Power to provide for phasing out direct payments and delinked payments

Part of Agriculture Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:45 pm on 1st November 2018.

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Photo of David Drew David Drew Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) 3:45 pm, 1st November 2018

The amendment is really a probing amendment, to consider where we are in relation to setting rules for the de-linking process. The Minister has already talked about that. I have just asked how this will work in practice. It is unclear, at least in my mind; maybe people are ahead of me on that. However, I think there is a need for further work in that regard.

What would happen if the Minister introduced a de-linked payment, but then made use of the powers to extend the transition period in accordance with clause 5(2)? The status of the farmer who has taken a de-linked payment is uncertain—we have identified that. He may be locked out of the system for longer than envisaged. This is really contingent on our previous debate. So, in taking the money—what? They then can use their opportunity on the land? The status of the person will be defined in law, but again it is a matter of how the process works in practice.

Under the CAP, there are payment windows, and—dare I say it?—and this is all laid down for those who receive payments for work they have done. So things are not as clear in this new proposal. All of us who have rural constituencies know that the Rural Payments Agency is not very good at making the payments on time, for the right reasons or in the right amounts. So there are some question marks about the extant process and where we are now going to. If anything, it is going to be quite a complicated change. So it is really about whether farmers will be entitled to payments on guaranteed timescales, because again—dare I say it?—we do not have a good history.