British Agriculture and Food Labelling

Part of Opposition Day — [6th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 8:01 pm on 24th February 2009.

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Photo of Jane Kennedy Jane Kennedy Minister of State (Farming and the Environment), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 8:01 pm, 24th February 2009

I do not disagree with the hon. Gentleman about Shropshire, but in a moment I will come to why there are distinct and real differences between the positions described in the motion and in the amendment.

The issue of labelling has recently been played out in the media, too, and the hon. Member for Arundel and South Downs was right to highlight Jamie Oliver's investigation of pig welfare standards in Europe. The programme was broadcast in January and Mr. Paice and I participated in it, although it was filmed a little while ago. As I said to the NFU conference, Jamie Oliver is to be congratulated on shining the spotlight on an area that deserves to be brought into focus. I hope that today's debate will continue to raise awareness and improve the public's understanding of the issue.

My views and those of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State are perfectly clear: we want people to be able to buy British and to support British farmers. The British public care about what they eat. Imported food is good and important for variety. It also reflects the cultural diversity of the UK, but by buying British, consumers support the industry and, especially in the pig industry, higher welfare standards. The Conservative party passed the key welfare standard change—the abolition of sow stalls. We implemented that change, which means that our pig farmers are right when they say that they are at a disadvantage. That is why the Select Committee report that examined the issue so carefully and in such detail was so timely. Its conclusions are important.

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