European Food Safety Authority

Oral Answers to Questions — Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 18th October 2018.

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Photo of Steve Pound Steve Pound Shadow Minister (Northern Ireland) 12:00 am, 18th October 2018

What discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on UK participation in the European Food Safety Authority after the UK leaves the EU.

Photo of David Rutley David Rutley Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), Government Whip

After our departure from the EU, our priority will be to maintain the UK’s high standards of food safety. We are considering options for the future of risk assessment and scientific advice in the UK as part of the exit negotiations. We are seeking to retain the long tradition of close scientific collaboration with the EFSA. The Secretary of State meets Cabinet colleagues weekly at Cabinet, and through relevant Sub-Committees, where discussions take place on the future relationship that the UK will have with the EU and associated bodies.

Photo of Steve Pound Steve Pound Shadow Minister (Northern Ireland)

I appreciate that the Minister has already addressed a similar question from David Linden, but this contribution should not be seen in any way as evidence of collusion between me and the Scottish National party. As we move from—to use Fintan O’Toole’s phrase—the “epic dream” of Brexit to the nightmare reality, we find ourselves having to deal with more and more aspects of minutiae. I implore the Minister not to forget the dairy farmers of Northern Ireland and, particularly in this area, to concentrate on discussions with Cabinet colleagues so that we do not let down those dairy farmers, who face a terrible future as a result of that disastrous decision of June 2016.

Photo of David Rutley David Rutley Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), Government Whip

I had never really thought of the hon. Gentleman as colluding. He is incredibly independently minded—we respect him for that—and forthright in his views.

The hon. Gentleman makes an important point. We will do all that we can to support dairy farmers across the UK, not least in Cheshire, where I also have many dairy farmers. Of course, we will be working across the board not only to ensure that the best possible standards of food safety are maintained, but to support agriculture as we move to a world outside the EU.