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Animal Health, Plant Health, Seeds and Seed Potatoes (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 - Motion to Approve

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:17 pm on 3rd April 2019.

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Photo of Lord Gardiner of Kimble Lord Gardiner of Kimble The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 4:17 pm, 3rd April 2019

My Lords, as the Government have made clear, we intend to incorporate on to our statute book and make operable all relevant aspects of EU law from the point of exit to ensure that we have fully operable arrangements which protect our biosecurity and minimise trade disruption. This instrument covers animal health, plant health, seed marketing and seed potatoes and primarily makes technical amendments to ensure that recent EU decisions will be operable on exit day. I would like to make it clear from the outset that our biosecurity controls on animals and plants are paramount, and this instrument contributes towards ensuring that we will have the most robust arrangements in place to protect public health and the environment.

The amendments made by Regulation 2 concern recent updates on animal health control measures relating to African swine fever in certain member states. This instrument amends Commission implementing decision 2014/709, ensuring that recent updates relating to the two ongoing earlier requirements applicable to all member states are transferred to the appropriate Minister in the United Kingdom.

Appropriate Ministers are required to prohibit movement of live feral pigs and to erect advisory signage alerting the public to the ways in which the disease can inadvertently be spread by people who travel to and from affected areas. I assure noble Lords that this amendment supplements our existing powers in the Diseases of Swine Regulations 2014 to prevent and control African swine fever, including powers to cull infected animals and establish protection zones, surveillance zones and feral pig control zones in the event of any such outbreak.

Regulation 3 amends retained EU law to ensure that TSE functions operate correctly by replacing a reference to production and manufacturing processes approved by “the EU Commission” to processes approved by “the Secretary of State”.

Part 3 of the statutory instrument covers plant health. Regulation 4 applies to England only, and Regulation 5 applies to England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The instrument amends the Plant Health (Amendment) (England) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 and the Plant Health (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 to deal with new EU plant health decisions introduced and to recognise arrangements with the Crown dependencies.

Planned meetings with the Crown dependencies concluded early in 2019 and Regulations 4 and 5 recognise the outcome of broader government agreements with them. The Crown dependencies, which include Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man, are currently treated as part of the United Kingdom for the purposes of EU plant health legislation, so plants and plant products move between the Crown dependencies, the United Kingdom and the rest of the EU under the same EU plant health rules. Outside the EU, these arrangements will no longer apply, and there have been discussions with the jurisdictions concerned to agree future arrangements for the trade in regulated plant material. The Crown dependencies have agreed to adopt controls similar to those of the UK in order to continue to facilitate this trade. The changes made by this instrument give effect to those arrangements, specifically in relation to the import and movement of regulated material from the Crown dependencies.

The amendments made by Regulation 5 also deal with new EU plant health decisions recently introduced, supplementing the lists of regulated pests and plant material and controls in the regulations. Regulation 5 prescribes in full on our statute book the detailed requirements in recently introduced EU legislation preventing the introduction and spread of the damaging plant pest, the red-necked longhorn beetle. This pest is a threat to a range of fruit and ornamental species in the United Kingdom, including cherry, peach and plum. It has been present in Italy since at least 2010, where it is established in the Naples area. The specific measures that we are introducing will help protect against its introduction through, for instance, wood-packaging material and nursery plants.

Regulation 5 also amends recent EU decisions to provide for imports of ash wood from the United States and Canada to continue under the same stringent derogation provisions after exit, ensuring continuity of supply for UK businesses without compromising our biosecurity. This follows a prolongation of the EU decisions concerned, which have been proven to provide effective protection regarding this trade and which we wish to retain.

The Plant Health (Amendment) (England) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 are also being amended to enable UK plant passports to contain specific details such as the origin, identity and quantity of the plants concerned. These are required in relation to the marketing of fruit plant propagating material and fruit plants to avoid the need for dual labelling. This follows an update of business-as-usual legislation, which has recently allowed this change to be made.

Part 4 of the statutory instrument covers seed marketing and seed potatoes, and it applies to England, as this is a devolved matter. Regulation 6 amends the Seed Marketing Regulations 2011 to allow a two-year interim period to recognise authorisations granted by EU member states for marketing the seed of new vegetable varieties that have not yet completed testing for official registration. This pragmatic approach maintains trade and will give growers in England continued access to new varieties at the earliest possible stage.

Regulation 7 addresses technical operability issues by removing from the seed potatoes regulations references to the European Commission, Community and member states, replacing references to “third countries” and removing reporting obligations to the EU.

Regulation 7 also assures continuity in supplies of seed potatoes by amending the Seed Potatoes Regulations 2015 to provide for a one-year interim period during which EU varieties and seed can continue to be marketed in England. In addition, it avoids financial loss by permitting a one-year period for existing stocks of pre-printed official EU certification labels to be used.

Regulation 8 amends the Marketing of Seeds and Plant Propagating Material (Amendment) (England and Wales) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 to exclude the marketing in England of vegetable seed produced in Switzerland. The regulations had been amended to allow seed from Switzerland, but vegetable seed is outside the scope of the EU’s trade agreement with Switzerland—hence this change.

This instrument is required to attend to a number of elements of retained direct EU legislation to ensure it operability and appropriate functioning after exit. I beg to move.