Examination of Witnesses

Part of Agriculture Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:24 pm on 13th February 2020.

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Diana Holland:

There are a couple of ways. One would obviously be an additional clause that covered the impact on workers of those developments in agriculture and how the protections that exist in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland could also be applied to agricultural workers in England. On top of that, in the rules for agri-food imports, where we will be looking at future developments, we are extremely concerned, first, that there is a lessening of all standards and, secondly, that where food is concerned, while there may be some recognition of protections for food standards, and even of animal welfare, workers may be left out. It should all go together—food, environment, labour protections for everybody.

As I said, when we wrote to our rural and agricultural representatives to ask for examples of issues—I am aware it is anecdotal, but it is important—we found that there are still pressures to hide problems that agricultural workers face, because in small isolated communities personal relationships often extend over other areas and the employer may have other roles in the community that people feel could have an impact on their lives. There is pressure all the time not to speak out about problems that arise. Your accommodation is often tied to your job in some shape or form, whether that is on the horticultural or agricultural side of things. It is those kinds of pressures and those sorts of experiences that we think need to be included; otherwise there is a real danger that, as well as being wrong for the people concerned, they will undermine some of the other things that the Bill is trying to achieve.