Amendment 1

Part of Agriculture Bill - Third Reading – in the House of Lords at 2:01 pm on 1st October 2020.

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Photo of Baroness Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville Baroness Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) 2:01 pm, 1st October 2020

My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for setting out the rationale behind these somewhat late amendments. Over the last 18 months, there have been several occasions on which we have debated legislation under the Defra banner which has been amended for a variety of reasons—with the sheer weight of legislation in Bills and statutory instruments, the degree of detail needed and the very short timeframes have meant that unforced errors have occurred. The main thing is that, in this case, the Government have been able to act so that omissions were rectified.

The first amendment, as the Minister indicated, is at the request of the Scottish devolved Administration to ensure that their agriculture Bill could provide the continuing financial assistance that will be needed and give Scotland the same powers as Wales, England and Northern Ireland. The third amendment is consequential on the first. It would have been helpful if the Scottish Administration realised this omission earlier, as indicated by the noble Lord, Lord Foulkes.

The second amendment, to Clause 18, relates to retained EU law for promotion schemes for agri-foods not to be used in England, Scotland or Wales. Northern Ireland wanted to keep its options open, so we have this amendment.

These are very technical issues, but it is often those that trip us all up. This is, as has been indicated, all very last minute. I understand that this could not be covered later by secondary legislation but would have needed primary legislation to comply with the multiannual financial arrangements.

The last two amendments relate to powers enabling the Senedd Cymru and the Northern Ireland Assembly to enact legislation for bees to be included in the Bill. We have debated on many occasions the crucial role that bees and other pollinators play in ensuring that our crops, flowers and trees flourish and survive. I find it extraordinary that such a vital section of the Bill, on apiculture, should have been left without any means of legally ensuring its continuity. However, the error was discovered in the nick of time. I support this group of amendments.