An MP from the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee has slammed Defra Secretary Michael Gove’s ‘dismissive attitude’ towards parliamentary scrutiny of the Agriculture Bill.
Penistone and Stocksbridge MP Angela Smith quizzed Mr Gove about what opportunity there would be for pre-legislative scrutiny of the Bill, which takes place while the law is still in draft, during a heated committee hearing last week.
Though the Secretary of State said he wanted to give MPs ‘as much opportunity as possible’ to scrutinise the legislation, he would not promise they would be able to see the Bill before it was published – claiming there would be plenty of time for parliament to debate and amend the Bill afterwards.
The committee did not respond well to this suggestion, as members pointed out pre-legislative scrutiny of the Animal Welfare Bill had highlighted several problems to the Government.
Speaking to Farmers Guardian after the hearing, Ms Smith said: “It is the view of the select committee that pre-legislative scrutiny of the Agriculture Bill is vital, given the importance of this legislation to the future of British farming.
“Rigorous scrutiny produces better legislation and this Bill will see the biggest changes in farming since the accession of the UK to the EU in 1972.
“I was therefore dismayed at Michael Gove’s dismissive attitude on this point and to witness his cavalier behaviour on the topic.
“He really needs to start taking the future of farming a little more seriously.”