Environmental targets and objectives

Part of Agriculture Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:15 am on 20th November 2018.

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Photo of David Drew David Drew Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) 11:15 am, 20th November 2018

Okay—left hand and right hand. I will speak to new clause 16, which was excellent, and which we fully support because it is about targets, which is largely what the group of new clauses is about.

Although we are losing new clause 17, new clause 16 is important. It tries to tie together the Bill with the environment plan, which is crucial to the Government’s way of thinking. It is about setting targets and putting meaningful arrangements in place so that we can look at where the Government’s joined-up thinking is taking us. We hope that the Government will look carefully at new clause 16. They might agree with what we are doing, but we will look at that on Report.

Again, there is universal support from farming organisations and, in particular, from the various green contributors to the Bill. They want ambitious and legally binding targets set “for nature’s recovery”. Those are not my words, but those of The Wildlife Trusts, which looks at the UN sustainable development goals. Goal two—“End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture”—is highly relevant to the Bill. It is about setting ambitious targets by 2030, and indeed some by 2020, regarding the way in which we want to change agriculture across the world. If we do not do that in the UK, we will miss a real opportunity, and the Bill is the opportunity to do that.

I want to speak principally to the two new clauses in my name and in those of other hon. Friends. New clause 19 is about offering advice to those seeking to make dramatic changes to the way in which they farm or operate the land, which is important. We feel strongly about that because it is missing from the Bill. The Government have talked about land management contracts.