Good Food Nation Bill

– in the Scottish Parliament on 6th February 2020.

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Photo of Mary Fee Mary Fee Labour

2. To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on when it will publish its good food nation bill. (S5O-04104)

Photo of Fergus Ewing Fergus Ewing Scottish National Party

Work is under way on drafting the bill, and we plan to publish it as part of the legislative programme that is set out in the programme for government for this parliamentary year.

Photo of Mary Fee Mary Fee Labour

We know that food bank use has soared in the past decade and that the Government cannot rely on donations and people’s good will to feed the poorest people. What does the cabinet secretary envisage the bill will do to tackle food poverty? Will it include a statutory right to food?

Photo of Fergus Ewing Fergus Ewing Scottish National Party

Mary Fee raises an important point about the sad consequences of the policies of austerity that have been pursued by the London Government for far too long. It is important to say that the Scottish Government has done a huge amount to ameliorate the poverty that has, sadly, resulted from the period of austerity. For example, in 2018-19 we invested more than £1.4 billion in targeted support for low-income households, including more than £100 million to mitigate the worst impacts of United Kingdom Government welfare cuts, and we have increased our fair food fund to £3.5 million this year, in order to provide continued support.

Our consultation did not recommend inclusion of a right to food, but proposed that Scottish ministers should have regard to international obligations that are wider than just the right to food, when developing statements of policy on food. We look forward to publication of the bill in due course.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

Can we keep supplementary questions short please?

Photo of Stuart McMillan Stuart McMillan Scottish National Party

How is the cabinet secretary supporting local authorities’ environmental health departments at a time when numbers of plant-based and vegan food and drink outlets and producers are increasing?

Photo of Fergus Ewing Fergus Ewing Scottish National Party

We do a wide range of work with local authorities—for example, we have the food for life programme, through which we work with local authorities, encouraging them to provide fresh and local food and locally procured food. Many local authorities are doing a terrific job. I visited Crown primary school in my constituency, which provides a wide variety of nutritious meals—obviously including fruit and vegetables—to its pupils, and also uses a local butcher that supplies a large number of schools. That is the sort of work that stands Scotland’s children in good stead.