Agriculture Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:14 pm on 10th October 2018.

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Photo of Chris Davies Chris Davies Conservative, Brecon and Radnorshire 3:14 pm, 10th October 2018

It is a pleasure to follow David Simpson, and it is always a great pleasure to hear his wise and knowledgeable words in any agricultural debate in this House. I congratulate the Secretary of State and his ministerial team on bringing forward this Bill and delivering the principle of support for agriculture in this House for the first time in over 40 years.

Many aspects of the CAP were of course very unpopular, but it did provide a vital lifeline for farm businesses and farming families in my constituency and many upland constituencies right across the country. However, change needs to come, and thank goodness the Government have worked long and hard on this and change is going in the right direction.

We need to reduce the administrative burden on farmers. This is a very overburdened industry, and we have a great opportunity to reduce the burden. I know the Minister in particular is keen to see this happen and has great ideas that will come forward in future statutory instruments.

We must also think about how the payments are going to be made. Many of my constituents are concerned about the Rural Payments Agency, as in the past it has not exactly covered itself in glory. If it is to be in charge of our new scheme, there must be tighter control, and greater regulation must be placed on it by DEFRA. I hope Ministers will take that request back to the Department with them.

I am pleased that the Welsh Government have decided to couple themselves with the Bill and the British Government, and I am very disappointed that the Scottish Government are not following suit. That is a massive disappointment to the people of Scotland, and Colin Clark, who serves as my vice-chair on the Back-Bench DEFRA committee, works particularly hard for farmers in Scotland, as do all the other Scottish Conservative Members, so I am very disappointed at what we have heard from the Scottish National Benches today.