HC Deb 01 May 1962 vol 658 cc864-947

Order read for resuming adjourned debate on Question [3rd April], That the Clause (Channel Islands and Isle of Man), proposed on consideration of the Bill, as amended (in the Standing Committee), be read a Second time.

Question again proposed.

5.26 p.m.

Mr. James H. Hoy (Edinburgh, Leith)

We return to the Sea Fish Industry Bill the proceedings on which have been very long and protracted, though I must say that I think this is the longest interruption which we have had of any one speech. I started this speech on 3rd April, and stopped at seven o'clock on that day, and after this very long time I have very little more to add to what I then said. I think that it must be an all-time record for an interruption.

The proposed new Clause makes considerable changes in the law. As I said when the Parliamentary Secretary was introducing the Clause, I thought that he was a little peremptory with it because what we are doing here is to bring into line with what we have done in the rest of Great Britain, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. We must remember that in this context we are extending our control not only over our own territorial waters but to waters outside the territorial limits.

As I said on 3rd April, it seemed to me that what we were doing in the new Clause was to apply this law to these other islands. We were told by the Parliamentary Secretary that this had come about because the Government had been requested to do so. I asked the hon. Gentleman if he would be a little more forthcoming with the House and would tell us who made the request, because it seemed a little strange to us that certain parts of the country should come along and say, "There is not sufficient control over us. We want you to insert a new Clause in the Bill so as to extend your control over the waters in which our fishermen may fish." What I was suggesting to the Parliamentary Secretary was, in fact, that the Ministry had forgotten all about the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man and, indeed, that we had got into the position that we had thought of in regard to foreign fishermen, because when we introduce this control it can apply only to the British fishing fleet. We shall then have no power over the foreign fishermen who come into the waters except in the territorial waters.

It was because of that position that I raised this question on 3rd April. I am certain that the House would be obliged if the Parliamentary Secretary could make plain to us whether our interpretation of the new Clause is correct or not, and, in so doing, he might be able to tell us exactly who asked for these Regulations to be introduced at this very late stage in the proceedings of the Bill.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. W. M. F. Vane)

During the interruption of this debate I have tried to compose a few notes which I hope will answer the hon. Gentleman's points and will show him that this Clause, as I originally claimed, is a satisfactory and proper addition to the Bill. The hon. Gentleman reproached me with being rather over-brief when I introduced the Clause, and I hope that now he will not reproach me for being too long. He has asked me a number of questions and I think that, in fairness to him and to the House, I should try to reply to them.

I understand the hon. Gentleman's concern over subsection (2) since this subsection relates to additional powers which the Bill provides for regulating fishing in various ways outside our territorial waters, including fishing for salmon or migratory trout inside or outside the three-mile limit. However, I can assure the hon. Gentleman that his fears are unfounded. The subsection is not here because of the salmon and trout provisions and if the powers are ever used the Regulations on salmon and trout fishing will not be the likely cause. The powers with which Clauses 10 and 11 deal derive from earlier Statutes and the powers in these two Statutes cover only the United Kingdom. This means that they do not permit Orders to be made prohibiting fishing by vessels registered in the Islands or requiring the registering of such vessels.

But the 1959 Act gave power to extend both the prohibition and the licensing power to the Channel Islands by Order in Council. No such Order in Council has ever been made, so at present there is no power to make a prohibition or a licensing Order affecting the Channel Islands. If it became desirable to do so, it could be possible only after making an Order in Council, and, of course, such an Order would be made not only after consultation with the Islands but also with their agreement. That is the present position.

5.30 p.m.

Now I come to the effects of subsection (2), which is the main subsection of the new Clause. Clauses 10 and 11 of the Bill alter the powers to make prohibition and licensing Orders in various countries. For example, the power to prohibit fishing can in some cases be exercised without having to refer to an international convention. Other changes relate to particular species caught by particular methods during particular times.

Subsection (2) provides that if an Order in Council ever were made extending the powers to make a prohibition or licensing Order to the Islands, that Order in Council could extend the powers as they have been amended by the Bill, and not merely the powers in the original legislation. I think that every hon. Member would agree that that is common sense. It may never be necessary to make such an Order, but if it were, and the Islands so wished—and I stress that—the possibility of doing so is there.

All it would mean is that Orders would then be made covering the Islands and vessels registered there, and that courts there could then prosecute offenders in the same way as can the courts in the United Kingdom. In order to make sure that the Islands courts would be in the same position, subsection (2) also provides power of prosecution under Clause 13. This means that a fine can be imposed instead of the count ordering the forfeiture of fish.

I am sure that the House will agree that, if we are to have power to regulate fishing in waters around the United Kingdom, there is reason, on similar grounds, for similar power to exist concerning waters around the Islands. Again, if there is to be power to regulate fishing for United Kingdom vessels on the high seas, it is reasonable to take a similar power to regulate fishing by vessels registered in the Islands.

It should be noted, in passing, that there is no salmon near the Channel Islands, and that it is a long way from the Channel Islands and, for that matter, the Isle of Man, to districts off the North-East Coast where drift nesting has been taking place. I hope that I have been able to show that these powers do not spring from any salmon controlling purpose.

Mr. E. G. Willis (Edinburgh, East)

Will the hon. Gentleman tell me—I am rather innocent about these matters—why Clause 12 of the Bill is excluded in the reference in subsection (2, b)?

Mr. Vane

Clause 12 covers landings and these are entirely the responsibility of the Islands Governments. That is why we excluded it from the Bill.

Mr. Willis

I asked my question because it was pointed out in Standing Committee that their fish could be landed here.

Mr. Vane

For the purpose of this new Clause we did not want to presume to legislate over a matter which is entirely the responsibility of the Islands, which are controlling the landings of fish at their own shores.

I do not know whether the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Leith (Mr. Hoy) wants me to refer to subsection (1) again. I think that it is quite plain. I know, however, that he would like me to say something about timing. He asked why this new Clause did not appear in the Bill at an earlier stage, and suggested that it was because we had forgotten about this matter. It is a fair question and I shall be frank.

The final draft of the Clause dealing with increased fines appeared only during a late stage in the drafting of the Bill and, therefore, the Islands could not be made aware of it until a later stage than some of the other parties concerned. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that there have been proper consultations with the Island authorities. It might have been possible to introduce this Clause while the Bill was in Standing Committee, but, bearing in mind that the Amendments to the Northern Ireland Clause had started very late in the day—for which we are not blameworthy—it seemed better to introduce this new Clause at a time when we would not need to amend it further, as might well have happened in Committee.

I now turn to forms of consultation. There is a distinction between the provisions in subsection (1) of the Clause and the provisions of subsections (2) and (3). Subsection (1) extends the United Kingdom legislation with which it is concerned direct to the Channel Islands from the start. That is the Sea Fisheries Act, 1883. When it was decided to increase penalties under that provision, the authorities in the Islands were asked formally whether they wished the increases to apply to their respective territories. In each case, the reply was a request that that should be done.

Subsections (2) and (3), which deal with the possible extension of the powers to make certain of our legislation apply to the Islands by Order in Council, are different in that they confer enabling powers, which could be exercised only if it were so decided by agreement between the United Kingdom and the Island authorities. The hon. Gentleman will know that it is the Home Office and not my right hon. Friend's Department which conducts consultations with the Channel Islands. There was consultation between different Departments and the different Islands and the Home Office concerning subsections (2) and (3), and it was agreed by all the Islands that the provisions of these two subsections would not only be appropriate but would also be welcome. I hope that the House will therefore agree that the new Clause should be added to the Bill.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.

  1. New Clause.—(WELFARE COMMITTEES.) 10,536 words
  2. cc896-8
  4. cc898-9
  6. cc899-928
  7. Clause 10.—(POWER TO RESTRICT FISHING FOR SEA-FISH.) 10,989 words
  8. cc928-9
  9. Clause 11.—(LICENSING OF BRITISH FISHING BOATS.) 380 words
  10. c929
  12. c929
  14. cc929-32
  16. cc932-5
  17. Clause 21.—(SUPPLEMENTARY PROVISIONS AS TO ORDERS UNDER SS. 19 AND 20.) 1,373 words
  18. c936
  19. Clause 22.—(PUBLIC FISHERIES.) 299 words
  20. cc936-8
  22. c938
  24. cc938-41
  25. Clause 33.—(INTERPRETATION.) 710 words
  26. cc941-2
  27. Clause 34.—(ORDERS.) 379 words
  28. c942
  29. Clause 35.—(NORTHERN IRELAND.) 92 words
  30. c942
  31. Clause 36.—(AMENDMENTS AND REPEALS.) 53 words
  32. c942
  33. Second Schedule.—(CONSEQUENTIAL AMENDMENT OF ENACTMENTS.) 142 words
  34. cc943-7
  35. Fourth Schedule.—(REPEALS AND REVOCATION.) 1,754 words