long debate over these important Clauses to find out what the Committee thought before he decided to introduce this new Clause applying the provisions of these various Clauses to the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

I will tell the Minister why he introduced this new Clause. During the Committee stage, it was asserted, not only from this side, but certainly by one or two members of the hon. Gentleman's own side of the Committee, that if the Government took power to prohibit, not only in territorial waters but waters outside the territorial limits, fishing by British fishermen, there were others who would quite readily come in and fish in these waters.

The Minister did not think that that would happen, but, on second thoughts, he came to the conclusion that while he could apply this in Great Britain, there might be a chance that fishermen operating from the Channel Islands and from the Isle of Man would use this ban on fishermen in Great Britain, or take advantage of that opportunity, to drift-net for salmon. I hazard a guess that it was for that reason, and for that reason only, that we find this new Clause, being introduced at this late stage.

This new Clause is, in fact, a considerable number of new Clauses. It covers Clauses 10, 11, 13, 15 and 16 of the Bill, so that we are dealing in this new Clause, at the very least, with five Clauses of the Bill which have been discussed in Committee. The first one, let it be noted, as the Minister has said, is to increase the penalties in respect of foreign sea-fishing boats, but if we go back to Clauses 10 and 11, which are important in this part of the Bill, we find that the Minister is seeking there to impose limits on fishing by British fishermen. In Clause 10, for the first time in the history of our country, he proposes to take powers to prohibit a section of the British fishing fleet from fishing for salmon not only within the three-mile limit of territorial waters, but outside it. That is what Clause 10 provides, and the Minister proposes to take powers through this application Clause to impose the same conditions on fishermen in these islands. That is the position, as I see it.

We now go on to Clause 11, which deals with the licensing of boats. The Minister said that the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man had asked for these conditions. This Clause imposes restrictions on boats fishing for salmon or migratory trout, and it does so for the very first time. I find it a little difficult to believe that, at this very late stage in the proceedings on the Bill, this imposition which the Government now seek to impose on a section of the British fishing fleet is so acceptable to the fishermen of the Channel Islands and of the Isle of Man that they have come scurrying across the water in their little boats at this late stage to ask the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries to impose these restrictions on them.

That is what this Clause will do, and it is no use the Minister shaking his head, because if my interpretation of the new Clause is not correct let the Minister get us and say so. If he does, I am quite willing to withdraw what I have said, but 1 am certain that this new Clause does exactly that. Indeed, it is linked up with Clause 12, because, during the Committee stage, the argument was put that if we impose these restrictions on British fishermen, we could not impose them on foreign fishermen, who would still be fresh to fish up to the three-mile limit—

It being Seven o'clock, and there being Private Business set down by direction of The CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS, under Standing Order No. 7 (Time for taking Private Business), further Proceeding stood postponed.