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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:

Having only had the time to look at this and go through it as thoroughly as I could yesterday, that clause did ring alarm bells for me. Compared with other systems, Wales has a very successful sheep traceability system that it took into public ownership, rather than farming it out to a private body. It works very well. It could work better, as is the case with all systems, but we hope to develop it into an improved system that will encompass more species. That is certainly the aspiration, and that clause of the Bill certainly raises questions about how those two things interact.

It certainly makes sense to have some form of central data collection point for the UK, given that we are a single country and that it is important for our trading arrangements with other countries. Nevertheless, it depends on how that functions. That part of the legislation would effectively grant powers to non-public bodies—boards that are given certain powers by the Secretary of State. That in itself raises questions; indeed, it is why you took evidence from the witnesses that you mentioned.