Thursday, 18 January 2018




ON Saturday of last week, Cleethorpes MP Martin Vickers (pictured) went walkabout on the streets of the resort to ascertain the extent of begging - particular on the main shopping street, St Peter's Avenue. Yesterday he reported on his findings at a parliamentary hearing. Below, courtesy of Hansard, is both his speech and the response of the minister, Heather Wheeler.

I beg to move,
That this House has considered vagrancy and homelessness in Cleethorpes.

I welcome the new Minister to her place, as this is the first debate to which she has responded. We expect great things from her.

There is a growing problem of vagrancy in Grimsby and Cleethorpes. 

In my constituency, the main hotspot is Cleethorpes town centre, particularly around St Peter’s Avenue, the High Street and in the marketplace. 

Its shops and vibrant night time economy make it a natural attraction for people who, unfortunately, have to go begging. 

That continues through the day and into the evening. 

Although I seek to address both sides of this complex matter, on this occasion my focus is on vagrancy and begging, as it is clear from what residents and traders have expressed to me and to the local media that they are extremely concerned.

Whatever reason people have for resorting to begging, in almost every case it is extremely complex. Their circumstances are often driven by drug and alcohol addiction. 

As a compassionate society, we want to do all we can, but we also owe it to business people to address the issue - on many occasions, traders in Cleethorpes have put their life savings and many years’ work into establishing and maintaining their businesses. 

Last Saturday morning, I spent some time speaking to several traders on St Peter’s Avenue where the worst of the problem manifests itself. 

They made it clear that they consider the presence of beggars on the street bad for business.

Begging is a complex issue that is not unique to North East Lincolnshire - it is a national issue. 

Caring and unsuspecting members of the public can often be lured into unwittingly giving money with the best of intentions, but without knowledge of the consequences.

At a recent community meeting in Cleethorpes, chaired by the ward councillor, residents and traders complained about vagrancy and expressed a range of concerns to representatives from the local council, Humberside police and Harbour Place, which is a local outreach charity. 

Dave Carlisle from Harbour Place began the meeting by highlighting that 50 people are sleeping on the streets of North East Lincolnshire. 

Sadly, that is roughly double the number of only a year ago. It is clearly something that needs attention and we must do all we can to tackle the underlying problems.

Though linked, the issue of homelessness is separate to that of vagrancy. I have been reassured by the steps that the Government have taken to eliminate homelessness.

Last year, the Government supported the introduction of the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 by my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow East (Bob Blackman), which will provide vital support and is backed up by additional funding for local authorities to cover the costs of their new responsibilities.

The Government have committed to halve rough sleeping over the course of this Parliament and to eliminate it by 2027. 

The new homelessness reduction taskforce will do vital work to realise that ambition. 

In the autumn Budget, the Chancellor announced £28-million for three Housing First pilots in Manchester, Liverpool and the West Midlands to support rough sleepers and turn their lives around. 

I hope that that can be rolled out across the country soon. 

Although the problem is at its worst in our major cities, I appeal to the Government to recognise that the local economies of smaller towns could be badly affected if the issue is not addressed.

In the areas I have mentioned, there is a serious problem of what the local council refers to as “active beggars” - people who are not homeless but who use begging as a way of making money. 

One of the main concerns expressed at the recent community meeting in Cleethorpes was that residents simply do not know who is homeless and who is not. 

A report by North East Lincolnshire Council to its communities scrutiny panel in December stated: “There are approximately 16 active beggars currently known to agencies in North East Lincolnshire.
The local beggars who frequent our public spaces do have complex needs which are predominantly around drug addiction.
The vast majority have access to accommodation and are not deemed to be homeless. They have refused to engage with the services and it is evident that they continue to beg in order to obtain money which in most cases will be used to fund their drug addiction.”

According to Thames Reach, in 80 per cent of cases, money given pays for a drug or alcohol addiction and the person begging is not actually homeless. Humberside police advised my constituents,“to not give them anything directly, and if you want to donate to those less fortunate please do so through reputable sources like Harbour Place and other charities - we understand that the issue needs to be addressed, and our officers have been out and about everyday, with plans to further increase patrols.”

The beggars identified would not engage with the support agencies, so enforcement has been difficult.

In the first instance, support is offered to individuals. 

If enforcement is necessary, it takes the form of community protection warnings and community protection notices, which are issued for unreasonable behaviour and the detrimental effect it has on the area. 

So far 15 warnings have been used by the council, of which seven have progressed to notices.
The “Think Before You Give” campaign has been launched. 

Careful joint communications have been developed due to the sensitive nature of the subject and the perception of the general public and the media that the beggars are homeless, vulnerable and in need of financial help. 

As the authorities continue to curb begging on our streets, the council will keep pushing the campaign and urges local businesses to get behind it.

Both residents and businesses feel intimidated, on some occasions, by the presence of beggars. 

Local traders feel that their businesses are being affected, particularly when beggars camp outside their premises and ask for money from potential customers.

 Local traders want the police to move them on more quickly.

Recently, a court heard about elderly people who took pity on a woman after she started begging on St Peter’s Avenue. 

Her efforts to make money did not go down well with the Cooplands bakery because of fears that trade would suffer. 

The police were alerted because the assistant manager felt that the woman would have a detrimental effect on trade by sitting there. 

A lot of elderly customers were willing to put money in the cup and, therefore, to act in a way that was not necessarily in the woman’s best interests. 

She has breached her bail condition not to go on to St Peter’s Avenue and is repeatedly to be seen in the area. 

There is almost always a beggar sitting next to the cash machine outside the Sainsbury’s Local in the avenue, which many constituents find intimidating.

Action is being taken. A fact-finding exercise was carried out early last year, followed by a multi-agency meeting that aimed to identify the genuinely homeless and those who require support, and to distinguish them from so-called active beggars who are not homeless. 

The initiative was supported by a range of agencies, including the Department for Work and Pensions, the council’s strategic housing home options team and anti-social behaviour team, the police and Harbour Place

That enabled work to focus on a specified number of known individuals, with the emphasis on initial support and engagement, followed by a scaled approach to enforcement that utilised the community protection warning or notice approach.

There is concern, however, that a recent crackdown in the neighbouring town of Grimsby has pushed the problem on to Cleethorpes. 

This problem has been particularly prominent since the police’s Operation Hercules, which was aimed at ending the blight of anti-social behaviour and crime. 

The operation was important work that involved 18 police officers and 12 police community support officers, as well as traffic officers and licensing officials, but it was rather Grimsby-focused. 

Although Grimsby and Cleethorpes are in effect the same town, such an approach tends to move the problem rather than getting to grips with it. 

Throughout December, the most prominent locations where vagrants gather in Cleethorpes were patrolled daily by police, with a permanent presence during normal working hours.

That presence was welcome, but the strain on resources meant that it could not go on indefinitely.

There is a range of organisations that people in need can reach out to for access to help, including the council’s home options team, which will investigate cases of homelessness. 

The council has a statutory duty to provide temporary accommodation to anyone who presents as homeless, eligible for services and in priority need. 

Wider support can also be offered, such as debt advice via specialist money advisers. Harbour Place, the charity I mentioned, has been commissioned by the council to provide an outreach service to offer assistance and provide shower facilities, additional clothing and hot meals. St Peter’s church on St Peter’s Avenue is also actively involved.

The people whom unfortunately we see on the streets obviously have complex needs, but it is important to note that the council, police and local charities are working closely to find solutions. 

They should be reassured by the support that the Government have offered by implementing measures to provide local authorities with greater powers and resources to eliminate homelessness and vagrancy. 

My aim in securing this debate was to urge the Government to consider whether further legislation is required for local authorities, police and all the agencies- whether statutory or charitable - to provide a fully co-ordinated approach to the issue.

I acknowledge that, following the 2015 spending review, the Government are spending more than £550-million to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping in England by 2020. 

The largest proportion of that spending comes in the form of the £315-million homelessness prevention fund, which goes directly to local authorities. 

Those who have information about someone begging should draw that person’s attention to the proper authorities which will be able to point them towards the help they need. 

Ultimately, handing over money is not helpful to the individual in question; it is far better to donate to homelessness charities such as Harbour Place, which are well placed to provide specific assistance.

I recognise that Section 3 of the Vagrancy Act 1824 is written in rather Dickensian language, but it enables the police to arrest and charge anyone who is begging. 

The Highways Act 1980 states: “If a person…wilfully obstructs the free passage along a highway he is guilty of an offence”.

Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986 also has provisions that can be useful.
I have mentioned community protection warnings and notices, which are more about unreasonable behaviour and its detrimental local effect than about gathering evidence to prove an offence beyond reasonable doubt, resulting in a fine imposed by a court.

This could be an early success for the Minister.

Whatever the solution is, I urge her to instruct her officials to speak to North East Lincolnshire Council, Humberside police and others to see whether they are content with the legislative regime, whether it could be made more pro-active and whether further powers may be needed.

Quite reasonably, the residents and business community in Cleethorpes are concerned about the matter. 
People in business have devoted their life’s work to setting up small shops and the like, and we urgently need to do something to help them.

Under-Secretary for Housing, Communities and Local Goverrnment, Heather Wheeler  

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Cleethorpes (Martin Vickers) on securing this important debate. 

This is my first opportunity to reply as a Minister; I am delighted that it is to such an old friend of mine.
Let me start with the issue of begging and associated anti-social behaviours. 

As all hon. Members will be aware, begging is an offence under the Vagrancy Act 1824, and enforcement decisions are a matter for chief constables and for police and crime commissioners.

To support local authorities and police in making such orders under the Act, the Government have recently published updated guidance on their use and particularly on their application to vulnerable groups.

 It is very important that those powers are applied at a local level to meet local circumstances, in order to ensure that authorities can provide a targeted approach to tackle the issues they face in their areas, such as those that my hon. Friend outlined.

As hon. Members will appreciate, there are many reasons why people beg. 

To tackle the issue effectively, it is important that local authorities apply appropriate interventions that seek to address the underlying causes. 

To achieve that, as my hon. Friend said, it is very important that agencies across the communities come together, including police, local authorities and support services. 

I am absolutely delighted to hear of the work of Harbour Place, which sounds like a very interesting charity. 

I understand that there are a number of positive examples of well established multi-agency teams working with other local public and voluntary sector services to ensure that appropriate support and intervention is put in place to prevent anti-social behaviour in the long term.

Where people are sleeping rough, it is vital that they receive the support they need so that they are able to move away from damaging street lifestyles and into accommodation. 

As my hon. Friend set out, the Government are taking a number of important actions to meet our objectives of halving rough sleeping by 2022 and eliminating it altogether by 2027.

 To achieve those objectives, we have embarked on an ambitious programme to reform our response that places prevention right at its heart.

I am delighted that, thanks to my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow East (Bob Blackman) and colleagues across Government, the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 - the most ambitious legislative reform in decades -will be implemented in April.

 It will fundamentally transform the culture of homelessness service delivery and ensure that local authorities, public bodies and the third sector work together to actively prevent homelessness for all those at risk, irrespective of priority need, intentional homelessness or local connection.

 It will also require local authorities to work with those in need to develop personalised housing plans tailored to focus on the needs and circumstances of the individual. 

Those can include actions for other support services that are best suited to assist the individual.

Local authorities are clearly best placed to make decisions about how to meet the unique needs and requirements of their residents. 

Homelessness is a complex issue and each area is different, so it is right that local authorities have the tools and flexibilities to develop a tailored and holistic solution that works for their communities.

By placing duties on local authorities to intervene at earlier stages to prevent homelessness in their areas, the 2017 Act will ensure that more people will get the help they need before they face a homelessness crisis. 

To ensure that local authorities have the requisite resource in place to deliver the new duties under the Act successfully, we will provide them with an additional £72.7-million in “new burdens” funding, and I sincerely hope that my hon. Friend makes sure that North East Lincolnshire Council applies for an appropriate amount from that fund.

To support local authorities even further, we have established a homelessness advice and support team, drawn from those with expertise on this issue within local authorities and the homelessness sector. 

These advisers have been providing targeted challenge and support to help local authorities to prepare for the 2017 Act, and to improve their practice and performance, where appropriate, across all areas of homelessness work. 

So far, representatives from over 250 of England’s 326 local housing authorities have attended homelessness advice and support team events, and met the team.

We have allocated more than £1 billion to prevent and reduce homelessness and rough sleeping through to 2020. 

That funding will assist people to get the help they need and prevent homelessness and rough sleeping from happening in the first place. 

As part of this package, we have protected £315 million of core funding to local authorities to prevent homelessness. 

We have also provided local authorities with £402-million in flexible homelessness support grant funding, which local authorities can use to prevent and tackle homelessness in their area strategically.

That funding sits alongside our wider funding on homelessness prevention of £197- million, and specifically our homelessness prevention programme, which includes a £20- million rough sleeping fund. 

That fund is supporting 48 projects to prevent or reduce rough sleeping in innovative ways, by strengthening and building partnerships with agencies that play a crucial role in helping those who are at risk of sleeping rough, or already sleeping rough, to exit homelessness. 

With more up-front funding, local authorities will be able to tackle homelessness more proactively, pushing the balance of investment in the future away from crisis intervention and towards prevention.

In the autumn Budget, we made important announcements that will take us even further in achieving our objectives.

We announced £28-million of funding to pilot a Housing First approach in three major regions in England. 

Those pilots will support some of the most entrenched rough sleepers to get off our streets and help them to end their homelessness. 

Individuals will be provided with stable, affordable accommodation and intensive, wrap-around support. 

That will help them to recover from complex health issues and to sustain their tenancies. 

Following completion of the pilots, the impact of the approach will be measured by a rigorous evaluation, which will inform our wider roll-out. 

Again, if the situation in St Peter’s Avenue in Cleethorpes should continue, I sincerely hope that North East Lincolnshire Council can be encouraged to join in this work after the pilots have finished.

We also know that a challenge for those who are homeless is to access tenancies in the private sector. 

That is why we announced funding of £20-million for schemes that will enable better access to new private rented sector tenancies or provide support in sustaining tenancies for those who are already homeless or sleeping rough, or at risk of becoming homeless or sleeping rough.

Hon. Members will be aware that tackling homelessness and rough sleeping is a complex challenge. 

My hon. Friend really gave us the nuts and bolts about that challenge. 

He has obviously gone into it incredibly deeply in his constituency and his constituents should be very grateful for the amount of time and effort that he has put into this issue, and I am sure that the traders on St Peter’s Avenue will be very grateful to him, too.

Homelessness is a complex challenge and we must adopt a truly holistic approach if we are to achieve our objectives of reducing homelessness and rough sleeping. 

It is for this reason we have established a rough sleeping and homelessness reduction taskforce, which will oversee the implementation of a cross-Government strategy and drive wider action to reduce homelessness and rough sleeping. 

The taskforce will bring together Ministers from key Departments with a role in preventing and reducing rough sleeping and homelessness, to establish a fully cross-Government approach to these issues in England.

The remit of the taskforce will be, first, to develop a cross-Government strategy to help rough sleepers, many of whom are entrenched and have complex needs. 

However, the taskforce will also focus on the wider issues of homelessness prevention and affordable housing. 

In order to help the taskforce to deliver its objectives, we have put in place a rough sleeping advisory panel, which I will chair and which will be comprised of key figures from local government, central Government and homelessness charities.

I know that everyone here today will share my firm commitment to reduce homelessness and eliminate rough sleeping. 

Local authorities and the police are equipped with a range of powers to deal with the issues of begging and the anti-social behaviours that can be associated with it that they experience in their areas, and I encourage multi-agency working to tackle this problem, in particular in my hon. Friend’s constituency of Cleethorpes. 

If the police in Cleethorpes want to come and talk to us about any more legislation that they think is appropriate, I sincerely hope that, once the pilots that I mentioned are finished, they will consider that these matters are in hand. 

Nevertheless, our door is always open.

Once again, I thank my hon. Friend for securing this debate and Ms Ryan for chairing it. It has given me the opportunity to set out the Government’s approach to tackling these important issues.


IT will be 75 years on June 14  since Grimsby felt the full force of an air raid that cost scores of lives.

Until that date in 1943, Grimsby had been  largely unscathed by enemy bombing attacks.

But between 1am  and 1.30 am, bombs of all types fell.

They included 1,000-kg blast bombs, incendiaries and canisters containing anti-personnel explosives.

The canisters were especially treacherous, some of them lodging in guttering  or caught in the branches of trees or overhead cables - and likely to explode during operations to remove them.

Areas worst affected were Cleethorpe Road, Freeman Street and Victoria Street plus residential streets in both East Marsh and West Marsh plus North Cleethorpes.

Peter Dixon's Mill, the Bon Marche store and Weelsby Old Hall were all engulfed in flames.

The area around the fish docks was also devastated

Within just half-and-hour, the attack claimed no fewer than 99 lives. Hundreds more were injured, some seriously.

Harry Blundell (39) was one of three air raid wardens killed when a bomb fell on a classroom at Canon Ainslie School.

Pc Walter Rouse was fatally wounded by an exploding bomb as he aided one of the injured.

It is not yet known if there will be any civic or other initiatives in memory of what happened that terrible night.

Monday, 15 January 2018


  Grimsby Fish Market (photo: Roger Damm via Wikimedia Commons)


WHAT future Grimsby's  fish-processing industry? This was one of the subjects of a fascinating and informative UK fisheries debate at Westminster Hall in London on December 13, 2017. Those giving evidence to a select committee of MPs were:  Andrew Kuyk CBE, Director General, UK Seafood Industry Alliance; Mark Simmonds, Policy Manager, British Ports Association and  Martyn Boyers, Chief Executive, Grimsby Fish Dock Enterprises.  MPs present were Neil Parish (Chair); Alan Brown; Paul Flynn; Mrs Sheryll Murray; David Simpson; Angela Smith; Julian Sturdy. Here, courtesy of Handard, is the debate in full.
                        Chair: Just before I welcome you l, gentlemen, Angela just wanted to make a point. 

Angela Smith MP: I just want to make a declaration of interest.  My uncle is a freeman of the Borough of Grimsby.  It is a historic role, but it does involve a very small financial interest, as Mr Boyers will know, in some of the land of Grimsby docks, on Freeman Street.
Martyn Boyers: It is very small. 

Angela Smith: It is very small, but I still need to put it on the table. 

             Chair: Angela, we respect that.  It will be noted.  Thank you very much.
Can I start with you, Martyn?  That will give Andrew the chance to catch his breath.  Introduce yourselves and we will fire away.
Martyn Boyers: Good morning.  I am Martyn Boyers; I am Chief Executive of Grimsby Fish Dock Enterprises Ltd.  It is a private company that runs Grimsby Fish Market.  I have always worked and lived in Grimsby, and I have been in the fish business for some time.  My father and grandfather were both fish processors.
I am involved in Seafish in various committees they are involved in.  I am also involved in the Programme Monitoring Committee of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, which looks at funding for fisheries.  I was also invited to attend as a stakeholder something that was put together by Defra through Mr Eustice, the Seafood 2040 vision, which was launched about three weeks ago in this place.

Martyn Boyers

Mark Simmonds: Good morning.  My name is Mark Simmonds.  I am the Policy Manager at the British Ports Association.  We represent over 100 port members across the whole of the UK, including 47 of the top 50 fishing ports by landings.
Andrew Kuyk: Good morning, Chair.  I am Andrew Kuyk; I am here representing the UK Seafood Industry Alliance, which is a body bringing together members of two different trade associations, the one that is my day job, the Provision Trade Federation, and the Food and Drink Federation.  The alliance has the fish processing and trading members of both organisations come together in this umbrella alliance, and I am representing the alliance here today.  We are the processors and traders in fish and seafood products.
            Chair: That is right.  Andrew, you have had quite a lot to do with the Food and Drink Federation over the years, haven’t you?  That is how I have known you before in another place.
Andrew Kuyk: Yes, I have had a varied career.  The main part of my career was in the UK Civil Service: the former MAFF, Defra and also postings in UKRep in Brussels and Paris.  Then I had five years with the Food and Drink Federation, and I am now running the Provision Trade Federation.  My roots in fish go back many years to the very earliest days in my career.
             Chair: Thank you very much.  The first question is quite a big question, but it is relatively straightforward.  Will Brexit be a good or bad thing for trade in UK fish?  Who wants to start?  Mark, go on.  You blinked.  It is always dangerous to blink.
Mark Simmonds: It entirely depends on the deal that is negotiated with the EU, frankly.  We certainly hope so.  There are certain challenges that we need to overcome, but there is certainly potential.
           Chair: Indeed, where do you see the pitfalls and opportunities? 
Mark Simmonds: Some of the potential pitfalls are with the potential barriers that could be put up, particularly the nontariff barriers at ports.  A lot of fish leaves the UK on a lorry going through ferry ports.  If those are now going into an EU port once we have left, they will be subjected to documentary checks at least and potentially also physical checks.
Chair: Yes—if we are not part of the customs union or we do not have anything in place to replace it properly, that could be an issue.
Mark Simmonds: Yessome agreement.
Chair: It would be an issue especially for fish.
Mark Simmonds: Anything that holds up consignments at ports will cause problems, particularly at ferry ports, which are predicated on traffic flowing as quickly as possible.  Our ferry ports are all exclusively EUfacing, so they are not really set up to deal with customs or port health checks or any other manner of checks that could be imposed.
            Chair: Martyn, do you have a view?
Martyn Boyers: At Grimsby Fish Market, in the last 12 months, we have handled over 12,000 tonnes of fresh fish at auction.  About 75% of that fish has come from Iceland, so we have a great association and relationship with Iceland.  We are hoping that continues.  From a Brexit point of view, we would like to think the trade rules allow Iceland to export fish in the manner they do at the moment.  We also have a lot of landings of fresh fish and particularly shellfish.  We have a lot of crabs and scallops from Macduff Shellfish, as it happens, landing through the port this year.  We have got quite a diverse operation.
Grimsby Fish Market is also central to a very large processing capacity around the Humber, and there are about 4,500 jobs connected to fish processing.  Grimsby Fish Market, and Grimsby itself, is just a hub for processing and fish activity.
I see Brexit, whatever the turnout, as an opportunity.  There will be chances to do things.  I also look at this from the point of view—this was mentioned before—of Iceland and the cod wars.  Whether we won or lost, I am not too sure, but I do not see how whatever happens could be anything worse than what happened to Grimsby and Hull then—fleets were decimated.
Grimsby, the people, can adapt to whatever comes up.  We will just deal with it.
Chair: There could be greater access to fish, all being well.
Martyn Boyers: All being well, yes.
             Chair: Yes, all being well.  Andrew, what is your view?
Andrew Kuyk: If we are talking specifically about trade, I would echo the point that it depends what you mean by Brexit.  It will really depend critically on the nature of our future relationship with the EU.  If we succeed in the Government’s aim, which we would fully endorse, of a free and frictionless deal with the EU, certainly on the trade side there may not be much impact.
It is quite important to understand, though, that we are very much a deficit market for fish.  It may sound odd: we are an island, we are surrounded by sea and fish are abundant in that sea, but we still import two-thirds of what we eat.
Chair: We export a lot of what we catch.
Andrew Kuyk: We have what I call the supply paradox: most of what we eat is imported; most of what we catch is exported.  About 80% of our catch is exported.  There is another asymmetry in this, which is that most of what we import comes from outside the EU, whereas most of what we export goes to the EU.
Again, there will be a differential effect.  At the moment, in terms of what we get from outside the EU, some of that is governed by the EU’s external tariff arrangements.  Fish from Norway, for example, comes into the EU single market under the umbrella of Norway’s EEA agreement. 

Andrew Kuyk
           Chair: Regarding Norway and EEA agreement with Europe, how much of that fish would come into the UK?  Is it quite a lot?
Andrew Kuyk: Quite a lot of it, yes.
           Chair: Is it 50% or not as much as that?
Andrew Kuyk: Do you mean of total Norwegian exports?
Chair: Yes.
Andrew Kuyk: It will not be as much as 50%, but it will be a significant proportion.
Chair: It will be 30% or something like that.
               Mrs Murray: We could negotiate our own deal with Norway once we leave.
Andrew Kuyk: It very much depends on what the framework is.  If we are in a close relationship with the EU, where we are more or less replicating the terms we have at the moment, we might either a) be constrained from doing that—because it might be a condition of that new regime that we were limited in some way in what we could do with third countries—or b) it might not be necessary, because we get good access to Norwegian fish at the moment.  If that were to continue, there would not be a burning need to have our own freestanding deal.
There are different layers in all of this.  There is another thing that is important to know about these basic relativities.  Two-thirds of what we eat is imported and 80% of what we catch is exported, but it is also a question of the species.  The socalled big five in terms of the UK market are cod, salmon, haddock, tuna and shrimps and prawns.
Clearly, the tuna, shrimps and prawns are things that cannot be caught in our waters.  Nephrops is a subset of that, but here we are talking about warmwater prawns and some coldwater prawns from Canada and so on.  That is different.  Any increased opportunities for the UK fleet cannot apply to those, because they are not fish that are in EU waters at the moment.
In some of those other areas, the supplies of fish that are available in EU waters, let alone UK waters, are very short of the market demand.  In whitefish, the total availability in EU waters is something like 500,000 tonnes.  The market demand in the EU is 3 million tonnes.  Total EU cod TAC for everybody is only about 50% of UK consumption.  Even if we somehow magically had control of absolutely everything, it would still fall far short of current market demand.  It is important to understand those relativities.
           Chair: Yes—we need to understand what we actually eat and how the fish market works.  That is basically what you are saying.  There is a big export market and a big import market.
Andrew Kuyk: Yes.  The reason we export so much fish is because it is by and large species for which there is no ready market at the moment in the UK.  These are pelagics such as herring and mackerel and some crabs and shellfish, which are eaten in the UK but are much more highly prized in some other European markets.  Quite a lot of that is landed directly into those markets or exported live, and it also commands a higher price than people are prepared to pay in the UK.  Lots of efforts have been made over the years to try to develop and broaden consumer tastes not just in terms of the market dynamic but in terms of relieving pressure on some of those other key stocks.
Chair: We will go on to talk a bit about that in a minute.  That is a good start.
              Angela Smith: It is the same question I asked the previous panel, but I will use a different word: “model”.  Have you thought through the potential impact of a no-deal, “falling off the cliff edge scenario?  What would that do to the seafoodprocessing sector?
Martyn Boyers: We need to recognise there is a huge difference between the UK and the continent in the way fish is consumed, in that everything in this country is processed.  If you go for fish and chips, it will be a piece that is filleted; there will be no bones in it; and it might be skinless as well.  There is a huge demand for processed fish in the UK, and I cannot see that changing.
I also cannot see that the great British public are going to change their habits.  There will always be a demand for fish and chips, for example.  You could go into any of the—I do not know how many there are—10,000 fish-and-chip shops in the UK, and they will sell either cod or haddock.  As Andrew alluded to, they are the main species and they will continue to be so.  The habits of fish consumption are not going to change.  In terms of fish processing, the fish needs to be processed. 
There has been an expansion of fish processing in Iceland.  You mentioned the crash in Iceland in the previous session.  What really happened was that skill went to Iceland, but, after the financial crash in 2008, they then looked at how they could increase the value of fish in Iceland—and that was through processing.  They increased it, and now it has reached a peak and fallen back a little, so they are looking to export fish.  Processing fish is adding value.
Peterhead, Aberdeen, Grimsby on the Humber and the south-west around Brixham and Plymouth are significant areas of fish processing.  I do not see that changing, because it has to be led by consumer demand.  I believe the consumer demand is there, because fish is a good protein; it is healthy; it is well regarded.  I cannot see there being any problem.
The only issue about it is going to be price.  We could price ourselves out of the market.  That is going to be the issue—but the demand will not change.
Mark Simmonds: As I have said before, no deal would likely cause significant disruption at roll-on roll-off ferry ports, at the likes of Dover, where there are currently no or very few checks.  Depending on how long they had, they would suddenly have to change how they do things.  A lot of fish goes out through those ports.  I understand the WTO tariffs are around 10% on average for seafood, so that would have an impact.  I am sure Andrew has a view on that.
But for ports it is nontariff barriers, the checks at ro-ro ports, that would be very disruptive.  That is not just in terms of seafood but in terms of trade in general, of which seafood is a part.
Andrew Kuyk: If by no deal you mean a situation where we revert to the infamous WTO rules, it is less dramatic for fish than it might be for some other foodstuffs.  For the EU’s common external tariff, for meat and dairy you are looking at tariffs of 40%, 50%, 60% or more.  Ordinary industrial tariffs are in the low single figures: 5%, 6%, 7% or 8%.  Things like meat and dairy are at the high end, and some can even go over 100%.  Fish is somewhere in the middle, between about 5% and 25%.
If we are talking about no deal, we are talking about the EU tariff schedule applying to trade between the EU and us, because, in the short term, if we are lifting and shifting the EU’s external tariff to become the UK’s external tariff from day one, on day one you would then have those tariffs between us and the EU.  For example, fish from Norway or Iceland at the moment comes to us tarifffree from the EU, but in the nodeal scenario it would pay 10% or 20% on day one, so it would face a barrier coming through the EU to us.
You then get a whole other set of issues that might arise.  In that scenario, the UK Government could decide unilaterally to cut tariffs on those fish imports, either to the levels that they currently are or even to zero.  At the moment, the European Union operates a system of socalled autonomous tariff quotas.  It recognises that the EU as a whole is a deficit market.  That twothirds ratio applies to the European market as a whole, so in recognition of the fact that the EU market cannot be supplied by EUcaught fish, even though those tariff barriers are there in the schedule, autonomously—that is to say, it is a unilateral thing on the part of Europe—it lets in certain quantities at reduced tariff.
Now, the UK could operate its own ATQ system.  The EU one would not apply to us under a nodeal scenario, but we could have a UK autonomous tariff quota system.  In theory, we could also negotiate a UKNorway or a UKIceland deal.  The issues are going to be ones of timing on that, because of the nature of supply chains for fish, particularly for frozen fish.
I would certainly echo what Martin has said about the value added in processing. That is the economic engine of the industry in the UK: it is that added value from processing.  The raw material is quite often a frozen block or a fillet.  It has been preprocessed—i.e. headed and gutted or whatever—either at sea on a factory vessel or it has possibly gone to China or somewhere else, and it then comes in as a semifinished raw material that we then add value to. 
          Chair: There is a higher tariff on that, though, isn’t there?
Andrew Kuyk: There are different tariffs.  That is why you cannot say there is a single tariff.  You get what is called tariff escalation, in the jargon.
The other thing is that, if you are dealing with a frozen product, the supply chains are quite long.  You would be ordering forward in January what you would be processing in the following six, nine or 12 months.  If no deal is obvious some way out from when it happens, people would start thinking about ordering; the Government would start thinking about the tariff regime they might put in place unilaterally when that point was reached.
If, however, there was an expectation that there would be a deal and then at the last moment you had no deal, you would get a great crashing of gears.  You would have people committed to supplies; you would have things in the pipeline; and you would then have to have what would effectively be emergency legislation to unilaterally change UK tariffs in the event of that.
             Chair: In an ideal world, you would like to know either that there is going to be a good deal or that there is not going to be a good deal.  You would like to know that in advance, but you are probably not the only one who wants to know that.
Andrew Kuyk: What business craves, above all, is certainty.  Business will adapt to whatever hand it is dealt.  Obviously, there is a strong preference to stay as close as we can to existing trade arrangements.  Trade is a mutually beneficial activity.  It is reciprocal; that is why it happens.  There are benefits to buyers and sellers in a trade relationship.
The ideal will be this aspiration of a free and frictionless deal on trade, and we would ideally also like to see trade dealt with as part of food trade in general, separately from other issues related to fisheries, which we are not discussing here.
                Angela Smith: I just want to ask one further question.  I had to smile at what Martin said about skinless and boneless fish.  My father fished in Iceland, and he could fillet a fish brilliantly.  He would always fillet it, and there were no bones in it whatsoever.  That was the standard, if you like.  That is just an anecdote.
I wanted to raise a point about the supply chain and the tariffs.  This is a question for all three panellists.  It may well be that we get a deal or that we do not get a deal at all, either with tariffs or no tariffs.  However, exporting our processed fish onwards into the European Union is also a question that has to be considered by the industry.
Has any of the panellists thought through the potential impact in terms of exporting our products processed from fish imported from Norway and Iceland in particular?  What might the impact be on that either in a nodeal or a deal scenario?
Martyn Boyers: In Grimsby, we have a lot of fish that is imported.  It comes into Grimsby and it is processed.  Sometimes it is just repacked and it goes off into France and into Europe.  Grimsby acts as a hub.
The principle is not going to change; it is the terms of engagement that are going to change.  It is about what goes around it.  The French and Spanish demand for fish is not going to change; the UK demand for fish is not going to change.  It is what happens around that, what the rules are and what the costs are.
One of the things we have to bear in mind with all this, particularly from our point of view as Grimsby Fish Market, is that we are a private business.  We are there to make money.  Sometimes we talk about fish in a very sort of romantic way, but we must not forget that it is a business.  It is about commercial fisheries.  The fishermen have to make money; the processors have to make money; we, the fish market, have to make money; and then the retailers have to make money.  Everybody is taking a bit of something out of it all the way along. 
When you have this sequence, every one of them is a buyer and a seller.  That is why you will never get an agreement within this fish industry, because it is a sequence of buyers and sellers—who always disagree.  Ultimately, as we go forward, the issues will be resolved, but it comes down to how much we will pay.  If you go for fish and chips, and it is going to cost you £10, you will not bother.  If it around £5 or £6, you will say, “That is all right.”  Price is always going to be critical, and there is a cost involved.
Processing is a cost, and it is an added value.  It turns it from being a whole fresh fish into an actual fillet, but that balance is going to be the difficult thing.  What will be to cost of the rules of engagement that allow the trade to continue?  If it gets too daft, people simply do not buy.  It is not because they do not want to buy; they will not be able to afford to buy.
Angela Smith: They just will not be able to buy.
Chair: They will buy something else.
Martyn Boyers: At that point, they will buy something else.  Fish is competing with other proteins.  The cheapest protein is of course chicken, and we cannot compete with chicken.  Fish always has to push its unique position and its health benefits. 
That is why this Seafood 2040 vision is quite optimistic about the future.  It looks at things we can do to change the way we eat; it looks at trying to get people to eat two portions of fish a week.  On that basis, everybody would get a lift: the fishermen, the processors and all of us.  If consumption goes up, we will all do better out of it—but that is balanced with the price of it, the value of it and what people are prepared to pay.  That is the challenge.
Of course, we have just had inflation figures and so on; there is a squeeze.  When people come to a choice between chicken and fish, if something is half the price they will say, “I will have that, then.”  That is what will come out in the wash.  The actual demand for it is not going to change a lot; it is how it will work.
Angela Smith: It is price and demand and how they interact.
Chair: Can we keep our answers a bit more concise?  I am a bit conscious of time.
Andrew Kuyk: On the export side, we export some processed fish, but by and large we import raw material that we add value to to supply the domestic market.  There is a trade in some exports of processed products, but the main exportsthe UK catch—are primary raw materials.  In a nodeal scenario, that would then face tariffs going into the EU.
Logistically, while we could send processed products to America or other places, you cannot really send the raw, live fish.  The distances are too great.  Our biggest trade is with our nearest neighbours, and particularly with a perishable product that is very important.
Chair: Yes—for obvious reasons. 
            Angela Smith: Very finally, Martyn, what is the balance between exports and selling on your processed fish into the UK market?  What proportion goes to France?
Martyn Boyers: In Grimsby itself, I would say that 85% is processed for UK consumption.  There are people selling into France.  One of our major customers, who is Icelandic, has a company in Boulogne.  Fish comes into Grimsby; we repack it; and it goes to Boulogne.
There are other people exporting and, as Andrew has mentioned, a lot of the fish that is processed goes to Europe.  There is a big demand in France now for cod loins, which are pieces of skinless and boneless fish. They have got used to skinless and boneless fish as well.  There is an opportunity to do the work.  It is always going to come back to the fact that it is a trade and a commodity.
We must not forget that fish is highly traded.  The two things people always ask you are, “What is the quality?”—and everybody says it is good—and, “How much is it?”
Andrew Kuyk: I think I am right in saying that fish is the most internationally traded food commodity.
Chair: I suppose it is.  It is interesting how the price is so important.
             Mrs Murray: First, the fishing industry gave me and my family a really good living for 23 and a half years, so I take on board exactly what you say about everybody needing to make something out of it.
I have picked up that it is really important to have a transition period in any negotiations after March 2019.  Before I come to my question, Mr Kuyk, you have talked about exporting and how you could not export a fresh commodity, but is airfreight not increasing as far as sending shellfish to China and things like that are concerned?
We heard in the last session that it is really important to have chilling facilities at regional airports.  What you have said is, “We do not do that.”  That seems to be what I have picked up.  Surely that is one thing you would like to correct.  We do already export using airfreight.
Andrew Kuyk: We do.  First, that area of trade is not the bit that my association represents.  Yes, it does exist, but the bulk of that 80% of the UK catch that is exported is physically landed into France and Spain and so on.  Yes, it is possible to airfreight fish, and I understand there is a growing market for premium shellfish—crabs and things—in China, but it is a relatively small thing.  Again, it comes back to the fundamental thing: price.  Are we going to be competitive?
Technically, yes, it is a possibility, but it is a minority of the current trade, and there would have to be a major re-engineering in order to do that in the volumes required to replace the direct landings.
           Mrs Murray: Thank you very much.  I just wanted a brief answer there, but it was something I did pick up on.
Is there scope to grow fisheries outside of the EU following Brexit?  It is heartening to know that 85% of the fish in Grimsby, contrary to what is sometimes expressed, is for the domestic market.  Would we have opportunities to look further afield than Europe?  We are seeing an increase in exporting using airfreight and we have already picked up some very good deals last year as far as shellfish exports to China are concerned.  Will there be opportunities?  At the moment, are you looking at this and thinking, “We can use this as an opportunity to grow the shellfish, whitefish and pelagic fish industries in the UK post Brexit?”
Martyn Boyers: There is opportunity.  We need to look at the way the market operates at the moment.  The market is consumerled.  Historically, people liked cod and haddock because their mum and dad liked cod and haddock.  If it is supplyled, it might be different.  There is an opportunity there.
Instead of UK fisheries exporting 400,000 or so tonnes of fish a year, we could keep that and not import so much.  We can also improve on aquaculture.  That has always been much maligned in the UK.  There is an opportunity with aquaculture in the UK as well, where we can develop that.  We need to look at the way fish gets to market and what people eat and consume.
Earlier on, other species were mentioned, but we also must remember that fish is seasonal.  People have forgotten that, because supermarkets want to sell the same thing all the time. There is seasonality to fish.  There are opportunities to bring in different fish and try something different.  It will not happen next week or next year; it is a longterm thing.  The way we have all been brought up and what we are used to is what we like.  It is the big five, as was mentioned.  It is about cod and haddock.  It will be a long, long time before anybody gets away from that—but it is an opportunity.  That does not mean to say we should not do it.
Mark Simmonds: I would just agree with what Martyn has said wholeheartedly.  There is absolutely an opportunity to export more.  Airfreight is not something my members would want to come here and encourage.
Mrs Murray: No, exactly.
Mark Simmonds: Obviously, that is highvalue stuff.  Most of the stuff that goes out through ports for export is going to Europea bit closer.
There is absolutely opportunity.  It depends, of course, as everything does, on the deal we have.  Presumably, going down the track we are on will allow us to reach out and take those opportunities.  That is an upside.

Mark Simmonds
          Mrs Murray: I did try to help you a few years ago with my Private Member’s Bill, the Marine Navigation Act, making it easier for you to operate as a port.  I do take on board that you would not want to see competition from airfreight too much.
Andrew Kuyk: I would echo the point.  Airfreight is high value and low volume.  I come back to basic relativities: we import two-thirds of consumption.  If we had increased catching opportunities and increased supply, the most obvious thing to do with that would be import substitution—because the market is there.  You would be landing into your own market.  That would be far easier.
I am not antiexport, and I am not ruling it out, but if you take cod, for example, UK catches are less than 10% of current demand.  If we were able to catch more cod, why would we seek to export that rather than increase supply to our own market? 
             Chair: Is there not an argument at the moment that we are inclined to export highvalue cod and import lower value cod?  That happens quite a lot, doesn’t it?
Martyn Boyers: It does.
Andrew Kuyk: However, that is a feature of what the consumer is prepared to pay.  The whole point of trade is that you optimise your market.  If you can get a higher price for something from somebody elsewhere, then you will do that, and that gives you your overall business proposition.  However, if you are looking at the main drivers of the market, the big numbers are supplying the domestic market, where we are a deficit market.
Chair: Your argument would be, yes, look for export markets, but you also think there is a way to substitute quite a lot of imported fish, which leads us on to the next question.  I am conscious of time—Angela, very quickly, please.
             Angela Smith: There have been numerous campaigns over the years to change British eating habits, when it comes to fish.  None of them have really proved successful.  We have an enduring love of haddock in Grimsby but cod in most parts of the country. Martin said it would be very long term.  We are talking decades, aren’t we?
Martyn Boyers: The opportunity exists in that the fish that are exported are high value.  If you look down in the south-west, you are looking at a lot of the turbot, brill, Dover soles.  High-value stuff is being exported, the reason being that our European colleagues pay more money for the fish.  It is as simple as that.  However, if there is some constraint on trade and tariffs, that fish might not be sold abroad, and that means they would have to sell it into the UK.
Chair: Can we leave it there?  I am conscious that is another question.  One last point, please, and then I have to bring David in.
Mrs Murray: I have not got any more questions, but I want to offer you my apologies, because I do have a question in the Chamber, so I will have to leave.  Apologies to the witnesses.
Chair: Thank you very much, Sheryll.  Can I move on to David now, please?  Thank you, Sheryll.
          David Simpson: Chairman, there has been a lot of discussion, and maybe Andrew touched on this question, over a number of weeks and months in relation to trade agreements, such as bilateral trade agreements.  Taking that into consideration, how dependent are your businesses on imports of fish from other EU countries?  Is it important to get that in a trade agreement, because of the import of fish?
Martyn Boyers: For us in Grimsby, as I said earlier, 75% of our fish is imported from Iceland, which is a non-EU country.  We also get fish from Northern Ireland. A lot of fish comes over to Grimsby from Northern Ireland as well, but obviously that is from within the UK.  We also get fish from Scotland as well.  I suppose we are one of Peterhead’s biggest customers.  A lot of fish comes down from Peterhead as well, for the auction.  However, the main business with us is with Iceland.  If that were curtailed, for whatever reason, we would struggle to continue.  We would have to look at the job seriously and see what other alternatives we had.
     David Simpson: That is fish coming in from Iceland, is it?
Martyn Boyers: That is fresh fish coming in from Iceland.  It comes in by container.
Mark Simmonds: Most of our members are focused on the EU, but like I say we represent 100 ports and a lot of fishing ports, so there is quite a variety.  Some of them are entirely focused on the EU, though.
             David Simpson: Are you saying that, whilst the conversation has been had today in relation to WTO, the best option for you guys is a trade deal without going to the unknown of WTO?
Mark Simmonds: The British Ports Association’s preferred option is a deal that secures the benefits that we currently enjoy from the customs union and the single market.  We recognise it is Government policy to leave, but a lot of the external trade from our ports goes through roll-on roll-off ferry ports, and they do not have the infrastructure at the moment to deal with checks, whatever they might be.  Something like 36 agencies can intervene at the border at the moment, and any kind of checks or barriers that are thrown up there will cause disruption.
       David Simpson: Andrew, do you want to finish?
Andrew Kuyk: Yes, in fish nothing is quite as straightforward as it seems.  A lot of the fish we import originates outside the EU, but physically it comes through EU channels, because its first point of entry into the single market could be through Rotterdam or ports in Germany.  Also, as I described, a lot of what we import as raw material has gone through a first stage processing of some description, and that can also happen in another European country.  A fish from Norway can go into Germany, have a first-stage processing operation in Germany and then come into the UK from Germany.  It is not as simple as to say that, because it comes from outside the EU, a tariff barrier with the EU would be irrelevant.  If it is coming in transit through the EU, the same is true for things going in the other direction.  That interface with the EU is critical at the moment, even for non-EU fish.
We also have a lot fish, such as Alaska pollock, as the name suggests, coming from waters in North America.  That, again, can be landed through Rotterdam.  Your Committee is probably familiar with the Rotterdam effect.  It does disguise the official trade statistics, which do not tell us the reality of the trade flows.  Again, in fish it is quite misleading.  If you interrogate the HMRC figures, you will find that China is a leading supplier of fish to the UK.  It is not Chinese fish; it is possibly Russian fish or American fish that has gone to China for basic filleting and pre-preparation in a frozen block.  The block comes from China; therefore, it is lodged in the figures as an import from China.
The pattern of trade flows is really quite complicated.  It has been optimised to what the present situation is.  If we faced a situation where there was dramatic change, those supply chains would reorganise.  Instead of something coming via Rotterdam, this might be an opportunity for Grimsby or other British ports, but there is a capacity issue there.  Have we got the physical capacity to scale up operations to deal with that?  If it has gone through a first-stage processing somewhere else, have we got the physical capacity to build that in the UK?  Would there be the business model?  There are some fairly basic issues that colleagues from ports will understand only too well: cold storage, refrigeration capacity.  Again, it is optimised to current trade flows.  You would not have cold stores standing empty 300 days a year.
We know that there are examples of trade in the UK where fish is stored in Boulogne, for example, because there is capacity there.  It does not matter.  It is as simple as London to Sheffield, or something.  Boulogne to here does not matter at the moment, but it will if you change the trade regime and put in tariff barriers or non-tariff barriers.  We are looking at the tariffs, but there is everything that goes with them: the health certification and, in terms of fish, the IUU regulation, catch certificates, and so on.  That is another layer of complexity in the fish area that does not apply in some other areas.
Chair: Thank you.  David, are you done?  Angela quickly, please, and then I will move on.
               Angela Smith:  On trade and tariffs and non-tariff barriers, I am aware that Grimsby has asked for free trade status within a European Union deal.
Martyn Boyers: Some people, not me.
         Angela Smith: Not you.  I would like to hear about it, Martyn, because it has made big news in our region, of course.  Could you outline the reasoning behind that?  I find it quite an odd—
Martyn Boyers: I do not know the reasoning, because I was not involved in the announcement.  There is no substance to it or justification for it at all, because we are a UK fishery.  You cannot have Grimsby in isolation.  We are part of the bigger thing.  I do not go along with having us as a free trade port at all.  That is not going to work.
However, Andrew was talking about fish coming in, and one of the things we need to be clear about is fresh fish, because you cannot delay fresh fish.  If it is frozen, you have a bit of a chance, because you can cold-store it.  However, with fresh fish you have had it, because the value will deteriorate rapidly, especially when you have shellfish: scallops, crab and lobster.  You cannot hold it up.  That is going to be the main issue.
Chair: Yes, that has come through to us really loud and clear, not only from you but from the other witnesses.
Martyn Boyers: We are the same.  We are bringing in fresh fish.  The organisation in Iceland, Fiskistofa, which is the Icelandic ministry, used to be on Grimsby Fish Market, but they changed the systemagain, cost-cutting.  They inspect the fish in Iceland before it comes.  When it comes to us, it has already been customs checked, and they put a seal on the back of the container.  When it arrives to us, if it has not got the seal intact, we do not open it.  That has never happened.  There is a system in place.
Mark Simmonds: On the free ports, our understanding is some of our members are keen on it, others, like Martyn, less so.
              Chair: It is obviously quite controversial.  It sounds a little bit like a nuclear free zone, but I do not know if it works quite in the same way.
Mark Simmonds: We understand it is off the table and it is not being considered until at least after a deal is agreed.
Chair: Thank you very much for that.  Can I bring in Julian, now, please?
              Julian Sturdy: I do not think we will get a straight answer to this question, given what you have just said, Andrew, but, Martyn, you talked about price being absolutely critical and touched on the fact that 70% of your fish comes from Iceland.  Is there concern that fish prices might rise in the UK for consumers in the short term when we leave?
Martyn Boyers: It is an interesting thing about price, because if you are dealing in fresh fish, fresh fish is a very volatile market to trade in, and any of those people who deal in fresh fish will also have great difficulties on cash flow, because the price of fish goes up and down very much so.  Frozen fish is more of a commodity, and there is a bit of stability, but the ebb and flow are more like an ebb and a flow.  Fresh fish spikes.  We have seen on the fish market in Grimsby, for haddock, anywhere between £1.50 a kilo up to £5 a kilo.  A lot of that is down to supply and demand.
The basis of the fish market, and one of the things I advocate—and I would do, being in the fish market—is determining the price of fish.  Grimsby always has been, and continues to be, a benchmark for the value of fresh fish on any given day.  You have the fresh fish market, which goes up and down subject to what is available, and then frozen is a bit more of a stable market, and people process from more of a stable market and supply from a stable market.  The price fluctuation is something that depends on the circumstances.  For example, this week we have had all this bad weather.  The price of fish dropped, because people could not get fresh fish into the shops, and so on.  The week before it was at a record high.
         Julian Sturdy: Why was it at a record high the week before?
Martyn Boyers: It was the opposite effect.  The demand is constant, but the supply varies.  The supply situation was low.  There was not much fish from Iceland; they had a lot of high wind and bad weather up there.  Fishing itself had gone down and up goes the price.
We have this movement in fresh fish, and it is volatile.  It is very important that we maintain the auction markets in places like Peterhead, Grimsby, Brixham, Plymouth and Newlyn, because they determine the price of fish.  That is always an issue, because there is a lot of pressure from supermarkets to keep the prices down.  However, when you are dealing in a natural commodity that people go out and catch, the price fluctuates.
        Julian Sturdy: What if we had tariffs coming in?
Martyn Boyers: I think they would be reflected.  I do not know who would pick up the tab, but somewhere down the line somebody would end up paying for it.
      Julian Sturdy: It could be the consumer.
Martyn Boyers: It could be the consumer.  It could be us.  It could be the Icelanders; it could be the Norwegians.
      Chair: Andrew and Mark, do you have anything briefly please?  I am conscious of time.
Andrew Kuyk: First, it has emerged from some of the things Martyn has said that the fresh fish market is different from the frozen commodity market, and that is less susceptible to these price fluctuations.  There are different elements in price.  Currency, latterly, has been quite an important factor, because as we are heavily dependent on imports, the devaluation of sterling effectively since the referendum has put price pressure on that.  Some of that is absorbed within the chain; some of that is being passed on.  At the moment tariffs are not a major issue, because although some tariffs do apply for some of the third country imports we do not have totally tariff-free
      Julian Sturdy: That is because a lot of it is coming into the EU.
Andrew Kuyk: Yes, the Norwegian fish is not tariff-free into the EU, and I have talked about the autonomous tariff quotas.  Some of those are to zero, some are not to zero.  We also import some fish on which tariff is paid, but those have been stable and so factored in.  An increase in tariffs will then add to the currency effect, because those are both going in the wrong direction: both are increasing the cost of the raw material. If we have a situation where we have new customs declaration certification requirements that do not exist at the moment, that is an added transaction cost we do not have.  Estimates vary, but that could add between 5% and 10% of pricejust those formalities that have to be gone through.  Martyn has talked about the sealed container.  That is one way of dealing with that.  That is a very specific case, but if we are talking about an EU/UK deal, those sorts of streamlinings would have to be generalised, and there may or may not be a cost.  All those cost pressures are going in one direction.
The other thing that has come out—I am not sure it is a direct answer to your question—is the seasonality.  Fish is very globally traded.  That diversity of supply, again, enables that year-round continuity.  What consumers are looking for is a consistent product.
Chair: We will leave it there, because they are very good answers, but they are getting very long.  Are you finished, Julian?
Julian Sturdy: Yes, that is fine.
Chair: Alan, please.
Alan Brown: What I was going to ask has been covered.
Chair: You are reasonably happy.
Alan Brown: I am happy to come back in later on.
Chair: Okay, I will go on to David then, please.
           David Simpson: Is there an opportunity with Brexit for the UK market to improve itself as a world leader in sustainable fish?  Are there opportunities there while it has a good reputation?  Can it move forward again to go to that next level?
Martyn Boyers: The UK fisheries sector is in a good position.  I do not think we should criticise it too much.  There is far more traceability now within the systems than there ever used to be.  The BRC, British Retail Consortium, accreditation was mentioned in the previous session.  Lot of businesses have that, and we are one of those.  We also have the Marine Stewardship Council accreditation.
Businesses are very conscious of the requirement to have traceability.  Part of that traceability is to make sure the fish supply you are receiving is from a sustainable fishery.  In the UK, most of the businesses do the job properly.  I honestly do not think that is an issue.  We can improve on it and become world leaders.  I would be surprised if we were not one of the world leaders at the moment.
        David Simpson:  Absolutely.  Mark, what do you think?
Mark Simmonds: I would agree with everything Martyn said.
      David Simpson: Andrew, do you want to add anything?
Andrew Kuyk: Yes, briefly.  I have been involved with the common fisheries policy on and off at various points in my career.  It has had a chequered reputation.  Latterly there have been big improvements, and a lot of those have been UK-driven.  It has been UK Ministers who have been at the forefront, whether you are talking about IUU regulations, landing obligation or technical conservation measures.  The UK has been very much at the leading edge of that, and the UK industry has been pioneering things to do with responsible sourcing, supply chains, traceability and so on. 
There is potential for us to go even better, and people point to the other models, Norway and so on, where the sovereign control has given them a greater ability to set measures in accordance with the prevailing circumstances.  Inevitably, in a European Union of multiple member states, political decisions are subject to an amount of compromise.  There has been far too much compromise in the history of the common fisheries policy.  It is a lot better today, but we are aware of the December quota setting and so on.  That has not been exemplary.
         Chair: David is happy today, because Northern Ireland has got a good amount, but he would not have been so happy in the past when it has been a lot less.
Andrew Kuyk: Yes.  The UK does have an opportunity, depending on what happens.  Again, this is separate from the trade thing.  This is talking about the management of waters and the fish.
            Chair: I suppose it is how we catch it as well.  We were talking about line-caught fish. I know we are not going to go out and catch all the fish by line, but there could be potential there.
Andrew Kuyk: I would flip the question: if we do not get a good outcome on fish—and by that I do not necessarily mean a good economic outcome—and we get a situation where the perception is that the system is somehow not going to function because of political disagreements, such that there is a doubt in the consumer’s mind about the sustainability of stocks as a result of a disorderly way forward, that will damage everybody.  There are two sides of the same coin.  Getting it wrong would reputationally damage everybody in the industry, whether catcher, whether processor; it would be bad for everybody.  Getting it right is a great opportunity for us to be an exemplar and to be world leading in our sustainable management of the resource.
       Chair: Thank you.  Mark, do you have a comment?
Mark Simmonds: No.
Chair: David, you are done?  Julian now, please, then Alan, then Angela.
             Julian Sturdy: This is specifically a question to you, Martyn.  You touched on—and it has been talked about throughout this session—that the value of fish decreases very quickly over time.  Have you done any modelling within the business to estimate the financial problems that could be caused through hold-ups at customs, non-tariff barrier checks, et cetera?
Martyn Boyers: The only example I can give you is the fact that the fish we bring in from Iceland is basically on a ferry service.  It arrives into Immingham on a Sunday afternoon and is brought by lorry to the fish market and we sort it, weigh it, unload it and put it on the fish market on Monday morning.  When that vessel has been delayed for whatever reason, and just lately it has broken down a few times, the fish on board is still on board.  When it arrives a day late or two days late, we still have to handle the same fish.  You can see the deterioration in the fish, because it is two days older and it is fresh fish.
One of the issues to be able to deal with is to understand that, if it is fresh fish, it does need to be dealt with straight away.  If there were delays in the whole fish transport and logistics, fresh fish is never going to get better.  It never improves.  Do not let anybody tell you any different.  It can only get worse.
          Julian Sturdy: When that happened, and that was delayed for a couple of days, what happened on the market floor on Monday morning?
Martyn Boyers: Generally what happens is we carry on doing the same work, but the value of the fish goes down.
        Julian Sturdy: The buyers were paying less.
Martyn Boyers: The buyers pay less, because it is not as good.
        Chair: I suppose potentially it can go off.
Martyn Boyers: It takes quite a bit for it to go off, but the value goes down.  The merchants do not pay as much because it is not as good quality.  Also, because it is already a bit older it does not have any shelf life.  It is not as valuable to them; that is why the value goes down.
        Chair: The evidence we have taken this morning has really shown that getting things through borders and border posts, if there were such things, is very important, no more so than in fresh fish.  Is there anything else anybody wants to add? 
Andrew Kuyk: On your modelling point, it is difficult to model because this is unknown territory.  It is not just what the UK puts in place; it is what our counterparts in other member states put in place.  We could have frictionless on the Dover side, but if it is not frictionless on the Calais side, you still get the bottleneck.  You need both halves of the equation.
        Chair: Yes. We had a little problem with lambs and various things in the past, didn’t we?  That was through single market regulations, so it will be interesting.
Andrew Kuyk: Just as trade is two-way, borders are two-way as well.
Chair: We are conscious of that. 
           Alan Brown: I will just pick up on that.  The UK Government has pledged to leave the single market and the customs union.   Now they keep saying that, yes, we support having a free and frictionless trade border that mirrors the single market and the customs union.  What does that look like? 
            Chair: That is a really simple question, that one, Alan.  However, it is a very good one.  Does anybody want to have a stab at that?
Martyn Boyers: My interpretation of it would be that we want it to carry on as it is.  We are bringing in fish from Iceland, and that is not a problem.  We are bringing in fish from Norway, and that is not a problem.  We would like to think that whatever comes up in the agreements, the trade can continue.  Being old enough to remember the original vote in 1973, it was about trade.  We are a trading nation, and fish is a traded commodity.  This is all about doing business, and it is the conditions in which you do the business.  Whatever it is we just need to deal with it and do it quickly, as far as fresh fish is concerned.
       Chair: Andrew, I cannot believe you cannot say something on that one, but quickly, please.
Andrew Kuyk: That is an excellent question, and it goes really to the heart of much of this debate.  Yes, we aspire to have something as close as possible to what we have got, but the European Union is a legal entityit is a treaty-based thingand also trade takes place within the wider multilateral framework of WTO.  If we are a third country, that does change the rules under which we operate.  If the EU offers us preferential terms, that is fine if it is within a trade agreement.
I do not want to go on too long, Chair, but the basic principle of WTO is that you treat people equally—most-favoured nation—unless you have a separate bilateral deal that derogates from that.  The problem, it seems to me, is that if we are officially a third countrynot in the single market and not in the customs unionyes, you can agree zero tariffs as part of a trade deal, but it is the cart and the horse.  You have to have the trade deal for that to work in WTO terms.  Then on procedures, as well, if we had a derogation from procedures that the EU applied to imports from America or elsewhere, you would have to make sure that, again, was watertight in terms of a trade deal so that it was not vulnerable to challenge by other third countries.
             Chair: We are going to leave it there.  That is a good point.  Mark, do you want to make a point?.
Mark Simmonds: We have been discussing this with various government departments and agencies for the last year or 18 months, and what we have always been very clear about is that a frictionless border must mean no extra checks at the port.  If there need to be checks, they need to happen somewhere else, otherwise they are going to disrupt the flow.  Again, I am talking mostly about ferry ports.
Chair: That is so important.  Whatever the rule, however it is done, it is how we can physically get trade in and out without it being held up.  As you said, it is nowhere more important than with fresh fish.  That has been brought home to us very loud and clear. 
            Alan Brown: This follows on directly from what Mark said there.  If there is a new customs regime, are you saying at this moment in time the ports could not handle that?  It would need to be, with this infrastructure, checks done elsewhere.
Mark Simmonds: We do not know what a new customs regime would look like, so it is hard to say whether they would be able to handle it.
        Alan Brown: That is if it involved additional checks, compared with what happens now.
Mark Simmonds: With roll-on roll-off ferry ports, the model is that the ferry rolls up, the trucks drive off, and they are coming from Europe, so there are very few checks for the vast majority of lorries, so they just drive straight on through.  There is no space to hold them up.  Any delays there obviously cause problems and disrupt the flow.  That is the issue.  Whether they can handle it depends very much on what they are being asked to handle and what checks would look like.  Even a check that takes a minute, just looking in the back of a lorry, would be very disruptive once you add that on to 200 different trucks.
Andrew Kuyk: I am not trespassing on your territory, but there are different sorts of checks.  Customs is one area.  There is port health, border inspection posts.  They are different.  Again, at the moment, for intra-EU trade those are not necessary, but if we become a third country we may need to have those.  The point you made, Chair, is that it is not just what the rules say on paper; it is the spirit in which they are implemented and enforced.  If there is mutual co-operation, that is quite different.  If people are going to insist on a much higher level of physical checking, or if the stamp is in the wrong place—
      Chair: If you want to find a problem, you can almost manufacture one, can’t you?
Andrew Kuyk: Absolutely.
Mark Simmonds: At the Port of Felixstowe, for example, which is a more globally facing portit does containers—my understanding is that about 75% of the checks there are port health checks, rather than customs checks.  That is a port that has space to do that, because it deals with trade outside the EU.  Other ports, like Dover, for example, which are focused entirely on the EU, where a lot of our fish goes to and from, do not have that space to do that.  Andrew is absolutely right: customs would potentially be disruptive, depending on what it is, but it is the other checks.  As I said earlier, there are about 36 agencies that have the power to intervene at the border.
Martyn Boyers: The existing system, particularly with Iceland, as I said earlier, works okay.  We get fish from Norway and it works okay.  We get fish from Europe and it works okay.  We just hope that whatever it is, it continues.  It is just at the back of everybody’s mind: when people are dealing with fresh, it is having the system in place that does allow a quicker movement of it.  That is all.
Chair: Yes, down from veterinary right the way through—I think that point has been made. 
            Angela Smith: We have had no questions about labour to this panel, so may I change the question a little, Chair?  I remember the cod wars perfectly well, but on the Humber we had petrochemicals, chemicals and men going out to the oil rigs as well.  We had alternative sources of employment, but we still suffered.  Is there still a shortage of labour supply in Grimsby?  Findus, Ross and Birds Eye have gone.  Is there a shortage of labour in Grimsby, and are you filling that with eastern Europeans, European Union workers? What is the situation likely to be in the future?
Martyn Boyers: On the Humber, there are 4,500 to 5,000 people employed in fishing.  I do not think it is about the employment.  In our industry, in fisheries, it is more about perception and allowing people to think that it is not a bad business to be in.  We do ourselves down at times, and with our own staff in particular, we train people.  We give them some sense of having a career and an opportunity.  We look back on it: we used to have the old lumpers, and people thought, “If you do not get an education, you can always be a lumper.”  We have to move past that and look at it as a proper occupation, with an opportunity.  It is the perception.  We do ourselves down about employment.  I do not think there is a problem with employmentI really do not.  There is an opportunity.  However, the clear thing about working in fisheries, especially in Grimsby, is you have to be prepared to work.  It is not for the faint-hearted.  You have to have a good attitude.  That is the determining factor about employment.
Chair: That is a well-made point. 
Andrew Kuyk: Broadening it slightly from Grimsby, the food industry as a whole, and that includes fish processing, is more heavily dependent on non-UK labour than many other industries.  It is an issue for the food industry as a whole.
Angela Smith: Generally—yes.
Chair: Yes.  We have been taking evidence from everywhere through the processing industry and have found that to be the case.  We are aware of that.
            Angela Smith: I take the point about attitude and everything else.  I understand that.  I will do the proper question now, Chair.  Grimbarians never do what they are toldthat is the problem.
If, following Brexit, the UK sees an increase in the number of fish landed into its ports, does business have the infrastructure available to meet demand?  Are you equipped and ready in terms of skills?
Chair: Yes, because a lot of fish at the moment is being landed in European ports on our quota, isn’t it?  We may have solved that quota, I accept, but there are arguments about that.  That could all change, couldn’t it?
Martyn Boyers: Within the UK structure of fishing ports, there are a number of auctions, and there has been a consolidation of auctions over the years, so there are nowhere near as many as there used to be—there are only a few.  But there are quite a number of places of landing, where you can land.  They are called designated ports, which have all been approved.  The capacity within the UK is okay.  The actual infrastructure that is required to land vessels does need some attention, because you do need to invest in, for example, cranes, hoists, winchesthat sort of thing.  Also, you need chilled storage capacity, boxes and all those sorts of opportunities.
In Grimsby, where we are now, because we have seen a decline in landings historically—I will not bother you with that detail—we are well placed to increase capacity without any problem.  We do not have to invest too much to take on a lot more.  We could certainly do it.  In other ports, like Peterhead, which is extremely busy, as was mentioned earlier they are spending a big amount of money on improving the port, so they will have a fantastic facility up there.  Also, I mentioned earlier being involved in the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.  There is a vehicle by which people can obtain funding to support any development in infrastructure, and that is another important element in whatever we do post Brexit: to allow ports to be able to access funding to improve the facilities they provide to the fishermen.  It is important to know that the ports sit fairly between catchers and processors.  They do have a vital role, and as I mentioned earlier about the detail of the industry, we have also been working on a Responsible Fishing Ports and Harbours scheme, making sure that the fishing ports are accountable and that they do a proper job.
      Chair: Are there any last points, Andrew or Mark?
Andrew Kuyk: By and large the capacity in businesses is optimised to the present situation.  You have three phases.  You have the landing, the auction, and then the processing.  You will not have idle processing capacity.  You will not have empty cold stores, because why would you?  You have that optimised to a given level of supply.
         Chair: As we land more fish, you believe that the processors will pick that slack up, do you?
Andrew Kuyk: They would need to build extra production lines. 
        Chair: Providing the fish is being landed and there is demand and sale, you think the market will deliver?
Andrew Kuyk: It will take time.  You would need investment, labour and skills.  You would need time and money.  You would need the investment, and to make the investment you would need to make the business case.  You would need to be certain that you had a profitable market at the end of it.  Chair, you will be very familiar with this: one of the economic features of agriculture and fishing is that, if you get abundant supply, price tends to come down.
Chair: Yes—or vice versa.
Andrew Kuyk: That is a dilemma.  Yes, you might have more supply, but if that lowered the price, the economic case for investing in the capacity might not be there.
Chair: That is a fair point.
Mark Simmonds: Just to echo what Martyn said, we have recently done a survey of our fishing ports on their infrastructure.  They are all very different, but it is absolutely essential that there is something to replace the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.
        Alan Brown: We have heard there are possible opportunities for catching and landing more fish.  The UK Government are selling a post-Brexit nirvana.  In terms of making the best of these opportunities, we have heard about the infrastructure upgrades that will be required. Have the Government been speaking to anybody about what infrastructure upgrades will be needed and what the cost will be, in light of the funds they might make available?
Martyn Boyers: We have had a number of discussions on this at the Programme Monitoring Committee of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund when projects have come forward.  There is a lot of opportunity for ports to improve, but only where there is going to be the trade to justify the business.  You cannot do it just on the basis that you are going to do it.  It is the chicken and egg scenario.   You need the business first to justify spending the money to invest in the infrastructure.
Mark Simmonds: We have been in regular discussion with Defra, the MMO and Marine Scotland about the importance of the EMFF and the importance of a replacement fund.  We have not heard an awful lot back about what might follow, if anything.  My understanding is that there probably will be somethingthere will probably have to be something.  However, we still do not really have much of a handle on what that is.
          Alan Brown: When would you be looking to get more details on what that is going to look like?
Mark Simmonds: As soon as possible, because the EMFF goes until March 2019, and that is coming up quite soon.  It would be as soon as possible.
Andrew Kuyk: Most of our engagement has been around the terms of trade, the tariff issues.  We have raised the point about the ability of the processing sector to adapt to changes in supply, but we have not got into talking about how Government might or might not.  Some of that is a commercial business response.  The infrastructure is arguably something that is more public sector oriented, but how a business changes its business model to deal with a different supply situation is more of a commercial matter, although there are issues around skills and training, which might be a more general thing.
Mark Simmonds: The ports are private sector commercial entities as well.
Chair: Good point.  Gentlemen, that was an excellent evidence session and that will be very much part of our evidence that we will put forward in our report.  Thank you very much.  We now have two minutes before PMQs.  Thank you very much.