Thank you to everyone who has contacted me about the protection of UK environmental, animal welfare and food safety standards and child health in future trade deals. I have received a lot of campaign emails on this, demonstrating the strength of feeling among Lewisham Deptford constituents. I am happy to confirm that I also support the #SaveOurStandards campaign.
While the UK Government’s Trade Bill and Agriculture Bill have been making their way through Parliament, I have consistently supported amendments to safeguard the UK’s high animal welfare, environmental and public health standards.
Unfortunately, however, despite a manifesto commitment not to compromise on these standards in future trade negotiations, the UK Government has not put this commitment into law. The Agriculture Bill, for example, does nothing to prevent British farmers from being undercut in post-Brexit trade deals with countries with lower animal welfare, environmental and food safety standards.
I am therefore pleased the bill was amended in the House of Lords to provide legal protection against the import of food produced to lower standards. An amendment was also passed to strengthen the Trade and Agriculture Commission by requiring it to produce a report making recommendations to safeguard in international trade policy our current standards of food production relating to animal welfare, the environment and food safety.
The Agriculture Bill, as amended, would require a report by the Trade and Agriculture Commission on the implications for British food standards of each individual trade deal agreement agreed, negotiated or concluded by the UK Government, and allow Parliament to vote on each report. I believe the Commission should exist on a permanent statutory basis.
In addition, I back the Lords amendment on a National Food Strategy which would introduce a statutory duty on the UK Government to publish a National Food Strategy providing a roadmap towards a more sustainable and healthy food production system in the UK. One of the requirements would be to consider improving children’s diets, and I have long supported action to tackle childhood obesity and enforce stricter rules around junk food advertising.
I will be backing the amendments secured to the Agriculture Bill and am committed to supporting our British farmers and protecting our high standards and the health of our children in future trade deals, so that we continue to have high quality food on our plates.