Clause 4 - Multi-annual financial assistance plans

Part of Agriculture Bill – in the House of Commons at 6:15 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 6:15 pm, 12th October 2020

I will not just at the moment, but I will later.

I am afraid to say that, despite the considerable thought that has gone into the amendments, we have not yet found a magic form of words that will address all the concerns and avoid undesirable side effects. In asking the House to reject the amendments, I will set out the set of solutions, both legislative and non-legislative, that I hope will allay the fears that Members have expressed. In my view, this range of measures, and constant vigilance on the part of Government and, indeed, consumers, are of more use than warm words in primary legislation.

I will start by reiterating that, alongside my colleagues on this side of the House, I stood on a clear manifesto commitment that in all our trade negotiations we will not compromise on our high environmental protection, animal welfare or food standards. As I have said many times, our current import standards are enshrined in existing legislation.

They include a ban on importing beef produced using artificial growth hormones and poultry that has been washed with chlorine. The European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020 carries across those existing standards on environmental protections, animal welfare, animal and plant health and food safety. Any changes to that legislation would need to be brought before Parliament.

It falls to our independent food regulators, the Food Standards Agency and Food Standards Scotland, to ensure that all food imports into the UK are safe and meet the relevant UK product rules and regulations. The FSA’s risk analysis process is rigorous, completely independent of Government and based on robust scientific evidence, along with other legitimate factors such as wider consumer interests and the impact on the environment, animal welfare and food security.