Lords back food standards amendment in Agriculture Bill

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

Peers in the House of Lords have voted for the amendments
Peers in the House of Lords have voted for the amendments

Related tags: Brexit

The House of Lords has voted on two amendments to the Agriculture Bill that would mean that imported foods would have to meets domestic standards and the role of the Trade and Agriculture Commission would be strengthened.

Lord Granchester tabled an amendment to the bill that called for “imported food products comply with British domestic standards.” 

While an amendment by Lord Curry, backed by the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), looked to strengthen the role of the newly formed Trade and Agriculture Commission.

In May, the House of Commons voted against an amendment to the UK’s Agriculture Bill that would have guaranteed high standards for food and drink​ entering the country post-Brexit.

In response, more than 1m people  signed a petition​ urging the Government to ensure future trade deals do not lead to an increase in imported foods that would be illegal to produce in the UK.

Following this the Government launched its Trade & Agriculture Commission​ to help protect UK farmers and the food sector.  

Amendment

The NFU said that if the amendment on the Trade and Agriculture Commission goes on to be approved by MPs in the House of Commons in October, the Bill will give the Commission the power to provide Parliament with independent advice about the impact every future trade deal will have on British food and farming standards. 

NFU president Minette Batters said: “It is fantastic that the House of Lords have voted for Lord Curry’s amendment to the Agriculture Bill, which would allow Parliament to be provided with independent advice about the impact every trade deal will have on our food and farming standards. We believe the role of the Trade and Agriculture Commission is crucial to providing proper parliamentary oversight of our future trade policy and it is encouraging to see Peers support this view.” 

Meanwhile, James Russell, president of the British Veterinary Association, said: “This result is a huge win for animal welfare and a decisive vote of confidence in the UK’s farming industry, which works incredibly hard to keep our globally renowned welfare standards high. We have long argued that the UK cannot commit to raising the bar domestically while allowing in goods that don’t meet the high standards that British consumers rightly want and expect.

Imports

“Hopes had been pinned on the House of Lords to hold the Government to account and question how allowing in lower quality imports could possibly enable them to honour their manifesto commitment to maintain and improve on animal health and welfare standards. As vets, we are delighted that peers delivered the right result last night and it is essential that the Government listens.”

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health​ has urged the Government to keep its word on maintaining the UK’s high food standards after it feared a dual-tariff approach would open the door to chlorinated chicken and hormone-fed beef. 

The Agriculture Bill will return to the House of Commons in October. 

Related topics: Brexit

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