Examination of Witness

Part of Agriculture Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:30 pm on 13th February 2020.

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George Monbiot:

I think it really important to tighten the definition and to stick with, basically, the classical definition of non-rivalrous and non-excludable. There is potential for slippage within the wording of the Bill, for example into food production that does not fit the definition. We should basically also be funding public goods that are additional and which are not going to be delivered anyway.

We should be very careful not to use subsidies as a substitute for regulation. There is a real danger in saying, “We will put all this on a voluntary basis and we will pay people to do the right thing,” rather than saying, “You may not do the wrong thing.” I feel that there have already been a lot of failures in monitoring and enforcement of cross-compliance under the current subsidy regime. If we are not careful, we could see those failures become a lot worse.