Trade Bill - Committee (1st Day) (Continued)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 9:15 pm on 21st January 2019.

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Photo of Baroness Byford Baroness Byford Conservative 9:15 pm, 21st January 2019

I thank the noble Baroness; I assumed that she would mean exactly that. However, it poses some questions to me on her amendment, which I slightly struggle with. On food safety and food health, we have clearly set out standards in this country as to what is and is not applicable, and I cannot see that changing.

I agree with my noble friend Lady McIntosh entirely. The Bill as it currently is deals with the trade as we know it today, and refers to trade being able to carry on tomorrow, after Brexit. It does not—unless I have not read it through carefully enough—look further into the future. It would be a great shame if at some stage we do not have a discussion about that. There needs to be something in the Bill, somewhere—I cannot decide whether this is the right moment and the right time, or whether we should come back to it. The very nature of agriculture and farming is that it is a very long-term project; you do not come in and out of it quickly. You invest a lot of money in the future, we now have much more technology and things have changed enormously. There needs to be a certain degree of certainty, which I have not read in the Bill as it is.

Is there any chance that the Minister in her response could reflect the strong commitment that Michael Gove has certainly given to our sector and to the country in general to maintaining those standards? We look forward to having the Agriculture Bill, which, as we know, is still stuck in the Commons. It has achieved its Second Reading and Committee, and is parked there—it has gone no further forward. We look forward to seeing that. We do not have a chance to debate that, but trade is hugely important in this Bill. We need something in the Bill which gives a certain degree of confidence to people involved in the food industry; I do not think that I need to tell any noble Lords that the food industry is worth over £112 billion and employs over 3 million people. You are not talking about peanuts. This is a huge industry, and many people in it—I refer to my noble friend Lady Neville-Rolfe—are in small and medium-sized businesses. You are not talking about big businesses, although there are some, but about a lot of people who have a small interest in trying to produce food and supply the needs of our country and, more importantly—