Secretary of State’s powers to give financial assistance

Part of Agriculture Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:45 pm on 30th October 2018.

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Photo of David Drew David Drew Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) 4:45 pm, 30th October 2018

I agree. That is why, on the back of the milk marketing boards, we created Milk Marque, which was a co-operative. Sadly, it did not stand the test of time. Talking to farmers retrospectively, many of them believed wrongly that there was a better, private solution. We have seen a monopsony grow up, which has caused the producer to face all the same problems, except that they are more subject to the whim of that marketplace, where we should be producing as much of our milk as possible. We will not get delayed on this too much, but it is a classic case of the Government’s needing to recognise that they have a role to play. They still set the parameters, even if they do not intervene in the ways in which they used to do, by controlling that marketplace completely. I hear what the Minister says. Parts of his argument are highly believable; I am more sceptical about other bits, but as we go through the Bill, no doubt we will see where the Government are going.

To go back to the start, food security is an important issue, and we need to recognise that it will keep coming back. This was a probing amendment that we will not push to a vote, but we have had an interesting discussion. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.