HC Deb 18 January 1995 vol 252 cc771-823
Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Janet Fookes)

I must inform the House that Madam Speaker has selected the amendment in the name of the Prime Minister. There is to be a limit of 10 minutes on speeches and she trusts that Front Benchers will exercise considerable self-restraint.

7.14 pm
Dr. Gavin Strang (Edinburgh, East)

I beg to move, That this House takes note of the agreement of the Council of Fisheries Ministers, allowing Spanish fishing vessels into all areas of the Irish Box other than Area VIIa and Area VIIf north of 50° 30' and allowing increased access for Spanish fishing vessels to the remaining waters to the west of the United Kingdom; believes that this agreement presents an unacceptable threat to the long-term economic viability of fishing communities in England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland, and places an unsustainable pressure upon the fish stocks in these already sensitive waters; and calls upon the Government to convey to the European Commission the extent to which this agreement has undermined the credibility of the Common Fisheries Policy in the view of the United Kingdom industry and to raise in the Council of Fisheries Ministers and in the European Council the whole question of the extent of access granted by the Common Fisheries Policy to non-United Kingdom registered vessels to fish in the waters around the United Kingdom. The motion sets out—objectively, I believe—the agreement that was reached at the Council of Fisheries Ministers before Christmas and declares that it is unacceptable because of its implications for the long-term future of our fishing communities. It calls on the Government to spell out to Brussels the fact that the deal is undermining any confidence that our industry had in the common fisheries policy and urges the Minister to raise the question of access to British waters for non-British vessels.

Mr. Nick Hawkins (Blackpool, South)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Dr. Strang

I must point out that I am not going to give way too frequently for the reason outlined by Madam Deputy Speaker, but I shall give way briefly to the hon. Gentleman now.

Mr. Hawkins

The hon. Gentleman and his party have repeatedly made it clear that they would accept without argument everything that came from Brussels so how can he, in all seriousness, move this motion when my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has negotiated an excellent deal, especially for the fishermen of the north-west coast, by ensuring that the Spanish continue to be excluded from the Irish sea?

Dr. Strang

If that is all that we are going to get, the less I give way the better. The hon. Gentleman talks nonsense. We have fundamentally opposed the common agricultural policy and have criticised aspects of the common fisheries policy. I shall deal with the hon. Gentleman's point in the course of my speech.

The amendment calls on the House to congratulate the Government on securing the agreement. I do not know what sort of world Ministers are living in, but why has the agreement been denounced by all the fishermen's organisations? I refer hon. Members to a couple of headlines. The Times of 11 January 1995 contains the headline: fishermen plan to wage war on Spanish trawlers". The accompanying article states: Fishermen in Devon and Cornwall yesterday promised a 'prolonged campaign' of action, beginning next month, to keep Spanish trawlers out of British waters … Mike Townsend, chief executive of the Cornish Fish Producers' Association, said that his members would consider any means possible to stop the Spanish fishing in the 90,000 square miles around Ireland.

Mr. Patrick Nicholls (Teignbridge)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Dr. Strang

No, I am not giving way again. The headline in this week's Fishing News is "We face ruin". The first sentence of the article states that fishermen in the south-west say the Brussels deal on Spanish accession reached just before Christmas will destroy them. They totally reject it and say they will not take part in any further consultation to finalise the agreement. As the hon. Member for Teignbridge (Mr. Nicholls) knows, his colleagues who represent constituencies in the south-west criticised the deal before Christmas.

Mr. Nicholls


Dr. Strang

I have already dealt with the hon. Gentleman. I have given way once and may do so again but I shall not be interrupted after every sentence.

The truth is that the deal has been rejected by the fishing industry.

Several hon. Members


Madam Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman has made his view very clear. No hon. Member is obliged to give way unless he or she chooses to do so.

Dr. Strang

If the deal is so good that the House should congratulate the Government on it, why did not the Minister vote for it when it came before the Council of Fisheries Ministers after all the negotiations? When his grandchildren ask him what he did as Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to keep the Spanish vessels out of British waters and to defend our fishing communities, the answer will be, "I abstained." It is nonsense to ask the House to congratulate the Government on the deal. The truth is that it is a bad deal and the House knows it.

Several hon. Members


Madam Deputy Speaker

Order. I should not have to remind hon. Members twice in about two minutes of the normal rules and courtesies of the House.

Dr. Strang

It is not a good deal; it is a bad deal, and the Government know it. Spanish vessels will have new access to most areas of the Irish box. Contrary to the assertion in the Government's amendment, only area VIIa and the northern part of the Bristol channel will be protected. Spanish vessels will also have increased access to all other waters, stretching from the south-west of England to the north of Scotland.

Hon. Members who know anything about the fishing industry know perfectly well that stocks in those waters are under enormous pressure. They are sensitive waters and there is no case for additional fishing effort in them. There is no case for Spanish access to those waters. Under the Spanish accession treaty, whatever deal was made on western waters other than the Irish box, it did not need come into effect until the year 2002. The Government have still to explain why they have allowed the changes to become effective from 1996.

Several hon. Members


Dr. Strang

I shall give way to one hon. Member—the hon. Member for Billericay (Mrs. Gorman)—and then I must continue.

Mrs. Teresa Gorman (Billericay)

I thank the hon. Gentleman for giving way. Will he confirm that it will be part of Labour party policy to reclaim the territorial waters for British fishermen only?

Dr. Strang

I want a broad expression of view from Conservative Members. As the hon. Lady knows, we cannot accept her position on the European Union or the common fisheries policy. The common fisheries policy is flawed and it is time to address that problem.

It is a bad deal. The Government's first defence is the pretence that it is a good deal. The Government's second defence is that it was inevitable and there was no alternative but to negotiate an agreement along those lines. It is not good enough for the Minister to say that it was our opening position. In October 1993 the Minister of State explicitly said that the Council of Fisheries Ministers needed to agree to continue the current restrictions on access to the Irish box and the North sea. He said that the United Kingdom Government's concern was that the new arrangements should, in practice, confine Spanish and Portuguese fishing activities as closely as possible to the current pattern, but that was not accepted. Far from saying that increased access was inevitable, the Minister of State wanted the fishing activities to be confined to the historical pattern.

The deal is a reflection of the Government's failure to represent the United Kingdom's national interest in Europe. Since 1985 the Government have had a chance to win support for a fair deal for our fishermen. All the Government needed to secure was the support of two other member states, one of which had to be a major state such as Italy or Germany. [HON. MEMBERS: "Who?"] Conservative Members ask, "Who?" How was it that the Government could not obtain the support of even Germany or Italy? It is disturbing to realise that we have come to the stage when, if an Opposition spokesperson asks the Government why they could not obtain the support of one large member state and one small member state in the European Union, Conservative Members laugh. That is a measure of how far we have sunk and how hopeless our position is in Europe. The Government are totally unfit to represent the British national interest.

The Government's policy on Europe does not reflect what needs to be done. It does not reflect the interests of our fishermen, but the Government's need to go with the shifting pattern of opinion and divisions on Europe within the Conservative party. It is a clear example of the Government's failure, not just on this subject, but on others, adequately to argue the case and win the argument for Britain in the European Union.

Mr. Gary Streeter (Plymouth, Sutton)

What would the hon. Gentleman do?

Dr. Strang

I am grateful for that intervention from a sedentary position and I shall answer the question of how we move forward from here—[Interruption.] Hon. Members might not think that the debate is important, but many people outside the Chamber are interested in it. There are many people in the fishing communities and the wider British community who are interested in our debate and hon. Members should have the courtesy to allow the mover of the motion to be heard.

Mr. Nicholls

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Is it in order for an hon. Member constantly to refer to the south-west while adamantly refusing to give way to anyone from the south-west?

Madam Deputy Speaker

It is perfectly in order, as the hon. Gentleman well knows.

Dr. Strang

There is a strong rumour—

Mr. Phil Gallie (Ayr)

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Is it in order for the hon. Gentleman to refer to a lack of interest in the debate among Conservative Members when our Benches are packed and the Opposition Benches are sparsely occupied?

Madam Deputy Speaker

The occupant of the Chair is not responsible for the content of speeches—I am thankful to say.

Dr. Strang

It would be wise to continue the debate.

There is a strong rumour that the Government will this evening announce that they are to provide additional cash aid for the industry. Hon. Members who take a close interest in fisheries matters will be aware of the state of play between the industry and the Government. But some hon. Members participating in the debate may not be fully apprised of the situation. They may not recognise that we are soon to see the spectacle of the United Kingdom Government fighting the United Kingdom fishing industry in the European courts. The Government's compulsory tariff scheme has been referred by the High Court to the European Court of Justice.

Hon. Members may not be aware that in July 1993 the Government invited fisheries organisations to submit proposals for the way forward on conservation. Those organisations—including the Scottish Fisherman's Federation and the National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations—submitted excellent proposals, which they went to great lengths to achieve and which often caused controversy in their ranks. What has the Government's reaction to the proposals been so far? Nothing.

Hon. Members may not be aware that, after years of refusal, in 1992 the Government finally conceded that a decommissioning scheme should be introduced. A small scheme has been launched. The Select Committee on Agriculture concluded that it was so small that the cuts achieved would be more than offset by efficiency gains in the remainder of the fleet.

Extra money is needed for the modernisation and improvement of our port facilities. If the Government announce extra money tonight for decommissioning, modernisation and our port facilities—additional aid from our Government for the fishing industry—that will be welcomed. But there is a problem. If extra money is to be made available for a decommissioning scheme it must be remembered that the point of decommissioning was to bring our fishing effort and capacity into line with the stocks. It is unacceptable that money should be announced for decommissioning that is intended to facilitate Spanish access in our waters. It is unacceptable that our fishermen should be asked to take up a decommissioning scheme which proposes to scrap their vessels not in order to bring the fishing fleet in line with fishing stocks, but to enable Spanish vessels to catch our fish. Of course, Government assistance is welcome; but it is not sufficient. We have to address the issue at the European level.

Much of the package is yet to be agreed. For example, we do not know how many additional Spanish vessels will have access to the waters north of the Irish box. We know that vessels must be listed on a register and that each Government will put forward their proposals for controlling the fishing effort of each member state. Therefore, it seems that not only will Governments put forward vessels to go on the register but each Government will propose a system for controlling the fishing effort. Presumably, that means that different countries will have different arrangements for controlling the fishing effort. Perhaps the Minister will explain that.

Important parts of the deal are yet to be settled. The House of Commons must make it clear that we want a better arrangement and a more satisfactory outcome than the one that was agreed before Christmas.

Mr. John Sykes (Scarborough)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Dr. Strang

I will give way to one hon. Member from the south-west, and that is it.

Mr. Streeter

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way. He has said that he does not favour abandoning the common fisheries policy, although that is what the fishermen now want. He said that he is in favour of improving the common fisheries policy. Can he list the improvements that he made to that policy during the Labour Government of 1975 to 1979?

Dr. Strang

The common fisheries policy as it currently exists came into operation in the early 1980s and it was reviewed in the early 1990s. Of course, there were arrangements prior to that. The Minister should tell the Commission that, as a result of the latest agreement, our fishermen have lost any faith that they had in the common fisheries policy.

Effective conservation is possible only with the co-operation and support of the fishermen. Our motion calls on the Minister to raise with the Commission the question of access by non-British vessels to our waters.

I believe that the common fisheries policy is fundamentally flawed. The overriding objective of any fisheries policy—whether it is a British fisheries policy, a common fisheries policy for the European Union, or a Canadian fisheries policy—should be to conserve fishing stocks for future generations of fishermen. In my opinion, the common fisheries policy is not designed to achieve that aim. The Government have an obsession with avoiding national discrimination and they have reached the point of allowing foreign vessels with no historical pattern of fishing in the area to enter our waters. We have to meet that issue head on.

The problem will not be solved overnight. The Government should not pretend that it is a good deal; it is not. It is no use their pretending that it was the best that could be achieved in the circumstances. I am not talking about what happened at the December Council; the situation has built up over two or three years. We are now in a position whereby we cannot muster the support needed to block the deal on the basis of qualified majority voting.

It will not be enough for hon. Members to abstain from voting on the motion this evening. The fishing communities and the British people as a whole want the motion to be carried. Britain has a proud maritime history. Our fishing communities are part of the economic and social fabric of this country.

Mr. Timothy Kirkhope (Lords Commissioner to the Treasury)

Opportunistic nonsense.

Dr. Strang

If the hon. Gentleman does riot understand the way that the British people feel about our fishing communities he does not understand what the debate is about. The British people want the motion to be passed because they want to see arrangements which will enable our fishing communities to have the opportunity—I put it in no stronger terms than that—

Mr. Sykes

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Why is the hon. Gentleman answering sedentary interventions, but not those interventions from the Floor?

Madam Deputy Speaker

That is not a point of order for the Chair. I also add my well-known view that sedentary interventions are not acceptable, and I hope that they will cease.

Mr. Sykes

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Dr. Strang

No, I will not give way. Madam Deputy Speaker has asked us to make our speeches brief. The new arrangements recommended by the Jopling report also ask Front Bench speakers to be brief. I have already given way on numerous occasions.

Our motion is in the best interests of the fishing communities. I pay tribute to the hon. Members for St. Ives (Mr. Harris) and for Cornwall, South-East (Mr. Hicks). Their amendment accepts the Opposition motion in its entirety and simply adds a few sentences with which I do not disagree.

The Opposition motion, which has been accepted by those Conservative Members who represent fishing communities, aims to defend the long-term future of our fishing industry. It has the support of the British people and I urge the House to vote for it.

7.36 pm
The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. William Waldegrave)

I beg to move, to leave out from "Ministers" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof: congratulates the Government on securing the exclusion of Spanish fishing vessels from the Irish Sea and the Bristol Channel, the limiting of Spanish fishing within the rest of the Irish Box to 40 vessels simultaneously and the inclusion of special restrictions on Spanish vessels within the Box West of Scotland; notes that the agreement does not call into question the continued exclusion of Spanish vessels from the North Sea and the principle of relative stability; recognises this outcome represents a major improvement for United Kingdom fishermen compared to the original Commission proposals, the negotiation of which was made more difficult by the failure to win Hague Preferences for South West English fishing communities in 1976; welcomes the undertaking the Government secured from the Commission to provide annual reports on the findings of Commission Fisheries Inspectors; notes the Government's current annual expenditure of some £25 million on fisheries enforcement and welcomes the Government's commitment to ensure effective policing of the agreement; welcomes the Government's success in extending the benefits of the EC's structural programmes to areas of the United Kingdom dependent on fishing; notes that the Government are also spending some £17 million per annum on fisheries research and monitoring and some £5 million per annum on other forms of assistance to the fisheries sector; notes the Government's current substantial programme of decommissioning expenditure; and welcomes its commitment to provide further programmes in 1996–97 and 1997–98.". Madam Deputy Speaker, you requested Front Bench speakers to be brief in their remarks during the debate, but I do not think that you precluded hon. Members from making speeches. Unfortunately, the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Dr. Strang) failed to make a speech; it slipped his mind.

Indeed, the issue has slipped the Labour mind on a number of occasions. A good way of gauging the importance that a party attaches to an issue is to look at what it says about it in its election manifesto. The hon. Gentleman does not want to be reminded that the Labour party said nothing about fishing in its election manifesto of 1992. It is even more extraordinary—in view of the common fisheries policy and other crucial European issues—that there was nothing about it in the Labour party's Euromanifesto either. That is a better test of the Opposition's sincerity than the hon. Gentleman's rather thin speech.

All hon. Members know that the Labour party does not care two hoots about fishing; with one or two honourable exceptions, it knows nothing about the subject. The hon. Gentleman moved the motion in an attempt to score some political points and to make a few headlines tomorrow by persuading one or two of my hon. Friends to support him. That is what the Opposition's motion is about; it is not about United Kingdom fishing communities at all.

Mr. Sykes

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for at last allowing me to say something in the debate. If he goes back even further he will find that the Labour party's 1987 election manifesto also did not say a word about fishing. One needs a magnifying glass to find what the Labour party has said about fishing. If the Opposition are so concerned about the issue, why have they tacked on a measly three-hour debate at the end of an Opposition day debate? If they really cared about fishing, they would have allowed a full day for debate and not a measly three hours.

Mr. Waldegrave

It is clear that the Opposition consider the matter far less important than through ticketing on the railways.

The hon. Member for Edinburgh, East made some straightforward mistakes. He said: I mean, for a start, originally these changes were not going to come into operation till year 2002. In fact, the Spanish act of accession provided for the Irish box arrangements to end after 1995. It also provided for the other restrictions to be reviewed in 1993. The hon. Gentleman ought to correct that misstatement. The radio interviewer was not fully briefed on the subject and did not realise that the hon. Gentleman had not got it right.

Dr. Strang

If the right hon. Gentleman reads the transcript of the debate that we had before Christmas, he will see that we reached agreement on the position. The Irish box arrangements ended automatically, but a whole lot of other arrangements outwith the Irish box could have continued until 2002.

Mr. Waldegrave

All the ships on the reference list would have had no restrictions on access whatever and there would have been no controls on the Irish box.

On the "Today" programme today, when the question at issue was the Irish box, the hon. Gentleman said: I mean, for a start, originally these changes were not going to come into operation until the year 2002". He should have made it clear to the interviewer that the Irish box failed, as it would have done in 1996.

The Opposition's own policy, which I shall mention as the hon. Gentleman has not done so, is called regionalisation. The hon. Gentleman made it up in one or two radio studios around the country. As I understand it, the basis of it is that we should have controls to limit the access of fishermen from one region of the United Kingdom to other regions of the United Kingdom and other parts of the Community. That would be wonderful for the fishermen at Brixham, who spend a great deal of time in the North sea, and for the tuna, mackerel and herring fishermen who have to follow stocks which migrate. Sailors from Lowestoft, and the Grimsby sailors who are well known to the hon. Member for Great Grimsby (Mr. Mitchell), go to Norwegian, Dutch and Danish waters. The hon. Gentleman's policy would restrict them—or, in his words, regionalise them— around the coasts of the United Kingdom. It is a typical half-baked, meaningless Labour policy made up on the run in an interview studio and probably already abandoned.

Mr. Alex Salmond (Banff and Buchan)

I understand that the Minister's own track record is that he attended one Fisheries Council and abstained at one. Does he feel sufficiently in command of his subject to lecture anyone else about their knowledge or lack of it in respect of the fishing industry?

Mr. Waldegrave

I feel every confidence in lecturing the Labour Front Bench spokesman. If the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan (Mr. Salmond) wishes to defend the Labour party on this, that is an internal problem for him which I shall not seek to enter into at present.

The fact that the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East is confused is confirmed by the fact that he said something completely different before Christmas, when he stated: The problem is in the short run and right up to the year 2002 we have to operate within the framework of the current CFP". That is the end of the regionalisation policy, so the pirouettes have already taken place, as they do elsewhere in his party.

Mr. Tony Marlow (Northampton, North)

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend, who I am sure has a great deal of good will and sympathy from everyone on this side of the House. Among the farrago of nonsense from the Opposition Front Bench spokesman was the question of how one explains to the fishing community why we are paying to take our boats out of the water so that the fish that they would otherwise have caught will now be caught by the Spanish and Portuguese. Would it be right to suggest that the answer is that under qualified majority voting the Luxemburgers have 20 times as much influence per capita over what happens to British fish, so there is very little that the Government can do about it until we come out of the Common fisheries policy?

Mr. Waldegrave

I shall come to decommissioning at the proper place in my speech. I remind my hon: Friend that there is nothing in the deal or in the accession deal which gives any more fish to Spain under the quota system. We have about 43 per cent. of the quotas in the relevant western waters. Spain has about 2 per cent. of the quotas in those relevant western waters. That has not changed, and nor has the balance between them.

Dr. Robert Spink (Castle Point)

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that the agreement that he reached, which was better than was predicted, raised our quotas by £14 million above the level originally suggested by the Commission?

Mr. Waldegrave

That is indeed so. We negotiated a number of the swaps that are usually undertaken. For instance, we got a large extra tonnage of cod and whiting for the northern Irish fishermen, which is extremely useful to them.

Mr. Anthony Steen (South Hams)

One understands about the quota, but Spanish fishermen will also be allowed to fish without limit non-quota stock in the Irish sea, which will affect the fishermen of Brixham considerably.

Mr. Waldegrave

That is perfectly true, but the crucial point is that the fishing effort cannot increase overall. That is the point on which we have to stand.

Mr. D. N. Campbell-Savours (Workington)

Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Waldegrave

Let me proceed a little. I want briefly to remind the House, as I want to get on to the positive actions that we can take, about the Labour record on the issue.

The hon. Member for Edinburgh, East made great play of how I should have done this or that. For five years, between 1974 and 1979, his party negotiated with various specific objectives and had the benefit of the veto as it was before qualified majority voting. Its performance was lamentable. Mr. David Owen, who was then part of the Labour party and may be again for all I know—

Mr. Derek Enright (Hemsworth)

No chance.

Mr. Waldegrave

The hon. Gentleman says, "No chance". Lord Owen gave away the vital issue of Hague preferences for the south-west. Had he not made a complete mess of that negotiation in 1976, much of the pressure on south-western fishermen that we are debating today would have been relieved as they would have had the same privileges as Irish and Scottish fishermen. That was a poor piece of negotiation and he had the veto to deploy.

Mr. William Cash (Stafford)

My right hon. Friend knows the ins and outs of the matter, but can he explain why we did not properly renegotiate the common fisheries policy in the run-up to the Maastricht negotiations?

Mr. Waldegrave

It was not on the agenda at that time. I shall come to the future in due course, but I hope that my hon. Friend will hear something that he likes about how the British Government will approach the measures.

The truth of the negotiation before December was set out with typical lucidity and clarity by my right hon. and noble friend Lord Tebbit talking on the radio just before Christmas. He was kind enough to agree with the interviewer, who put the proposition to him that I got the best possible deal for Britain. My right hon. and noble Friend went on to say: It does go back to the accession agreement and it was thought at that time to be in British national interests that the Spaniards should be brought in, and I guess in the longer term it probably is. At the time, the House supported that position. My noble friend Lady Thatcher said: The terms are very satisfactory for the United Kingdom. The then Leader of the Opposition, now the European Commissioner for Transport, said: I welcome the. enlargement of the European Economic community membership with the accession of the newest democracies of Spain and Portugal".—[Official Report, 2 April 1985; Vol. 76, c. 1061–62.] The Labour spokesman, the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. Robertson), said: We welcome the accession of Spain and Portugal. The Opposition do not welcome accession blindly or ignorantly or oblivious of the difficulties and anxieties".—[Official Report, 10 December 1985; Vol. 88, c. 883.] The hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan), speaking for the Liberal Democrats, went a great deal further, saying: By bringing Spain into the fisheries regime and now applying to Spain the regulations on, for example, mesh sizes, we are exerting a control which would not have been possible if Spain had remained outside the Community. It was very difficult to get and I congratulate the Government on it."—[Official Report, 4 December 1985; Vol. 88, c. 335.] I hope that the Liberal Democrats will be honest enough to stand by what their spokesman said then and vote down the motion today because they know perfectly well that the negotiation— [Interruption.]

Mr. Campbell-Savours

Will the Minister give way?

Madam Deputy Speaker

Order. I remind the House again that if the Minister does not give way, others must resume their seats.

Mr. Waldegrave

Opposition Members know perfectly well that what I was negotiating in December was winning back ground that they realised at the time would be lost.

Mr. Nicholas Budgen (Wolverhampton, South-West)

Will my right hon. Friend reflect for a moment on his remark that the Labour Government were negotiating with the advantages of the veto? After his experience, where many of us would concede that he made a good job of a difficult position, is it now the Government's considered view that negotiations about our territorial waters ought not to be subject to qualified majority voting?

Mr. Waldegrave

If things had fallen out differently and we had had no qualified majority voting on the matter, I would have found negotiating easier and I would have done a great deal better than John Silkin, who gained nothing even though he had the veto to deploy.

The position now, as my hon. Friend knows, is that as part of the Single European Act, out of which great benefits came in the establishment of the single market, qualified majority voting covers those issues which affect the single market. It is a good moment to make the point that our fishermen benefit greatly from the single market. We export about £450 million worth of fish and fish products to the single market and to the European market. Fishermen from our ports catch species which do not have a real market in the United Kingdom for historical reasons. Those fish are sold at much higher prices in Europe than if the single market did not exist. If our fishermen had to export against tariff barriers, they would not enjoy that income. By a tradition going back hundreds of years, people in this country eat much less fish than the French or Spanish. The Spanish eat 70 lb of fish per head each year while the figure for the UK is 14 lb. We must maintain access to that market for the sake of our fishermen.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

Will the Minister give way now?

Mr. Waldegrave

I must press on or I shall get into trouble with Madam Deputy Speaker.

Until an hour or two before the December negotiations ended, we were steadily winning back ground and secured extra gains—particularly in relation to Scotland, which is why I abstained rather than voted against. As the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East rightly said, the negotiations are continuing because there are other matters to negotiate. If people are giving things, it is bad negotiating policy not to respond. The hon. Gentleman has experience of that. He was good at negotiating with his colleagues between 1974 and 1979 and obtaining nothing. After five years of steady negotiation to extend fishery limits from 12 miles to 50 miles, the limits remained at 12 miles.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Waldegrave

I will not give way to the hon. Gentleman.

I did not claim then and do not claim now that we returned triumphant, having won everything, but we achieved two thirds of our objectives. If the strict legislative and legal basis had been followed, we could have returned with nothing. People know that it was not a bad deal. The Spanish know that, too. Just before Christmas, the Spanish newspaper El Pais commented: Inevitably, the Spanish fishery associations will see no cause for celebration. Correct. El Mundo quoted Jaime Tejedor, chairman of the Basque country fishermen's association, describing as "terrorism by the state" the agreement allowing Spain limited access to European Union fisheries in 1996. He said: If they were going to give up like this, there was no need to go to Brussels to negotiate. I thought they were going to be firm this time, that they were going to defend our fishing industry to the hilt, as the President of the Government, Felipe Gonzalez, promised, even to the extent of vetoing the enlargement of the EU, but that isn't what happened. That is quite right—it is not what happened. The report continued: The Galician fishermen spoke in similar terms, and consider `unacceptable' the discrimination against the Spanish fleet regarding its exclusion from the Irish Box. They believe the agreement will bring little benefit to Spain from 1996, since it establishes further limitations on the fleet's access to resources and maintains the unequal treatment to which Spain has been subjected since the treaty of accession was signed. Another El Mundo report stated: Spain will join the Common Fisheries Policy on I January 1996 … The compromise agreed yesterday is a long way from the full participation in the CFP sought by the Spanish Government. Those are true and sober assessments from the Spanish end—how it looks from Spain. We returned with a continuation of the Irish box, with only 40 ships in it, whereas halfway through the negotiations the Spanish still wanted 70, and there might have been no Irish box protection. We kept them out of the Irish sea and the Bristol channel, and we maintained their exclusion from the North sea, which is crucial to British fishermen.

When there are further big negotiations on the common fisheries policy in 2002, or perhaps earlier, we shall have established Spain's exclusion from large areas as part of a non-discriminatory and balanced policy. That will give far better hopes of keeping control in the long-term future. We have added two extra zones to the North sea under that principle.

The hon. Member for Edinburgh, East correctly quoted a headline from Fishing News, but for some reason he did not quote its comment on 6 January: The Ministers did fight hard in Brussels and got more than many feared. That, too, is correct. People who really understand the issue know that it was not a bad deal in a weak situation.

Mr. Robert Hicks (Cornwall, South-East)

My right hon. Friend will notice that the Order Paper includes an amendment in the names of hon. Friends from the far south-west emphasising the need for a Government commitment to negotiate with our European partners to ensure fundamental changes in the CFP and, in the interim, to introduce a meaningful decommissioning scheme—for which right hon. and hon. Members in all parts of the House have asked.

Mr. Waldegrave

My hon. Friend is right. We need a CFP that is better at controlling stocks. No one doubts that there is too much fishing capacity in Europe, including the United Kingdom. A decommissioning scheme is needed so that our fleet is profitable and there can be reinvestment in building new ships. That will secure the industry's long-term future against a background of somewhat lower fishing effort.

I can tell my hon. Friend and others who have raised the same point—including my hon. Friends the Members for St. Ives (Mr. Harris) and for Falmouth and Camborne (Mr. Coe), the hon. Member for North Down (Sir J. Kilfedder) and the right hon. Member for Strangford (Mr. Taylor)—of a further addition to the decommissioning scheme. We will add to the present scheme of £25 million over three years a further £28 million, more than doubling the size of the scheme. It is essential that the British fleet should be profitable and trade at full capacity and the scheme will secure the long-term future better than anything else. That is one of the things that we must do immediately, to make the present situation work.

In the House the other day, a number of my hon. Friends rightly raised the question of enforcement: although Spain has small quotas and we have the biggest, we do not believe that the Spanish play according to the rules. We are not alone in the world in believing that: the Canadians and the Norwegians tell the same story. As none of this starts until next year, we have a little time to review our enforcement systems: our assets, the Royal Navy ships; aerial surveillance, which will be vital; and how to make the hailing in and hailing out system work. Also, my noble Friend Lord Howe reported to the other place yesterday on the satellite system which is under trial.

The Commission inspectorate, which this Government brought into being as a result of work by Lord Walker, is to report back and to be strengthened. Above all, the deployment of Royal Navy ships must be strengthened and correctly located.

Mr. Rupert Allason (Torbay)

Will my right hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Waldegrave

I will give way to my hon. Friend, who comes from a relevant region.

Mr. Allason

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that although additional decommissioning money is most welcome, there is a requirement by the Commission to reduce our overall fleet by 19 per cent. by the end of 1996, but that the industry itself calculates that the sum required will be not less than £75 million?

Mr. Waldegrave

That will not be the only measure in place, as my hon. Friend will be aware from his knowledge of the subject. I hope that he accepts our good faith in putting money on the table today, which shows that we will meet the programme and are taking it seriously. Most of my right hon. and hon. Friends will welcome the statement that I have made. The fishing industry will certainly welcome it.

Mr. Campbell-Savours


Dr. Norman A. Godman (Greenock and Port Glasgow)


Mr. Waldegrave

I will get into a good deal of trouble if I give way so much that no time is left even for the eloquent speeches that Opposition Members are doubtless capable of making.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I do not complain that I have not been allowed to intervene on the Minister, but is it riot discourteous to the House for a Minister to give way uniquely to hon. Members on his own side?

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Geoffrey Lofthouse)

That is not a point of order, and the hon. Gentleman knows it. It is for the Minister to decide whether or not to give way.

Mr. Waldegrave

It may have escaped the hon. Gentleman's attention that I gave way several times to his hon. Friends earlier in the debate.

The present system of fisheries management—I think that I shall take most people with me on this—is highly complex, burdensome on fishermen and expensive to operate. For the longer term, we need to look for ways of simplifying it, to see whether it could be more effectively market driven, while still ensuring that exploitation of fish stocks is sustainable. I want to look at a range of ideas and to learn from what other countries are doing—from New Zealand to Norway, from Canada to the south Atlantic—with different types of quota systems and fisheries management, different approaches to enforcement, and so on. I shall also want to examine the scope for further action in technical areas, including technical conservation and discard policy—one of the most offensive aspects of current systems for managing fish.

Over the years, much thought has been given to these matters, hut if we can find better approaches I shall want to discuss them with our industry and, if they seem workable, to take them up with the Fisheries Council.

I therefore intend to ask the fisheries Minister, who enjoys an almost unique degree of respect in the industry for the work that he has done, to convene a group, parallel to the one that I established to review the common agricultural policy, to review the common fisheries policy and to look at all these options again, particularly with a view to limiting overfishing and bureaucracy. We must remove bureaucracy from this business wherever it is found.

Some concern has been expressed on another front currently in the news—the projected framework document on Northern Ireland—that there could be provision for a joint north-south marine fisheries policy for the island. I make it plain today that we do not intend there to be such a policy and that we shall 4make no such proposals.

We shall be looking at the costs and the benefits. We shall be looking at the undoubted problems that the CFP poses for us. We shall also be looking at the benefits of our participation in the single market, which I discussed earlier with my hon. Friends. We need a modern, profitable fleet investing in new boats and new technology. That is already happening in some places. It is not all doom and gloom. Some areas have had good years and new boats are being built at this very moment—

Mr. John D. Taylor (Strangford)

A few moments ago the Minister said something which requires a little clarification. Can he confirm that there will be no cross-border committee in Ireland with executive powers over fishing?

Mr. Waldegrave

I confirm what I said—that we make it plain that we do not intend that there should be provision for joint north-south marine fisheries. No one knows better than the right hon. Gentleman—I am not sure that he did not invent them himself—that there are some special arrangements governing inland waters, but we will not have joint arrangements with the Republic to deal with common fisheries policy matters.

As I have said, we need a modern fleet. Today Labour Members have tried to make political capital out of the fishing industry, pretending a sudden concern for it even though they forgot to include it in their manifesto. That is to play politics with the future of a serious industry. I hope that my right hon. and hon. Friends will not fall for that old ploy. I remind them of what the Leader of the Opposition has said about negotiating in Europe—that he will negotiate in a consensual manner and that he will never be isolated in Europe. He will never do what poor old John Silkin did, sitting there for five years, with a veto, and getting nowhere at all. At least Silkin had the courage to be isolated. The Leader of the Opposition is throwing in the towel before he has even started on all these issues.

I urge my right hon. and hon. Friends to reject this piece of opportunism from the party of Silkin and of Owen—the party which has now said that it will never stand alone in Europe. We should reject this ridiculous motion and see it for what it is: a rather pathetic ploy to try to mislead and to make political capital out of the fishing industry. I urge my right hon. and hon. Friends to throw out the Labour motion and to vote for our amendment.

8.3 pm

Mr. James Wallace (Orkney and Shetland)

We shall find out at 10 o'clock tonight whether the bait on the long line that the Minister has cast will be swallowed by those in whose direction it was clearly aimed. I have argued in the House on many occasions in favour of decommissioning. Indeed, the Minister echoed some of my arguments for bringing fishing capacity into line with available stocks. If that was his reason for strengthening the decommissioning scheme, we would warmly welcome it, although we would probably say that the money was not enough.

It was only a matter of weeks ago—on 14 December—that the Minister of State told us that none of this would be possible. The right hon. Gentleman's speech this evening will be regarded by fishermen, especially in the south-west of England, as providing millions of pounds of taxpayers' money simply to lay up British vessels, which will have to make way for Spanish vessels entering our waters. The Secretary of State refused to say whether the additional £28 million will be spread throughout the United Kingdom, in line with the arrangements now in force for decommissioning. The Minister of State must answer that question and tell us whether the money will be concentrated on the areas most affected by the agreements reached by the Council of Ministers.

It is welcome to see so many hon. Members in the Chamber expressing an interest in the fishing industry. I hope that they will attend many of our future debates on the subject. Those of us who participated in December's debate were in no doubt as to the depth of feeling about the important decision that was to be taken at the Council meeting. We know, too, about the outcry and the expressions of utter dejection on the part of many in the industry thereafter. The fact that we are holding this debate shows just how badly let down the industry has felt following the meeting of the Council of Ministers. Salt was rubbed in the wound when the Minister could not even bring himself to vote against the deal. Tonight, he has moved an amendment which amounts to nothing but self-congratulation.

This decision was not just one of a kind; it is the latest in a series of decisions which have adversely affected the industry. To be fair to him, the Minister of State did a great deal of work during the run-up to the negotiations, talking to the industry and lobbying some of our European partners. During last year's European election campaign, I met fishermen in Devon and Cornwall who believed that they were getting a raw deal the whole time, however, because their industry operated so far from London, in scattered communities. They thought that their interests did not feature largely enough in the minds of Ministers, and that the issues concerning the industry were always subordinated to others. I fear that that impression will have been reinforced this evening, and by the decisions taken in Brussels at the end of December.

One key example of the betrayal of the fishing industry's interests was also the forerunner of these discussions. I saw the Minister look to his Minister of State to find out the answer to this when pressed earlier in the debate. The hon. Member for Edinburgh, East was right: with the exception of the Irish box, which, it was always known, was to be renegotiated before the end of 1995, the other arrangements in respect of Spanish and Portuguese access were to remain in place until the end of the year 2002. That was set out in a letter from the former Commissioner to our Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, then President of the Council of European Communities. The Commissioner set out the legal position on 23 December 1992: the general arrangements in the Act of Accession, as regards conditions of access and fishing by the Spanish and Portuguese fleets in the waters of the 'Ten' and vice versa, remain in force until 31 December 2002". But this House has never been told why the Government supported the Council of Ministers' decision to go back on that.

On 24 June 1993, the Council of Ministers took the view that the adjustments to the accession arrangements should be undertaken in the spirit of the reform, in order to strengthen its impact. What reform? What impact? The House has never been told. The Minister owes us and the fishing industry an explanation of why the pass was sold at such an early stage.

The deal that was struck gives rise to a whole series of other questions, too. The Minister won a valuable concession at an earlier Council meeting, when we were told that the Irish box had become a biologically sensitive zone. How can 40 more vessels enter part of that zone while it is maintained that the British fleet will not be compromised? How does the Minister square that circle?

The Minister said today that the whole Bristol channel would be denied to Spanish vessels. That all depends on how the Bristol channel is defined. The Trevoes head area is one of the most sensitive in terms of breeding stocks, yet the Spanish will have access to it. Will that really be the case? Will that not destroy the conservation purpose of the area? Important issues will arise in fleshing out the deal.

At present, 18 standard Spanish vessels are allowed in the waters of area VI north of the Irish box. It is unclear how many will be allowed in after the deal. Is the Minister able to tell us how many Spanish vessels will be allowed in that area? Will there be more than 18?

We have been told that a system of effort control might be required of member states. What will the Government propose?

What happened to deregulation? I remember that after the meeting of the Council in November deregulation was claimed to be one of the great successes of the British negotiation. I endorsed much of what the Minister said about the need to reduce bureaucracy, but the deal that we are discussing will increase bureaucracy. We shall have more regulation.

The Minister was silent on swaps. I understand that he was silent after the meeting of the Council of Fisheries because he did not know what had happened. As a result of swaps between Spain and, I think, Belgium and France, Spain will be able to fish for cod, haddock, whiting and saithe in areas of western waters where its fishermen were not hitherto allowed.

Can Spain enter into swaps with other European Community nations in, for example, the North sea, which would give it the right to fish in the area for stocks? The Minister shakes his head. I invite him to deny now that the Spanish cannot enter into swaps and get the right to fish white fish in the North sea and, therefore, upset relative stability.

The problem was that the Government were isolated in Europe. When it came to a critical national issue, they had no friends. In the midst of negotiations, Mr. Robert Shrimsley of The Daily Telegraph wrote: One Tory source said that Mr. Major had been attempting to call in favours across Europe to find an acceptable compromise. We saw the result of the Prime Minister's efforts. Imagine him phoning the Belgium Prime Minister and saying, "Mr. Dehaene, I did you a great favour by saving you from becoming the president of the Commission. Will you do us a favour and save our vital national fishing interests?"

Year after year, the Government have taken a negative attitude in Europe. When the time comes to try to cash in some credit, they find that they do not have any. Britain's national interests have been fatally compromised by the Government's isolationist approach to European matters for far too long.

The Minister has said that a working group may be set up to reform the common fisheries policy. He told the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Cash) that he could not do it earlier because it was not on the agenda at the time of Maastricht. He conveniently avoided mentioning that the following year the CFP was up for review, during a period when Britain had presidency of the Council. The Government did not take that opportunity.

We welcome the Minister's statement that he is to set up a working party. No doubt, the fishing industry will contribute to it, as it did in 1993 when it was asked for its views on how to take forward technical conservation ideas. Its views seem to have gathered dust either in the Scottish Office or in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. We want a commitment that this time the industry's ideas will be given serious treatment. If we are looking to a review of the CFP, let us have a commitment that the views of the industry will be not only sought but acted on.

Somewhere along the line, the Commission has lost its way. No longer does it appear, as once it did, to have in its focus the needs of many of our fishing Industries and fishing communities around our coastline. If we are to review the CFP, we must look to those communities where families depend so much on fishing opportunities. They seem to have been sacrificed in the most recent deal and in a series of deals. We shall support the motion not least because it would enable a fundamental review to be undertaken.

Several hon. Members


Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I remind the House that, between now and the replies by the Front-Bench speakers, speeches will be limited to 10 minutes.

8.14 pm
Mr. David Harris (St. Ives)

First, I shall say a few words about my ministerial colleagues and their performance in Brussels at the climax of protracted negotiations. The climax came on 22 December, when what I think was a disgraceful episode occurred and the United Kingdom was outvoted. I only wish that we had had the veto on fishing policy. I cannot help but observe that the right hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Ashdown), the leader of the party represented by the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace)—I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman is not in the Chamber this evening—would give away the last vestiges of our veto in Europe. That is by the by.

I return to the Ministers. I have one criticism, and one alone, about the way in which they conducted the negotiations, or the way in which they acted. They fought hard and they fought well, and there is much in what they say, given the rotten nature of the hand that they had to play in Brussels during the negotiations. My one criticism is that, despite what my right hon. Friend the Minister said tonight, he abstained rather than voting against the deal. I believe that he should have voted against it.

My hon. Friend the Minister of State has, I believe, been the finest Minister with responsibilities for fishing that we have had for many a long year. I pay full tribute to all that he has done, especially in re-establishing links with the industry and the trust of the industry. I am sad that this evening much of the good work that he has done might well be in jeopardy because of the understandable attitude of the industry to what happened in Brussels.

I loathe what happened in Brussels on 22 December. In my opinion—I have used the phrase before—it was a cynical stitch-up of an agreement, which was led by the Commission. All sorts of bilateral deals were struck, particularly the quota swap between France and Spain that will increase Spanish fishing opportunities. I am sorry to say that at the end of the day the United Kingdom was left completely and utterly isolated. There was little it could do but fight a rearguard action. I think that my right hon. Friend the Minister did well, along with the Minister of State, in fighting that action.

Where are we left? What is the future for our fishing industry? I do not mind admitting that I have always described myself as a pragmatic European. I was a Member of the European Parliament for five years. The result of the negotiations, however, has had a profound effect on my attitude to Europe, to our relationship with Europe and to the way in which we shall in future approach fisheries problems. Although the negotiations were about fishing, they encapsulated so many of our difficulties, as I see it, in our future relationships and in the way in which member states will be treated.

What was wrong, and perhaps different, about the negotiations was that, in my reading of the situation, there was no acceptable compromise, I believe that there was a ganging-up against the United Kingdom. I accept that the deal was unpopular in Spain among the fishermen as well but there was a ganging-up by the other member states, egged on by the Commission, and we were skewered in Brussels.

What happens now? We have not reached the end of the story. There are further stages in the CFP. Above all, in 2002 there must be a complete revision of the policy. That will be done on the basis of qualified majority voting. We shall not have a veto. Liberals welcome that, but I do not. Somehow, we must get some control.

I do not have an easy answer, there are many, including my hon. Friend the Member for Billericay (Mrs. Gorman)—I am sorry that she is not in her place because I thought that she was developing a great interest in fishing matters, but clearly it is transient—and some representative members of the industry, who are somehow giving the impression that there is an easy solution.

One of the easy solutions, of course, is to withdraw from the common fisheries policy just like that. I wish that somebody could tell us how that could be achieved. If somebody could convince me that it was possible unilaterally to withdraw from it I would be tempted by that prospect. As the amendment tabled in my name and that of my hon. Friend the Member for Cornwall, South-East (Mr. Hicks) makes clear, I want a fundamental recasting of the arrangements, be they inside or outside the common fisheries policy, to return a much greater element of control of the fish stocks around our coast to our own Government. That is what I want to see. What I am not convinced about is how on earth we can achieve that objective.

I deal now with decommissioning. In a way, the amount of money that my right hon. Friend squeezed out of the Treasury is a personal embarrassment. He was kind enough to inform me and my hon. Friends the Members for Cornwall, South-East and for Falmouth and Camborne (Mr. Coe) of the amount when we met him a couple of nights ago. Quite frankly, I was taken aback by the size of what is now available. It will help enormously. Fishermen come to my surgery—one came last Saturday—and say, "We want to leave the industry. We want to take decommissioning." It will help, but it is not the answer to the fundamental problem that we and the industry will face in future or to what it faced before. We are all aware of the problem. How on earth can we have a policy that conserves stocks and cuts back on effort on a fair basis?

Again, I return to the wretched deal in Brussels. It is not a fair deal for our fishermen, whatever is said about it. No one can convince me for one second that somehow there is some means to ensure that only the 40 Spanish vessels—I wish that there was not a single Spanish vessel—allowed into some of the waters of the box will fish there. I am convinced that more than 40 Spanish vessels will fish from time to time and probably most of the time in that huge area of water.

If there are more vessels, there will be an increase in fishing effort. The pretence that has been put up that somehow there will be no overall increase in fishing effort is laughable. Of course there will be. The Spanish, of course, are notorious for breaking every known rule in the book. They will cheat and cheat again. Of course there will be an increase in effort. I know what will happen. Next year or the year after, the scientists will come forward and say, "We are sorry but the stocks have been under still more pressure. They are reaching danger states and therefore there must be a cut in quota." Although my hon. Friend the Minister of State is correct that, as part of the deal, we still have our full quota, it will be cut and cut again. That follows as surely as night follows day.

That is the prospect for the deal and for the future of the common fisheries policies. It fills me not with apprehension but with utter dismay. I am bitter about what happened in Brussels on the night of 22 December, but if I am bitter, imagine how my constituents who fish from Newlyn feel. Their anger is justifiable.

That leads me to one conclusion, and I shall finish on this note of deep, deep sadness. I applaud what Ministers have done. I am very grateful indeed for the way in which they have tried to accommodate me, my colleagues and other hon. Members, but I am going to vote against the Government tonight. I have come to that conclusion after a lot of thought. There is an illogicality in my voting. I know that it will not change the situation, but at some point individual Members of Parliament must make a stand on an issue. I can only say that, for my part—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. Time is up.

8.24 pm
Mr. Robert Hughes (Aberdeen, North)

It would be normal courtesy in the House to welcome the Minister on his first appearance at the Dispatch Box to speak in a fisheries debate, but I am afraid that the best that I can say is that it would have been better if he had stayed away, because he said only two things, the first being that abstention is an honourable stance. I should tell him that quite often people who stand in the middle of the road get run down. Secondly, he said that it was a good deal, a marvellous negotiating position, but we could not bring ourselves to vote for it. That is hardly an honourable position for the Minister to take.

We are debating an industry that is in an extremely precarious position. It is bound to be. It is an industry that seeks to harvest a crop, yet there is virtually no control over the stocks that are available. We already have evidence from scientists who say that the cod and haddock are under an even greater threat than we thought. They now suggest that there may have to be as much as a 30 per cent. cut in the total allowable catch. That is a quick synopsis of what the scientists are saying.

The trouble is that there is no stability. The scientists tell us one year that the stocks are under dire pressure. A couple of years later they come back and say that we can double the quota. Then they say again that the stocks are under dire pressure. The problem is that none of us can afford to ignore their advice. We have the dreadful precedent of what happened in the Canadian cod grounds.

The fishing industry, not unnaturally, does not accept all that the scientists say. I believe that it accepts what they say about cod, but not about haddock. We are in the dreadful position of not knowing where we are on that matter. The industry needs stability, but it does not get it, because the common fisheries policy undergoes crisis after crisis. It is crisis management. We have been asking for extra decommissioning money for years. We have been told that it was not necessary, that it would have to be done gradually. It really is no good the Minister coming to the House tonight and saying that he has found an extra £23 million for decommissioning—

Mr. Wallace

It is £28 million—so far.

Mr. Hughes

I apologise. Perhaps after the principled stand taken by the hon. Member for St. Ives (Mr. Harris) it might be a bit more than that by the time that the Minister replies.

The point is that the £28 million is not being offered on any rational basis, but is being offered purely and simply to try to save the Minister's political skin. That is no way to deal with an industry and give it confidence. Its needs should be properly addressed. There was an allusion to an additional quota that the Minister had secured through swap arrangements and so on. It is no good him coming to the House and saying, "I've got a little extra fish for you lads in the north of Ireland, and a little extra fish for you lads somewhere else," on the basis that the only thing that matters in fishing is to stave off defeat in a parliamentary debate. That is what has bedeviled the Government's position.

We all know that it is a simple mathematical formula. I do not pretend to be an Einstein in mathematics, but it is a simple fact that if there are more vessels fishing in an area, the amount of fish caught will go up—the Minister says that that will not happen, and no more fish will be taken out—and, if the catch goes up, the extra amount taken out by the Spanish will have to be taken off the people who traditionally fish there. These are the only two possible consequences of the deal. He must know that.

The fundamental problem is that the common fisheries policy is now dangerously destabilised. The policy was never popular. It will never be popular, and there is no point pretending that it can be. I may not please some people by saying so, but I believe that the call to withdraw from the common fisheries policy is dangerous. It is unrealistic and those who advocate that are peddling a dangerous illusion. Whatever people might think of the past we are locked into the European Union and into the common fisheries policy.

It is no good being nostalgic and looking back to the halcyon days of an abundance of fish. My knowledge of the industry is not that of someone who has gone to sea fishing, but my father was a fisherman. Paradoxically, in the days when there was an abundance of fish in the sea, the fishing communities were pretty poorly off. The fishing communities were not great thriving areas of richness. Yes, they had a richness of culture and common community, but they were not rolling in money. We must face up to that paradox.

It beggars belief that anyone with any intelligence could support the Government's amendment. It congratulates the Government on having achieved a magnificent deal, yet the Minister could not vote for It has the cheek to refer to 1976, as though that was when the whole problem began. The problem with fishing began when we acceded to the Common Market. The truth of the matter is that the fishing industry was sold down the river when we joined the Common Market. No Government have so far been able to repair that damage.

The Minister says—oddly enough, in view of my strictures of him, as so often happens in speeches, I had written this before he spoke—that we need a radical review of the common fisheries policy. That is true. We do. The trouble is that, in that common fisheries policy review, we do not want the fishing industry being treated as a pawn to be exchanged in European bargaining on events which have no connection with the industry. That is how we landed in this position. The Spanish Prime Minister made threats just a couple of months ago.

In dealing with the Spanish, will the Minister tell us how much of our "fishing fleet" is owned by the Spanish? I have heard figures as high as 23 per cent. I cannot believe that it is as high as that, but it would be interesting to know the exact figure.

The difficulty that we are in is that, for the Prime Minister, Europe is either a great triumph in which he has negotiated everything that is good, or it is a place of damnation in which he wraps round his shoulders the Union Jack and plays the most nationalistic of cards.

If we are to have a proper review of the common fisheries policy, we must recognise that there are poor fishermen in Spain, as there are in other parts of the Community. There are the big boys who travel the world and rape the resources around Africa. One need only speak to the people in Africa about the Spanish to learn what the Spanish do. They could not get away with it in the Irish box and other places where they are being allowed. They come in at night, paint their numbers and names out, fish like hell and go back out again. There is a constant moving of boats. The big boys in the Spanish fleet have nothing to commend them.

A common fisheries policy review cannot be left to the European Commission or to national Governments. I say to fishermen in all parts of the United Kingdom something which I have said to them before and which they must take on board even more: such a review cannot be left just to the fishermen of individual communities.

When one talks to fishermen one discovers that they have a lot more in common with fishermen in other parts of the Community than one might at first think. The fishing industries of the European Community must make common cause with one another so as to get the policy right and to bring about stability. If that is done, there is a possibility that, with a European-wide international convention, with Governments, the Commission and fishing industries considering the industry, we might save the industry. Unless we do something radical and tackle the problem seriously, we will not have to bother about having fishing debates because there will be no industry left.

8.33 pm
Mr. Rupert Allason (Torbay)

The sad background to the debate is well known to us all. Half of it is the fact that at the time of the treaty of Spanish accession, the Spanish had a fleet one and a half times the size of the rest of the European fleet put together. Since that time, that fleet has been modernised at Britain's expense. What sickens our fishermen is not just that the Spanish will be plundering British stocks, but that they are doing it with tackle for which we have paid. That is what is so desperately depressing.

On top of that, even more depressing is the fishermen's firmly held belief that they have been betrayed, in particular by the abstention in Brussels. Whatever the long-term tactics are, whatever the advice from the Foreign Office, our fishermen cannot understand why our Ministers are not prepared to back Britain and Britain's fishermen.

The consequences of what is taking place are difficult to predict. But we know that it will be Spanish vessels in British waters. Quota hopping will continue and British stocks will be denuded. The net effect of all that will be the removal of British ships to allow Spanish expansion at our cost.

Decommissioning is something of a side issue because the reality is that, with selective tendering, most of the decommissioning money will favour Scotland and the north-east, because those are the areas of the greatest concentration of fishermen. The corollary of that is that decommissioning will have minimal effect in the south-west.

The amendment in my name and that of 24 of my hon. Friends recommends withdrawal from the common fisheries policy. That may well be impractical. It may well be an exercise in gesture politics. But, quite frankly, our fishing communities want some gesture politics. They want to be able to go back to square one, to start again and to renegotiate the deal that will force on our fishermen's children and their grandchildren a future of redundancy or bankruptcy, all now called decommissioning. They have no future in the fishing industry and it is clear whom they hold responsible for that position.

It may well be that a unilateral withdrawal from the common fisheries policy would be illegal. It may well end up in the European Court. But our fishermen would regard that as at least an opportunity to poke Europe in the eye. That is what they want and I would be happy to accommodate them if that could be achieved.

The fishing communities of Britain are not minor areas that can be set aside as part of the common agricultural policy. Once ships are taken out of our fleet, they are gone for ever. What is so desperately sickening is to see all this British effort being removed at enormous cost to our fishing communities and then to see the Spanish ships moving in on British waters. That is what sticks in the throat of all those who live in the fishing communities, not just the fishermen, but their neighbours and their friends. Ministers should not misunderstand the level of support, particularly in the south-west, that those fishing communities have.

That strikes at the very heart of our relationship with Europe. Are we really to allow the Europeans to walk all over us every single time? Are we really to abstain on every important issue because the Foreign Office has some long-term objective? If the Spanish were blackmailing us and threatening not to allow expansion of the market on 1 January, I rather wish that we had indulged in precisely the same tactics and said that we would hold up expansion unless we got precisely what was required and what was intended under the original treaty agreement.

Some serious questions have not been answered, and I am afraid that my right hon. Friend the Minister did not deal with them in his speech. Who will count the 40 Spanish ships? Who will check their catches? Who will inspect the tackle? We can be sure of one thing: it will not be the Spanish.

This will the third vote on the issue that we are discussing. Some of us were given some pretty strong assurances when we were persuaded to vote for additional money for Europe last year. That vote was followed by a second, just before Christmas. I pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Minister of State, who talked tough: he told us what he would do in Europe, and asked for our support. On that occasion, some of us who were very doubtful agreed to support him, but made it clear that if there was an abstention or he came back with a poor deal—and we urged him to stand up for Britain's interests—a price would have to be paid. That price must be paid tonight.

No one who heard the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for St. Ives (Mr. Harris) can have failed to be moved by his determination and his support for his constituents, and I shall be right beside him in the Division Lobby. As I have said, this is our third vote on the issue. I urge the House to take full account of what my hon. Friend said; the Government amendment takes us a vote too far.

8.41 pm
Mr. Alex Salmond (Banff and Buchan)

There will be some interesting combinations of people in the Division Lobbies tonight. My colleagues in the Scottish National party and Plaid Cymru will certainly support the motion.

Let me first say a word to the Opposition Front Bench. As has been amply demonstrated today, this is a Parliament of minorities, although admittedly some of those minorities are bigger than others. I suggest that, if Opposition Members wish to put real pressure on the Government, the official Opposition should discuss Opposition motions with spokesmen for minority parties: only if a coalition of interests in the House is determined to exert real pressure in regard to a critical issue can a Government come near defeat.

Although the ranks are now thinning in comparison with the beginning of the debate, I think that we have already heard enough to gather that there is real concern in many parts of the House. There is evidence of that from Government Front Benchers. After a campaign lasting at least five years for adequate sums for decommissioning, the amount previously available has been more than doubled. I do not think that fishermen in my constituency will miss the fact that the first tranche was announced just before the declaration of a general election, while the second tranche has been announced at a time when the Government are under fundamental pressure. There may be some advantage in a Parliament composed of minorities for the fishing communities. I must, however, echo the hon. Member for St. Ives (Mr. Harris): in the context of tonight's debate, that decommissioning money will be seen as a facilitation of the process of getting one British boat out for every Spanish boat that comes in.

Yesterday, the Prime Minister said that he would not succumb to Danegeld in any circumstances. We now have a case of what can only be described as Spanish doubloons. There will be real resentment at the fact that, all of a sudden, £28 million has become available when the Government are under pressure from a number of quarters. I understand from our colleagues in Northern Ireland not only that they have scuppered a cross-border agreement, but that they have 1,000 tonnes of fish coming from somewhere. The night is young; who knows how much more may be offered before the last desperate stage at 10 pm?

There has been some disagreement about exactly when the pass was sold on the common fisheries policy. The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food says that it was sold back in the 1970s, when he had no responsibility for the CFP, but I prefer a more recent version. I do not think that the problem was the treaty allowing accession to Spain and Portugal, which was a very limiting document; in fact, the bulk of Spanish strategy in the past two years of negotiations has been aimed at getting the Spanish out from under the limitations in the treaty. If they had not been concerned about that, they would not have had to doctor article 157—with the help of the Commission—and proceed with negotiations on an argument that, surprisingly enough, is supported only by the Spanish version of the treaty.

It is remarkable that, over the past two years, the United Kingdom Government have allowed the Spanish Government to get away with such a negotiating trick in Europe. The hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace) asked a good question: we want to know why on earth the United Kingdom allowed the current position to arise. An agreed policy based on limited access, with certain exceptions, is now becoming a policy based on free access with certain exceptions. The Government do not understand the weakness of their negotiating position for the future; even at this stage, they do not realise how they have been outfought and outmanoeuvred by the Spanish Government over the past two years.

There is qualified majority voting, and we do not even have a minority of one; we have a minority of one half, because the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food chooses to abstain on vital votes. A former Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone, the late Frank Maguire, achieved a certain notoriety because he used to transport himself from Fermanagh to abstain here in person. We now have a Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food who goes to Brussels to abstain in person, such is his belief in the rightness of his negotiating position.

The situation becomes worse as things go on. We do not have an agreement, as the Minister appears unable to tell the House; we have the framework of an agreement. The real negotiations are to take place over the next year. The Spanish are now in an extremely comfortable position: if no agreement is possible in the Council of Ministers, the matter will be decided in the Commission, or it may even be left to national Governments to enforce a policy. It seems to me that the Spanish negotiators have done the difficult job in Europe, and it will be all downhill as far as the Spanish are concerned.

The reality is that the Spanish are now in the Irish box. It is not a concept for the future. Thanks to swaps from France and Belgium, they now have access to vital stocks of cod, haddock, whiting and saithe—limited quantities, admittedly, but they have legal access in areas VI and VII. No one in the fishing community seriously believes that, now that they have that access, it will be easy to prise the Spanish out of the vital waters west of Scotland.

What has happened to the CFP over the past two years has changed a position of relative stability—the cornerstone of the policy—to one of total instability. No fisherman looking at what has happened during that period can have any confidence in prospects for the future. I find it remarkable that our former circumstances—with the Spanish in a weak position at least in regard to efforts to achieve significant change before the year 2002—have changed to such an extent: the Spanish are now in a commanding position in the negotiations.

The Minister of State returns from negotiation after negotiation, Council meeting after Council meeting, saying what an enormous victory he has achieved. He describes the way in which he has managed extraordinarily radical proposals from the Commission, and says that the fishing communities should celebrate his negotiations over the past two years. I do not understand how, after so many victories at so many Council meetings, we can possibly have arrived at our present position.

I feel that it is very much up to those who have brought the negotiations to so disastrous a pass to explain to the fishermen of Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland how they can possibly be protected in the current circumstances. I, for one, am certain that they will not be protected by this Government or this Parliament. I am increasingly of the belief, given the incompetence of the UK negotiations, that those fishermen can no longer be protected within the current framework cf the common fisheries policy.

8.49 pm
Mr. Christopher Gill (Ludlow)

If time permitted, I would preface my remarks by offering some sympathy to the Minister who has, of course, inherited what is in effect an intractable problem. It is not a problem of his creation, nor was it created by his immediate predecessors. It has not even been created by this Government or this Parliament. The problem results from a mistake made by Parliament in 1972 which, in its anxiety to join the European Economic Community, as it was then called, agreed, among other things, to pool British waters with other countries of the EEC so as to create a common resource of all EEC waters and to accept the policy of equal access.

Subsequently, successive Fisheries Ministers have sought to create a smokescreen to disguise those facts, to bamboozle the House and the nation so as to hide the enormity of what Parliament did in 1972. Unfortunately, the Minister just happens to be in post at this time as the fog begins to clear. It is no longer possible for him to bamboozle the House with talk of multi-annual guidance quotas, total allowable catches, relative stability and the rest of it, because the day of realisation has dawned. The consequences of what was done in 1972 are unfolding, and the Spanish fishing armada is less than 12 months away.

The Government will undoubtedly try to find shelter in conservation measures, decommissioning schemes and perhaps in other measures as yet unknown. The truth is that, in 2002, quotas and TACs and all the other paraphernalia of the past 30 years will be swept away, to be replaced by those principles and policies that Parliament agreed to in 1972—the establishment of a common resource with equal access for all members of the European Community to enjoy.

What that Parliament in 1972 and subsequent Parliaments could never do was create more fish; on the contrary, successive Parliaments have invited more countries to catch them. If more and more countries join the European Community, two consequences will follow. First, more and more vessels will claim a right to fish in the waters that were once British and, as many hon. Members have said, that can be done only by displacing British fishing vessels. That will happen because of the finite resources of the waters around these islands.

Secondly, the effect on our fish stocks will be disastrous because, instead of the good sense of British fishermen, greed, cheating and fraud will rapidly and savagely take hold and the seas around these islands will be hoovered clean. The House need not take just my word for it, because in a recent press report, that eminent gentleman, Sir Crispin Tickell, and his panel of environmental experts predicted that fish stocks in the North sea and the Irish sea might be on the verge of a collapse similar to that which put 18,000 fishermen in Newfoundland out of work two years ago.

What Parliament did in 1972 was wrong and this Parliament must correct that wrong. I regret, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that you have not been able to see your way clear to call the amendment in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Southend, East (Sir T. Taylor) and his 24 hon. Friends. Hon. Members must not vote an important British industry into oblivion, nor must we vote an important and renewable British resource into extinction. The House must consider the consequences of trying to defend the indefensible and of trying to fool all the people all the time, and the downright hypocrisy of saying one thing and meaning or doing something entirely different. For all those reasons, I shall vote against the motion and against the amendment in the full knowledge that one day I shall have to answer to the British electorate.

8.54 pm
Mr. Austin Mitchell (Great Grimsby)

The betrayal which the agreement to admit the Spanish to our fishing waters represents is merely the outcome of a long story of neglect and indifference by Ministers towards the fishing industry. They have been happy to see that industry restructured by bankruptcy. They have never defended it from Europe and have never been prepared to take a stand in Europe, because some other issue has always been more important. They have never listened to the industry but have always listened to the Commission and to the arguments of other people in Europe.

The industry has not even been served by continuity of Ministers. Ministers with responsibility for fishing are here today and gone tomorrow. There is a constant turnover and there is nobody to whom the industry can relate. The turnover in officials is at about the same rate and the industry has lost faith in the Government and in their administration of fishing.

At the end of all that, fishing has been betrayed by allowing rapacious, cheating Spanish fleets into our waters six years ahead of time. The central question, which the Minister has not answered, is, why did the Government agree in principle to make Spain a full partner in the CFP six years ahead of time? Why was that done? It is an insane negotiating tactic to agree such a matter in principle without knowing the administrative details, because once the principle is accepted, the details can be forced, and the Spanish have been clever at doing that.

On top of that, the Minister returned to the country and the House in December and claimed a triumph. The Government claimed a wonderful achievement and successful negotiations. In a press release of 21 December, the Government said, "We shall increase the earnings of British fishermen." That is an insult to the intelligence of the industry and the House, and it has culminated now in another offer to try to buy off discontent with a kind of burial grant to get the industry to shut up by taking the money and getting out and dying.

The Government are trying to buy off the dissatisfaction that they have produced by increasing the decommissioning grant. I was delighted to see that that did not buy the votes of the Members for St. Ives (Mr. Harris), who is an honourable Member, or for Torbay (Mr. Allason). I hope that it will not buy the votes of the other Members in the south-west. I heard a rumour that the hon. Member for Falmouth and Camborne (Mr. Coe) would be bought off by being made a parliamentary private secretary. In fishing terms, that would be a kind of technical conservation measure. It certainly will not buy off the industry because, desperate as it is for better decommissioning grants—it wanted £75 million in the first place—it does not want the money to be paid, not as Danegeld but as a kind of Spaingeld to buy off its dissatisfaction.

People in the industry are not prepared to be bought out, decommissioned, just to make room for Spanish vessels, which is the Government's intention. The Government are giving £28 million, which they have got to give anyway for other purposes to reduce the British effort under the multi-annual guidance programme. It will not buy off discontent. The industry does not want money on that basis; it wants a proper plan for putting money into supporting and restructuring the fishing industry.

The decommissioning money is only the beginning of the rundown that is to come. The industry has to meet the multi-annual guidance programmes by 1996. The threat is that, if it does not and if, as will be the case, the agreement increases pressure. on the fish stocks in the area where the Spanish will fish, the industry will face a limitation on days at sea imposed not by our Government, who have been defeated on that point, but by the Commission.

It is a bad agreement. I do not want to go into the detail, but I do want to know how it will be policed. Without a massive increase in resources for fishery protection, there is no way in which Spanish vessels can be inspected or we can prevent the practice of secret fish holds or illegal nets. We certainly cannot control landings at Spanish ports, which will not be interested in whether there has been overfishing, whether the wrong species has been caught or whether the fish are too small. The agreement cannot be effectively policed.

The Minister claimed that this is a non-bureaucratic system. However, a Grimsby fishing vessel, such as the Sparkling Line, will have to report in and out eight times just to get to fish in the Irish box. What will be the effect of the swaps given to the Spanish to fish in those waters and does that not disturb relative stability? It establishes a track record for the Spanish in those areas. If it can be done here, in crucial waters, why cannot it he done in the North sea? If a Spanish vessel is arrested in the North sea, it will have the right of appeal to the European Court, because our courts will not deal with such an arrest. What is to keep the Spanish out of the North sea?

I want to concentrate on the main argument, which is that the fishing industry has been betrayed. It will always be betrayed—that is implicit in the common fisheries policy. The right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Sir E. Heath) threw away our fishing claims in his desperate desire to get into the European Community in 1972. We have always negotiated at a disadvantage—whoever else wins, we lose. That is the principle of the CFP. They have got us by the floats—or whatever those little balls are called that keep the nets afloat in the sea. We can always be overruled by majority voting. Every claim can be satisfied in our waters, from our fish. Other countries are not interested in defending those waters or those fish and they cannot be effectively policed.

Policing at the port of landing is inadequate and the shore authorities will always be on the side of their fishing fleets, not on our side. There is no adequate way to police the agreement. Fishing is never perceived to be important enough for the British Government to take an effective stance. Only the nation state can conserve and manage its own fish stocks for the inheritance of future generations of fishermen. That is the basic principle of conservation.

The Minister makes a number of tricky debating points, most of which are wrong. I wish that he would negotiate in Brussels with the vigour that he has shown in the House tonight. Instead, he is supine in the negotiations but vigorous when defending them in the House. Tricky debating points cut no ice with our fishermen. They want out of the whole business. They are fed up with being confused by counter-claims, lies and distortions about the CFP. If the Government say constantly, as the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and other Ministers do, that we cannot do this or that because of Europe, the only outcome will be violence. That is the inevitable result when people cannot get satisfaction from their own politicians and Government. There has been violence over the export of live animals and there will be violence in the fishing ports and grounds because the democratic process is being frustrated.

It is a pity that the learning process about the consequences of European control is concentrated in a Minister who thinks he knows it all. It is a consequence of impotence in the negotiations. What do we get out of the CFP? It is a diet of lies and excuses. There is no effective conservation because other countries are not policed. There is increasing pressure on shrinking stocks. All of that is building up towards the year 2002, when all the derogations and regulations will be swept away and we will be left with the naked reality of a common fisheries policy of equal access to a common stock and a regime dictated by the Commission.

We should begin to take back power and build up our strength, our position and our industry to face that eventuality. We must begin to flex our muscles. Unless Ministers are prepared to accept guidance and work with the industry rather than with the Commission, unless they begin to stand up for fishing rather than hitting it with the double whammy of no support while leaving it exposed to the depredations of the CFP, this betrayal will culminate in disaster in 2002.

9.3 pm

Mr. Phil Gallic (Ayr)

I shall begin by quoting from the January 1995 newsletter of the Clyde Fishermen's Association, of which I am proud to be an honorary vice-president. The newsletter states: Many of our Members are still under the impression that, by hard negotiation, the British Government could have ensured the status quo so far as the fleets of Spain and Portugal were concerned … Unfortunately this was not the case. The association—as ever—is being pragmatic. I wish that Opposition Members demonstrated similar meritorious trends. Sadly, there has never been any evidence of that since I came to this place, and I see no evidence of it tonight when I read the motion.

The motion tabled in the names of the Leader of the Opposition and his hon. Friends is as meaningful as reports of the lost cars of certain Opposition Members, and it does no credit to those who carry the label of Her Majesty's Opposition. If passed, the motion will do nothing for fishermen, other than make a futile gesture towards Europe. The motion as presented represents views that have already been argued by United Kingdom Ministers and their European counterparts, not just this evening, but at the time of the fisheries statement.

Having examined the amendments that have been tabled, I have no doubt that I shall give full support to that tabled by my right hon. Friends. Their amendment does not congratulate the Government on a magnificent deal, as has been stated by some Opposition Members. It congratulates the Government on sustaining in the negotiations exclusion zones that had previously been seen as indefensible.

I contend that my hon. Friends went to Brussels in December with a handful of twos and threes. While they did not turn up trumps, their determination and doggedness achieved more than many had expected before their departure. Once again, they found themselves in a minority of one in a majority voting situation. Once again, the majority could point to the cries of Opposition Members in the United Kingdom, who charge our negotiators with being anti-European for daring to stand against the collective will. Much has been said about the abstention, but unfortunately, without the veto, my hon. Friends' vote would have counted for naught. One does not always vote against items when the points have been won, and I accept the explanations given tonight about that abstention.

My overall view is thank heavens—for the fishermen's sake—that my hon. Friends were carrying the torch, and not people such as the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Dr. Strang), whose double standards were exposed in the House yesterday. I draw the attention of the House to an article in Aberdeen's Evening Express on Monday last, in which the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East called on my hon. Friends the Members for Kincardine and Deeside (Mr. Kynoch) and for Aberdeen, South (Mr. Robertson) to support the Opposition's inane motion.

The hon. Member for Edinburgh, East failed to recognise that the agreement keeps the Spanish and Portuguese fishermen out of the North sea, and that is a significant point for my hon. Friends from north-east constituencies. Perhaps, of course, the hon. Gentleman simply wanted to give an inaccurate impression for the media to propagate—a not unfamiliar tactic from Opposition Members.

I note the amendment tabled by 25 of my hon. Friends who are noted, let us say, for their strong anti-European feelings. I respect them, even if I do not always agree with them.

Sir Teddy Taylor (Southend, East)

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Gallie

I only have 10 minutes in which to speak.

Sir Teddy Taylor

My hon. Friend has been very unfair.

Mr. Gallie

In that case, I shall give way.

Sir Teddy Taylor

Does my hon. Friend accept that at no time have any of the 25 Members to whom he refers been anti-European? We are totally opposed to the European Community, which we believe is basically obliging a Conservative Government to impose socialism and abolish democracy.

Mr. Gallie

I accept my hon. Friend's explanation. I perhaps should have said anti-European Community, rather than anti-European.

I recognise that the fishing industry is divided on the suggestion that we withdraw from the CFP. I believe that even if it were practical to follow that course, it would do more harm than good and that our market potential would be damaged. We have heard tonight about the £450 million trade with Spain in particular. The Spanish market is important to my constituents, both fishermen and processors, and it is fundamental to the future prosperity of the fishing industry in the west of Scotland.

I have some sympathy with the amendment tabled by my hon. Friends the Members for Cornwall, South-East (Mr. Hicks) and for St. Ives (Mr. Harris) and I welcome the announcement of further decommissioning funds. I am sure that that announcement will be welcome in my part of the world and across the whole range of fishing interests in the United Kingdom.

The preservation of the Irish box is a success of which I fully approve. I find it hard to understand how any hon. Member can object to it. The exclusion zones for areas VIIa and VIIf are most welcome. The limitation of vessels is much better than anyone could have expected and, as was illustrated by my right hon. Friend the Minister, that was reflected in the Spanish press around Christmas.

It is understandable that our fishermen could hardly celebrate the results of negotiations that brought about further intrusion into our traditional fishing areas. However, if the federalists on the Opposition Benches had been conducting the negotiations, things would have been much worse.

I am concerned that the limitations in the western waters should be maintained. I should like to believe that in areas VIb, VIIc and VIIk the numbers of vessels currently restricted will be maintained far into the future. I am concerned also that the French and the Belgians have already arranged to swap quotas with the Spanish. That gives them access to cod, haddock, whiting and saithe, which will create control problems.

The key to the success of the negotiations is the manner in which they are policed. The problems felt by fishermen are based on a belief that the Spanish will cheat on quotas and landings. There must be strict control over the measurements of the quotas and the landings, and there must be scrutiny of the landings.

I should like to hear from my hon. Friend the Minister about how the detail involved in all this can be achieved. I believe that there is more detail to be put into the negotiations. There will be on-going contact. I believe that my right hon. and hon. Friends in the Department are the best that Britain has to conduct these negotiations and I look to their success in the future.

9.12 pm
Dr. Norman A. Godman (Greenock and Port Glasgow)

The hon. Member for Ayr (Mr. Gallie) described himself as an honorary vice-president of the Clyde Fishermen's Association. I am an honorary president of that association, as is my hon. Friend the Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley (Mr. Foulkes). I can only assume that the Clyde fishermen have demoted the hon. Member for Ayr.

Recently I spoke to Cecil Flynn of the Clyde Fishermen's Association and the president of the Scottish Fishermen's Federation, as well as some of my constituents who are members of the association. They expressed serious concern about the disastrous deal.

I thought that the Minister offered an offensive observation when he said that Labour Members have a Johnny-come-lately attitude to the well-being of the fishing industry and the fishing community. That is not the case. In what was no doubt a less than brilliant article that I wrote in Tribune 25 years ago—

Mr. George Foulkes (Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley)

It was very good. I remember it.

Dr. Godman

In that article, I argued that there were too many fishermen chasing too few fish around seas that are the richest in the world for the harvesting of commercially valuable species. I went on to say that the common fisheries policy would need to be altered drastically before I would vote for membership of the European Community. I voted against it because the CFP did not protect our fishermen.

Twenty years ago I wrote a paper for the Scottish government year book, arguing for a common fisheries policy based inter alia on the need to protect our local fishing communities against the international nomadic fishermen who had no history of fishing in our waters, especially the fragile waters such as those around the Western Isles. My hon. Friend the Member for Western Isles (Mr. Macdonald) has argued the case more recently than I have—he is a little younger.

During a debate on the European Union (Accessions) Act 1994, and in response, I think, to an intervention by the hon. Member for Southend, East (Sir T. Taylor), I made the fairly safe prediction that the Norwegian people would vote against membership of the European Union. I said that on the basis of my knowledge of the fishing communities of northern Norway.

I am the son of a fisherman and a fishergirl. I know that all my life, our Administrations have failed our fishing communities and let them down badly because they—the fishing communities and the fishing industry—did not have the clout that, for example, the National Farmers Union had with the Conservatives or that some trade unions had with Labour Governments. That is perhaps especially true of my trade union—the Transport and General Workers Union—although I hasten to add that I am not sponsored by it. Successive Governments have betrayed the interests of those communities.

My brother is right now fishing off the northern Norwegian coast. He and his family depend on this lousy, rotten common fisheries policy, which needs to be radically revised before 2002. It has to be reformed so that it protects the historic fishing communities from Cornwall to Shetland, including the Western Isles and the entire east coast of Britain, as it has not done hitherto.

Scotland has witnessed the disappearance of its steel industry and the virtual disappearance of its shipbuilding industry. We cannot allow an indigenous industry, which is part of our culture—more so, I would argue, than steel, or shipbuilding for that matter—to slip away. In the long run, we must argue for a dramatic revision of the CFP which, despite the Minister's sneering remarks about so-called regionalisation, must stress the importance of traditional fishing communities. It is possible, within a national framework, to negotiate agreements between traditional communities, such as those in the Western Isles, and the fishermen who come there from elsewhere in Scotland.

Time is short—no doubt Conservative Members are saying, "Fortunately so." In the short term, I have grave concerns about Spanish intervention and the so-called 40 vessels. The Spanish will not stick to their quotas. Has any hon. Member spoken to British crew members on Spanish trawlers? They will list the fiddles that take place when such vessels fish in our waters. My cousin, Len Whur, was the mate on a Spanish trawler and told me about the fiddles undertaken by Spanish fishing operators operating in Vigo and elsewhere. The Spanish will abuse the scheme.

I shall end by asking the Minister a question. I am sure that he agrees that the toughest policing of fishing activity in the north Atlantic is to be found in Norwegian waters. My brother told me recently that the Norwegians boarded his vessel and were on board for several hours. His employer has told him that if he is caught out due to any irregularity, he will be sacked because of the harsh sanctions that the Norwegians impose against violations of their rules. Any Scottish fisherman or any fisherman from the Humber fishing those waters will say that he has to be spot on. Our fisheries protection fleet does a great job, but I do not think that it is a match for the Spanish.

When a Spanish vessel is apprehended and the skipper is convicted in a British court, does the Minister have the power to remove the licence from such a vessel and prevent another Spanish vessel from replacing it? Were we to have that sort of power, we might go some way to diminishing the appalling consequences of the lousy deal negotiated by the Minister who is, admittedly, new to the job of fishing. I am not an expert and I have been around the industry all my life. The Government should have the power to say to any transgressor convicted in a court that he would lose his licence and no replacement vessel would be allowed into those fishing waters. Such policing is now becoming the norm in Canadian, American and Norwegian waters, and we need it here to protect what is left of the once valuable and prolific stocks.

On my first trip to sea I came back after 20 days with 30,000 stone of fish—not due to me. Now those once-rich seas are nearly bare. The industry is almost destroyed and we must introduce, in the short run, policing methods to frighten the Spanish and others into obeying the laws. Without that, the stocks will decline further. Despite what was said in the Spanish newspapers, the Spanish will laugh all the way to the bank at the expense of our fishermen. In the long term we need a radical revision of the CFP. In the short term we need policing as tough as that in place in Norwegian waters.

9.22 pm
Mr. Sebastian Coe (Falmouth and Camborne)

I shall detain the House for only a few short minutes this evening.

This debate, to give it the most charitable gloss, is synthetic. It is fraudulent and mischievous because it is all about gestures. I shall immediately pick up on the comments of my hon. Friend the Member for Torbay (Mr. Allason)—I take gesture politics more seriously than he does. It is serious becasue gesture politics is callous. Hon. Members in both the major Opposition parties and some of my hon. Friends seek to reinforce the illusion prevalent in fishing communities that my right hon. Friend the Minister and my hon. Friend the Minister of State did anything but go two thirds of the way towards a negotiated package in Brussels before Christmas—which, although not ideal, they could have improved on in some way.

The hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Dr. Strang) has moved a motion that plays second fiddle to scare stories about through ticketing from a party whose leadership has consistently ascribed little or no status to fishing as an industry that affects the long-term livelihood of those communities who depend on that way of life. I absolve the hon. Member for Great Grimsby (Mr. Mitchell) of guilt in the matter.

The hon. Member for Edinburgh, East will need no reminding this evening—it is possible that some of his colleagues will—of what happened between 1974 and 1979 when he was responsible for such matters. In contrast to the cheap currency and soundbites of Opposition rhetoric today, the Labour Government of that period achieved no change to any of the mechanisms in place then, not even at the margins. They did not even have the excuse of qualified majority voting to fall back on. It is intellectually fraudulent to suggest that Labour would or could have fared any better around that pre-Christmas table than my right hon. Friend the Minister.

In the cold light of day, we know that it was not a path on which either of the Opposition parties would have set foot. In 1985, the Labour party—again, I absolve the hon. Member for Great Grimsby—supported the accession of Spain and Portugal to the European Community. Knowing the full implications of that decision, it hid from the reality and palmed off the fishing communities. The Labour party failed to frame one policy or even mention fishing in its election manifesto of 1992. The issue was scrubbed from its European manifesto this year and it merits only a few lines in the Labour party's latest countryside policy paper entitled "In Trust for Tomorrow". Care, commitment and concern—tell me.

The Liberal party shared in the sclerosis of ideas between 1974 and 1979 by way of the shabby Lib-Lab pact. Its leader, the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Ashdown), is committed to getting rid of our national veto and stripping all protection from those communities for which the Liberals shed their crocodile tears.

That is what lies behind the Opposition's motion tonight—not policies intellectually argued and rigorously applied but cheap gestures which demean this Chamber and insult the intelligence of fishing communities the length and breadth of the Union.

I am even less prepared to take lectures from the hon. Member for Billericay (Mrs. Gorman) in this Chamber or to listen to the waterfall of rubbish that she speaks on the subject elsewhere. I suggest that her time would be spent more fruitfully thumbing nervously through local authority planning guidelines.

The Minister should be in no doubt about the concern and understandable frustration which we feel at the hand of cards—our wretched history and the collective memory, often conveniently dimmed in this place—that the Minister took to Brussels. Although I recognise his notable achievements and the compromises reached during the negotiations, I regret that—even in the full knowledge of defeat—he did not vote against access by Spanish vessels to Cornish waters.

I am relieved and very pleased about the extra money allocated for decommissioning which my right hon. Friend has announced tonight. It more than meets the expectations of fishing organisations and it is a sensible response to many of the underlying issues that have been well discussed in this place on other occasions.

The truth is that this debate is about visiting the historic sins of the parents on the children. Those parents signed away many of our traditional fishing rights, either in ignorance or by collusion. It is those parents—many of whom are on the Opposition Benches tonight—who have much to answer for. I cannot support their motion.

9.27 pm
Mr. Calum Macdonald (Western Isles)

I wish to ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food a few questions on behalf of fishermen in my constituency. Many details of the deal are still unclear, and we do not know how badly it will impact on many sectors of the fishing industry on the west coast of Scotland. However, the fishermen have good reason to fear that its effects will be very grim indeed.

In his opening remarks, the Minister made great play of the fact that the Spanish fleet has a very small proportion of the fishing quotas available on the west coast— he mentioned the figure of 2 per cent. However, that does not take into account the latest manoeuvres within the French and Belgian industries which have made significant quota swaps with the Spanish. The importance of that is not just that the total owned by the Spanish has been increased but that many of the boats which otherwise would have no quotas whatsoever and no right to fish will now have some nominal quota and, therefore, can engage in the duplicitous practices for which the Spanish are notorious.

Will the Minister also spend a little time on the steep increase in catches recorded by Spanish flag of convenience vessels fishing against the British quota? In species such as nephrops, monkfish and plaice and all total allowable catch species, foreign landings have increased by between 50 per cent. and 100 per cent. It is clear, therefore, that flag of convenience vessels are biting deeper into British quotas. That causes great concern, particularly given the context of Spanish access, and it is important that the Minister says something about those increases.

Finally, I congratulate my hon. Friends on having called the debate. It is notable that it was not the Government who found time for such an important debate; my hon. Friends pushed forward the interests of British fishermen and are defending them vigorously.

9.30 pm
Mr. Elliot Morley (Glanford and Scunthorpe)

We have had an important debate tonight which has demonstrated many of the problems that the fishing industry faces at the present time. Many of those problems go back to the early negotiation of the Common Market and demonstrate that, although the Government may point to failures in the past, they have had 16 years to do something about them.

We have had 16 years of policy failure in fishing—in particular, the failure of the original CFP agreement in 1983. That agreement sold out our fishing industry and left open the door of opportunity exploited by the Spanish and Portuguese in the recent accession agreements.

The great tragedy is that the CFP has been severely discredited, as my hon. Friend the Member for Great Grimsby (Mr. Mitchell) pointed out. There is a growing movement demanding the radical and unrealistic unilateral termination of the CFP, as the hon. Member for St. Ives (Mr. Harris) mentioned. It has to be recognised, however, that, given the discontent within the industry, calls to withdraw from the CFP are hardly surprising. It is clear that there is a need for urgent action to be taken to rectify the current position. That is the main thrust of our motion tonight and it is deadly serious.

It is an insult to the fishing industry for the hon. Member for Falmouth and Camborne (Mr. Coe) to describe the debate as bogus. The fishing industry wanted the issue debated. The Government could have made a statement and provided an opportunity for a debate, but the Opposition have taken the matter so seriously that we have devoted one of our Supply days to it.

Those of us who represent the fishing industry and ports know the strength of feeling on this issue and the risk that is posed to sustainable management by discrediting our position, as my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) pointed out. Not only is the CFP discredited, but all that is positive about the European ideal is also discredited when people have no confidence in agreements from Brussels.

Whatever gloss the Minister may put on it, Spanish boats are fishing in United Kingdom waters and establishing track records where they had no previous entitlement. At the same time, the British fleet faces a reduction through decommissioning.

In a letter recently, the Minister of State reassured fishermen that there would be no new measures to control efforts as long as effort on fish stocks did not increase in the area and in the former Spanish box. Is that really likely, with the admission of an extra 40 Spanish vessels in the Irish box?

As my hon. Friend the Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow (Dr. Godman) pointed out, the Spanish have a poor record in abiding by rules. There is also need for effective enforcement, which does not appear in the new deal, but to suggest that there will be no increase in effort by allowing the Spanish in is about as likely as the hon. Member for Billericay (Mrs. Gorman) eloping with Jacques Delors and opening a bijou French restaurant in the Dordogne. According to the Minister, the deal was apparently approved by Lord Tebbit. It seems that the Government must meet a new standard—the Tebbit test—before a deal may be regarded as acceptable. It makes one wonder who makes foreign policy in the Conservative party.

We are serious when we ask for a review of the CFP. There will be an opportunity in 2002, or even sooner—as the right hon. Gentleman interestingly said. Perhaps the Minister of State will expand on that comment. Will there be an early opportunity to review the policy? There is no reason why Britain cannot renegotiate a better deal for its fishing industry. The Norwegians, led by their fisheries Minister, Mr. Olsen, secured a much better deal as part of accession negotiations. Following its referendum, Norway is not to pursue membership of the EU, but it secured a better deal than the British industry when this country joined the CFP in 1983—of course, Mr. Olsen was a Labour fisheries Minister.

The right hon. Gentleman stated that much of the deal is still to come and to be agreed. We would like more details. Will the Minister confirm that the concept of the standard vessel measurement is incorporated in the deal? How does it compare with our current measurement of vessel capacity units in calculating effort? More importantly, will the Minister comment on whether the deal leaves the door open for standard vessel days to be introduced as a control measure? We would welcome his comments also on remarks made by the right hon. Gentleman about introducing market-driven controls. Are the Government considering introducing individual transferable quotas on the New Zealand model?

We welcome the extra £28 million to boost the decommissioning scheme which was announced tonight. It is regrettable that such announcements are forced from the Government by an Opposition motion and threats from Conservative Back Benchers. I calculate that 27 Government Members signed amendments to our motion, which means more than £1 million per wavering voter—that puts £1,000 a question in the shade. Perhaps that should be declared to the Nolan committee. A few words have also been said to our Ulster friends as part of the Government's package of measures.

Decommissioning is a serious issue. It is an important part of effort control and deals with overcapacity. Far from there being no policy statement in our manifesto, in 1992 we devoted a specific policy statement to the matter, "Marine Harvest: Labour's Policy for a sustainable Fishing Industry."

The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. Michael Jack)

It was produced on a word processor.

Mr. Morley

I do not deny it. It was produced on a rather cheap word processor, but in 1992 the Labour party did not have the benefit of donations from dodgy foreign millionaires. I admit that our materials were not quite up to the standard of the Conservative party. Nevertheless, some of the policies presented in that document have been adopted by the Government.

We are moving towards a more realistic and effective decommissioning scheme, but it has been a slow process. It would have been better for the industry if the money had been front loaded and made available three years ago rather than now. Will the Minister confirm that £8 million of the £28 million announced tonight is from the initial scheme?

Mr. Jack

indicated dissent.

Mr. Morley

The Minister says not, which I accept. However, it is worth comparing the scheme with others on which the Government have spent money, such as rail privatisation. Having lavished £600 million on consultancy fees, the Government could have paid fishermen to stay at home and order their fish from Harrods, in addition to financing a more effective decommissioning scheme.

The hon. Members for St. Ives and for Cornwall, South-East (Mr. Hicks) have accepted our motion, and we agree with the main points of their amendment; we think them sensible. We are only sorry that the hon. Member for Falmouth and Camborne did not add his name to their amendment, but he can still join those of his hon. Friends—and the hon. Member for Torbay (Mr. Allason)—who have said that they intend to vote with us tonight.

The common fisheries policy is facing a crisis. We need to demonstrate to the industry that we share its concerns and recognise its problems, which fishermen feel are beyond their control. We must also show that this country will stand up for its industry in the same way as the Spanish— whatever one might say about them—have done in skilfully negotiating on behalf of their country. We should be able to get deals for our fishermen in the same way as the Norwegians have been capable of getting deals for theirs. We need a Government who are prepared to stand up for the industry in the same way as other Governments do for theirs.

Some Conservative Members have shown principle and have shown concern for the fishing communities that they represent. A common thread running through this debate has been the degree of concern felt for our fishing industry. That is why we should all take it seriously.

All Conservative Members who are worried about the impact of the CFP, and about how this deal will affect our industry, all Conservative Members who want to stand up for the British fishing industry and to give it a sustainable future, should vote with us in the Lobby tonight.

9.40 pm
The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. Michael Jack)

This has been a debate of powerfully expressed views, of strong emotions and—from many Conservative Members—of sound common sense. I pay tribute first to my hon. Friend the Member for Falmouth and Camborne (Mr. Coe), who made a thoughtful and considered speech. I defend him against the cheap jibe from the hon. Member for Great Grimsby (Mr. Mitchell), who accused my hon. Friend of allowing his opinions to be bought by the Government My hon. Friend has served with distinction for the past. six months as a parliamentary private secretary and he has shown more concern for his constituents in the fishing industry than have many Opposition Members for theirs.

My hon. Friend's excellent and realistic speech brought a note of realism to our consideration of these matters. His was an honest statement; he spoke of the difficulties experienced by many in the south-west, and I listened carefully to what he had to say.

Whatever the final arrangements for Spain and Portugal may be, playing by the rules will clearly be central to them. We take that very seriously. Once the final details are settled, I assure the House that my right hon. Friend and I will examine all the implications for enforcement. If the common fisheries policy is to have real credibility and be seen to work, enforcement must be effective. There will be no no-go areas in the Community in respect of the inspection of Spanish vessels, to ensure that they play by the rules.

I have already sent an invitation to the new fishing Commissioner, asking her to the United Kingdom for talks. I hope to persuade her to come and meet some real fishermen from the south-west of England. When she comes, I shall put enforcement at the top of my agenda, because it is central to confidence in these policies.

By contrast with my hon. Friend the Member for Falmouth and Camborne, who dealt with real issues in the real world, the hon. Member for Glanford and Scunthorpe (Mr. Morley) asked us yet another list of questions. Besides the importance of enforcement, the other obvious factor in this debate has been the total lack of any clearly stated policy on fishing from the Opposition parties.

Mr. Salmond


Mr. Jack

I will not give way to the hon. Gentleman. He knows that I have been generous in the past, but this time I have a great deal of information with which to educate him on the subject of fisheries.

My hon. Friend the Member for Ayr (Mr. Gallie) made a gritty speech. He was right—[Interruption.] It was certainly a deal stronger in its content and better thought out than some of the pap that we heard from Opposition Members. My hon. Friend was right in emphasising what I can describe only as one of the most shambolic performances that I have ever heard from an Opposition Front Bench spokesman, the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Dr. Strang). I shall return to the hon. Gentleman for special treatment.

My hon. Friend the Member for Ayr was right to emphasise the importance to all our fishermen—especially those in the west country—of the market in Spain, France and wider Europe. If we are to have the benefits of a common market and a common fisheries policy, there must be a two-way process. We have the gains that come from that market and that policy. Those who advocate that we should leave the CFP set out a false agenda and put at risk the very market that gives a livelihood to our fishermen throughout the land.

My hon. Friend mentioned enforcement. I hope that he takes assurance from what I have said about that.

My hon. Friend the Member for St. Ives (Mr. Harris) made a thoughtful and moving speech. I take the opportunity of thanking him for his personal kindness and courtesy, which he has demonstrated throughout in dealing with me over these issues. It is—[Interruption.] The ribald laughter of Opposition Members does a great disservice to my hon. Friend, who has laboured long with the difficulties of his constituents and the issues now before us.

I have put to my hon. Friend the Member for St. Ives on many occasions the arguments that my right hon. Friend the Minister and I have deployed—I think with skill—in negotiations in Europe. My hon. Friend knows only too well the difficulties that we face. He set us a challenge, and I responded to it. He asked us whether we could keep the Spanish out of the North sea, the Bristol channel and the Celtic sea. My right hon. Friend, after tremendously complex negotiations, achieved two of the three targets.

My hon. Friend asked us whether we could restrict the activities of Spain in the remainder of the Irish box. We did. We restricted it to 40 vessels. It is relevant to refer to the report of the Select Committee on Agriculture on fishing, which was published in August 1993. In its report, the Committee drew the attention of the House to the fact that before Spain joined the Common Market it fished in the western waters from which it has since been barred with a fleet of 460 vessels. When Spain joined the Community, it was constrained to not 460 vessels but a basic list of about 300. Of that list, only 150 could fish at any one time.

The negotiations that my right hon. Friend and I conducted have restricted Spain to 40 vessels in the same area. To answer the question, "What happens in the other area?", though the Spanish fishing effort that can be deployed will have to be in ratio to the catch quotas that are available in the areas, the idea that there will be a limitless Spanish free-for-all is not possible as a result of the negotiations. That is what I say to those who denigrate the CFP.

My hon. Friend the Member for St. Ives has stood on the quayside at Newlyn, no doubt, and agonised with the fishermen about the problems that we have been discussing. I hope that even in these last minutes of the debate my hon. Friend will understand that we negotiated with the needs of the fishermen in his constituency and of all the fishermen of the United Kingdom in mind in our deliberations at Brussels. We fought extremely hard to the end. There is still work to do. Whatever my hon. Friend decides to do at the end of the day, I can assure him that we shall continue to be dedicated to the interests of west country fishermen and of others in our proceedings.

Dr. Michael Clark (Rochford)

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Jack

Not for the moment.

My hon. Friends the Members for Torbay (Mr. Allason) and for Ludlow (Mr. Gill) have associated themselves with emotional speeches over whether they thought the CFP had served the country well and whether we have had protection from it. I hope that in my remarks, with particular reference to the number of Spanish vessels, my hon. Friends will see quite clearly that the common fisheries policy has provided a defence for the interests of our fishermen.

Let us examine for a moment the situation if we did not have that policy—the dream world of a return to the 200-mile limit, of little no entry signs at the front of the English channel or half way out in the Irish sea. That would not stop anybody. There would also have to be negotiations with others who have traditional rights to fish in those waters. What power would we have to stop them? None. It is an illusion, a false promise. For the hon. Member for Great Grimsby to associate himself with such an argument does his interest in the fishing industry a grave disservice.

My hon. Friends who represent constituencies in the west country know, as do other Conservative Members, that we have responded to the needs of the fishing industry. Many hon. Members have talked about the fishermen's livelihood. My right hon. Friend, in winning the additional resources for decommissioning, has made it possible to bring into better balance the catching capacity of our fleets with the possibilities presented to them, so that those with old vessels and those who wish to retire from the industry can take their capacity out with money in their pockets and leave for the rest of the fishermen a livelihood to enjoy for the future. That is true investment in the future of the fishing industry and shows which party in the House has the interests of the industry at heart.

I am also aware that my hon. Friends the Members for Torbay and for Ludlow are concerned about rule breaking. I give them the assurance that I and my right hon. Friend will make it one of our principal priorities to ensure that the common fisheries policy is properly and fully enforced. I share their concerns. I cannot argue to the House that it is a policy with credibility unless it can be enforced with rigour, transparency and openness. I must tell my hon. Friend the Member for Torbay that, if he had had a chance to examine the achievement of the negotiation, he would know that we secured from the Commission the promise of a report for the first time to shine a light of transparency into the activity of Community inspectors. We will know where they go and, more importantly, where they do not go, and challenge it.

Dr. Michael Clark

My hon. Friend is talking about Spain obeying rules. Does he recall that, in the previous debate, I reminded him that Spain had tried to link the extension of the European Community to access to the Irish box? I suggested to him that we should link access to the Irish box to Spain behaving properly with regard to the Gibraltar border. Did he take that up with the Foreign Secretary? Was it discussed with Spain? Will Spain obey the rules here, too?

Mr. Jack

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary is aware of my hon. Friend's point. I have already rechecked the situation in case my hon. Friend, having studied the debate last time, raised it again. He will understand that it is not directly a debate about foreign affairs, but I understand the point that he makes about linkage. Indeed, the Government are maintaining pressure on the Spanish to reduce the inconvenience caused on the border by the overzealous border controls to which my hon. Friend refers. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary raised that issue with his counterpart on 19 December and those secondary restrictions have now been lifted. I shall emphasise that point again to my right hon. Friend.

I must tell my hon. Friend the Member for Ludlow—I hope that he is listening—that as a result of my right hon. Friend's negotiations, the armada that he saw in his mind's eye will not be able to enter the waters off our western shores. We stopped it; we stopped the Spanish going into the Irish sea; we stopped them going into the English channel. We restricted them to 40 in the remainder of the Irish box and we will constrain, by our negotiation, the effort of Spain in the remainder of that water. They will be limited. There will be no free-for-all on that particular matter.

Mr. Salmond

Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Jack

No. The hon. Gentleman has had more than adequate time and his hon. Friend the Member for Moray (Mrs. Ewing) had all my intervention time in the previous debate.

I shall now deal with the speech by the hon. Member for Great Grimsby. It shows that with no policy the Labour party is a divided party on Europe and on the common fisheries policy. At least the hon. Gentleman is consistent with his own line and, unlike the Opposition Front-Bench Members, has some ideas. I do not agree with those ideas. His is an anti-Community stance. He makes no secret of that. The hon. Gentleman nods in agreement. I say to him and other hon. Members that to suggest in any way that an easy solution to the problems is to come out of the common fisheries policy is a false agenda. We are signatories to the European Union. We cannot leave the common fisheries policy. It is better that we work within it for change.

Mr. Austin Mitchell

The argument is simply that unless Ministers have the guts to stand up for Britain and fight for a better deal, the fishing industry will turn against the common fisheries policy, as is shown by the rising strength of Save Britain's Fish throughout Britain.

Mr. Jack

If you are peddling the Save Britain's Fish line, you are doing a grave disservice to Britain's fishermen. [Interruption.]

Madam Speaker

I am not calling order. The hon. Gentleman is referring to me personally. I am sure he means the hon. Member for Great Grimsby (Mr. Mitchell).

Mr. Jack

The hon. Member for Great Grimsby is doing a grave disservice to the British fishing industry if he is peddling that particular line. The policy that he advocates is a non-starter. He would do far better to turn his intellectual fire power on to reform, joining in with ideas for the working party which my right hon. Friend has established. His line is clearly incompatible with that of his Front-Bench spokesmen. I do not know whether they have a line, but it is incompatible with the views expressed by the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Dr. Strang).

I remind the hon. Member for Great Grimsby that on 10 December 1985 the Opposition spokesman, the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. Robertson), said: We welcome the accession of Spain and Portugal. It is the right move for the Community and for Spain and Portugal. We welcome. it because we recognise the merits of those two new democracies joining the rest of Europe and facing Europe's problems with us. The Opposition do not welcome accession blindly, ignorantly or oblivious of the difficulties and anxieties."—[Official Report, 10 December 1985; Vol. 88, c. 883.] The Opposition knew what they were letting themselves in for and they cannot run away from those responsibilities now. They had the opportunity to change the common fisheries policy.

On 15 July 1982, the former Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, now Lord Walker, said: I wish to remind the Opposition that they decided when they renegotiated the terms of our entry they did not wish to renegotiate the terms on fishing."—[Official Report, 15 July 1982; Vol. 27, c. 1186.] That is the policy that we are following. Lord Walker negotiated improvements in the common fisheries policy with no help from Opposition Members.

I come now to remarks made by the hon. Gentleman and others on a technical question about the North sea. I owe the hon. Gentleman an answer on that. He asked whether swaps could allow the Spanish into that area. Theoretically, Spain could swap, but she could not fish those quotas as she has no right of access to the North sea. That is a crucial part of the agreement. My right hon. Friend secured an absolute barrier to Spain coming into the North sea. There is no mention of that in the Opposition's motion.

The hon. Member for Edinburgh, East gave a shambolic performance. It contained no positive ideas. We are none the wiser about the Opposition's fishing policy. The hon. Gentleman showed scant knowledge of what happened in the negotiation. He asked about allies. We had nearly every member state on our side in the September Fisheries Council in order to turn back the Commission's over-bureaucratic and complex proposals.

I remind the hon. Gentleman what Labour Members of the European Parliament did to that proposal. When it came to the vote in the European Parliament for the over-complex, bureaucratic system of standard vessel days, about which the hon. Member for Glanford and Scunthorpe asked, Labour Members of the European Parliament voted in favour of that proposal, which would have put an unacceptable burden on our fishing industry. They voted against proposals agreed by his own representatives in the European Parliament's fishing committee to modify those proposals to the benefit of the United Kingdom's fishermen.

That shows the duplicity of and divide in the Labour party and the opportunism of its approach to the common fisheries policy. We worked hard to get the necessary alliances together in order to fight for and win the concessions that we did. We kept Spain out of the North sea, the Irish sea and the Bristol channel and we limited Spanish vessels.

Tonight is not the night for my hon. Friends to give smug satisfaction to socialists whose parliamentary predecessors did nothing properly to safeguard the future of the common fisheries policy for the United Kingdom.

I have mentioned the European Parliament. Tonight is not the night to vote for the "Brussels knows best" party, which would have no stomach for the fight for our fishermen. It was Conservatives who stopped the Spanish free-for-all; it was Conservatives who brought extra resources to the common fisheries policy; it is Conservatives who are fighting for an industry of brave men with proud traditions. Conservative Members have a proud tradition of fighting socialism: let us do that in the Lobby tonight.

Question put, That the original words stand part of the Question:—

The House divided: Ayes294, Noes312.

Question accordingly negatived.

question, That the proposed words be there added, put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No. 30 (Questions on amendments):—

The House divided: Ayes 310, Noes 301

Division No. 41] [10.16 pm
Ainsworth, Peter (East Surrey) Congdon, David
Aitken, Rt Hon Jonathan Conway, Derek
Alexander, Richard Coombs, Anthony (Wyre For'st)
Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby) Coombs, Simon (Swindon)
Ancram, Michael Cope, Rt Hon Sir John
Arbuthnot, James Cormack, Sir Patrick
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Couchman, James
Arnold, Sir Thomas (Hazel Grv) Cran, James
Ashby, David Currie, Mrs Edwina (S D'by'ire)
Aspinwall, Jack Curry, David (Skipton & Ripon)
Atkins, Robert Davies, Quentin (Stamford)
Atkinson, David (Bour'mouth E) Davis, David (Boothferry)
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham) Day, Stephen
Baker, Rt Hon Kenneth (Mole V) Deva, Nirj Joseph
Baker, Nicholas (North Dorset) Delvin, Tim
Baldry, Tony Dicks, Terry
Banks, Matthew (Southport) Dorrell, Rt Hon Stephen
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Bates, Michael Dover, Den
Batiste, Spencer Duncan, Alan
Beggs, Roy Duncan Smith, Iain
Bellingham, Henry Dunn, Bob
Bendall, Vivian Durant Sir Anthony
Beresford, Sir Paul Eggar, Rt Hon Tim
Biffen, Rt Hon John Elletson, Harold
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Booth, Hartley Evans, David (Welwyn Hatfield)
Boswell, Tim Evans, Jonathan (Brecon)
Bottomley, Peter (Eltham) Evans, Nigel (Ribble Valley)
Bottomley, Rt Hon Virginia Evans, Roger (Monmouth)
Bowis, John Evennett, David
Boyson, Rt Hon Sir Rhodes Faber, David
Brandreth, Gyles Fabricant Michael
Brazier, Julian Fenner, Dame Peggy
Bright Sir Graham Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Fishbum, Dudley
Brown, M (Brigg & Cl'thorpes) Forman, Nigel
Browning, Mrs Angela Forsyth, Rt Hon Michael (Stirling)
Bruce, Ian (Dorset) Forsythe, Clifford (S Antrim)
Burns, Simon Forth, Eric
Burt, Alistair Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Butcher, John Fox, Dr Liam (Woodspring)
Butler, Peter Fox, Sir Marcus (Shipley)
Butterfill, John Freeman, Rt Hon Roger
Carlisle, John (Luton North) French, Douglas
Carlisle, Sir Kenneth (Lincoln) Fry, Sir Peter
Carrington, Matthew Gale, Roger
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Gallie, Phil
Churchill, Mr Gardiner, Sir George
Clappison, James Garel-Jones, Rt Hon Tristan
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Garnier, Edward
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Ru'clif) Gillan, Cheryl
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey Goodlad, Rt Hon Alastair
Coe, Sebastian Goodson-Wckes, Dr Charles
Colvin, Michael Gorst Sir John
Grant Sir A (SW Cambs) Mans, Keith
Greenway, Hany (Ealing N) Marland, Paul
Greenway, John (Ryedale) Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth, N) Marshall, Sir Michael (Arundel)
Grylls, Sir Michael Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn Mates, Michael
Hague, William Mawhinney, Rt Hon Dr Brian
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archibald Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Mellor, Rt Hon David
Hampson, Dr Keith Merchant Piers
Hanley, Rt Hon Jeremy Mills, Iain
Hannam, Sir John Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Hargreaves, Andrew Mitchell, Sir David (NW Hants)
Haselhurst Alan Moate, Sir Roger
Hawkins, Nick Molyneaux, Rt Hon James
Hawksley, Warren Monro, Sir Hector
Hayes, Jerry Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Heald, Oliver Moss, Malcolm
Heath, Rt Hon Sir Edward Needham, Rt Hon Richard
Heathcoat-Amory, David Nelson, Anthony
Hendry, Charles Neubert, Sir Michael
Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael Newton, Rt Hon Tony
Hicks, Robert Nicholls, Patrick
Higgins, Rt Hon Sir Terence Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Hill, James (Southampton Test) Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas (G'tham) Norris, Steve
Horam, John Onslow, Rt Hon Sir Cranley
Hordern, Rt Hon Sir Peter Oppenheim, Phillip
Howard, Rt Hon Michael Ottaway, Richard
Howarth, Alan (Strat'rd-on-A) Page, Richard
Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford) Paice, James
Howell, Sir Ralph (N Norfolk) Patrick, Sir Irvine
Hughes, Robert G (Harrow W) Patten, Rt Hon John
Hunt, Rt Hon David (Wirral W) Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne) Pawsey, James
Hunter, Andrew Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas Pickles, Eric
Jack, Michael Porter, Barry (Wirral S)
Jackson, Robert (Wantage) Porter, David (Waveney)
Jenkin, Bernard Portillo, Rt Hon Michael
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Powel, William (Corby)
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Redwood, Rt Hon John
Jones, Robert B (Hertfdshr) Renton, Rt Hon Tim
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Richards, Rod
Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine Riddick, Graham
Key, Robert Robathan, Andrew
King, Rt Hon Tom Roberts,. Rt Hon Sir Wyn
Kirkhope, Timothy Robertson, Raymond (Ab'd'n S)
Knapman, Roger Robinson, Mark (Somerton)
Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash) Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)
Knight, Greg (Derby N) Ross, William (E Londonderry)
Knight, Dame Jill (Bir'm E'st'n) Rowe, Andrew (Mid Kent)
Knox, Sir David Rumbold, Rt Hon Dame Angela
Kynoch, George (Kincardine) Ryder, Rt Hon Richard
Lait, Mrs Jacqui Sackville, Tom
Lang, Rt Hon Ian Sainsbury, Rt Hon Sir Timothy
Lawrence, Sir Ivan Scott Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
Legg, Barry Shaw, David (Dover)
Leigh, Edward Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Lennox-Boyd, Sir Mark Shephard, Rt Hon Gillian
Lester, Jim (Broxtowe) Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Lidington, David Shersby, Michael
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter Sims, Roger
Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham) Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Lord, Michael Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Luff, Peter Smyth, The Reverend Martin
Lyell. Rt Hon Sir Nicholas Soames, Nicholas
MacGregor, Rt Hon John Speed, Sir Keith
MacKay, Andrew Spencer, Sir Derek
Maclean, David Spicer, Sir James (W Dorset)
McLoughlin, Patrick Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick Spink, Dr Robert
Madel, Sir David Spring, Richard
Maitland, Lady Olga Sproat Iain
Major, Rt Hon John Squire, Robin (Hornchurch)
Malone, Gerald Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Stephen, Michael Walden, George
Stern, Michael Walker, A Cecil (Belfast N)
Stewart, Allan Walker, Bill (N Tayside)
Streeter, Gary Waller, Gary
Sumberg, David Ward, John
Sweeney, Walter Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Sykes, John Waterson, Nigel
Tapsell, Sir Peter Watts, John
Taylor, Ian (Esher) Wells, Bowen
Taylor, John M (Solihull) Wheeler, Rt Hon Sir John
Temple-Morris, Peter Whitney, Ray
Thomason, Roy Whittingdale, John
Thompson, Sir Donald (C'er V) Widdecombe, Ann
Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N) Wiggin, Sir Jerry
Thornton, Sir Malcolm Willetts, David
Thurnham, Peter Wilshire, David
Townend, John (Bridlington) Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Townsend, Cyril D (Bexl'yh'th) Winterton, Nicholas (Macc'f'ld)
Tracey, Richard Wolfson, Mark
Tredinnick, David Wood, Timothy
Trend, Michael Yeo, Tim
Trotter, Neville Young, Rt Hon Sir George
Twinn, Dr Ian
Vaughan, Sir Gerard Tellers for the Ayes:
Viggers, Peter Mr. David Lightbown and Mr. Sydney Chapman.
Waldegrave, Rt Hon William
Abbott, Ms Diane Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)
Adams, Mrs Irene Clarke, Tom (Monkldands W)
Ainger, Nick Clelland, David
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE) Clwyd, Mrs Ann
Allason, Rupert (Torbay) Coffey, Ann
Allen, Graham Cohen, Harry
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E) Connarty, Michael
Anderson, Ms Janet (Ros'dale) Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Armstrong, Hilary Cook, Robin (Livingston)
Ashton, Joe Corbett, Robin
Barnes, Harry Corbyn, Jeremy
Barron, Kevin Corston, Jean
Battle, John Cousins, Jim
Bayley, Hugh Cox, Tom
Beckett, Rt Hon Margaret Cummings, John
Beith, Rt Hon A J Cunliffe, Lawrence
Bell, Stuart Cunningham, Jim (Covy SE)
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr John
Bennett, Andrew F Dalis, Cynog
Bermingham, Gerald Dalyell, Tam
Berry, Roger Darling, Alistair
Betts, Clive Davidson, Ian
Blair, Rt Hon Tony Davies, Bryan (Oldham C'tral)
Blunkett, David Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Boateng, Paul Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)
Body, Sir Richard Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'dge H'l)
Boyes, Roland Denham, John
Bradley, Keith Dewar, Donald
Bray, Dr Jeremy Dixon, Don
Brown, Gordon (Dunfermline E) Dobson, Frank
Brown, N (N'c'tle upon Tyne E) Donohoe, Brian H
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Dowd, Jim
Burden, Richard Dunnachie, Jimmy
Byers, Stephen Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Caborn, Richard Eagle, Ms Angela
Callaghan, Jim Eastham, Ken
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge) Enright, Derek
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Etherington, Bill
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V) Evans, John (St Helens N)
Campbell-Savours, D N Ewing, Mrs Margaret
Canavan, Dennis Fatchett Derek
Cann, Jamie Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
Carlile, Alexander (Montgomery) Fisher, Mark
Chidgey, David Flynn, Paul
Chisholm, Malcolm Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Church, Judith Foster, Don (Bath)
Clapham, Michael Foulkes, George
Clark, Dr David (South Shields) Fraser, John
Fyfe, Maria McAllion, John
Galbraith, Sam McAvoy, Thomas
Galloway, George McCartney, Ian
Gapes, Mike McCrea, The Reverend William
George, Bruce Macdonald, Calum
Gerrard, Neil McFall.John
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John McGrady, Eddie
Gill, Christopher McKelvey, William
Godman, Dr Norman A Mackinlay, Andrew
Godsiff, Roger McLeish, Henry
Golding, Mrs Llin Maclennan, Robert
Gordon, Mildred McMaster, Gordon
Gorman, Mrs Teresa McNamara, Kevin
Graham, Thomas MacShane, Denis
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham) McWilliam, John
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S) Madden, Max
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Maddock, Diana
Grocott, Bruce Mahon, Alice
Gunnell, John Mallon, Seamus
Hain, Peter Mandelson, Peter
Hall, Mike Marek, Dr John
Hanson, David Marlow, Tony
Hardy, Peter Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Harman, Ms Harriet Marshall, Jim (Leicester, S)
Harris, David Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)
Harvey, Nick Martlew, Eric
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Maxton, John
Henderson, Doug Meacher, Michael
Hendron, Dr Joe Meale, Alan
Heppell, John Michael, Alun
Hill. Keith (Streatham) Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Hinchliffe, David Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)
Hodge, Margaret Milburn, Alan
Hoey, Kate Miller, Andrew
Hogg, Norman (Cumbernauld) Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Home Robertson, John Moonie, Dr Lewis
Hood, Jimmy Morgan, Rhodri
Hoon, Geoffrey Morley, Elliot
Howarth, George (Knowsley North) Morris, Rt Hon Alfred (Wy'nshawe)
Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd) Morris, Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Hoyle, Doug Morris, Rt Hon John (Aberavon)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N) Mowlam, Marjorie
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Mudie, George
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Mullin, Chris
Hume, John Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Hutton, John O'Brien, Mike (N W'kshire)
Illsley, Eric O'Brien, William (Normanton)
Ingram, Adam O'Hara, Edward
Jackson, Glenda (H'stead) Olner, Bill
Jackson, Helen (Shef'ld, H) O'Neill, Martin
Jamieson, David Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Janner, Greville Patchett, Terry
Johnston, Sir Russell Pearson, Ian
Jones, Barry (Alyn and D'side) Pendry, Tom
Jones, Ieuan Wyn (Ynys Mon) Pickthall, Colin
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C) Pike, Peter L
Jones, Lynne (B'ham S O) Pope, Greg
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd, SW) Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham) Prentice, Bridget (Lew'm E)
Jowell, Tessa Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Prescott, Rt Hon John
Keen, Alan Primarolo, Dawn
Kennedy, Charles (Ross, C&S) Purchase, Ken
Kennedy, Jane (Lpool Brdgn) Quin, Ms Joyce
Khabra, Piara S Radice, Giles
Kilfoyle, Peter Randall, Stuart
Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil (Islwyn) Raynsford, Nick
Kirkwood, Archy Redmond, Martin
Lestor, Joan (Eccles) Reid, Dr John
Lewis, Terry Rendel, David
Liddell, Mrs Helen Robertson, George (Hamilton)
Litherland, Robert Robinson, Geoffrey (Co'try NW)
Livingstone, Ken Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford) Roche, Mrs Barbara
Llwyd, Elfyn Rogers, Allan
Lynne, Ms Liz Rooker, Jeff
Rooney, Terry Taylor, Sir Teddy (Southend, E)
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W) Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
Rowlands, Ted Timms, Stephen
Ruddock, Joan Tipping, Paddy
Salmond, Alex Tyler, Paul
Sedgemore, Brian Vaz, Keith
Sheerman, Barry Walker, Rt Hon Sir Harold
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert Wallace, James
Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge) Walley, Joan
Shore, Rt Hon Peter Warded, Gareth (Gower)
Short, Clare Wareing, Robert N
Simpson, Alan Watson, Mike
Skinner Dennis Welsh, Andrew
Smith, Andrew (Oxford E) Wicks, Malcolm
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent) Wigley, Dafydd
Snape, Peter Wilkinson, John
Soley, Clive Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Sw'n W)
Williams, Alan W (Carmarthen)
Spearing, Nigel Wilson, Brian
Spellar, John Winnick, David
Squire, Rachel (Dunfermline W) Wise, Audrey
Steinberg, Gerry Worthington, Tony
Stevenson, George Wray, Jimmy
Stott, Roger Wright Dr Tony
Strang, Dr. Gavin Young, David (Bolton SE)
Straw, Jack
Sutcliffe, Gerry Tellers for the Noes:
Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury) Mr. Joe Benton and Mr. Dennis Turner.
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)

Question accordingly agreed to.

MADAM SPEAKER forthwith declared the main Question, as amended, to be agreed to.


That this House takes note of the agreement of the Council of Fisheries Ministers, congratulates the Government on securing the exclusion of Spanish fishing vessels from the Irish Sea and the Bristol Channel, the limiting of Spanish fishing within the rest of the Irish Box to 40 vessels simultaneously and the inclusion of special restrictions on Spanish vessels within the Box West of Scotland; notes that the agreement does not call into question the continued exclusion of Spanish vessels from the North Sea and the principle of relative stability; recognises this outcome represents a major improvement for United Kingdom fishermen compared to the original Commission proposals, the negotiation of which was made more difficult by the failure to win Hague Preferences for South West English fishing communities in 1976; welcomes the undertaking the Government secured from the Commission to provide annual reports on the findings of Commission Fisheries Inspectors; notes the Government's current annual expenditure of some £25 million on fisheries enforcement and welcomes the Government's commitment to ensure effective policing of the agreement; welcomes the Government's success in extending the benefits of the EC's structural programmes to areas of the United Kingdom dependent on fishing; notes that the Government are also spending some £17 million per annum on fisheries research and monitoring and some £5 million per annum on other forms of assistance to the fisheries sector; notes the Government's current substantial programme of decommissioning expenditure; and welcomes its commitment to provide further programmes in 1996–97 and 1997–98.