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Examination of Witnesses

Part of Agriculture Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:30 am on 13th February 2020.

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Dr Fenwick:

To give an example of the sorts of divergence at a very simplistic level that will potentially have an impact in the coming months, the Direct Payments to Farmers (Legislative Continuity) Act 2020 received Royal Assent the day before we left the EU. That effectively cuts and pastes EU payment regulations back into domestic legislation. However, one section of the Act allows devolved regions—this relates primarily to Scotland—to exceed those financial ceilings that are effectively derived from EU-set ceilings.

Within hours or minutes, effectively, of our leaving the EU, we have the potential for financial divergence that would increase the difference between the average payments received by a Scottish farmer and a Welsh farmer, which is already in the tens of thousands, potentially to far more. That relates to the Bew review, which has given lots of additional money to Scotland. Previously, that money could not be paid to farmers. The new legislation allows them to diverge—I go back to that word—from the ceilings that are set in the legislation.