Provision relating to Wales

Agriculture Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:00 pm on 15th November 2018.

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Photo of George Eustice George Eustice The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 3:00 pm, 15th November 2018

I beg to move amendment 19, in schedule 3, page 33, line 21, at end insert “(unless section 29(4A) applies)”.

See the Explanatory Statement for Amendment 2.

Photo of Phil Wilson Phil Wilson Labour, Sedgefield

With this it will be convenient to discuss Government amendments 20, 21, 92, 110 and 22 to 27.

Photo of George Eustice George Eustice The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

I can be relatively quick on this group of Government amendments, which are all a consequence of other, largely technical, amendments that we made to earlier parts of the Bill. We have discussed them with the Welsh Government, and they have confirmed that they would like to make the same amendments in their schedule, since often they are to fix technical issues.

Broadly speaking, amendments 19, 22, 23, 26 and 27 are linked to our original amendment 14, which effectively corrected the issue about when it is appropriate to use the negative resolution or the affirmative resolution procedure. The amendments make technical corrections to make sure that we do not end up requiring the wrong type of procedure.

Amendment 20 is similar to an amendment that we introduced for England. It is a simple one-year fix that enables a national ceiling to be set, so that the modulation on the legacy schemes can be done. Wales currently modulates at a rate of 15%, compared with 12% in England, so it is important for them to have the power to be able to do that modulation in that particular year.

Amendment 21 is about giving the Welsh Government the powers that they need, as we introduced for England, to set a financial ceiling to be able to continue to make direct payments after we leave the European Union. As I think I explained when we had a discussion in the context of Scotland, in the absence of a paragraph of this nature, the ability to make basic payment scheme payments falls away from 2020.

Amendment 92 is a technical amendment clarifying the difference between a de-linked payment and a direct payment to ensure that there is a proper reference point for the de-linked payment. Amendments 24, 25 and 110 are largely corrections. I did not explain this when we covered it earlier, but amendment 25 will change the words “market decisions” to “market conditions”. That was a simple typo or a rogue spell-check interruption in the drafting process.

Amendment 19 agreed to.

Amendments made: 20, in schedule 3, page 33, line 21, at end insert—

“6A (1) The Welsh Ministers may by regulations make provision for and in connection with reducing the national and net direct payments ceilings for Wales that would otherwise apply in 2020 by up to 15%.

(2) For this purpose—

the “national direct payments ceiling for Wales” is the sum representing the share allocated to Wales of the amount specified for the United Kingdom in Annex II of the Direct Payments Regulation (table of national ceilings);

the “net direct payments ceiling for Wales” is the sum representing the share allocated to Wales of the amount specified for the United Kingdom in Annex III of the Direct Payments Regulation (table of net ceilings).

(3) Regulations under this paragraph cannot be made after the end of 2020.

(4) Regulations under this paragraph are subject to affirmative resolution procedure.”.

This amendment makes the same provision for Wales as that made by NC2 for England.

Amendment 21, in schedule 3, page 33, line 21, at end insert—

“6B (1) The Welsh Ministers may by regulations modify legislation governing the basic payment scheme to make provision for and in connection with securing that the basic

(2) The power conferred by sub-paragraph (1) includes power to provide for the direct payments ceiling for Wales for any relevant year to be determined, in a specified manner, by the Welsh Ministers.

(3) Provision made by virtue of sub-paragraph (2)—

(a) must require a determination in respect of a relevant year to be published as soon as practicable after it has been made, and

(b) may confer functions on any person in connection with, or with the making of, a determination in respect of a relevant year.

(4) In this paragraph—

“the direct payments ceiling for Wales” is the national ceiling of the kind referred to in Article 6 of the Direct Payments Regulation that is applicable in relation to Wales for any relevant year;

“relevant year” means a year within the agricultural transition period for Wales in respect of which direct payments under the basic payment scheme fall to be made in relation to Wales;

“specified” means specified in regulations under this paragraph.

(5) Regulations under this paragraph are subject to affirmative resolution procedure.”.

This amendment makes the same provision for Wales as that made by NC3 for England.

Amendment 92, in schedule 3, page 33, line 28, leave out paragraph (b) and insert—

“(b) making delinked payments in relation to Wales with respect to the whole or part of that period (in place of direct payments under the basic payment scheme in relation to Wales).”.

This amendment makes the same provision for Wales as that made by Amendment 91 for England.

Amendment 110, in schedule 3, page 34, line 29, leave out first “above” and insert

“(whether before or after the start of the agricultural transition period for Wales)”

This amendment brings the text of paragraph 7(8) of Schedule 3 into line with that for the equivalent provision in relation to England.

Amendment 22, in schedule 3, page 35, line 22, at end insert “(unless section 29(4A) applies)”.

See the Explanatory Statement for Amendment 2.

Amendment 23, in schedule 3, page 36, line 14, at end insert “(unless section 29 (4A) applies)”.

See the Explanatory Statement for Amendment 2.

Amendment 24, in schedule 3, page 40, line 32, leave out “may”.

This amendment makes clear that paragraph 16(2) of Schedule 3 is intended to set out the only circumstances in which the Welsh Ministers may make a declaration stating that there are exceptional market conditions. The amendment brings the provision for Wales into line with that for England.

Amendment 25, in schedule 3, page 41, line 5, leave out “decisions” and insert “conditions”.

This amendment corrects the same error as that corrected by Amendment 6.

Amendment 26, in schedule 3, page 42, line 31, at end insert “(unless section 29(4A) applies)”.

See the Explanatory Statement for Amendment 2.

Amendment 27, in schedule 3, page 44, line 33, at end insert “(unless section 29(4A) applies)”.—(George Eustice.)

See the Explanatory Statement for Amendment 2.

Question proposed, That the schedule, as amended, be the Third schedule to the Bill.

Photo of George Eustice George Eustice The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

This is an important schedule to the Bill. We have been asked to include it by the Welsh Government, who are keen to ensure that they have the right powers in place to implement their own domestic policy. They have been clear that, in the medium to longer term, they would introduce new legislation through the Welsh Assembly to implement future policy. However, these powers, which are similar to those already outlined in the Bill, will enable them to continue in the meantime to make payments under the legacy basic payment scheme and also to start designing their new policy.

It is important to note that, just because the Welsh Government have taken broadly the same powers as England through the schedule—almost a carbon copy of those which the Bill has for England—it does not mean that their policies will remain identical. Indeed, the policies may well diverge quite considerably, because these are enabling powers in an enabling Bill that will give the Welsh Government the power to design their own schemes that will work for their own topography and the Welsh farming industry.

Question put and agreed to.

Schedule 3, as amended, accordingly agreed to.

Clause 28