§ 2.46 p.m.
My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lord Pearson of Rannoch, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in his name on the Order Paper.
The Question was as follows:
To ask Her Majesty's Government what they hope to achieve at the Intergovernmental Conference with regard to quota-hopping under the common fisheries policy.
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean)
My Lords, under the previous Administration, the number of quota hoppers in the UK fleet rose to 160 vessels. The last Government tabled a protocol for discussion at the Intergovernmental Conference. That proposal has met with no support from other member states. Moreover, it would not have provided any quick solution, nor removed any quota hoppers from the UK registers. This Government attach great importance to achieving progress on this issue. We are striving to secure the best possible deal before the conclusion of the IGC. This includes provision for economic links between those who use our national quota and our local fishing communities.
Although quota-hopping has attracted a lot of public attention in the run-up to the IGC negotiations, it is only one of the problems facing the UK fishing industry. We need to work with our industry, the Commission and other member states to build a long-term future for the fishing industry which both conserves fish stocks and meets the interests of the fishing communities. This Government are committed to a thorough overhaul of the common fisheries policy.
My Lords, is the noble Baroness aware that her right honourable friend the Prime Minister said in a letter dated 28th April of this year to the Scottish Fishermen's Federation that,Labour has not ruled out withholding agreement at the IGC if the conclusions are unsatisfactory".Is that still the position? Will the matter of quota-hopping be on the formal agenda for the IGC or merely discussed at the margins?
§ Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean
My Lords, I am aware of what my right honourable friend the Prime Minister said. That remains the position.