Amendment 236A

Part of Agriculture Bill - Committee (6th Day) – in the House of Lords at 10:00 pm on 23rd July 2020.

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Photo of Lord Addington Lord Addington Liberal Democrat 10:00 pm, 23rd July 2020

My Lords, this is a very wide-ranging set of amendments. I feel slightly sorry for the noble Baroness, Lady Worthington, because I thought her amendment was a good one with good points, but it seems to have been rather left behind by the debate.

If we are to keep up standards in agriculture, there will be costs, which the consumer will ultimately have to bear. If we do anything to undermine that, products simply will not be purchased in sufficiently high numbers for many of our producers to carry on.

I am not just repeating the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh of Pickering, in parrot-fashion: this is exactly what happened in the past. If your production levels are left behind and your prices are too high, people buy something else. It was called the great agricultural depression when the steam ship and a free market policy opened up the prairie and the pampas to production. Look it up: most British farmland was rough grazing.

So it is clear that, if we need to keep people in production, and to keep that production going, we need to maintain standards. The noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh of Pickering, said in conversation to me that everything has been too reasonable. Well, I give her all the encouragement to be as unreasonable as she likes on this one. I hope that the Minister will take away the need for it by agreeing to make sure that standards are kept. If they are not, I am afraid that we are going to have to readdress this issue at every available opportunity.