Amendment 130

Part of Agriculture Bill - Committee (5th Day) – in the House of Lords at 2:30 pm on 21st July 2020.

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Photo of The Earl of Caithness The Earl of Caithness Conservative 2:30 pm, 21st July 2020

My Lords, the Committee has already heard some powerful speeches. The more the Bill is discussed, the more respect I have for farmers who, in a time of uncertainty, have a future that is even more uncertain than the present. We do not know where ELMS is going; we have not discussed the Environment Bill. We are threatened with ELMS being run by the RPA, whose record we cannot respect hugely. Farmers are, therefore, in a difficult position. As the noble Earl, Lord Devon, said last week, the advice he has received is to stop all investment. That is a terrible situation to be in at this time. Our farmers should be investing but, in the uncertain world we are faced with, the right thing for them to do is sit on their hands. That is going to cause huge problems. I agree with noble Lords who have said that small farmers, particularly hill farmers, face the most problems and are most likely to fall by the wayside as the current situation continues.

I have put my name to Amendment 143, which would delay the process of implementing ELMS for another year. Given what has been said, there is nothing for me to add, except that I support the principle of all the amendments that have been spoken to. I hope that the Government will show some flexibility on these, because the current situation is untenable for quite a number of farmers.