Amendment 1

Part of Agriculture Bill - Third Reading – in the House of Lords at 2:15 pm on 1st October 2020.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord Gardiner of Kimble Lord Gardiner of Kimble The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 2:15 pm, 1st October 2020

My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have taken part in this short debate on these technical amendments. No one could be more frustrated than I am at coming before your Lordships at Third Reading with new technical amendments. It is not desirable, and I regret it.

However, on the issue with the Scottish Government, I emphasise to the noble Lord, Lord Foulkes of Cumnock, and all noble Lords that there was no afterthought. Nothing was overlooked. What I am bringing forward is at the request of the Scottish Government. I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Whitchurch, that this is why work on the framework, collaboration and working together, although agriculture is devolved, are so important.

We clearly did not want to assume that Scotland also wanted powers and we waited for the Scottish Government to confirm that they wanted the provisions extended to them before assuming that that would be the case. We are in regular contact with officials in the Scottish Government. We understood that they were made aware on 15 September; we gave timings and deadlines, and the Delegated Powers Committee was made aware.

I agree that in the perfect world we would have been able to include these at least on Report, if not before, but they are issues that have recently come forward. As I said, I felt that it was better these were dealt with, as they needed to be, in primary legislation. Given the fact that these were flagged up and that the devolved Administrations sought us to attend to them for them, I thought it would be austere—to say the least—to say, “No, you’d better wait for opportunities within your own Administrations.” That is why, although I am frustrated about it and I recognise that frustration, they have come forward.

I am very grateful to all noble Lords for their kind remarks. I say to my noble friend Lady McIntosh of Pickering that no one wants to have legislation that is in error in any sense. That is why we have professionals and lawyers bringing forward that expertise. Obviously, what has happened here is that there are some things which the devolved Administrations have looked at and said, “Actually, we would like to have this within our own legislative framework and our own schedules.”

On the point about apiculture, I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Bakewell, that bees and pollinators are absolutely essential not only for our crops but for the natural world. This was about ensuring that the regulations in Wales and Northern Ireland, and any changes in them, were to be dealt with by the negative resolution. It was not that there were no regulatory powers; it was to confirm it would be through the negative resolution.

As I say, I wish that these matters had come forward earlier, but—I say this particularly as the noble Lord, Lord Foulkes, raised it—I want to get these things right. That is why I have asked your Lordships to accept these amendments. I reiterate that they do not represent any change, they are consequential on those tabled on Report, and they reflect the advice that we need to attend to these for the devolved Administrations at their request. Given the time constraints, introducing them at this stage did at least allow us to ensure that the legislation operates as intended and, very importantly, to the satisfaction of the devolved Administrations. We have had very positive working relationships on the Bill, and more widely as a department. I am very pleased that each devolved legislature has agreed the legislative consent for the Bill on the recommendation of their respective devolved Administrations.

I know that my noble friend Lady McIntosh raised issues separate to the amendments themselves, which obviously I will reflect on. In the meantime, I beg to move the amendment.

Amendment 1 agreed.

Clause 18: Retained direct EU legislation