Thank you to everyone who contacted me ahead of yesterday’s consideration of the Lords amendments to the Agriculture Bill. I know that there is a huge amount of concern about certain aspects of the bill, especially around food standards.
My Labour colleagues and I backed a number of amendments made by colleagues in the Lords which sought to uphold British food and animal welfare standards in future trade deals.
However, the Government dismissed the proposals, stating that they would add “unnecessary layers of complication” to future trade negotiations.
Ahead of the votes, Luke Pollard, our Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said:
“The Government have said they back our British standards and farmers – it’s time to put their money where their mouth is. Ministers keep promising they’ll maintain high animal welfare and environmental standards after Brexit, but there’s still a serious threat that they will drop that promise to get the trade deals they’re so desperate to secure with Donald Trump and others.”
“If the Government are serious about maintaining our high UK standards post-Brexit they should get a guarantee in law, and support Labour’s amendment on Monday to safeguard our standards and back British farmers. To vote out their own manifesto commitment to protect food standards from their flagship food and agriculture Bill is absurd.”
Keir Starmer also wrote to the Prime Minister last week asking him to back British farmers by supporting Labour’s proposals to protect the UK from lower standard food imports after Brexit.
Unfortunately, despite rebellions from several prominent Tories, none of the amendments passed. The bill will now go back and forth between the Commons and the Lords as part of the ‘ping pong’ process to resolve policy disagreements between the two chambers.
These are the results of the votes on the three amendments:
Lords Amendment 11, which sought to limit the use of pesticides to protect the public, was voted down by 347 votes to 212.
Lords Amendment 16, which aimed to maintain British food standards in trade deals, was voted down by 332 votes to 279.
Lords Amendment 17, which sought to improve environmental protections, was voted down by 344 votes to 206.