HC Deb 29 February 1996 vol 272 cc983-4
2. Mr. Tyler

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what issues relevant to the responsibilities of his Department are on the agenda for the European Union intergovernmental conference; and if he will make a statement. [16098]

Mr. Douglas Hogg

As I announced on 7 February, we will seek to add to the treaty of Rome a protocol that will provide that full regard should be paid to animal welfare in matters relating to agriculture, transport, research and the single market". Any further proposals will be announced at the appropriate time.

Mr. Tyler

I am sorry that I was distracted by your intervention, Madam Deputy Speaker.

I am grateful to the Minister for that reply and I acknowledge the advance that has been made, but will he acknowledge that many hon. Members on both sides of the House have expressed concern this afternoon about the IGC agenda preparation's failure so far to take into account the need for radical reform both of the common fisheries policy and of the common agricultural policy? Will the Minister confirm, as it is a major feature of his Green Paper, that there needs to be a substantial transfer from production-related support to environmental, employment and social objectives, and that the IGC can consider those matters?

Mr. Hogg

I think that the hon. Gentleman is rather confused about the IGC's purpose. On the common agricultural policy—here I make a distinction between the CAP and the CFP, the common fisheries policy—we are talking about reform in policy. Negotiations will proceed in parallel with the IGC to try to ensure thorough CAP reform. It is possible that issues will properly be dealt with in relation to certain specific defects that we have identified in the CFP. If that is our conclusion, we will make proposals at the appropriate time.

Mr. Harris

On the last point made by my right hon. and learned Friend, will he look in particular at the memorandum that I and others have sent him on possible parts of the common fisheries policy that could be taken into account at the intergovernmental conference, such as the setting of parameters for the review of the policy and the very important question of what on earth we do about the wretched Spanish flag of convenience vessels and vessels from other member states that are plundering our stocks?

Mr. Hogg

My hon. Friend, along with other hon. Friends, has produced an important memorandum identifying a range of issues within the common fisheries policy that we need to address. My colleagues and I, especially my hon. Friend the Minister of State, have been looking carefully at the memorandum. My hon. Friend is right to draw specific attention to quota hopping, which is the point that he made at the end of the question. These are matters on which we are reflecting, and if we see positive ways forward we shall come to the House, in one way or another, to make our conclusions known. My hon. Friend has contributed enormously to the formulation of our thinking on this matter.