Clause 4 - Multi-annual financial assistance plans

Part of Agriculture Bill – in the House of Commons at 6:02 pm on 12th October 2020.

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Photo of Victoria Prentis Victoria Prentis The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 6:02 pm, 12th October 2020

If I may, I will make a tiny bit of progress, otherwise we really will be here for another 100 hours.

The purpose behind Lords amendment 1 is to demonstrate the connections between this Bill and the Environment Bill. I am pleased to say that these connections very much exist already. Environmental improvement plans will already definitely be taken into account when determining the strategic priorities that sit within the multi-annual financial assistance plans in clause 4.

It is lovely to see the Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, my hon. Friend Rebecca Pow, in her place. She and I work very closely together. Ours is a very united Department, and we view farmers and environmentalists as often very much one and the same. Our future farming policies will be a key mechanism for delivering the goals set out in the 25-year environment plan, but we can take the steps we need to improve biodiversity only if the majority of farmers are firmly on side.

On Lords amendment 9, I would like to reassure the House that work is already taking place in this sphere. We have already commissioned an independent review of the food sector, led by Henry Dimbleby, and his interim report was released in July. We take his recommendations very seriously. We have made a firm commitment to publish a food White Paper within six months of his final report, which is expected next spring. This could well lead to a report sooner than is actually proposed in the amendment.