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Protection of UK Food Standards

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:44 pm on 24th June 2020.

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Photo of Victoria Prentis Victoria Prentis The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 7:44 pm, 24th June 2020

That was answered extremely well earlier by my hon. Friend the Member for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk, so I will carry on, if that is all right.

The Government have in place a range of stakeholder and expert groups that feed into our policy specifically on trade. Those include the strategic trade advisory group, the agri-food expert trade advisory group—that trips off the tongue—and the sustainability expert trade advisory group. We are always looking at how to enhance representation on those groups—although I do not know that the US ambassador would be a candidate to be on one of them—and we are keen to put in place measures to ensure that we keep the groups as closely informed of the negotiations as possible.

DEFRA also runs various supply chain advisory groups, such as the arable group, the livestock group and the food and drink panel. We are strongly supported by expert advice on food standards. Colleagues will know that the UK’s food standards, for both domestic production and imports, are overseen by the Food Standards Agency and, indeed, Food Standards Scotland. Those are independent agencies that provide advice to both the UK and Scottish Governments. They will of course continue to do so, to ensure that all food imports comply with our high safety standards. The Government are and always will be keen to continue to work closely with stakeholders across the food chain to understand their concerns about the impact of new trade deals, as well as the opportunities that they will give us.

My hon. Friend the Member for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk spoke passionately about the opportunities that the UK’s being an independent trading nation presents for British farming and, indeed, for the public at large—sentiments that I really share, as I hope does everybody across the House. I am confident that, from what I have laid out, the House should be reassured that we will both protect food standards through the range of measures that I briefly outlined, and really seize the benefits of our new trade policy for all people and parts of the UK.

Question put and agreed to.

House adjourned.