HC Deb 22 April 1983 vol 41 cc535-6
Mr. Buchanan-Smith

I beg to move amendment No. 20, in page 8, line 28, leave out clause 7.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this it will be convenient to discuss Government amendments Nos. 21 to 26, 28 and 30, and 34 to 42.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

This group of amendments is fairly important, although, as a matter that we discussed in Committee and on which I gave certain assurances, I hope that the House will feel that we have already had a considerable opportunity to deal with it.

In Committee, we discussed the importance of obtaining information about shellfish farming, and I undertook to seek to bring forward proposals at a later stage to provide powers for England and Wales similar to those for Scotland. I am glad to say that that has proved possible. These amendments provide for unified arrangements in respect of England, Wales and Scotland to enable Ministers to make orders requiring information about shellfish farming.

As with the proposed powers to require information about inland fish farms and sea fish farms, it will now be possible, in respect of shellfish farming businesses, to require the registration of such businesses, the furnishing of specified information, the keeping of records and the retention of those records for up to three years. This requirement will also relate to shellfish farming in inland waters, which is a relatively new development, such as crayfish farming. It will provide valuable information which until now has not been available to Ministers.

The purpose of this group of amendments is not in dispute. I am sorry that it was not possible to introduce the amendments at an earlier stage, but it has always been my wish to have these powers, and I sensed that it was also the wish of the Committee. Given certain unfortunate recent developments of disease amongst shellfish, it is important to have these powers. I would have been bitterly disappointed if we had not been able to use the Bill to extend these powers in the way that I have described.

I hope that I have met the will of the Committee and that my hon. Friend and the House will accept the amendments.

Mr. Corrie

I am delighted that my right hon. Friend has been able to move these amendments. It was my intention originally to cover shellfish farming in this way in the Bill. However, it is difficult for a Back Bencher to draft complicated provisions such as these, even with the tremendous help that I was given.

In Committee, I was pleased when my hon. Friend the Member for Argyll (Mr. MacKay) managed to include provisions for Scotland, but even then we did not manage to cover England and Wales. Today, my right hon. Friend has been able to cover England, Wales and Scotland in one clause, which is extremely satisfactory. The industry is delighted that this has proved possible. It feared that we should be unable to deal with shellfish in the way that we wanted, but these amendments have done it. What is more, they have cut down the number of words in the Bill, which is always good in legislation. I welcome the amendments warmly.

Amendment agreed to.

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