Clause 4 - Multi-annual financial assistance plans

Part of Agriculture Bill – in the House of Commons at 7:30 pm on 12th October 2020.

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Photo of George Freeman George Freeman Conservative, Mid Norfolk 7:30 pm, 12th October 2020

I am grateful to my distinguished hon. Friend. The truth is that we can talk about standards, but if we expose UK farmers and growers to imports coming in at a lower price because they are not fulfilling those standards, they will not be able to compete and we will be throwing away the opportunity of having a great industry that leads the world. Lord Curry, who tabled the amendment in the other place, said:

“Under the current terms, the commission will set up for six months and will submit an advisory report to the Secretary of State, which will be presented to Parliament. It will then be disbanded and disappear into the mist. There is no obligation on the Secretary of State to take its recommendations seriously”—[Official Report, House of Lords, 28 July 2020;
Vol. 805, c. 145.]

If we, as a Government and as a party, are seriously committed to honouring our commitments, I would like us to go further. Why do we not commit to enshrining our standards properly in some form of schedule—the standards that we will not undermine or allow any Minister of any Government to negotiate away? Why do we not give this House the power to ensure that it can scrutinise properly? Why do we not embrace a trade policy that is fit for this 50-year opportunity, which puts the British flag at the top of the mast for standards, and go out into the world and say, “We’ll use our trade leverage and variable tariffs to support the good, benign practices that the world urgently needs”?