Secretary of State’s powers to give financial assistance

Part of Agriculture Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:30 pm on 30th October 2018.

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Photo of George Eustice George Eustice The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 3:30 pm, 30th October 2018

I will begin with amendment 75, as the other two amendment both pertain to animal welfare. This amendment effectively says that people have to abide by retained EU law before they can be eligible for any assistance. Retained EU law is coming across through the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. It will apply to everyone, whether or not they are in a scheme. We do not believe the amendment adds anything or is necessary, as retained EU law will become UK law and will be enforceable as such to everyone. The important thing about the new schemes from our point of view are the conditions attached to them. We deal with that very differently, in clause 3, which we will no doubt debate later and which has all sorts of provisions for checking, enforcing and monitoring. It requires provisions for the keeping of records and allows us to impose penalties, establish appeals processes and refer powers of entry, for instance. Clause 3 sets out clear enforcement powers and the ability to set conditions on access to such schemes, which in our view is the right way to approach this.

There is also a technical problem with amendment 75. The hon. Member for Bristol East at least said that everybody should abide by the legislative baseline, whether that be retained EU law or any other domestic legislation. The problem I have with the amendment is that it treats retained EU law as if it were the only law that matters. It is mute on other national law. If we were to require people to abide by the law—which they might believe they would be required to do anyway—why would we require them to abide only by retained EU law, rather than any other class of law? To me, that does not make much sense.