Before we begin, I have a few preliminary points to make. Please switch electronic devices to silent. Tea and coffee are not allowed during the sittings.
We will first consider the programme motion on the amendment paper. We will then consider a motion to enable the reporting of written evidence for publication and then a motion to allow us to deliberate in private about our questions before the oral evidence sessions. In view of the limited time available, I hope that we can take those matters without too much debate. I call the Minister to move the programme motion, which the programming sub-committee agreed yesterday.
I beg to move,
1) the Committee shall (in addition to its first meeting at 9.25 am on Tuesday
(a) at 2.00 pm on Tuesday
(b) at 11.30 am and 2.00 pm on Thursday
(c) at 9.25 am and 2.00 pm on Tuesday
(d) at 11.30 am and 2.00 pm on Thursday
(e) at 9.25 am and 2.00 pm on Tuesday
(f) at 11.30 am and 2.00 pm on Thursday
(g) at 9.25 am and 2.00 pm on Tuesday
(2) the Committee shall hear oral evidence in accordance with the following Table:
Until no later than 10.55 am
Nature Friendly Farming Network;
Until no later than 11.25 am
Until no later than 2.30 pm
National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs
Until no later than 3.00 pm
Country Land and Business
Until no later than 3.30 pm
Until no later than 5.00 pm
National Farmers’ Union Cymru;
Farmers’ Union of Wales
Until no later than 12.15 pm
Traceability Design User Group;
Until no later than 1.00 pm
British Growers Association;
Until no later than 2.45 pm
Professor Erik Millstone, Professor of Science Policy, University of Sussex;
David Baldick, Senior Research
Fellow, Institute of European
Vicky Hird, Sustain;
Professor Terry Marsden, Professor of Environmental Policy and Planning, University of Cardiff
Until no later than 3.15 pm
The Landworkers’ Alliance
(3) proceedings on consideration of the Bill in Committee shall be taken in the following order: Clauses 1 to 22; Schedule 1; Clause 23; Schedule 2; Clause 24 to 27; Schedule 3; Clause 28; Schedule 4; Clauses 29 to 31; Schedule 5; Clauses 32 to 36; new Clauses; new Schedules; and remaining proceedings on the Bill; and
(4) the proceedings shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion at 5.00 pm on Tuesday
First, may I record our thanks to the Clerk who has attempted, at very short notice, to add some witnesses at the request of the Opposition? I should add that the National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs, the Food and Drink Federation and the Groceries Code Adjudicator have said that they are unable to make it.
I would like to make a point to the Minister about this. Regarding the witnesses, I was very disappointed to see that the National Farmers Union, Scotland had not been called in to give evidence. Given that the Bill is the subject of some dispute between the UK and Scottish Governments, it would have been appropriate at least to have Scottish Government officials down to explain some of the finer points of that.
The Scottish Government have not yet signalled that they wish to be part of the Bill. Indeed, our understanding is that they intend to pass their own Bill, which is why it was decided at the time that this Bill would not apply to Scotland. We now have a list of witnesses and a programme motion for the evidence sessions.
It would perhaps have been a good idea to have representatives from the devolved Administrations, given that the Bill will inevitably have an effect on each of the industries in turn.
Does that mean, Chair, that when Scotland produces its Bill it will ask for evidence from English farming organisations? Is that the logic of what is proposed?
The point is that elements of the Bill affect devolved legislation and competencies, so it is appropriate that at least Scottish Government officials should be allowed to put those points across to us. As MPs, surely we want to get the full picture. The Bill is the subject of some dispute between the two Governments, so surely it is appropriate that we hear about that.
I do not really have anything further to add. The Bill is predominantly for English farmers and there is a schedule for Welsh farmers as well. There is a more limited schedule for Northern Irish farmers because the Northern Ireland Administration asked for a minimalist addition to enable them to continue to make payments.
As the Scottish Government have been clear that they do not intend, as things stand, to invite or ask us to add a schedule on their behalf, we have agreed the set of witnesses that we have. I have nothing further to add.