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Exiting the European Union (Agriculture)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:52 pm on 1st October 2019.

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Photo of George Eustice George Eustice The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 3:52 pm, 1st October 2019

We rehearsed plenty of issues when we debated the previous statutory instrument, so I can be briefer, and I appreciate that both hon. Members who spoke have done so briefly.

Dr Drew, the Labour shadow Minister, asked who would do this work. The office for environmental protection, which will obviously be a matter for the new environmental Bill, would not do any such work. We are talking here, probably, about marketing standards and labelling standards, and the Rural Payments Agency has an inspectorate that leads on that work; it always has done, and has done so incredibly well.

The hon. Gentleman should recognise that the European Union does not have a directly employed army of inspectors in UK ports; the EU has a body of law, but UK agencies already do all such work. As he said, not only does the RPA monitor marketing standards, but there are other organisations as well. We have organisations that monitor pesticide residues; we have the FSA, which deals with food safety issues; we have organisations such as the Food and Environment Research Agency, which deals with plant health, and the Animal and Plant Health Agency, which deals with animal health. The technical expertise is already here in the UK, in our agencies; indeed, that technical expertise is often relied upon by the EU, not the other way round.