Agriculture Bill

21st October 2020

After 40 years of EU control and compromising on agriculture policy to fit the needs of the 28 member states, this is an amazing opportunity to shape future farming policy to meet the needs and ambitions of British consumers in the 21st century.  Working with British farmers to maintain our high food, animal-welfare, and environmental standards. Continuing to raise the standards of British agriculture, by examining the ways in which we purchase public goods.

My farther was a farmer, I am passionate about the countryside, for British farmers producing high-quality foods to highest possible animal and environmental welfare standards, and managing the countryside in the way that the public want to see it continue to be managed.

Simply put, I do not believe the Lords Amendments would have had any real impact on protecting food standards, as there are already legal powers in place that do this.   The amendments could have also jeopardised the 19 roll over trade agreements that are currently unsigned.  The amendments suggested extremely wide legislation compared to what we have in place today and would have required other countries to comply with 100s of pages of domestic standards, making any future trade agreement difficult.  These future trade deals provide a huge opportunity for British farmers to export, from pork products to China, to high-quality Cotswolds lamb to France.

The Government will ensure food standards are protected with a range of measures, including tariff policy to prevent producers with low standards having unfair advantages to our market, a chapter in all future trade deals setting out how countries must meet food and safety requirements we have set, and by prohibiting the sale of meats treated with hormones or chlorine, and reinforcing existing legislation which already prohibits this.

Parliamentary scrutiny for all future trade deals is already in place, with Parliamentary Committees given at least ten sitting days to ensure that no standards have been breached.  The final agreement will be brought before Parliament for examination, debate, and vote.

As I outlined in my speech before the vote last week, available on my website, the best way to protect food standards is through variable tariffs that make clear to our trading partners that if they do not adhere to our high standards, we will raise the tariffs on their goods. The second way to do it is to beef up the Trade and Agriculture Commission, which the Government can do unilaterally without any legislation.

I am delighted that some of my ideas on food security are in amendments 5 and 6 and will be included in the Bill. This is important as it gives our farmers the stimulus to produce more of the high-quality food we all want to eat.  The Government has also committed to publishing the first security report before the 25 December 2021. This will give everyone the details on how much of our own food we grow in this country.

Finally, and most importantly the Government has committed to publish a multi- annual financial assistance plan for agriculture so that farmers know what financial regime they are operating under. I have consistently made the point that all these schemes are worthless unless we have profitable agriculture industry able to implement them.

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Planning White Papers

I have submitted my responses to the two planning consultations: “Changes to the current planning system’ and “Planning for the future’.

These planning changes are one of the most significant events to affect the Cotswolds since WWII. I think that both papers contain positive proposals, in our case commitments to protect the AONB. The proposal to abolition Section 106 and the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) should speed up the planning process and it is important that the money is retained locally so that the infrastructure can be built at the same time as the development. 

Too often we see a development being built long before the supporting infrastructure, which I know can cause significant issues for existing residents. The proposals to simplify and speed up local plan-making and retaining neighbourhood plans where possible are welcome, in that design codes can be specified so it should be possible to protect our unique Cotswolds vernacular.   

I spoke in the planning backbench business debate on the 8 October and called for a change to the algorithm the Government uses in its planning White Paper which fails to take account of local variations and concentrates all new house building in the south-east and central south of England. 

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