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Incorporation of EU legislation governing the CAP direct payment schemes

Part of Direct Payments to Farmers (Legislative Continuity) Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:45 pm on 28th January 2020.

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Photo of George Eustice George Eustice The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 12:45 pm, 28th January 2020

If my hon. Friend writes to me on the specific issues for the chicken producer that she mentions, I am happy to look at that. As a general rule, poultry producers tend not to qualify for the basic payments scheme, because it is area-based. Of course, it could be a mixed enterprise, where the producer has a poultry unit and some land on which they claim BPS. There are also some domestic environmental regulations and a licensing scheme that the Environment Agency runs that would affect certain establishments in the poultry sector.

The Bill brings across existing legislation exactly as it is and does not envisage any change. The only change might come from the absence of EU auditors, as this is no longer an EU budget. Therefore the absence of the risk aversion that is a feature of Whitehall—where we have perpetual legal jeopardy and the constant threat of infraction, of disallowance risks and of arbitrary fines slapped on by EU auditors—means that we may be able to have a margin of appreciation in how we interpret some of these regulations, so that we can, for instance, send farmers a warning letter, rather than stinging them with a fine as we are required to under EU law.