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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

Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. I hope that Christine Jardine explains to her constituents that she voted for an amendment that would have restricted the choice for consumers in supermarkets and stopped Scottish farmers and other businesses exporting. She would have stopped them doing the trade deals. I will come on to those points in a bit more detail shortly.

Within the overall increase in trade to non-EU countries, there are further opportunities to be had, particularly across Asia in markets other than China, such as Taiwan, Singapore and especially Vietnam, to complement the trade we will continue to have with the European Union. Scottish farmers can lead the way on those opportunities. Lowering trade barriers is key to realising that ambition.

It is important to put ourselves in a position where we can build on our successes, but if the contentious amendments to the Agriculture Bill had passed, such trading opportunities would have been lost, to the disadvantage of Scotland’s farming sector and the wider economy. If Scottish National party Members and others who supported the amendments had secured them, that would have effectively blocked the enhanced international trade opportunities for Scottish farmers and many other distinctive Scottish industries. It is also important to note that no current trade agreements include provisions to force partners to operate by another country’s domestic regulations and standards. If we insisted on that, we could not roll over the comprehensive economic and trade agreement with Canada and other parties such as South Africa and Japan. It would also call into question our refusal to accept a level playing field with the EU if we demand it elsewhere.

Trying to force all trading partners to produce to the exact same standard as the UK will only result in fewer export opportunities for Scottish farmers and cut them off from world markets.