Both sides of the Christmas break have seen intense activity at Westminster as the Fisheries…
Major Lobby Day Ahead of Key Decisions
The NFFO and the Scottish Fishermen’s Federations, recently joined forces for a lobby day in Parliament, ahead of key decisions on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, and therefore the CFP. The purpose of the event was to underline the importance of the decisions ahead for the fishing industry at national and local levels. A team of 20 port representatives were available to talk to local MP about their specific issues. The meeting was addressed by both Secretary of State, Michael Gove and Fisheries Spokesperson for the Official Opposition, Luke Pollard, MP for Plymouth.
Other key features of the day were:
- 60 parliamentarians and researchers attended the event with representation from all political parties. This included, 25 Conservatives, 10 Labour, 1 Liberal Democrat, 5 SNP, 1 Plaid Cymru, 4 DUP, 2 Independents and 12 Peers.
- We had a number of prominent MPs and Peers there including the Secretary of State which demonstrated a strong commitment from the Government on this issue. Luke Pollard, Shadow Minister for Flooding and Coastal Communities is also influential amongst the Labour front bench. Peter Grant, SNP Spokesperson for Exiting the European Union was also in attendance (as Deidre Brock, Shadow EFRA Spokesperson was unable to attend), as well as Hilary Benn, Chair of the Select Committee on Exiting the European Union and Lord Grantchester, the shadow front bench lead in the House of Lords for Environment and Rural Affairs. Lord Owen, former Foreign Secretary, took a great interest on the day, and is likely to be a good ally in the House of Lords for the Fisheries Bill. Lord Teverson, who served on the board of the Marine Management Organisation also attended, as did Lord Wallace, who leads for the Liberal Democrats in the Lords on fisheries issues.
- We’ve had a number of commitments from parliamentarians to help in further, practical ways, such as by speaking with their colleagues and front benches. The majority of those who attended signed our ‘pledge board’.
- Key civil servants from DEFRA attended, and commented they were impressed to see the strength of political support. We were also joined by the Clerk to the House of Commons EFRA Select Committee, along with the fisheries specialist from the House of Commons Library. These will all be key people to liaise with throughout the Fisheries Bill.
- The lobby was highlighted very publicly in the House of Commons to the Prime Minister in Prime Ministers Questions, with support for both the NFFO and SFF. Two questions were asked, with the first coming early in PMQs from Alistair Carmichael.
- The lobby day was highlighted in the House of Lords, by Lord Grocott, name checking the SFF and NFFO and asking for support for the aims of the lobby day. You can read the text here.
- Our efforts included a comment piece in Red Box on the morning of the event (which is very influential and widely read by ministers, MPs and advisers in Westminster)
- There was a full media turnout at College Green with three TV crews present, filming for the BBC and ITV, with multiple interviews that were shown in different news programmes nationally and regionally.
- Interviews about the even were live on Sky News on the day and for Farming Today (influential in the sector, DEFRA and with the general public)
- There was also radio coverage, including an interview with on talkRADIO with Julia Hartley-Brewer and an interview for Radio Ulster.
At the main lobbying meeting in Parliament, a wide range of journalists attended including:
- Chris Hope, Chief Political Correspondent, Telegraph
- Laura Hughes, political correspondent, FT
- Jennifer McKiernan, Westminster reporter, Press Association
- ITV News
- Regional BBC reporters
We also have a number of parliamentarians who have requested private meetings, including:
- Sue Hayman, Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
- Sheryll Murray, Co-Chair of the Fisheries APPG
- Rt Hon Lord Tebbit
- Rt Hon Tom Brake MP
- Brendan O’Hara MP