Secretary of State’s powers to give financial assistance

Part of Agriculture Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:15 pm on 30th October 2018.

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Photo of Colin Clark Colin Clark Conservative, Gordon 4:15 pm, 30th October 2018

I rise to speak in support of the amendments in my name, but for the sake of time I will not go over the points already made by my hon. Friend the Member for Ludlow.

I have stated on the record my belief that the Bill should address food and farming. I have been open about my registered interests, my involvement in food and in conventional and organic farming, and the fact that I receive the single farm payment from the Scottish Government. On that point, I should note my disappointment that the Bill does not include a schedule about the Scottish Government, because it is important that Scottish farmers have clarity, too. If the Bill is trying to achieve anything, it is a framework to give farmers greater clarity. Through the Bill I hope that we can achieve a common framework with the Scottish Government, as well as the authorities of Wales and Northern Ireland. We have to protect the unitary market, because we have shared values in farming and agriculture, and it is important that we continue to protect them. I embrace the opportunity to design UK agricultural policies. I listened closely to the hon. Member for Darlington, and I sympathise with her desire for clarity for the farming industry, so I would like to hear from the Minister that farming will have a clear shared priority, with public money for public goods.

I passionately believe that we should make farming in this country more productive. As someone who has been involved in the agriculture industry for 30 years, I know that productive farming and the environment go hand in hand, and I have seen leaps and bounds from the darker days on the 1970s. I look forward to hearing from the Minister about how farming and the environment will continue to go hand in hand, which is certainly the ambition of Scottish, Welsh, Northern Irish and English farmers.