§ 10. Mrs. Ewing
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what discussions he has recently held with his counterparts in Europe to discuss quota hopping; and what recommendations he will make to the Amsterdam EU summit.
§ Mr. Baldry
We have tabled a proposal in the intergovernmental conference to tackle quota hopping. We take every opportunity to make clear to fellow European Community Ministers the need to find an effective and permanent solution to quota hopping. We shall, of course, do so again at the Amsterdam summit.
§ Mrs. Ewing
Does the Minister understand that there is a desperate need to have collective discussions within the Fisheries Council, because he earlier mentioned the possibility of treaty changes? Is he actually saying that amendments will be made to the treaty as a result of any representations made by the Government? Will he assure us that there will be a meeting between the United Kingdom Government, the Dutch presidency and the Spaniards to resolve the issue so that we can reach an IGC conclusion?
§ Mr. Baldry
I think that we have kept the House fairly well informed on what we are doing. Some time ago, we tabled an amended protocol to the treaty. Those treaty changes will be part of the IGC negotiations; they are not something that is necessarily within the competence of the Fisheries Council. It is something to be determined within the IGC. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has made it clear on a number of occasions that one of our clear negotiating objectives at the IGC is to achieve the elimination of quota hoppers once and for all.
§ Mr. Gallie
Difficult though discussions on fishing are in Europe, have there not been some successes for British fishermen, and would not Britain's strong voice on these issues diminish to a Scottish whimper if the hon. Member for Moray (Mrs. Ewing) and her colleagues got their way?
§ Mr. Baldry
It is a self-evident truth on this issue, as on practically everything else, that we are stronger as 1016 a United Kingdom than we would be if we were sundered and severed into various parts. There have been successes for the UK fishing industry and we achieved a number of successes at the December Fisheries Council. Only recently, the Commission announced that it had agreed to our proposals for regional committees to investigate fishing and the first of these will be set up in relation to the North sea. For the first time, that will give real fishermen a voice in what happens in the common fisheries policy and it is this Government who have achieved that for fishermen, not only in the UK, but throughout the whole of Europe.