My Lords, once again I draw attention to my registered interests. The amendment maintains the theme of devolved consideration and is a simple probing amendment, which I suppose I should really have tabled in Committee. But I shall not detain the House for any great length of time.
The purpose of the amendment is to ensure that Clause 32 does not undermine the democratic answerability of the devolved Administrations, which I am sure the Minister would never want to do. I shall try to spell out clinically the problem that this amendment tries to address. I have given the noble Baroness, Lady Bloomfield, notice of these issues to facilitate her response.
Subsection (1) of new Clause 89A, proposed by Clause 32(1), allows the Secretary of State to assign functions to a body established under Section 87(1)(a) of the NERC—Natural Environment and Rural Communities—Act 2006 relating to the identification of animals and
“collecting, managing and making available information regarding the identification, movement and health of animals” in all parts of the UK. The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board Order 2008, which I will refer to as the AHDB order, established that board in exercise of the powers conferred by Sections 87 to 91, 93 and 96, 97(1) and 97(2) of the NERC Act, as well as paragraphs 5 to 11 of Schedule 8 and Schedules 9 and 10 to that Act.
Under subsections (2) and (3) of Section 87 of the NERC Act, an order may specify only one geographic area
“in relation to which assigned functions are exercisable.”
As such, Article 2(1) of the AHDB order explicitly states:
“This Order relates to … the beef and sheep industry in England”.
I quote those words directly.
In Wales, we have our own body, which exercises many of the equivalent functions of the AHDB in relation to the beef and sheep industry in Wales. It is known as Hybu Cig Cymru and is a limited company owned wholly by the Welsh Government. Its main responsibility is
“the development, promotion and marketing of Welsh red meat.”
We also have our own legislation relating to the identification of animals and collecting, managing and making available information on animal identification, movement and health. For example, our sheep movement database, EIDCymru, collects much of the sheep movement information covered by the Sheep and Goats (Records, Identification and Movement) (Wales) Order 2015.
Yet new Clause 89A, proposed by Clause 32(1) of the Agriculture Bill before us, appears to allow the Secretary of State to grant powers to a body such as the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board in relation to sheep and beef animals in Wales. As one would expect, the AHDB Beef and Lamb Board comprises English members. No doubt they do sterling work for English beef and sheep farmers, and good luck to them, but it appears that, unless amended or clarified, Clause 32 may allow a body such as the AHDB to be granted powers relating to the identification of animals and collecting, managing and making available information on animal identification, movement and health in other geographical areas of the UK, including Wales. At best, this could be confusing. At worst, it could lead to duplication and unnecessary extra costs.
I hope that I have spelled out the problem clearly. I suggest to the Minister that my Amendment 68 would overcome the potential difficulties. I believe that, for the absolute avoidance of doubt, such words should be in the Bill when it becomes an Act. If the Minister acknowledges this need but sees some technical deficiency in my amendment, perhaps she could undertake to bring forward her own amendment at Third Reading to clear this matter up to everyone’s satisfaction.
I beg to move.