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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 2:24 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 2:24 pm, 28th January 2020

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

I thank the House for the debate on this Bill, which is so vital for the agricultural sector across the UK. I recognise the frustrations that some Members might have had because of the need for the Bill in the first place, given that the Agriculture Bill is on its way. Let me reaffirm that this Bill makes no policy changes; it is about continuity. It is a small, technical Bill to ensure that the Government and devolved Administrations are able to pay direct payments to farmers for the 2020 scheme year. Our future intentions for agriculture in England have been laid out by the Government in our Agriculture Bill, which was introduced on 16 January. We know that farmers need stability, certainty and a smooth transition to our new system of public money for public goods, so we will not switch off direct payments overnight. That would be irresponsible. There will be a seven-year agricultural transition period, allowing a system of public money for public goods to be introduced gradually.

I acknowledge that the Bill is being passed according to a tight timescale. However, it is imperative that it and the necessary secondary legislation are in place and in force by exit day, which will be upon us at the end of this week. The withdrawal agreement will stop the CAP direct payments legislation applying in the UK for the 2020 scheme year. This was intended so that the UK would not have to pay into the EU’s next budget cycle, which funds the 2020 direct payment year.