Examination of Witnesses

Part of Agriculture Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:25 pm on 11th February 2020.

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Graeme Willis:

On where those targets are expressed, we know that the Environment Bill has been laid before Parliament. The relationship between the Agriculture Bill, the Environment Bill and all the other policy instruments is very interesting, and remains to be resolved. If you had gone in the right order, it might have been that you had the Environment Bill, then the 25-year environment plan, and then the Agriculture Bill, because the main funding mechanism seems to be environmental land management, which would deliver on the kind of targets that you set through the 25-year plan. That can be established through the legislation in the Environment Bill.

I am not sure whether it is right to put a target in this Bill at the moment—it may be a commitment by the Minister—but I think there is a possibility of introducing further regulation that might address that. Obviously, there is the Environment Bill. One of the complicated issues is whether the Agriculture Bill could reference the Environment Bill, because it has not received Royal Assent. There is a question about how we address targets, and whether that is set out through the Office for Environmental Protection, for example. It is a complicated relationship.

I think that the situation has changed, and therefore what the Agriculture Bill is able to do, and the amount of funding that comes forward to deliver on those targets, is critical. Clarity about the long-term funding arrangements is therefore very important, as well as how those would seek to address the climate change issue.