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Concerns over TAC powers remain despite Government concession

Concerns have been raised about the membership and powers of the beefed-up Trade and Agriculture Commission (TAC).

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Concerns over TAC powers remain despite Government concession

This week, Trade Secretary Liz Truss announced the body would be put on a statutory footing, giving it a legal responsibility to scrutinise future trade deals.

 

The commission will be tasked with producing a report on the impact on animal welfare and agriculture of each agreement the Government signs after the end of the Brexit transition period on January 1, in time for the start of a 21-day scrutiny process in Parliament.

 

But under the terms set out by the Government, these legal responsibilities will be reviewed every three years.

 

And the concession still does not allow MPs to amend trade deals or give them a vote on specific arrangements.


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Food and farming alliance Sustain warned the commission’s reports on individual trade deals should cover food standards, antibiotic use, food safety and the environment, as well as animal welfare and agriculture, and sounded a note of caution about the body’s membership.

 

In a statement, the group said: “We have not seen the detailed legal text yet, so do not know who will be on it or how it will work.

 

“There were already major gaps in the current Trade and Agriculture Commission membership on environmental, small farmer, animal welfare and public health expertise.”

 

Farmers Union of Wales (FUW) deputy president Ian Rickman described the move to put the body on a legal footing as a ‘welcome step’ towards better scrutiny of trade deals.

 

But he warned the union would need to see the new commission’s terms of reference before fully assessing whether major concerns were addressed by the Government concession.

 

“We are faced with the possibility that trade deals with other countries and trading blocs will allow food to be sold to UK consumers which is currently illegal,” he said.

 

“A number of those negotiations are well underway, for example with the USA, New Zealand and Australia.

 

“It remains to be seen whether the scope of the commission’s new role will extend to fully addressing these major concerns.”

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