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Examination of Witnesses

Part of Agriculture Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:00 pm on 13th February 2020.

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Alan Clarke:

I will pick two, Deidre, because I am conscious of time. In relation to the LIP system that we talked about, I think there has always been a history, if there has ever been a disease breakout, that everybody has worked extremely well together and come together and shared all the information. I think it is important that that is retained and that anything that is developed in England must read across to the rest of the UK. ScotEID, again, has been leading the way on that in Scotland. There must be those links. I know the meetings happen regularly every month with the devolved associations and the developers of it, but the mechanism that George talked about is one to consider.

The second issue is levy repatriation. I have been working very closely with AHDB and HCC towards getting a scheme of operation, which can be put to Ministers, showing what the long-term solution for levy repatriation would look like. We have identified, using that scheme, the numbers involved. It would mean that every year, £1.2 million of producer levy that is currently trapped in England would come back to Scotland, and £1.1 million of Welsh levy currently trapped in England would come back to Scotland—to Wales. Apologies—Wyn will not forgive me for that one. Essentially, the scheme has been agreed by the three levy bodies. It has now gone to each of the boards, and we hope to be in a position to put that to the Ministers in a short period of time.

Behind the scenes, we have been looking at the interim solution of the ring-fenced fund—the £2 million that has been ring-fenced for the benefit of levy payers in England, Wales and Scotland. We hope to make an announcement in the next few weeks on greater working relationships between the three levy bodies. This gives us a really good opportunity. We would like to see a date put into the Agriculture Bill to say when the legislation must be passed and the scheme be in operation by. The three levy bodies are working to a date of 1 April 2021 for a long-term solution to be in place, meaning that this is the last operational year of the ring-fenced fund that we will be coming into in April. It would be nice to have that enshrined in law.