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MPs call on Trade and Brexit Ministers to explain how they will protect farming

MPs have demanded International Trade Secretary Liam Fox and Brexit Secretary David Davis appear before them to discuss the work they have been doing to protect farming.



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Brexit Secretary David Davis
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MPs call on Trade and Brexit Ministers to explain how they will protect farming

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee has called on the Ministers to give evidence as part of its latest inquiry into food trade.

 

Defra Secretary Michael Gove is also set to be questioned alongside experts on the World Trade Organisation (WTO), retailers, food processors and farming organisations.

 

The inquiry will look at the impact possible UK-EU trade options could have on different farming sectors, as well as exploring how Government can help improve food production and reduce trading costs post-Brexit.

 

Assurances

 

Committee chairman Neil Parish said: “We will be taking witnesses, including Ministers, to get assurances on how farming will be protected and to make sure agriculture is at the forefront of any future trade deals.

 

“We have got to drill down to find out whether Ministers are just paying lip service or whether they are really keen to protect agriculture.

 

“The Secretary of State [Michael Gove] talks about the environment a lot, which is very important, but he does not talk so much about food production and agriculture and I want to be reassured it is on his agenda.”

 

Confidence

 

Asked whether he had confidence that the Government would take the committee’s recommendations on board, Mr Parish said he believed a good report with common sense ideas would be taken seriously.

 

“I hold my hands up and say I cannot guarantee everything in the select committee report will become Government policy”, he added.

 

“But select committees do serious work and are treated as serious players. It becomes an embarrassment for the Government if they have to go against what a select committee wants, so we might not have direct powers, but we have powers of embarrassment.”

 

Wins

 

Pointing to his committee’s policy wins in the areas of flooding and animal welfare, Mr Parish went on: “What usually happens is Government comes on board indirectly later.

 

“They do not like to change policy when a select committee tells them to because that means they lose face. You have to feed in information, sow seeds and then see them come to fruition.

 

“I will do my damnedest to make sure this report does not just sit gathering dust.”


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