[Valerie Vaz in the Chair] — Neonicotinoids on Crops

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 5:37 pm on 7th December 2015.

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Photo of Danny Kinahan Danny Kinahan UUP, South Antrim 5:37 pm, 7th December 2015

I am pleased to be speaking today. Like many here, I am a new boy when it comes to learning about bees. However, I followed a wild bee nest at home for about 20 years. Every year it was there; every year it was buzzing. Then, suddenly, it was gone—a badger had climbed up the tree and cleared it out. That is another risk. However, at least that taught me the importance of bees.

I wish you happy birthday, Ms Vaz; I hope you have a more exciting time this evening than you are perhaps having at the moment. I am pleased that those behind the petition have raised the issue before us.

Like everyone else, I want to call for a balanced approach. At home, many farmers come to me saying that the pesticides they use do not work and that they cannot get the growth they need. On the other side, I have 25 beehives at home—they are not mine—and the man who looks after them is complaining about insecticides, but also about many other things. The neonics are not one of the things he has complained about, although he has complained about the varroa mite among many other issues. We need to concentrate on a whole approach.

I hope the Minister will find a way of balancing what the EU and all the groups here are doing. Equally, I hope he will look at the joint Irish approach being taken north and south of the border; in that way, we will be learning all the time. I am really looking for us to take a dynamic approach so that we are constantly looking at everything, learning all the time, making decisions and, as Rebecca Pow said, taking no risks. We should make our decisions based on the knowledge we have—if we do not know enough, we should not make the decisions.