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Protection of UK Food Standards

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:25 pm on 24th June 2020.

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Photo of John Lamont John Lamont Conservative, Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk 7:25 pm, 24th June 2020

I will move on to that point shortly. I have had a very robust conversation with NFU Scotland. It claims to support trade and to support the amendment to the Agriculture Bill that would have stopped our ability to do that trade. It cannot on the one hand say that it wants to support Scottish farmers and food producers to export, and on the other hand support an amendment that would have pulled the rug from under them. That is a conversation I have had with the NFU, and that is the purpose of this debate.

Our import standards, which are enshrined in UK law, include a ban on using artificial growth hormones in domestic and imported products, so that means no hormone-injected beef. Our standards also set out that no product other than water is approved for decontaminating poultry carcases, so that means no chlorine- washed chicken, despite what we hear from opposition parties and some parts of the media. Any changes to existing food safety legislation would require new legislation to be brought before Parliament.

As I have suggested, Scottish and British farmers have a great deal to gain from the lowering of trade barriers, which will allow them to access new markets for our high-quality produce. We need those new trade deals with other countries to enable our farmers and other businesses to expand the range and volume of products for export around the world. Let us take, for example, the export of Scottish malt and grain to non-EU countries such as Japan, or the enormous potential for further growth of Scottish red meat export. Last year, the total value of UK red meat exports rose by 13% to £1.5 billion, with 661,000 tonnes of pork, lamb and beef shipped globally from the UK. It was one of the strongest years on record.