Live Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Questions House of Commons


Live Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Questions

Live coverage of questions in the House of Commons to environment, food and rural affairs secretary Andrea Leadsom and her ministerial team.


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Transcript


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In an hour, the forthcoming business will be announced and questions

:00:22.:00:25.

taken. After that, there are two debates to be put forward by

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backbench MPs. Join me tonight, but first we have questions can I also

:00:30.:00:36.

add from this side of the House congratulations. It includes

:00:37.:00:49.

questions on the household cost and spending on food, including the

:00:50.:00:52.

lowest 20% of households. This figure has remained reasonably

:00:53.:01:00.

stable at around 16% for many years. Thank you, Mr Speaker, I thank the

:01:01.:01:05.

Minister but he knows as well as I do that that is not good enough. We

:01:06.:01:09.

have an estimated 8.4 million people living in food insecure households.

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There have been calls from so many organisations for the Government to

:01:22.:01:24.

adopt a household food and security measurement. Why will the Government

:01:25.:01:31.

not admit that the resistance to admitting this is that once they

:01:32.:01:35.

admit the scale of hunger, they would have to do recognise that it

:01:36.:01:40.

is largely caused by their own punitive welfare policies. I

:01:41.:01:44.

fundamentally disagree with the honourable lady. This Government

:01:45.:01:48.

have got more people back into work than ever before and the best way to

:01:49.:01:52.

tackle poverty is to help people get off of benefits and into work. I

:01:53.:01:55.

would say to the honourable lady that we have through the LC Access

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and established measure of how much the lowest income household spending

:02:01.:02:07.

on food, a consistent measure, and we can benchmark changes here and

:02:08.:02:12.

here. That has been very stable. It was 16% when the party opposite were

:02:13.:02:20.

in power and it is 16% now. Food insecurity is a terrible thing and

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this is exacerbated by low income households spending money on food

:02:27.:02:28.

that is not good for them. During the war, war time households knew

:02:29.:02:35.

how to budget and nutrition improved. Could we learned some

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lessons from the wartime generation about how best to feed people? My

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colleagues in the Department for help publish lots of very good

:02:47.:02:49.

guidance and run lots of very good campaigns to encourage healthy

:02:50.:02:53.

eating. In addition, we have the School food programme which is

:02:54.:02:57.

aiming to improve the nutrition of food in schools so that children

:02:58.:03:01.

learn lifelong good habits. I agree with the honourable gentleman that

:03:02.:03:05.

actually it is possible to eat very good nutritious food and the cost

:03:06.:03:08.

and price of it has been remarkably stable. And visits to my local food

:03:09.:03:14.

banks, what I hear is that the number of people relying on them is

:03:15.:03:18.

going up. Isn't it true that the Government doesn't want to collect

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this type of data because they would have to admit the failure of their

:03:22.:03:26.

policies, not least the fact that getting into a job is no longer

:03:27.:03:31.

route out of policy because of -- out of poverty, because of in work

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poverty. This is the Government that introduced a national living wage,

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raising standards. I have visited my local food bank and I have sent

:03:49.:03:52.

people to visit people having complex issues in their lives. There

:03:53.:03:56.

are many issues that relate to poverty and I would ask all members

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to work closely with their local food banks as my office does. With

:04:01.:04:09.

permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to group questions two and six. The

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United Kingdom complies with legislation for nearly all air

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pollutants but faces challenges in achieving nitrogen dioxide limits

:04:18.:04:22.

including 16 other European union states. We have committed ?290

:04:23.:04:33.

million in the Autumn Statement to support green transport. We should

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all recognise that air quality is improving but we recognise we must

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go further and faster and we will support a new programme in April. I

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thanked her for her answer but I think she is aware of the rail

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scheme which would take 5 million lorries off of the roads each year,

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lowering emissions. With Felixstowe in my constituency, I am fully aware

:05:05.:05:09.

of the advantages of rail freight. I would stress to the honourable

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gentleman that the departments of Defra works closely with others and

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shifting freight onto rail is a key part of any future strategy. You are

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aware of the controversial cruise liner terminal at and wharf in

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Greenwich. With the impact of that in mind, can she tell us when the

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Government expects to publish a review into shorter shift power? The

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honourable gentleman will be aware that an environmental impact

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assessment was considered when looking at that planning application

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but, as he will be aware also, the Minister for transport is committed

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to looking further at what can be done and I'm sure he's making

:05:58.:06:02.

progress on that. Does the Minister agree that British businesses have

:06:03.:06:07.

made great strides in recent years in producing technologies which

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enable us to improve air quality, such as the taxis that now run in

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Birmingham on LPG and the adaptation of buses that have significantly

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cleaned up the air on Oxford Street? I agree with my right honourable

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friend and her vast experience in this area is added to by her local

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knowledge of the city of Birmingham and support going on there. I can

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say that this Government made substantial chasuble settlement with

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the previous mayor and I do know that air pollution has continued on

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Oxford Street in the last year, so -- specifically with the grants that

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were provided. Areas of corn will suffer with high pollution because

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of the 839 running through the high street. And my honourable friend

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congratulate the town council for the work they have done to improve

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their air pollution. I have made it clear before that national

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Government and local Government both have a role to play in tackling such

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things and we will continue to work with my right honourable friend on

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this matter. The College of physicians have stated that air

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pollution contributes to approximately 40,000 deaths in the

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UK every year and that these emissions have been poorly

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regulated. What progress is the Government making in that field? Mr

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Speaker, we have seen this nitrous oxide levels falling. I recognise

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not quickly enough. The Labour Government signed us up to achieve

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this by 2010 and failed spectacularly. We will continue to

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strive for this. Does my honourable friend agree that one of the ways to

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make real progress on air quality is to forge ahead with ultralow

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emission vehicles and given that Norway now has 25% of the cars on

:08:06.:08:10.

its road either electric or hybrid, does she agree that we need a real

:08:11.:08:13.

turbo-charge bees to get ahead in this area? My honourable friend is

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absolutely right. The low emission vehicle industry is a competitive

:08:20.:08:23.

advantage for this country and that is why the Government is backing

:08:24.:08:27.

them through the office of load -- low emission vehicles and also the

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many millions of pounds that have been spent on improving the charging

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infrastructure up and down this country. Many happy returns, Mr

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Speaker, to both you and reverend rose. Mr Speaker, the Government has

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lost the confidence of this House on air quality. Over 50,000 people are

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dying prematurely each year because of air pollution and many more are

:08:54.:08:55.

suffering associated health conditions. With no guarantee from

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either the Prime Minister or the Secretary of State that last

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December's strict EU laws will be introduced post-Brexit, how can the

:09:07.:09:11.

country trust a Government -- the Government to ensure cleaner air in

:09:12.:09:15.

future? The honourable lady refers to a lack of trust in this

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Government. I think that is somewhat pot calling kettle black. It is the

:09:20.:09:24.

Labour Government that introduced fiscal incentives for people to

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switch to diesel cars, the Labour Government who signed up to these

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guidelines. Air quality is better than it was under a Labour

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Government. That is an incontrovertible fact. Or even

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incontrovertible fact. Happy birthday, Mr Speaker. Hill farmers

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play a critical role not just in producing high-quality food but also

:09:54.:09:57.

delivering environmental benefits for all of the public in our

:09:58.:10:00.

beautiful landscapes. Leaving the EU gives us a great opportunity to look

:10:01.:10:07.

again at their contribution to developing and delivering our twin

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ambitions, to have a world leading food and farming industry and at the

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same time a better environment for future generations. I am grateful

:10:18.:10:20.

for that response from the Secretary of State. Of course, paying for

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environmental goods will only work as a strategy if the hill farms are

:10:25.:10:28.

financially viable and she knows some of them are earning ?14,000 a

:10:29.:10:34.

year, so income support mechanisms will still be necessary. And she

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guarantee that in future trade negotiations, she will not allow a

:10:41.:10:43.

flood of cheap New Zealand lamb which will put them out of business?

:10:44.:10:49.

Well, the honourable lady will be aware that we have undertaken from

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the very first days in the job to commit to the levels of current

:10:56.:11:01.

support for all Pirlo payments until 2020 to give that continuity to

:11:02.:11:05.

farmers and businesses. We have committed to our consultation on the

:11:06.:11:12.

future of the food and farming sector in the 25 year plan and that

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will be looking very closely at the level of support that is needed but

:11:17.:11:19.

I absolutely agree with her. We will need to look at what we can do for

:11:20.:11:24.

the future to ensure that hill farmers remove viable and

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sustainable. The Secretary of State is right,

:11:26.:11:36.

there is a real opportunity to create a system of rule support that

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is the spoke for the United Kingdom that is environmental, economic and

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social policy. In that respect, giving ministers the opportunity of

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moving money up the hill to protect those who are clinging on economic

:11:50.:11:52.

Lee is an opportunity I hope she will grasp. Well, my honourable

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friend is knowledgeable in this area, and his input will be

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extremely useful when it comes to our consultation, but he is right to

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say this is a unique opportunity for us to create a policy that works for

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us, not for 28 EU member states, and that is exactly what we will be

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consulting on and what we will be delivering. Happy birthday from me.

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I wondered if the Secretary of State under chief executive of the rural

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payments agency would tolerate waiting 13.5 months for their salary

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cheque to arrive. And that is what 50 hill farmers have had to do

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waiting for the December 2015 farm payment. And hundreds more are

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weighted up to one year to get the payments also. In the 2016-17 year,

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they have been told they will be at the back of the queue to receive

:12:54.:12:55.

payments for their farm again. Will she commit to make sure those 50 are

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paid immediately and also will she commit that those hill farmers at

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the back of the queue last year will be at the front of the queue this

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year? I am afraid he is just not appraised of the facts. The facts

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are there are very few... The honourable lady shouts from the

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bench 2000. People have received a payment and there are some

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challenges to those payments that are still awaiting settlement. And I

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would like to say to the honourable gentleman that the RPA under Mark

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Grimshaw has strived to settle all outstanding claims, but there are

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people who are challenging those, understandably, but everybody has

:13:46.:13:48.

received a payment apart from a very small number, where there are issues

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like probate concerns, legal challenges and inspection

:13:56.:13:58.

challenges. In terms of this year, Commons have been paid across the

:13:59.:14:03.

board and are about 92.8% of payments, which is a good

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achievement compared to last year. Thank you. Happy birthday from these

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benches also. Given that lamb as a product is now facing large tariffs,

:14:18.:14:22.

foreign payments become more important than ever. Long-term it is

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not just three years to 2020, the farming minister said we would get

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at least the same amount if not more. Yesterday I challenge the

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Secretary of State for Scotland, who said there is no suggestion that

:14:36.:14:39.

funding to Scottish agriculture will be cut after 2020. Can she offer the

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same assurance, payments will not go down after 2020? The assurance I can

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give to the honourable gentleman is we will be looking at how to achieve

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our twin ambitions of a world leading food and farming sector

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while ensuring we leave the environment in a better state than

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we are left it. We will look at the facts and then decide what level of

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funding is required in order to support those ambitions. We wish you

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a long life, Mr Speaker! LAUGHTER

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One of the great opportunities for farmers as we leave the EU as we

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scrap some of the bureaucratic rules that have limited the ability to

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maximise productivity and profitability.

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For example rules that dictate the number of crops they can grow. I

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thank her for her answer. As we free ourselves from the straitjacket of

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the common agricultural policy, that has added so many bureaucratic

:15:49.:15:51.

burdens to farmers, what assessment has she made of the financial burden

:15:52.:15:59.

that our farmers are facing as a result of the common agricultural

:16:00.:16:02.

policy, and what extra freedom will this mean for farmers in the future?

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He is absolutely right to draw attention to this issue. It is

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something we are determined to address as we develop new policies.

:16:14.:16:17.

Unnecessary rules cost farmers millions of pounds, and up to

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300,000 man hours each year, which says nothing of the lost

:16:24.:16:28.

opportunities. So I will be paying close attention in the coming months

:16:29.:16:32.

to find a solution that work for us, rather than 28 EU member states. I

:16:33.:16:40.

do not want to be nasty to anyone, especially on your birthday, but the

:16:41.:16:44.

fact is that this front bench it is sleepwalking into Brexit. We have

:16:45.:16:52.

heard so much from the Secretary of State before the Brexit vote, now we

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hear nothing. Our farmers, are people in the countryside know

:16:58.:17:01.

nothing about what is going to happen. They fear a new agricultural

:17:02.:17:04.

devastation in the countryside. What is she going to do about it? If that

:17:05.:17:10.

is his definition of not being nasty to anyone, that does not really work

:17:11.:17:15.

well! I am not sure Labour has much support in the countryside because

:17:16.:17:19.

they have done nothing for countryfolk. It is this side of the

:17:20.:17:26.

House that has ensured we continue with support until 2020, and all

:17:27.:17:31.

agri- environment schemes for their lifetime before we signed up to the

:17:32.:17:37.

EU, to ensure we have that business confidence. We are committed to a

:17:38.:17:41.

world leading food and farming industry while at the same time

:17:42.:17:44.

having an environment that is better than we inherited. Bizarre

:17:45.:17:51.

promotions and -- these are our ambitions and we will achieve them.

:17:52.:17:59.

Knowing what sort of Minister my right honourable friend is, I cannot

:18:00.:18:03.

really believe her team were fully briefed properly when they saw the

:18:04.:18:09.

nitro vulnerable zone regulation rolled out. I would be happy to meet

:18:10.:18:15.

and discuss this issue separately but I can assure him we looked very

:18:16.:18:20.

carefully at this issue. And as ever, there is a balance between

:18:21.:18:26.

successful, sustainable farming, food productivity and what is right

:18:27.:18:35.

for over environment. Happy birthday, Mr Speaker. Earlier this

:18:36.:18:37.

month the Secretary of State told the Oxford farming conference how

:18:38.:18:41.

excited she was about, quote, scrapping the rules that hold us

:18:42.:18:45.

back, saying we can all think of at least one EU law that we would not

:18:46.:18:49.

miss. That may be true, but I'm sure each of us can also think of at

:18:50.:18:53.

least one rule that we would miss. That we would want to keep. Can she

:18:54.:19:01.

share her choice with us? I have already shared a few choices, farm

:19:02.:19:06.

inspections, some of the rules around billboards and so on, but

:19:07.:19:11.

what I would like to say, and I know she cares a great deal about this

:19:12.:19:15.

matter, is that we will in the great repeal Bill, ring all EU legislation

:19:16.:19:23.

into UK law, so that the Prime Minister -- as the Prime Minister

:19:24.:19:28.

said, the rules will be the same today after we leave the EU. That is

:19:29.:19:32.

important for that continuity. And at that point we will look at and

:19:33.:19:36.

change those rules for the better to suit the needs of the United

:19:37.:19:47.

Kingdom. If only it were that easy. And incredibly vague answer, not a

:19:48.:19:51.

specific EU regulation mentioned. Those of us who value even the -- EU

:19:52.:19:58.

regulation on animal welfare will not find her answer reassuring. I

:19:59.:20:02.

assume that some kind of objective criteria have to be applied so that

:20:03.:20:13.

rules will not just be thrown onto the bonfire. What are those

:20:14.:20:18.

objective criteria? I am sorry if she perhaps didn't hear my previous

:20:19.:20:22.

answer. I made extremely clear that the day after we leave the EU the

:20:23.:20:27.

rules will be the same as the day before. After that we will be

:20:28.:20:31.

seeking to meet our twin ambitions of a world leading food and farming

:20:32.:20:35.

industry and an environment that is better than the one we inherited. To

:20:36.:20:39.

give her one example of a manifesto commitment that Labour did not have

:20:40.:20:46.

in their manifesto, we will push for high animal welfare standards to be

:20:47.:20:50.

incorporated into a international trade agreements. The party opposite

:20:51.:20:54.

did not have that in their manifesto. The events of the last,

:20:55.:21:06.

sorry, number five, Mr Speaker. This government is investing ?2.5 billion

:21:07.:21:13.

delivering at least 1500 new flood schemes by 2021. He should be aware

:21:14.:21:18.

that in his constituency, government investment of ?121 million is being

:21:19.:21:21.

made delivering 18 schemes, better protecting over 30,000 homes. I was

:21:22.:21:27.

overwrought with the excitement of your birthday that I forgot

:21:28.:21:34.

parliamentary procedure! The Minister will know from the events

:21:35.:21:38.

of last week that my constituency is under great threat of flooding and

:21:39.:21:41.

she will join with the Prime Minister and myself are praising the

:21:42.:21:44.

response of the emergency services under the tidal surge. Does she

:21:45.:21:47.

agree that the Boston barrier therefore cannot come soon enough,

:21:48.:21:55.

but also it offers a huge economic opportunity that will allow Boston

:21:56.:21:58.

not only to be protected from flooding but also to seize a new

:21:59.:22:08.

tourism don that could be better off than a lock. -- dawn. The Boston

:22:09.:22:21.

barrier is subject to an enquiry. And it could be a compelling reason

:22:22.:22:24.

to visit that part of rural England. I want to extend my thanks to the

:22:25.:22:28.

Environment Agency, councils and emergency services and volunteers

:22:29.:22:31.

who helped make sure people were safe last week. Happy birthday, Sir.

:22:32.:22:37.

Many small businesses across the UK that operate in flood risk areas are

:22:38.:22:43.

having to face huge, and enormous flood insurance excesses. Will the

:22:44.:22:46.

ministers in this department please commit to persuading the Treasury to

:22:47.:22:52.

extend assurances to businesses. If extend assurances to businesses. If

:22:53.:22:56.

it floods again, many high streets in my constituency might disappear.

:22:57.:23:01.

He will be aware that flood defences are a matter for his government. Can

:23:02.:23:06.

I also say that he raised this point in the debate, and if he had waited

:23:07.:23:10.

for my reply, he would have heard my response on that matter. Question

:23:11.:23:21.

seven. Mr Speaker, we all love trees, and I can see that woodland

:23:22.:23:25.

planting in England is supported through the countryside stewardship

:23:26.:23:30.

grant, and to encourage tree-planting we have extended the

:23:31.:23:36.

woodland creation can't. We are committed to planting a million

:23:37.:23:39.

trees for schools in partnership with the Woodland Trust and other

:23:40.:23:43.

community trusts. The residents of Southend West, would my honourable

:23:44.:23:55.

friend join with me in congratulating... Would she agree

:23:56.:23:59.

that planting a tree in memory of a deceased person is a fitting tribute

:24:00.:24:03.

and makes an excellent contribution to the overall quality of the

:24:04.:24:09.

environment? I commend Southend Borough Council for this

:24:10.:24:13.

tree-planting scheme, and I want to personally acknowledge the recent

:24:14.:24:16.

bereavement of his mother. I do agree with his tribute -- this

:24:17.:24:22.

tribute as trees can give a long-standing remainder of the

:24:23.:24:27.

departed and give a place for bereaved people to visit. I know

:24:28.:24:35.

that from personal experience. Being aware of the incentives the

:24:36.:24:39.

Department of agriculture have in relation to tree-planting, can she

:24:40.:24:42.

indicate what long-term incentives they are for farmers to plant trees

:24:43.:24:47.

for the long term but also the participation of community groups

:24:48.:24:51.

and schools in the process? As I have outlined, the countryside

:24:52.:24:58.

scheme is they are, and acts as an incentive for tree-planting. I am

:24:59.:25:02.

glad he is leading by example but he will understand the encouragement in

:25:03.:25:04.

Northern Ireland is led by his own government. Yes, we can learn all

:25:05.:25:10.

about tree-planting in Taunton Deane. Plant a birthday treat, that

:25:11.:25:17.

would be a good idea! Would she agree that planting trees is a very

:25:18.:25:23.

important part of keeping the environment as a whole in balance

:25:24.:25:26.

and which he also agree that the environment should be made a

:25:27.:25:28.

cornerstone of our post-Brexit agenda with enormous opportunities

:25:29.:25:32.

to sell technology worldwide and show that we are world leaders, but

:25:33.:25:37.

also bring it into everything to do with economy and social lanes so we

:25:38.:25:42.

increase productivity, security, benefit everyone and leave the

:25:43.:25:45.

environment in a better place than we inherited it. My honourable

:25:46.:25:50.

friend is right to point out the importance of trees, which can have

:25:51.:25:57.

multiple benefits. Earlier this year I visited a primary school in

:25:58.:26:02.

Liverpool to support them in their tree-planting exercise is, but I can

:26:03.:26:05.

assure her tree-planting is at the heart of this government today.

:26:06.:27:04.

Will the Secretary of State today reassured this House and people

:27:05.:27:08.

across the United Kingdom that any trade deal with the US will not

:27:09.:27:13.

involve such compromises which would jeopardise food safety, animal

:27:14.:27:18.

welfare laws, and will she reassure us that she understands a very quick

:27:19.:27:24.

deal is not necessarily the same as a very good deal for the consumer or

:27:25.:27:30.

producer? The Secretary of State made clearly earlier that the party

:27:31.:27:33.

on the side is the only party that made a commitment to reflect animal

:27:34.:27:38.

welfare standards in trade negotiations, which remains a

:27:39.:27:41.

commitment to. There are opportunities for the agricultural

:27:42.:27:47.

sector in the US, particularly such as dairy and Lamb sectors. We will

:27:48.:27:54.

obviously lead on these ones we leave the European Union, but there

:27:55.:27:59.

will be potential opportunities for the UK industry as well. On his

:28:00.:28:03.

visit to a farm on Monday, which I visited last week, the Foreign

:28:04.:28:06.

Minister will have heard many Brexit concerns, one of which was the

:28:07.:28:13.

ending of free movements. The Secretary of State hinted that

:28:14.:28:15.

relaxation for the agri- sector, and can hear sure is that taking on

:28:16.:28:37.

this will not be a bureaucratic nightmare? I had a good meeting with

:28:38.:28:40.

the NFU Scotland this week, where we discussed many in Word map issues.

:28:41.:28:42.

We will work very closely with all of the devolved administrations and

:28:43.:28:54.

the industry throughout the UK, and when it...

:28:55.:29:02.

When he made the assessment of the impact on farming of leaving the EU,

:29:03.:29:07.

can he assure me he will listen to the farmers, and not the so-called

:29:08.:29:17.

experts, who seem to be set on pushing their own agenda? I can

:29:18.:29:24.

reassure him that having grown up on a farm and worked in the farming

:29:25.:29:28.

industry for ten years, I would be very much is listening to farmers

:29:29.:29:31.

and their views and wanting to learn from the experience, and we will be

:29:32.:29:35.

listening to everyone as we develop future policy. He will be aware that

:29:36.:29:43.

a great many farms and rural businesses rely on EU work as part

:29:44.:29:49.

of their legal requirements throughout the year. Will keep

:29:50.:30:02.

didn't mind... -- will he keep in mind these issues when discussing

:30:03.:30:11.

immigration. We are in discussion with a number of leading players to

:30:12.:30:18.

get an understanding of all the needs, and we are in discussion with

:30:19.:30:20.

departmental colleagues in other departments. On Tuesday the

:30:21.:30:26.

Secretary of State mentioned a Green paper for the environment and rural

:30:27.:30:30.

economy long-term is coming. We have been promised no powers will be

:30:31.:30:36.

repatriated to the EU, -- to Westminster, said that she agree

:30:37.:30:40.

that the framework should be the work of the Scottish Government? We

:30:41.:30:46.

will discuss this with all devolved administrations. The Prime Minister

:30:47.:30:52.

made that clear earlier this week. We will discuss this across the UK

:30:53.:30:55.

and agree what the right UK approach should be. Live long and prosper. We

:30:56.:31:09.

established the capital committee in this Parliament, we will also

:31:10.:31:14.

publish our 25 year planning in due course and we want everyone to

:31:15.:31:17.

understand how a healthy environment improves their life and spending

:31:18.:31:22.

time and in the environment will improve health. I have been running

:31:23.:31:29.

a campaign to save the hedgehog. She may also know that on the 2nd of

:31:30.:31:33.

February, that marks National hedgehog Dave. What can she do to

:31:34.:31:37.

ensure young people are involved in the campaign to save wildlife,

:31:38.:31:42.

including the hedgehog, in the run-up to the 2nd of February? I

:31:43.:31:48.

commend my honourable friend for his continuing support of the hedgehog.

:31:49.:31:52.

The government supports efforts to make gardens hedgehog friendly

:31:53.:31:54.

through the creation of havens, and through the creation of havens, and

:31:55.:31:57.

campaigns with local communities to look out for the hedgehog, including

:31:58.:32:04.

that of BBC Suffolk. I would encourage him to get BBC Cornwall to

:32:05.:32:08.

do the same. We want to encourage the next-generation. Many happy

:32:09.:32:16.

returns. Hedgehogs and other wild mammals and precious bird species

:32:17.:32:20.

are currently protected under regulations on the European Union.

:32:21.:32:24.

The Environmental Audit Committee's report on the effects of the natural

:32:25.:32:32.

environment of leaving... Has she had a chance to read it? I read it

:32:33.:32:38.

cover to cover the day it came out, as is appropriate. I can say that

:32:39.:32:44.

our intention is to bring environmental legislation into law

:32:45.:32:47.

the day that we leave the European Union, and as a consequence we see

:32:48.:32:51.

no need for future legislation at this point. Topical questions. I

:32:52.:32:59.

would like to place on record my sincere thanks for the commitment

:33:00.:33:03.

and hard work of the military Environment Agency staff, local

:33:04.:33:07.

councils, volunteers and the emergency services during last

:33:08.:33:14.

week's tidal surge. More than half a million homes and businesses were

:33:15.:33:17.

protected from flooding along the east coast as a result of their

:33:18.:33:21.

efforts. I am sure the whole House would like to join me in expressing

:33:22.:33:28.

our gratitude. The Consumer Price Index is at the highest it has been

:33:29.:33:33.

for over 2.5 years, largely driven by rising food prices. Since the

:33:34.:33:37.

government stubbornly refused to measure and act on levels of food

:33:38.:33:43.

poverty, what will she do for the millions of people who cannot afford

:33:44.:33:50.

to eat? I can say that food prices as steady and have been reducing,

:33:51.:33:56.

and there is a very recent small uptick, but generally food inflation

:33:57.:33:59.

has been low, and as my honourable friend explained earlier, we do

:34:00.:34:04.

monitor the levels of expenditure on food closely. Can I endorse what the

:34:05.:34:11.

Secretary of State has said about the superb work done by the

:34:12.:34:14.

emergency services and other voluntary groups along the east

:34:15.:34:18.

coast. What is she and her department doing to support

:34:19.:34:21.

community interest companies which can harvest company and private

:34:22.:34:28.

sector funds for the environmental services? As a government we

:34:29.:34:34.

continue to invest in flood defences around the coast. I want to

:34:35.:34:41.

reiterate the thanks we have two hour emergency services and the

:34:42.:34:45.

military, who helped a black risk last year. We continue to invest so

:34:46.:34:49.

that fewer homes and businesses will be at risk in the future. The study

:34:50.:34:57.

by the statistics unit investigating potential links with waste

:34:58.:35:13.

incinerators and health outcomes, the date of when it will be

:35:14.:35:19.

published keeps changing. I will look straight into this and get back

:35:20.:35:24.

to him. Which he agreed to visit the slowing the flow project, and

:35:25.:35:29.

natural flood alleviation scheme, part funded by DEFRA, to save the

:35:30.:35:42.

taxpayer millions of pounds, to see what could be done with a ?15

:35:43.:35:50.

million the apartment has a bid invested for such projects. I would

:35:51.:35:55.

be delighted to visit, if we can get our diaries to work. I would like to

:35:56.:35:58.

see the success of the Pickering project, which has been one of the

:35:59.:36:03.

building blocks in securing the ?15 million of funding we announced in

:36:04.:36:07.

November last year, which is dedicated specifically to natural

:36:08.:36:10.

flood management schemes across the UK. This money will let us test new

:36:11.:36:15.

approaches to see how natural flood resources can help us in the future.

:36:16.:36:21.

We do not have time to waste. Since their Westminster Hall debate last

:36:22.:36:26.

December, 4007 elephants have been killed for tasks. With China

:36:27.:36:30.

introducing a ban on the ivory trade by the end of this year, will the

:36:31.:36:33.

government reconsidered its proposed unworkable partial ban which will

:36:34.:36:38.

still allow criminals to trade in ivory, and

:36:39.:37:05.

introduce a total ban? That is nonsense, it is not a partial ban

:37:06.:37:12.

this government is proposing. In the conference in China last year, we

:37:13.:37:14.

were very clear we would do everything possible not just to

:37:15.:37:24.

enforce a ban on trading of ivory, but also on enforcement, on

:37:25.:37:28.

minimising exemptions. She needs to work with us to ensure the

:37:29.:37:31.

protection of the species and not try to make a party political point

:37:32.:37:35.

on it. The Vale of Evesham is proud of its horticultural industry. Many

:37:36.:37:40.

of the local growers and food produce companies are highly reliant

:37:41.:37:50.

on seasonal workers. Can we please seriously consider bringing back a

:37:51.:37:55.

seasonal agricultural workers scheme? I have experience in this

:37:56.:38:05.

industry, I know many growers in Evesham, and have had discussions

:38:06.:38:13.

with businesses on this issue. We want to get the right approach so we

:38:14.:38:18.

can control immigration and ensure we have the working leads were

:38:19.:38:24.

required. The farming Minister will have been amended on Monday that 90%

:38:25.:38:28.

of beef and lamb exports from this country are to the EU, so the Prime

:38:29.:38:33.

Minister's threat to walk away from the single market with no deal, but

:38:34.:38:37.

then would not be bad, it could leave them facing tariffs up to 20%,

:38:38.:38:43.

which would be catastrophic. What assurances can he give to farmers

:38:44.:38:46.

and crofters in my constituency that he and his government will not leave

:38:47.:38:52.

them exposed in this way? I think the Prime Minister gave the

:38:53.:38:55.

assurance we are looking for a good deal, and no deal is better than a

:38:56.:39:01.

bad deal. In food and drink alone we have a trade deficit of ?10 billion

:39:02.:39:07.

with the EU, so they have a great interest to having tariff free

:39:08.:39:12.

access to the market. Following the success for the charge of plastic

:39:13.:39:17.

bags, and reducing the number of plastic going into the sea, the next

:39:18.:39:23.

big issue we need to address is single use plastic bottles. Can she

:39:24.:39:26.

address the House and what plans she address the House and what plans she

:39:27.:39:31.

has to cut the number of templating beaches? He is right to point out

:39:32.:39:37.

consultation is out there on micro beads, but there is call for wider

:39:38.:39:40.

evidence about the need to tackle other plastics. We are developing a

:39:41.:39:45.

new letter strategy which may reduce this. -- litter strategy. An

:39:46.:39:58.

enormous amount of subsidies used to encourage intensive farming. Could

:39:59.:40:04.

ministers also look at some of the ideas for re-wilding, and see that

:40:05.:40:12.

our subsidies could encourage the restoration of the environment,

:40:13.:40:18.

rather than its conservation? We will look at representations from

:40:19.:40:22.

all people. I would say this, if we want to improve the farmed

:40:23.:40:27.

environment we have to look at the whole farmed environment and not

:40:28.:40:30.

restrict our ambition is to just the upper limbs or the moorland areas.

:40:31.:40:38.

So we're looking at a whole range of things, in quitting water quality.

:40:39.:40:44.

-- uplands. Could we look at single payments that have been made and how

:40:45.:40:48.

it affects the Cornish farms? We have now paid 92.8% of basic payment

:40:49.:40:53.

scheme claims for the current year, and as a fellow Cornish man, I am

:40:54.:40:59.

pleased to say that 97% of claims and Cornwall have now been paid. My

:41:00.:41:08.

constituents will be concerned that there interest should not be

:41:09.:41:11.

compromised in any free trade deal with New Zealand. Will the Secretary

:41:12.:41:15.

of State guarantee that she will fight for farmers in any free-trade

:41:16.:41:22.

deal and ensure that they are not cheap imports of New Zealand lamb?

:41:23.:41:35.

Will she fight for farmers? As a free and sovereign parliament, it

:41:36.:41:39.

will be for us to determine the terms of any free trade agreements.

:41:40.:41:44.

I have already read out from our manifesto commitment on the highest

:41:45.:41:49.

level of animal welfare, and it also commits to food safety and food

:41:50.:41:55.

traceability. It commits to being a leading country in farm management

:41:56.:41:58.

and to promote that around the world. There is a continuing problem

:41:59.:42:05.

of fly shooting and electronic pulse fishing in UK waters. Not only are

:42:06.:42:09.

these practices environmental vandalism, they are having a

:42:10.:42:12.

devastating impact on local fishing communities. Can the Minister is

:42:13.:42:18.

sure the Cosies doing anything to address this problem? I'm aware of

:42:19.:42:21.

the concern, particularly around pulse trolling in the southern North

:42:22.:42:27.

Sea. I have asked the Department to look at this and give me a report on

:42:28.:42:31.

what we know about the science. In addition, that is a working group in

:42:32.:42:36.

the EU on this issue. Happy birthday. At the time of

:42:37.:42:47.

negotiations on the TTIP deal, concerns were raised about products

:42:48.:42:55.

that consumers don't want on the shelves. Now within a weaker

:42:56.:42:58.

negotiating position, how can the Minister assurance we won't allow

:42:59.:43:06.

those products on? The USA represents USA interests in

:43:07.:43:08.

negotiations and the UK Government will represent the UK in any future

:43:09.:43:14.

trade negotiations. Issues such as animal welfare and food safety are

:43:15.:43:18.

areas in which we will

:43:19.:43:19.

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