By Matthew Barrett
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Fisheries might seem a rather dry (pun not intended) topic, but there has been a rather important development in Europe today.
European fisheries ministers have voted against a cut in North Sea fishing quotas and a reduction in the number of days fishermen can spend at sea, ignoring legal advice stating that the Cod Recovery Plan had to be implemented. Under the Cod Recovery Plan, automatic cuts in quotas and catch days would have been put in place each year if levels were not on track, but members have rejected automatic cuts in favour of using evidence to set quotas. This is important because current evidence shows cod numbers are increasing.
This decision was welcomed by the British Government. The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Natural Environment, Water and Rural Affairs (or Fisheries Minister, if you prefer), Richard Benyon, said:
"I have been arguing for a long time that reducing the amount of time that fishermen have to catch their cod quota is bad for sustainability as it forces fishermen to catch closer to shore, often on spawning grounds. That is why this change is a major step forward as it will allow cod quota and the amount of time fishermen can spend at sea to be based on solid scientific evidence rather than an out-of-date plan."
By Matthew Barrett
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Following on from the last few days' rolling blogs, I have below a final list of the MPs (and Baroness Warsi) appointed as Ministers for each department. I have put new appointments in bold.
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
Department for Communities and Local Government
Wednesday, September 05, 2012 in Alan Duncan MP, Alistair Burt MP, Andrew Lansley MP, Andrew Mitchell MP, Anna Soubry MP, Anne Milton MP, Baroness Warsi, Chloe Smith MP, Chris Grayling MP, Damian Green MP, Daniel Poulter MP, David Evennett MP, David Gauke MP, David Jones MP, David Lidington MP, David Mundell MP, David Willetts MP, Desmond Swayne MP, Dominic Grieve MP, Edward Timpson MP, Elizabeth Truss MP, Esther McVey MP, Francis Maude MP, George Osborne MP, Grant Shapps MP, Greg Barker MP, Greg Clark MP, Greg Hands MP, Greg Knight MP, Helen Grant MP, Hugo Swire MP, Iain Duncan Smith MP, James Brokenshire MP, Jeremy Hunt MP, Jeremy Wright MP, Jo Johnson MP, John Hayes MP, John Randall MP, Justine Greening MP, Karen Bradley MP, Ken Clarke MP, Mark Harper MP, Mark Hoban MP, Mark Lancaster MP, Mark Simmonds MP, Matthew Hancock MP, Michael Fallon MP, Mike Penning MP, Nick Hurd MP, Nicky Morgan MP, Oliver Heald MP, Oliver Letwin MP, Owen Paterson MP, Parliamentary etiquette, Patrick McLoughlin MP, Richard Benyon MP, Robert Goodwill MP, Robert Syms MP, Sajid Javid MP, Simon Burns MP, Stephen Crabb, Stephen Hammond MP, Theresa May MP, Theresa Villiers MP, William Hague MP | Permalink | Comments
by Paul Goodman
The combination of an Early Day Motion signed by almost 250 MPs and a Commons debate - courtesy of the new Backbench Business Committee - leaves a government with little alternative but to give way. It's thus worth reading carefully the motion which the House passed yesterday in relation to the Common Fisheries Policy and fish discards -
That this House welcomes the Fish Fight campaign; and calls on the Government to vote against proposed reforms of the EU Common Fisheries Policy unless they implement an ecosystems-based approach to fisheries management, end discards in relation to all fish and shellfish with derogation only for species proven to have a high survival rate on discarding, require that all fish and shellfish are harvested at sustainable levels by 2015, ensure the involvement of fishers and other stakeholders in decision-making processes and enable the UK to introduce higher standards of management and conservation in respect of all vessels fishing within its territorial waters, taking into particular account vessel size and environmental impact."
In other words, the Commons has urged the Government to block changes to the Fisheries Policy unless discards mostly end. Goldsmith is particularly exercised about the "12 mile issue", and perhaps the best means of looking at the subject in the round is to quote most of his speech, which I do below. Sheryll Murray also addressed the Commons for the first time since the tragic death of her husband, and Conservative Home welcomes her back.
4.20pm update: The Speaker has just ruled in favour of George Osborne's call for an emergency debate on the Government's Pre-Budget Report. A three hour debate will take place tomorrow. Another victory for the Conservatives.
Newbury MP and Opposition Whip Richard Benyon has blogged today on his experience of watching the Pre-Budget Report from the green benches of the House of Commons.
Do read the whole piece, but here is a powerful quotation:
"This was a Budget Statement in all but name. It consigned us all to levels of debt it will take years to pay off. Furthermore it did so on the basis that all will be well half way through next year. Such optimism needs forensic questioning. If this had been a budget there would have been days of debate and a vote. Because it was disguised as a Pre Budget Report it got a few minutes of questions and, er, that’s it. At times like this I really do question Parliament’s ability to do its job. We are supposed to hold the Government to account. That is our constitutional duty. How can we when announcements that consign this country to historic levels of debt cannot be even debated?"
It is good to see a Conservative MP calling for a strong Parliament.
Richard Benyon has been blogging on the Conservative Party website, and offers this observation about PMQs:
"Prime Minister’s Questions is what much of the country think Parliament is like all the time. I try to point out that for most of the time the “crucible of the nation” is as sparse as a late night tube train. I came into Parliament thinking PMQs would be a ridiculous pastime overdue for reform and one that I would shun. I have changed my mind.
While it is often ridiculous and tends to shed more heat than light, it is worth reflecting that when week after week the most powerful politician in the land has to come to Parliament and to account for the actions of his Government in a confrontational atmosphere. Can you imagine Presidents Bush or Sarkozy coming down from their particular Olympus to be asked such impertinent questions? For a few short minutes it keeps reminding the most powerful in the land that they are mortal after all."
Mr Benyon had a chance to take part in PMQs on Wednesday. Alas, the Prime Minister was at the European Council, and he had to make do with Ms Harriet Harman. Here is the exchange:
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