I thank you for calling me to speak and wish you a happy birthday, Ms Vaz. I also thank my hon. Friend Ben Howlett and the 90,000 people who signed the petition for creating such a buzz around the subject, which affects us all indirectly. I had my usual Somerset honey for breakfast, but there is sadly a lot less of it right now.
I wanted to speak in this debate for a whole range of reasons. As a member of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, I have an interest in sustainably producing safe food for the nation for the long term and in support of the Government’s 25-year food and farming plan. DEFRA fully understands the need to produce more food at home, and I am delighted that the Department has highlighted its understanding of the significance of bees through the bee pollinator strategy mentioned earlier. I speak to represent the farmers in my constituency, with whom I have had many discussions about the issue and who are, after all, vital custodians of our countryside, which needs to be a functioning ecosystem, as the Environmental Audit Committee has highlighted. I also speak as a promise to the many hundreds of people who have contacted me about the issue. They are truly passionate about the plight of our bees and followed my campaign, during which I made the topic a major point.