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

I know that the hon. Gentleman has campaigned on this matter for some time. He has heard what the Department for Education has to say about that. The scheme that I am discussing is the £63 million scheme, which of course did not go just to families with children, although they were heavily represented among the recipients of that scheme. We will pass on those comments and those of the Trussell Trust and, of course, the EFRA Committee when considering how we tackle food poverty directly over the course of this winter. We all know that this is going to be a difficult time for many.

Returning to the Bill, we already have powers in what was originally clause 17, which commits the Government to

“lay before Parliament a report containing an analysis of statistical data relating to food security” in the UK. We listened to the concerns raised regarding the frequency of the food security report and, through Lords amendments 5 to 8, reduced the minimum frequency of reporting from five years to three years. Of course, we can still report more often than that, and in times of strain on food supply that might well be appropriate.

Turning to Lords amendment 11, I recognise the positive intentions behind the amendment, but I am afraid I take issue with the drafting. The Government are committed to reducing the risks from pesticide use. We have already tightened the standards for authorisation and withdrawn many pesticides from the organophosphate and carbamate classes. Integrated pest management will be a critical part of future farming policy. Under our existing legislation, the use of pesticides is allowed only where a scientific assessment shows that it will have no effect on human health, including that of vulnerable groups.

The amendment, although undoubtedly well intentioned, is far too broad. It extends to any pesticide and any building, and would include pesticides that are important for productivity but pose no danger whatsoever to health. Even worse, it also extends to any open space used for work, which on my reading would prohibit the use of pesticides in fields entirely. I encourage hon. Members to read the amendment carefully before supporting it.