§ 2.53 p.m.
§ Lord Bruce of Donington asked Her Majesty's Government:
§ Whether, in respect of the submission to the European Communities of nominal fish catch statistics by member states fishing in the North-East and North-West Atlantic, as required by Council Regulations 3880/91 and 3881/91 of 19th December 1991, they will provide the estimated cost, and the administrative steps necessary, to ensure compliance.
§ The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Baroness Trumpington)
My Lords, the United Kingdom has been compiling this information both for its own purposes and to submit to international bodies for at least 20 years. These regulations convert long-established practice into Community legislation so that the Commission can meet its obligations under certain international conventions. It is not envisaged that compliance with the regulations will require additional costs or administrative steps for the United Kingdom.
Before I sit down I must offer the noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington, who is aware of my position, a deep apology. I apologise also to the House. Owing to circumstances beyond my control, I am not in a position to give supplementary answers today. I very much hope that the noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington, will put this Question down again when one of us will satisfy him to the best of our ability.
Lord Bruce of Donington
My Lords, I am most grateful to the Minister for her response and for her indication that the Government take these matters seriously and that they will give a considered reply. Will she undertake to bring to the attention of her right honourable friend that the real matters requiring answers relate to why some 31 pages of European regulations should be allowed by the Government to become incorporated into British law, especially in view of the fact that the information which the United Kingdom is now required to give to the European Commission is readily obtainable by the Commission picking up the telephone and speaking to the international organisations involved? Will the Minister also convey to her right honourable friend the fact that this country contributes some £9 million per annum towards this statistical section of the Community to enable it to gather information? Will she ask her right honourable friend whether he is satisfied that what the British taxpayer spends on this silly legislation is justified?
§ Baroness Trumpington
My Lords, I have taken note of the various points made by the noble Lord, and I shall pass them to my right honourable friend.