Recorded coverage of questions in the House of Commons to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs secretary Michael Gove and his team of ministers.
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Order, order. Questions to the
Secretary of State for environment,
food and growth areas. --
environment, food and rural affairs.
Mr Speaker, as you're aware, my
right honourable friend the
Secretary of State is in US for
departmental business representing
UK interests. I know he has written
to you regarding to this antique
centres apologies to the house. Mr
Speaker, last week, the Government
launched a paper outlining a series
of proposals to help invest in funds
and help them become more
profitable, create new entrants into
the agriculture industry and
encourage research and development.
-- invested forms. -- invested in
What I want to say to the
ministers are very much welcome the
paper and it talks about having a
greener environment and a better
environment for the future. But will
he also agree with me that part of
the agricultural paper must have the
means of production and good quality
production and being able to
actually increase our food that we
can grow in this country rather than
decrease it as we go forward with
the new British agricultural policy?
I agree with the point of my
honourable friend raises. He and I
both have a background in the
farming industry, we recognise the
importance of this strategically
vital industry for a country. He
will know we have a manifesto
commitment to grow our agricultural
industry and produce more food and
consultation outlines a number of
proposals including improving
productivity and improve research
When will a
decision be made on the
reintroduction of the seasonal
workers scheme so that crops don't
rot in the ground this summer?
honourable gentleman will be aware
that this is an issue on which the
Home Office lead. We do have regular
discussions with Home Office
colleagues on these matters and we
do feeding. The feedback we're
getting from this industry on this
matter. I made clear we are looking
closely at the area of the seasonal
agricultural workers scheme after we
leave the European Union.
the food produced in my constituency
is reliant on supplies of fish. Can
we have an assurance that the fish
and history will not be sold out in
these negotiations as they were in
the 1970s? -- the fish industry.
have been clear that when we leave
the EU we leave the Common fisheries
policy, which means that under
international law, the conventional
law of the sea, we would come an
independent coastal state and we
both managed fisheries resources in
our exclusive economic zone and
manage access to our own waters.
ask how to ensure that farm
subsidies after Brexit will remain
targeted at full production? -- can
I ask how to ensure?
maintain the total spending we have
on agriculture and the farmed
environment until 2022 and we have
also been clear, and our paper
asserts itself, there will be a
transitional period as we move from
an incoherent system of area
payments that we have now to one
that is focused on the delivery of
public good. We recognise there will
need to be a gradual transition from
the old system to the new.
Common Agricultural Policy has been
a disaster for the British dairy
industry because it was designed in
interests of French farmers, not
British farmers. How can we put this
right after Brexit?
friend makes an important point. The
Common Agricultural Policy has all
sorts of inconsistencies. Having a
one size fits all agricultural
policy for the whole EU makes no
sense, and taking back control of
these matters, we will have the
freedom to design and agricultural
policy that works for our own
Can I say first how
relieved I am that the member made
it here today to ask this important
question! But when the Secretary of
State looks at how best to support
food producers, he should be aware
that deaf's own figures show that
64% of farmers earn less than
£10,000 per year. -- Defra's own
figures. Recent figures also show
that farmers receive less than 10%
of the value of their produce sold
in supermarkets. Can they Secretary
of State or the minister today tell
me please what he's doing to tackle
this clearly inequitable and
I think the
honourable lady makes an important
point, which is that if we want to
move to a position where farmers are
no longer dependent on subsidies, it
is important we support them to come
together collaboratively and
strengthen their position in the
supply chain to get a fairer price
for the food they produce. We
recently outlined a series of
proposals to have a statutory code
and airy and to have a statutory
approach to carcass classification
on sheep together with a range of
other options. -- a statutory code
I've had a regular
dialogue with ministers in the
Department for business, energy and
industrial strategy regarding the
role of the adjudicator and we
recently had a call for evidence on
this matter. In response to that, we
set out a range of measures to
improve fairness in the supply chain
and strengthen the position of
farmers and small producers.
the page chair of the trustees of
the fair trade organisation
tradecraft. We are the had high
hopes for this to protect farmers
from cancellations of unpaid orders,
deduction of invoices. Minister
started I think 18 months ago, there
was the farming paper last month
promised fairness in the supply
chain, but hopes were dashed with
the announcement last month of no
change for the remit of the
adjudicator. Why are ministers
failing to take action?
accept that there was no change, as
I said a little earlier. We've
announced a package of measures
including a £10 million
collaboration funds to help farmers
and small producers come together, a
compulsory milk contract legislation
so that dairy farms are protected, a
compulsory sheep carcass
classification, commitments to
making supply chain data easy to
access, to improve transparency and
market integrity, and also a
commitment to review whether more
retailers should come under the
remit of the GTA.
I hear what the
minister says, but given the vast
majority of producers and consumers
are keen to strengthen the grocery
code adjudicator, why would you do
it? We are happy to help on this
site, if you just makes the move to
save he is prepared to strengthen
the code. -- why won't he do it?
found a lot of the evidence was in
particularly vulnerable sectors like
dairy and some of the other
livestock sectors who often end up
becoming prize takers because they
don't have sufficient strength to
deal with large processors. It is
less an issue of the supermarkets,
more an issue of those processors.
And we decided a better way to take
this forward is to introduce other
statutory codes that target the
problem rather than change the GCA.
With your permission, I wish to grip
the following questions, four, six
and 13. An independent working group
was set up as part of the strategy
for England to hold a call for
evidence on promoting recycling,
which received evidence on the
impact of deposit returns games.
I've recently received a report and
considering their recommendations.
We know that 15 million plastic
bottles at a panel of recycled in
this country. We also know a deposit
returns game can increase recycling.
Can I ask the Government, help their
going to introduce this scheme after
this report -- I hope they're going
to, but can ask if they will
introduce a scheme that will take
all containers of all sizes, not
just on the go from kiosks unbending
Part of the evidence that was
submitted included that councils
offer combines of recycling --
suggested that councils offer
combines of recycling service at the
kerb-side. But I would say we need
stickers and this approach
carefully. There is an appetite to
have such duress but the skins we
are seen in other parts of Europe
are very different and we need one
that will work for this country. --
there is an appetite have such a DRS
but the schemes we have seen.
many places the streets and indeed
lives are inundated with a flood of
bottles, bags, food packets, crisp
packets, turning environment into a
dumping ground. Will the Minister
take action urgently and stopped
nine local authorities like
Newcastle City Council the powers
and resources to tackle the problem?
-- stop denying local authorities.
Franco, and this problem, the
Government is rubbish. -- frankly,
on this problem.
I think this
question was a complete waste of
space. But the honourable lady
refers to Paris, this Government has
given councils the power saving
asking for an order to tackle this.
So I think she's being rather
ungenerous in what progress is being
made. In terms of plastic, I would
say, plastic does have a role in
making sure we have safe packaging
but it has become negative, and that
is that we will consider carefully.
In my constituency, we have litter
picking groups, and we're seeing
loads of areas where plastic bottles
and glass bottles, bushy introduce a
deposit returns game for a plastic
and glass container so we can avoid
this plague plastic? -- plastic and
all other containers.
tossed litter our litter louts. I
reach a phrase, don't be a toss,
because it does not help society to
drop litter anywhere. Let us get
real about how we need to tackle
that. I commend the work that Keep
Britain Tidy does in encouraging
litter collections. However, the
honourable lady is right we need to
sort out the issue in the first
place. This is why this day consider
very carefully as part of our
resources waste strategy.
International Women's Day, I would
like to be a bit more consensual and
asked the minister to put the
campaign by female colleagues to
give up plastics relent and the
Church of England's initiative on
practical suggestions for something
we can do on every one of the 40
days. I would like to ask the
minister she had given up something
plastic from land, and will she join
us in writing to manufacturers for
whom there is no alternative to
plastic to find a sustainable
Of course a Church Commissioner
would call upon God and the Church
of England to inspire us.
I am also one of the people who has
taken the pledge to try to give up
something plastic for Lent.
I pledged to carry a water bottle
around in my handbag - I am not
going to produce a prop,
Mr Speaker - and I have had
to sacrifice my Marmite
in the Tea Room because it is only
sold in plastic sachets.
We are all looking forward
to the proposals from Parliament,
because this does matter.
The campaigns on passing on plastic
and giving up plastic for Lent
are partly about behavioural
change among consumers.
I believe that companies
are starting to respond
and we are starting to see changes,
but the more consumers demand this,
the quicker action will happen
in the marketplace.
I assure the House that this
Government will take action.
A deposit return scheme is not just
about raising recycling rates;
it is also about educating
and raising awareness
among the public about
the need to be responsible.
In that vein, will the Minister
join me in praising the many towns
Falmouth, Penzance, Bude,
and many others―that have
declared their aims to become
single-use plastic free?
Does she agree that Cornwall
is leading the way in raising
awareness of this issue?
As ever, my honourable friend
is passionate about this
cause; I know that he has
been championing it.
Of course I applaud those many towns
and communities in Cornwall
for wanting to do the right thing.
In Ashbourne over the past four
days, tens of thousands of plastic
bottles of water have been handed
out by Severn Trent
because of its failure
to reconnect the water supply.
At the moment, the compensation
level is £30 a day,
which is woefully inadequate.
Will she look at the specific case
As I announced to the House
the other day, I have asked Ofwat
to undertake a review.
I have also encouraged water
companies to improve
the compensation that they
could discretionally offer.
I expect that Severn Trent
is already responding
to the call from my friend.
It is the plastic particles we do
not see that should be the biggest
concern. A recent report found that
in one metre of melted Arctic sea
ice, there were hundreds of plastic
articles. This is why we should take
this urgently and it should be about
how we do it, not if, if she is
consulting on it.
has taken strong action on banning
Michael plastics -- banning Micro
plastics. One of the points he
refers to is this is a global matter
and that is why we work hard with
other nations, through different
forums, other agencies with the UN
and our Commonwealth companies that
we will be meeting with.
our approach to future environment
policy was set out in our published
25 year environment plan. Our
approach was published in our
consultation last week and our
approach to trade negotiations was
outlined in a speech with the Prime
Minister last week. All of these
policies are being developed at the
I thank him for the
answer but does he agree there
should be a common framework for
environmental standards across the
whole of the United Kingdom after
Well, as the honourable lady
will be aware, through the EU
withdrawal well, we are putting
through all of the EU legislation as
it pertains to the environment. My
right honourable friend also
outlined plans for an environmental
body and we are in discussion with
the devolved administrations about
their involvement and the UK
framework in these matters.
Park keeper or food producer―
whatever the future for farming
is going to be, does my hon.
Friend agree that it
must be possible to earn
a living out of farming?
I very much agree
who has a lot of experience
in these matters
and an understanding
of the industry.
He is absolutely right.
There will be parts of the country
where some farmers choose to do more
by way of delivering environmental
outcomes, and in other
parts they may focus
more on food production.
Either way, we want a vibrant,
profitable farming industry
across our country.
In the Prime Minister s speech last
Friday, she said that there would be
no compromise on environmental
standards and animal welfare
standards, which was welcome.
What guarantees can the Minister
give to Welsh and UK farm producers
that they will not be disadvantaged
by lower-standard food
entering the UK market
following post-Brexit trade deals?
Both my right honourable
friend the Secretary of State
and I have always been consistently
clear that we will not
lower our high animal welfare
standards and high food standards
in this country in pursuit
of a trade deal.
It shows what we are doing to reduce
harmful pressures and those
activities that affect the marine
environment. Our fishermen are
strong custodians of fishing
environments and fishing grips in my
constituency are looking forward to
leaving the disastrous fishing
policy. Leaving the European Union
provides people in the UK with a sea
of opportunity are part of that is
protecting the marine environment so
that it supports the
fishing industry for many years to
We will be leaving the common
fisheries policy next year when we
leave the European Union and this
gives us the opportunity to manage
the fisheries that we have.
final straw Solent is a group whose
activity is reducing plastic. Will
she join me in congratulating the
work and improving the Marine
Thank you, Mr Speaker.
I do commend the organisers of the
final straw Solent. It matters we
have local action. We need to have
wider action to stop people from
dropping their litter. We should
also look across the other side of
the Solent to Damon MacArthur --
dame. She is a champion of the
environment and doing a lot of work
to make sure we have a reduction in
What about coral?
Speaker, not a lot of people know
this but we do have some of the most
spectacular coral reefs in the world
in these islands. The art is
protected feature of the Marine zone
and the Scottish Government is also
protecting coral. We have engaged
with the initiatives and we are
seeking ways to promote the
importance at the meeting next
Mr Speaker, may I ask her not
to be too broke real on this, this
is a global challenge and we have an
association meeting coming up in
London. Is it not about time her and
her boss got there, made common
cause, crossed the 52 nations to do
something on a global scale that is
Well, Mr Speaker, there
are now 53 Commonwealth nations
since they joined last month. We are
working with our Commonwealth
nations to have an ambitious blue
charger which will focus on the
challenges he sets out.
My honourable friend is right that
the threats to our oceans are
international, not national. It is
good to take action on plastics
locally but the threatening of coral
reefs and plastic in the seed do
call for international action. What
leadership will this Government
I would like to think the
United Kingdom is the reader on this
issue is. As they said to the
honourable gentleman, this is an
international matter. That is why it
recently I've been to the United
States and Canada working with
Canada as the presidency of the G-7
this year, we are working on this
and this is the top of the agenda
Thank you, Mr
Speaker. The last question on the
25th of January I as the Secretary
of State, giving all of the times,
when is it going and when? For the
people of the Western Isles and the
south-west of England can enjoy the
products of the fishing every day. I
said, good dodge and she said, thank
you. I wonder if we can get an
answer. Given the times the UK
Government say they will take from
the European Union, when is it going
The Government is still
seeking a trade deal in the future
but he should also be aware of other
countries like Norway and Iceland
who are independent states, they
have control of their waters and the
annual negotiations for sheer stocks
and we are part of that negotiation.
Leaving the European
Union provides UK to improve the
profitability of the agriculture
sector. In our document we set out
an approach to support that
objective and the other seeking the
views of industry on a range of
views to improve the competitiveness
of the farming industry. Since it is
International Women's Day, can I
congratulate the first ever woman
president of the National Farmer
May I join him in that
sentiment. Brexit is the greatest
threat to Scottish farming. Given
that Scotland has higher rates of
capital funding and the types of
farming that can take place in
Scotland are very specific, will he
commit here and now to be sure no
subsidies are cut to Scotland after
The honourable lady will be
aware that it is our intention that
agricultural policy and the divine
of individual schemes will very much
be the matter for the devolved
administration. I hope and look
forward to the proposals from the
Scottish Government. We have offered
to share our proposals with them so
they can learn from our analysis.
am proud that asparagus from my
region has been given protected
status. It helps used sales. We'll
be stated still be recognised post
Vale of Evesham asparagus obviously
has a fantastic reputation
across our country and,
indeed, around the world.
On protected food names,
our intention is that the existing
legislation will come
across through the
European Union Bill.
Third countries can already seek
designations for the EU market,
and the designations we already have
in the UK will be protected
through our domestic legislation.
The Member for Caithness,
Sutherland and Easter Ross
is surprisingly shy
and self-effacing this morning.
We are unlikely to reach
Question 12, so if the hon
gentleman wants to favour the House
with his thoughts on this question,
which is not dissimilar to his own,
he is welcome to do so.
Thank you, Mr Speaker.
One way to make small farms viable
is to add value to their product.
I was brought up on a small dairy
farm, and my brother is now
a successful cheesemaker,
it is rather good cheese.
Will the Minister undertake
to instruct his officials
to encourage small farms to go down
this route and, as and when best
practice is developed, will it be
shared with the Scottish Government,
because in my case this is,
of course, a devolved matter?
We recognise the importance
of our small family farms,
and we also recognise that some
of them may face more
challenges in a transition
from the old system
to the future one.
In our paper, we set out detailed
proposals on a gradual transition
to give them time to prepare,
and we also set out a number
of measures to help to support
productivity, add value and get
a fairer price for their products.
We would of course be more
than happy to share our proposals
with the Scottish Government.
Shrubs are farmers are pleased with
some of the mood music. --
Shropshire. Will the Minister commit
to come to the Shropshire short list
your? One of his senior officials as
well to continue that dialogue with
I thank my honourable
friend for that invitation and I or
another minister would be delighted
to attend the show this year. It
will be an important opportunity to
engage with the industry. We are
firmly committed to maintaining and
improving our world leading animal
welfare standards. Our paper sets
out options as we are leaving the
European Union, pilot schemes that
deliver higher welfare outcomes. We
are also reducing higher animal
welfare for chicken, hens and pics.
I thank the Minister for the answer.
There are circumstances where
somebody who has been charged with
serious animal welfare licensed has
been able to receive the new
license, leading to cases of cruelty
and neglect. Does the Minister agree
that anyone charged with the most
serious animal welfare offences
should not be allowed to get new
livestock. Will he meet with me and
the council to discuss this matter?
The animal welfare act gives courts
the power to impose it as occasion
order on anyone found guilty of
causing unnecessary suffering to
animals. This can disqualify someone
from winning and keeping animals
themselves, but crucially from
having any influence in the way an
animal is kept. If someone is
suspected of breaching the times,
they should report the matter to the
authorities. That is a difference
which someone has been charged but
not yet prosecuted. However, I would
be happy to meet my honourable
friend to discuss this matter
The Minister will be aware
of long-standing public health
concerns about the routine overuse
of antibiotics on UK farms. We now
hear that an American farms, they
are five times higher, especially in
beef production. What conversations
is he having with colleagues in the
health Department Munich that
opening the market to US -- meaning
that opening the market does not
mean we have health problems in this
We have reduced the
antibiotic use in agriculture in
this country, notably in the
portrait industry. We have been
clear that we went to support
approaches that will enable us to
reduce and the optics further. As I
said earlier, we will not compromise
our food standards and animal
welfare standards in pursuit of any
Mr Speaker, game is an
important part of our heritage and
it is a drop in menus and is served
on many establishment.
It was worth
£9 million in 2016. We have no
specific plans to promote the meat
but we continue to raise the profile
of UK food and drink overseas under
the food is great campaign.
him for his response. You will be
well aware that the game factors,
there were some hundred and 14
million. He will also be aware that
the European market and France in
particular, the market has fallen.
Can I as a minister will he be
prepared to look at introducing and
promoting game across the far east
and especially China, because there
is a market that is crying out for
I regularly take part in trade
delegations with the UK Government,
and a couple of years ago I attended
the Anuga food conference
in Cologne, where there
was a producer and exporter
of UK game meat.
I am happy to meet the honourable
gentleman and consider his
proposals in this area.
Since the last DEFRA questions,
the Department has continued to work
on plans for our departure
from the European Union and we have
published our Command Paper
on future agricultural policy.
We have laid legislation
to introduce mandatory
CCTV in slaughterhouses,
taking forward our agenda
to enhance animal welfare.
Parliament has also recently debated
and passed legislation to strengthen
laws on combating litter.
Remainers and leavers agree that
one of the very worst
aspects of our EU membership
is the common fisheries policy.
Can the Minister confirm
that we are leaving it
on 29 March next year,
that the British fishing industry
can be relaunched as a result,
and that he will not trade
away our newly re-won sovereignty
over fishing in the interests
of a wider trade deal?
We have always been clear that
when we leave the European Union,
we leave the common fisheries policy
and become an independent coastal
state under international law.
There are, of course,
always annual negotiations―even
for countries outside the EU―to
agree an approach on the management
of shared stocks, and we envisage
that such meetings will continue.
I can confirm that the UK
Government's view is that there
is a trade discussion to take place.
We want a free trade
agreement and a fisheries
discussion to take place,
and we want to take back
control of our waters.
Last week's freezing
temperatures caused chaos
to water supplies this week.
Households in London
were among those hardest hit,
with customers widely reporting
a systemic failure by Thames Water
to comply with its legal obligation
to provide ten litres of water
per person for every day that
a customer is disconnected.
Will the Minister confirm that
that was the case and, if so,
when the Department was notified,
as is the requirement?
What actions does she intend to take
against companies that fail
to meet that obligation?
As I said in my recent
statement to the House,
I have ordered Ofwat to undertake
a review of what has been happening.
I ?have asked for a report to be
made available ― there might be
an interim one by the end of this
month ― and I will be
able to update the honourable
lady after that.
I hope that we can ensure that water
is getting to customers
who are still without connected
water supply this week.
Given that executives at the top
nine water and sewage companies
in England earned a combined total
of nearly £23 million in 2017
and those companies have paid out
£18.1 billion in dividends
since 2006, but that Ofwat
has already said that
taking action on pay,
dividends and tax structures is not
in its current thinking,
what is the Government's plan
to rebalance executive pay
with investment in infrastructure
and resilience and to get a grip
on our water companies if Ofwat has
said it does not intend to do so?
As we set out in our strategic
policy statement to Ofwat,
there is an expectation
of the increased investment that
needs to be made by the industry,
and the price review is under way.
Water companies will be coming out
with their consultation,
but when my right honourable
friend the Secretary of State spoke
to the water industry
at Water UK a few weeks ago,
he read it the riot act.
He has said that he will give Ofwat
whatever powers it needs
so that the water companies
will up their game.
In my constituency, plastic
debris is often washed up
on the town's beach,
harming the local ecosystem
and damaging tourism.
Does my honourable
friend agree that reducing
plastic waste is essential
for the regeneration
of Britain's seaside towns?
As a child I lived in Formby,
so I visited Southport many times.
friend is right that
plastic does not belong
on the beach or in the sea.
I commend the work that has been
done, but he will be aware
of our ongoing measures to reduce
the amount of plastic entering
the ocean and, therefore,
being left on our beaches.
The Committee on Toxicity
is reviewing the most recent
research on folic acid.
If it advises the Government
that the maximum recommended intake
should be increased or abolished,
will the Minister commit
to following the scientific
evidence, and successful practice
in other countries, by amending
bread and flour regulations
to require the fortification
of flour with folic acid,
which reduces neural tube defects?
lady will be aware that this issue
is shared between the Department
of Health and Social Care
and the Department for Environment,
Food and Rural Affairs.
The former leads on folic acid
and we lead on labelling issues.
It is the case that there
is a complexity in EU law.
EU regulations now require that
all products that have flour
must include labelling.
That creates burdensome
problems for the industry,
but if there is a recommendation,
we will look at it sensibly.
Once we leave the EU,
we will have an opportunity to adopt
a slightly different approach.
What has the Minister done to stop
our songbirds from being trapped
and eaten in Cyprus?
My right honourable
friend raises a very
We are part of an international
convention on migratory species.
Illegal trapping in Cyprus has been
a long-running sore.
I commend the Ministry of Defence,
police and the Armed Forces
at the sovereign base in Cyprus
for working so hard
to tackle this issue.
The Royal Society for the Protection
of Birds has shown that there has
been a 70% fall in the amount
of illegal poaching.
I am so glad that
the right honourable
Gentleman does not represent
a migratory species,
and I doubt that proposition
would be the subject
of a Division of the House.
In the light of the Secretary
of State's warning to water
companies to address public concerns
on prices, is he aware of the nine
water companies that are committed
to the Keep Me Posted campaign
to ensure that consumers
have the right to choose paper
bills and statements?
Customers can choose
to keep paper bills.
Water companies, like many other
companies, tend to offer a discount
if people choose to switch
to electronic communication,
but I am sure that customers can
take this matter up directly
through the Consumer Council
for Water if it is proving
to be a problem.
Earlier this week, thousands
of my constituents had their water
shut off by Southern Water due
to poor winter preparedness.
What discussions has the Department
had with the water industry
and Ofwat, the regulator,
to ensure that this does not
happen in future winters?
Officials have been in regular touch
with the water companies,
and on Tuesday, I convened a meeting
of water company chief executives,
Ofwat and Water UK.
As I announced to the House,
I have asked Ofwat to undertake
a review to look into
the practices that happened.
The Command Paper includes the line:
"We will adopt a trade
approach which promotes lower prices
for consumers", which
I find rather worrying.
Is it not the case that food prices
are already historically low?
Lower prices will not do anything
for British farmers.
We need good-quality,
affordable and healthy food,
not a race to the bottom
to get ever cheaper food.
The point that we are making
is that in the long term,
there may be opportunities
in certain sectors, particularly
for food that we are unable
to produce in this country,
to have lower prices
for certain products.
However, the honourable
lady makes an important point.
Generally, we have low and stable
food prices in this country,
and countries that are fully
dependent on importing
all their food tend to have higher
prices and less choice.
Given the intention to use
public money to promote
public good, does my honourable
friend agree that as well as
rewarding farmers for looking
after ?the environment,
we should support growers
who contribute to public health
by growing healthy fruit
friend makes a very important
point - as a former fruit
and vegetable grower,
I should perhaps declare
an interest - and she
is absolutely right.
We believe that our future policy,
in so far as it supports innovation,
will be open to the horticulture
sector so that it can invest
in its future, and we also talk
about the importance of promoting
The Government said in court
that they considered
it sufficient to take "a pragmatic,
less formal approach"
to areas of poor air quality.
Portsmouth has consistently breached
World Health Organisation
guidelines, with 95 premature deaths
each year attributed
to air pollution.
Does the Minister therefore consider
it appropriate to take an informal
approach to preventing deaths
and protecting the health
of my constituents?
I think that the honourable
gentleman is selectively
quoting from the judgment.
However, this Government take air
quality very seriously.
Portsmouth is expected to be
compliant within the next
two to three years.
The Government have been
using the benchmark of a charging
clean air zone, which would take
at least four years
to come into place.
He might well be shaking his head,
but he needs to be working
with his council on what it is doing
to improve local roads
and what it is working
on regarding public health.
I am sure that he will work
alongside Councillor Donna Jones,
who is making great efforts
to improve air quality.
The EU Commission's position
on fisheries has been widely
reported in the last 24 hours.
It states that "existing reciprocal
access to fishing waters
and resources should be maintained".
It also seems to suggest that any
future trade deal will be heavily
dependent on EU fishermen
maintaining the current unfair
access to British waters.
Agreeing to this position is clearly
unacceptable to fishing
communities around the UK.
Will my honourable
friend confirm that the Government
consider the EU's position to be
just as unacceptable?
I simply say to my honourable
friend that this is an EU position.
It currently benefits considerably
from access to UK waters.
At the moment, the UK fleet accesses
around 100,000 tonnes
of fish in EU waters,
but the EU accesses 700,000 tonnes
of fish in UK waters,
so it would say that, wouldn't it?
That is not a position
that the UK Government share.
I draw the Minister's attention
to the very serious oil spill
stretching from Pymmes brook
in my constituency right down
the River Lea to the Olympic Park.
This has happened for
the second time in two years.
Is it not time for the Environment
Agency, the Canal & River Trust,
the local authorities
and Thames Water to get together,
once they have cleaned up the spill,
to see what they can do to prevent
I have already replied
to the right honourable
gentleman about this
point through answers
to written questions.
The Environment Agency has
traced the waste oil
to a potential polluter,
but I cannot give further details
due to the ongoing investigation.
I assure him that the Environment
Agency carries out pollution
prevention visits at industrial
premises along that area and,
of course, we are still
working to clean it up.
Last week's Brexit paper referred
to the availability of food,
but made zero reference
to the scandal that one in 12
British adults had gone
a whole day without it.
Why do the Government not care
about people going hungry?
We do care about
people going hungry.
We have a number of initiatives
to support food banks and ensure
that food is redistributed.
We are also reforming and improving
the benefits system to help
people back into work,
which is obviously the best option.
The Minister will be aware
of the concern expressed
by Northern Ireland farmers
and other food producers
about cross-border trade.
Does the Minister agree
that we need an arrangement that
will accommodate everyone?
I very much agree with
the honourable gentleman.
I met him and a number of others
yesterday to discuss the particular
challenges of the Northern Ireland
border, and I can reassure him
that the Government are fully
apprised of that concern.
Recorded coverage of questions in the House of Commons to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs secretary Michael Gove and his team of ministers, from Thursday 8 March.