Clause 4 - Multi-annual financial assistance plans

Part of Agriculture Bill – in the House of Commons at 7:00 pm on 12th October 2020.

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Photo of Neil Parish Neil Parish Chair, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, Chair, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee 7:00 pm, 12th October 2020

It would indeed. My hon. Friend is right. If we try to amend the Trade Bill, we get told, “That is not the place to put it.” If the Agriculture Bill is not the place to put it either, where is the place to put it? The place to put it is in this Parliament. I will very much support this, as do my hon. Friend and many Conservative Members. We want to negotiate very good trade deals, and not only with Australia, New Zealand and America. Do not forget that this is about not today and tomorrow, but probably several years down the road. What about when we start to do trade deals with Brazil? Brazil has burned down 2.5 million acres of rainforest this year and what do they do? They grow sugar beet and soya, they produce poultry intensively and they destroy the rainforest. When they have destroyed 2.5 million acres of rainforest every year, they will move on to another bit of land. They have destroyed the fertility of that land. They do not even farm the land in the right way. They destroy the environment and the land for farming and if we are not careful, that is exactly where we are going to take it.

Instead of that, we—the British—believe in animal welfare. We believe in the environment. All the signatories to the NFU petition agree on the way forward. So do the Government. I have every respect for the Government and the Minister. But, for goodness’ sake, get the backing of Parliament. Yes, we will get a certain amount of scrutiny of the trade deals when they are done, but the deal will be signed and then presented before Parliament. There will then be the option of objecting to it, or voting it through.

That is why the work has to be done. We do not need the whole Trade and Agriculture Commission; we could have a slimmed down version that could consider every individual deal over the years, as we sign it, to ensure that we do not trade away those standards, and that we improve standards across the world—that we raise the standards of animal welfare and the environment. Surely that is laudable. All of us can support that, irrespective of our political party. I urge the Government: instead of saying, “We’ve got the power. We can vote it down and stop those rebels whatever happens”, we want something really positive from the Government. I support the Minister very much in what she is doing, but let us get this measure in, so that we can actually support trade and trade deals in the future.