Leaving the EU: Agriculture — [Mr Peter Bone in the Chair]

Part of Backbench Business – in Westminster Hall at 4:03 pm on 1st February 2018.

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Photo of Peter Grant Peter Grant Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Europe), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Exiting the European Union) 4:03 pm, 1st February 2018

It would be nice if the Government’s approach to Brexit was based on evidence, facts and proper analysis, rather than ideology. The hon. Gentleman also welcomed the opportunity to have what he described as an informed debate about immigration. I think it would have been nice if we had had an informed debate about immigration, rather than the desperately ill-informed debate we had up to, through and since the referendum. We have not heard enough about the enormous benefit that immigration brings to these islands and will continue to bring if we allow it to do so.

The hon. Member for Gordon reminded us at Brexit questions this morning that, as far as agriculture is concerned, one size does not fit all. In fact, the danger is that one size very often does not fit anything, so nobody gets the result they need.

Anyone can work out that the needs of a hill farmer or crofter in the highlands of Scotland or in Wales are very different from the needs of a dairy farmer in the south of England, or indeed of a fruit grower in lowland Scotland or lowland Perthshire. That means that whatever framework is put together has got to be capable of being adapted and applied flexibly to ensure that the decisions taken are those that are most suited to where they are being applied.

I do not have an issue, and neither does the Scottish National party, with recognising that in some areas of public policy there are huge benefits to having one framework and one set of rules to apply everywhere. For example, animal welfare standards are common throughout the United Kingdom—good idea. Let us face it, they are going to be common throughout the United Kingdom and the European Union, because we will still want to be able to sell our stuff across the Irish border, so Northern Ireland will have to fit in with European Union standards in the longer term.

It is essential that a decision that something will be taken on a UK framework basis is a decision by consensus. I am waiting, as are a lot of people back home in Scotland, to hear the Government confirm that no UK framework policy will be decided without the consent of the devolved Administrations, and that once it has been agreed that something needs a UK framework, the content and detail of that framework will be agreed by consensus among the four equal partners in the Union, not simply imposed on us by a Government in Whitehall—nor indeed imposed on the farmers of England by a Government in Edinburgh.