HC Deb 14 January 1975 vol 884 cc270-81
Mr. Millan

I beg to move Amendment No. 4, in page 4, line 2 after "authorities", insert and such organisations representing the interests of fishermen". The amendment comes out of the debate in Committee about consultation with fishermen before making a sea designation order. In Committee we wrote into the Bill a provision for consultation with local authorities, but there was still the feeling among hon. Members that fishing interests that might be affected by a sea designation order should be particularly protected by the inclusion of a statutory right of consultation.

Since the Committee stage we have had consultations with representatives of the Scottish Trawlers' Federation, representing the deep-sea fishermen, and the Scottish Fishermen's Federation, representing the majority of the inshore fishermen. Both organisations accepted the Government's assurances that there would be consultations before the orders were made, but they both wanted that intention given statutory expression. That is what is done by the amendments.

Which body was consulted would naturally depend on the location of the sea designation area. Consultation could be with one or both bodies I have mentioned, or with local inshore fishermen's associations, wherever that was necessary. For example, there is one in Orkney and one in Buckie. The important thing is that consultation is written into the Bill.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

I welcome the amendment, with which the Government have met our arguments in Committee. There was still considerable anxiety among fishing interests, after the meeting with the Government, on the question whether that would be done. It has been done, and we are grateful.

Having had to deal with fishing as a member of the previous Government, I know—as does the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes), as a result of his talks with the industry—that there is extreme anxiety throughout the industry about the whole of the oil development. All sections of the industry are justifiably sensitive about the way in which their livelihoods may be affected by the oil development, no matter how much wider benefit it may bring to Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom. Various pieces of machinery have been established to help with consultation. The more consultation we can have with fishermen on such matters, the more we shall put at rest the anxieties and concern that have been expressed.

It would be a great tragedy, not only to the fishing industry but to the proper development of the oil industry, if we saw the oil industry developing as a competitor with the traditional fishing industry. That would be a serious matter for good relations between different sections of the community in Scotland.

For that reason, I am grateful to the Minister for moving the amendment. The fishing associations with which I have been in contact must be grateful as well.

One other matter makes the question of consultation even more relevant. There is talk of extended fishing limits and, perhaps, territorial waters. If territorial waters are extended, the area over which sea designation orders could be made will become much more extensive. Fishermen might then be even more affected. Therefore, the fact that consultation has been written into the Bill gives greater reassurance than may appear at first sight. I thank the Government for the amendment.

Mr. Douglas Henderson (Aberdeenshire, East)

I, too, thank the Minister for having noted the comments made in Committee. Since then I have spoken to the fishing interests in my constituency, which will be very pleased that the Minister has recognised and identified their special concern by moving the amendment. I hope that the hon. Gentleman's words about consulting not just the central organisations but the local branches will become a reality. In some areas there may be a greater local awareness of the problems of those areas than the central organisation has.

The amendment is timely. I echo the comments of the hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns (Mr. Buchanan-Smith) that there should be this recognition of our arguments because of the anxieties in the industry over its problems of costs, quotas and limits. It is to be hoped that the consultation will represent a great step forward in the Government's attitude to the industry.

Mr. Iain Sproat (Aberdeen, South)

I add my thanks to the Government for having introduced the amendment. The Minister will know that after the meeting in Aberdeen there was real anger that fishing interests had not been consulted before the Bill was drafted. The amendment will go a long way towards showing that the Government take those interests fully into account.

The fishing industry is particularly sensitive at this time vis-à-vis the oil industry, and is suffering from other problems. With the likely extension of the three-mile limit to at least 12 miles, the application of the sea designation orders will increase. Unfortunately, as the Minister will know, the fishing industry believes that its experience of consultation with the Government has not been a happy one. Let us hope that from now on consultations will take place on a better footing.

7.30 p.m.

Mr. Iain MacCormick (Argyll)

I stress the importance of such consultation regarding Loch Fyne. It is an area in which obstruction could easily arise to affect fishmen badly. I referred in Committee to the Loch Fyne herring. I am sure that the Minister will bear its fate in mind.

Mr. Millan

When I referred to local associations I did not mean local branches of the two main bodies that I mentioned. I was thinking of independent fishermen's associations which might represent the local members. I would be happy, of course, to talk about these matters with the local people most affected, but I would expect the main bodies to ensure that their local people were involved in the consultations and that they were consulted. What I was saying was meant to direct attention to the fishermen who are not members of the main bodies but who have their own local organisations. I do not want them to feel that they would be cut out by any consultation taking place with the main bodies, and which would be of interest to them. Orkney is one example.

Mr. Grimond

I do not mean to take up the time of the House on this matter but I would like to thank the Minister. I raised this point in Committee and I am grateful that he has responded to it.

Even though local branches of fishermen's organisations—for instance, in the herring fishing industry—are members of the main bodies it is my experience that the fishermen are organised locally. It is not quite the same as being a local branch of the NFU. They do not have constant contact with Brander and Cruickshank. If a person lives in Orkney he is far removed from the central organisation.

I know that the Scottish Office is full of good will, and particularly so at this time of night. I hope that it will carry on consultation in the months to come and that it will be in frequent contact with the organisations concerned. I hope that explanation will be given of what is happening and that the Scottish Office will listen to the views of the local associations. Their views vary much from port to port.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Grimond

I beg to move Amendment No. 5, in page 4, line 8, leave out subsection (2) and insert— '(2) No order under this section shall be made unless a draft of it has been approved by resolution of each House of Parliament'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this we may discuss the following amendments:

No. 34, in page 4, line 8, leave out subsection (2) and insert— '(2) No statutory instrument containing an order under section 1 above shall be made unless a draft of it has been laid before, and approved by resolution of, each House of Parliament. (3) Any such statutory instrument shall proceed in Parliament as if its provisions would, apart from this Act, require to be enacted by a Public Bill which cannot be referred to a Select or other Committee of either House under Standing Orders of either House relating to private Bills '. No. 44, in page 4, line 9, leave out from 'be' to end of line 10 and insert 'laid in draft in each House of Parliament and not take effect until such draft shall have been approved by resolution of each House of Parliament'.

Mr. Grimond

The amendment reiterates the demand for the affirmative procedure for the designation of sea areas. The amendment may be defective—indeed, I think it is—and I suspect that Amendment No. 34 makes an effort which I am not attempting to meet one of the points made by the Minister in Committee.

The purpose of the amendment is clear. The Minister gave an undertaking to consider this matter and if possible to let us have the affirmative procedure. He indicated that there were certain difficulties. I am sorry that he has not succeeded and I hope that he will try again. We have an affirmative procedure for land and the fishermen do not see why such a procedure should not be applied to the designation of sea areas.

I turn aside for one moment to say that it has been put to me by lawyers that the term "designated sea areas" is close to the term "designated area" which is used in the Continental Shelf Act. The lawyers hope that there will be no confusion.

The purpose of the amendment is to achieve an affirmative procedure for the designation of sea areas. I do not want to rehearse the full argument again. I must stress that fishermen are concerned about the impact of oil. They are in danger of losing valuable grounds and they are also in danger of being severely hampered even in grounds which they still fish.

I can give two examples. The lobster fishermen in Orkney were warned that if they left their creels in a certain place they might suffer damage, the implication being that they should give up those areas altogether. It is impossible for such fishermen to know the exact nature of their rights. They cannot compete with large oil companies. They are not able to pursue their claims through the courts. The House must be careful to protect them. In another instance a man was asked to move his boat from a safe mooring to an unsafe one. His boat was blown upon the shore and damaged. He has no redress.

We are dealing with a lot of individual men who do not have strong organisations. They are faced with an entirely new situation. The large oil companies are interfering with their traditional living. It seems that as it stands the law of the sea is vague. It will be difficult to determine who is liable for any breaches that might occur or what compensation is payable. I feel strongly that the least we can do is to ensure, before an area is designated, with all that that entails, that this matter should be properly considered by the House. I beg the Government to look again at whatever difficulties there may be and, if they possibly can, to write the affirmative procedure into the clause.

Mr. MacCormick

I merely wish to underline what the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) has said. Perhaps fishermen stand to lose more than anyone else through the operation of the Bill. For that reason it is important that a great deal of time and trouble should be spent in determining whether a given sea designation order is required and in considering the position of the fishing industry, which is such an important industry in many parts of Scotland. It is clear that oil-related operations will take place for geographical reasons in areas that now contain fishing grounds. I believe that these are amendments which should commend themselves to the House.

Mr. Millan

I can say that I considered this matter, as I said I would, between Committee and Report. Amendment No. 34, if one wanted to do what is sought, would be the amendment to choose. I believe that it is properly drawn save for one slight error. That is not surprising as it is copied from a Government amendment.

On balance I do not believe that it would be desirable to write this procedure into the Bill. It is fair to say that the apprehensions about sea designation orders arise almost exclusively from the possible effect on fishermen. We are now dealing with an entirely different situation from the expedited acquisition order contained in Clause 1. We have written into the Bill that before a sea designation order is introduced there will be consultation not only with the local authorities, which is an improvement, but with the fishing interests.

When we take into account the procedure that a sea designation order has to go through as outlined in Schedule 3, when we take into account the licence conditions which can be imposed under Clauses 4 and 5, and when we consider that there will be regulations for protection and control in designated sea areas under Clause 6, which are subject to parliamentary procedure, I think that it is fair to say that we have provided a substantial amount of parliamentary control. A lot of complicated consultation is involved before such an order can be introduced and before it is made effective in terms of operations under the order taking place.

In those circumstances it would be unbalancing the situation to write a further provision into the Bill which would provide for an affirmative resolution procedure. It is a matter of balance and I cannot pretend that the arguments are all the one way. To some extent the degree to which we should be involved in these debates in the House, whether by negative or by affirmative procedure, will depend on how we decide to define the areas for a sea designation order. If we take Loch Fyne as an example, it would be possible to designate a large part of the loch under one order or it would be possible to do so in separate bits as the necessity arises. Before making a decision on that, we would want to go through the consultations with local authorities, the fishing interests, and the rest, so that, instead of one order, one might have a series of orders, which would have implications for parliamentary time.

All these matters will be subject to local discussion. The parallel between sea designation orders and anything similar—as far as one can have anything analogous in other legislation—would point to the negative procedure and not to the affirmative procedure. Since we have written so many other safeguards into the Bill, I ask the House not to include this further safeguard, which would merely make the process too elaborate and would add very little in the way of positive additional protection to that which we are already affording in the Bill.

Mr. Henderson

We are glad that the hon. Gentleman will have such extensive consultations with interests outside the House, but would it not be in the best interests of the Bill if there were also consultations with Members of this House, in the terms which the amendment proposes, before a decision was taken? Consultation does not always imply agreement, and there may well be cases where there is disagreement by some of the interests consulted. In that case, the correct constitutional way for such disagreement to be aired, discussed and decided upon would surely be on the Floor of the House.

Mr. Millan

The hon. Gentleman is forgetting that the negative procedure will apply and that, under the new arrangements for the Statutory Instruments Committees, it is much easier now to get debates under the negative procedure than it used to be. The situation is by no means that parliamentary debate will be excluded. The Bill as it stands will simply mean that we shall not have a specific obligation, regardless of circumstances, to find time for an affirmative resolution.

Sir John Gilmour (Fife, East)

While one is grateful for the consultations which the Minister is now providing, are we not up against a difficulty that if, under Clause 1, an area of land is acquired, a sea designation order is likely to follow, irrespective of whatever representations can be made? Once one has actually agreed to a certain piece of land being acquired and used, a sea designation order is almost certain to have to be made in order to get the platform out to sea.

Mr. Millan

It depends—it does not necessarily follow.

7.45 p.m.

Mr. Alexander Fletcher

We appreciate the point made by the Minister of State, but we should also take into account the point put by the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, East (Mr. Henderson), when he said that consultation does not necessarily imply agreement. There is obviously a difference between the expedited acquisition procedure and the sea designation orders, but it is just as important to those involved, the fishermen, that a sea designation order should be seen to have the full positive blessing of this House. The Minister may query the word "blessing", but certainly the agreement of the House should be seen to have been given in such cases.

Clearly, the affirmative procedure would be a protection for fishermen whose livelihood is as much affected by a sea designation order as a farmer's livelihood is affected when land acquisition is expedited on shore. We ask the Minister to consider the whole matter again very carefully because it is vital that Parliament should be seen to be involved in these very important decisions.

Mr. Millan

I can only repeat that Parliament is involved through the negative procedure. There is, perhaps, a tendency to devalue that procedure, so I shall give examples of where it applies. We can designate the site of a new town, for example, by an order subject to the negative procedure. Orders related to development area status are under the negative procedure. Orders made under the Sea Fish (Conservation) Act, 1967, restricting fishing by licensed boats in specified sea areas and prohibiting the landing of fish caught in specified areas, are made under the negative procedure.

Thus, what we propose in the Bill is not unprecedented in matters of considerable substance. We have written into the Bill a tremendous number of safeguards and I cannot imagine that any Government, even if they wished to do so—we certainly would not come into that category—could hope to get away with anything under a sea designation order, given all the safeguards which the Bill already contains. We consider that the Bill has enough safeguards without the additional protection proposed in the amendment.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 161, Noes 191.

Division No. 46.] AYES [7.45 p.m.
Aitken, Jonathan Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Parkinson, Cecil
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne) Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Pattie, Geoffrey
Bell, Ronald Hannam, John Price, David (Eastleigh)
Benyon, W. Hawkins, Paul Pym, Rt Hon Francis
Biggs-Davison, John Hayhoe, Barney Rathbone, Tim
Boscawen, Hon Robert Henderson, Douglas Rees-Davies, W. R.
Bowden, A. (Brighton, Kemptown) Hooson, Emlyn Reid, George
Boyson, Dr Rhodes (Brent) Howells, Geraint (Cardigan) Renton, Rt Hon Sir D. (Hunts)
Brittan, Leon Hunt, John Ridley, Hon Nicholas
Brotherton, Michael Hurd, Douglas Rifkind, Malcolm
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Hutchison, Michael Clark Roberts, Michael (Cardiff NW)
Buchanan-Smith, Alick Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Roberts, Wyn (Conway)
Budgen, Nick James, David Rost, Peter (SE Derbyshire)
Bulmer, Esmond Jessel, Toby Scott, Nicholas
Burden. F. A. Jopling Michael Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Carlisle, Mark Kaberry, Sir Donald Shelton, William (Streatham)
Chalker, Mrs Lynda Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine Shepherd, Colin
Churchill, W. S. Kershaw, Anthony Shersby, Michael
Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton) King, Evelyn (South Dorset) Silvester, Fred
Clark, William (Croydon S) King, Tom (Bridgwater) Sims, Roger
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Knight, Mrs Jill Skeet, T. H. H.
Cockcroft, John Lamont, Norman Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)
Cooke, Robert (Bristol W) Lane, David Spence, John
Cope, John Lawrence, Ivan Spicer, Jim (W Dorset)
Corrie, John Lawson, Nigel Spicer, Michael (S Worcester)
Costain, A. P. Le Marchant, Spencer Sproat, Iain
Crawford, Douglas Lester, Jim (Beeston) Stainton, Keith
Crowder, F. P. Lloyd, Ian Stanbrook, Ivor
Dean, Paul (N Somerset) Loveridge, John Stanley, John
Dodsworth, Geoffrey Luce, Richard Steen, Anthony (Wavertree)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James MacCormick, Iain Stewart, Donald (Western Isles)
du Cann, Rt Hon Edward Macfarlane, Neil Stokes, John
Durant, Tony MacGregor, John Stradling Thomas, J.
Eden, Rt Hon Sir John Macmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham) Taylor, R. (Croydon NW)
Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke) McNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury) Taylor, Teddy (Cathcart)
Elliott, Sir William McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest) Tebbit, Norman
Emery, Peter Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Thatcher, Rt Hon Margaret
Ewing, Mrs Winifred (Moray) Mates, Michael Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Eyre, Reginald Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Thomas, Rt Hon P. (Hendon S)
Fairgrieve, Russell Mayhew, Patrick Thompson, George
Farr, John Meyer, Sir Anthony Townsend, Cyril D.
Fisher, Sir Nigel Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove) Trotter, Neville
Fletcher, Alex (Edinburgh N) Mills, Peter Vaughan, Dr Gerard
Fookes, Miss Janet Moate, Roger Viggers, Peter
Fowler, Norman (Sutton C'f'd) Molyneaux, James Walder, David (Clitheroe)
Fox, Marcus Monro, Hector Warren, Kenneth
Gardner, Edward (S Fylde) Montgomery, Fergus Weatherill, Bernard
Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife) Morris, Michael (Northampton S) Welsh, Andrew
Goodhart, Philip Neave, Airey Wiggin, Jerry
Goodhew, Victor Nelson, Anthony Wigley, Dafydd
Grant, Anthony (Harrow C) Neubert, Michael Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)
Gray, Hamish Nott, John
Grimond, Rt Hon J. Osborn, John TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Grist, Ian Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby) Mr. David Steel and
Hall, Sir John Pardoe, John Mr. Alan Beitb.
Allaun, Frank Boothroyd, Miss Betty Colquhoun, Mrs Maureen
Archer, Peter Bray, Dr Jeremy Cook, Robin F. (Edin C)
Armstrong, Ernest Broughton, Sir Alfred Cox, Thomas (Tooting)
Ashton, Joe Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Craigen, J. M. (Maryhill)
Atkinson, Norman Buchan, Norman Crosland, Rt Hon Anthony
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Buchanan, Richard Cunningham, Dr J. (Whiteh)
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Callaghan, Rt Hon J. (Cardiff SE) Dalyell, Tam
Bates, Alf Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P) Davidson, Arthur
Bean, R. E. Campbell, Ian Davies, Bryan (Enfield N)
Benn, Rt Hon Anthony Wedgwood Cant, R. B. Deakins, Eric
Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N) Carmichael, Neil de Freitas, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Bldwell, Sydney Carter-Jones, Lewis Dempsey, James
Blenkinsop, Arthur Cartwright, John Doig, Peter
Boardman, H. Cocks, Michael (Bristol S) Dormand, J. D.
Booth, Albert Coleman, Donald Douglas-Mann, Bruce
Dunn, James A. Kelley, Richard Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)
Dunnett, Jack Kerr, Russell Robertson, John (Paisley)
Eadie, Alex Kinnock Neil Roderick, Caerwyn
Edge, Geoff Lambie, David Rodgers, George (Chorley)
Edwards, Robert (Wolv SE) Lamborn, Harry Rodgers, William (Stockton)
Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun) Lamond, James Rooker, J. W.
Ellis, Tom (Wrexham) Latham, Arthur (Paddington) Roper, John
Evans, Ioan (Aberdare) Lee, John Rose, Paul B.
Evans, John (Newton) Lestor, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough) Ross, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock)
Ewing, Harry (Stirling) Lewis, Arthur (Newham N) Rowlands, Ted
Faulds, Andrew Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Shaw, Arnold (Ilford South)
Fernyhough, Rt Hon E. Lipton, Marcus Sillars, James
Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Litterick, Tom Silverman, Julius
Fitt, Gerard (Belfast W) Lomas, Kenneth Skinner, Dennis
Flannery, Martin Lyon, Alexander (York) Small, William
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Lyons, Edward (Bradford W) Smith, John (N Lanarkshire)
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Mabon, Dr J. Dickson Spearing, Nigel
Ford, Ben McCartney, Hugh Spriggs, Leslie
Freeson, Reginald McElhone, Frank Stallard, A. W.
George, Bruce MacFarquhar, Roderick Stewart, Rt Hn M. (Fulham)
Gilbert, Dr John Mackintosh, John P. Stoddart, David
Golding, John Maclennan, Robert Stott, Roger
Gourlay, Harry McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C) Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
Grant, John (Islington C) McNamara, Kevin Swain, Thomas
Grocott, Bruce Madden, Max Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife) Magee, Bryan Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Hamling, William Mahon, Simon Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)
Harper Joseph Marks, Kenneth Thorne, Stan (Preston South)
Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Marquand, David Tierney, Sydney
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole) Tinn, James
Hooley, Frank Meacher, Michael Tomlinson, John
Horam, John Mellish, Rt Hon Robert Urwin, T. W.
Hoyle, Douglas (Nelson) Millan, Bruce Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Huckfield, Les Miller, Dr M S. (E Kilbride) Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)
Hughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey) Murray, Ronald King Walker, Terry (Kingswood)
Hughes, Mark (Durham) Newens, Stanley Ward, Michael
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Noble, Mike Watkins, David
Hughes, Roy (Newport) Ogden, Eric Weitzman, David
Hunter, Adam O'Malley, Rt Hon Brian White, Frank R. (Bury)
Irving, Rt Hon S. (Dartford) Orbach, Maurice White, James (Pollok)
Janner Greville Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Willey, Rt Hon Frederick
Jay, Rt Hon Douglas Ovenden, John Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Park, George Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
John, Brynmor Parry, Robert Wise, Mrs Audrey
Johnson, James (Hull West) Perry, Ernest Woodall, Alec
Johnson, Walter (Derby S) Prescott, John Woof, Robert
Jones, Barry (East Flint) Price, C. (Lewisham W)
Jones, Dan (Burnley) Price, William (Rugby) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Judd, Frank Richardson, Miss Jo Mr. James Hamilton and
Kaufman, Gerald Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Mr. Laurie Pavitt.

Question accordingly negatived.

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