A Welsh MP has accused farming groups of being ‘optimistic’ for believing devolved governments will respect UK-wide rules on farming after Brexit.
Glyn Davies, who represents Montgomeryshire, made the remarks during a Welsh Affairs Select Committee hearing.
Dr Nick Fenwick from the Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) had told MPs on the committee a common framework on financial support for farmers would be needed to prevent distortion in the domestic market, while NFU Cymru’s Huw Thomas warned the UK would only be able to sign trade deals in future if common standards were in place.
Responding to their comments, Mr Davies said: “Are we really saying, in an age of devolution, we are not envisaging devolved authorities deciding what is best for them?
“It will cause distortions in the market, but I think we are being a little bit optimistic if we think they are not going to turn up and say ‘this is going to benefit us’, and they are going to do it.
“Do you not think they might object to constraints on their freedom to take decisions they see as right for their devolved country?”
Dr Fenwick told Mr Davies the idea of having common frameworks was not a new plan to ‘restrain’ the devolved nations.
“This is what has happened under the CAP for decades since devolution,” he added.
“The CAP has restrained us – it sets a degree of freedom over how you implement your payment regime, but then if you go over a certain threshold, it is not allowed.”
Mr Thomas also emphasised there was a ‘wide consensus’ the frameworks would be needed.
“We could see perhaps a bit of a pick and mix in terms of how this might work, depending on what the matter is,” he said.
“If it is something of the highest order, it might need a legislative basis, but other things could probably be achieved via memoranda of understanding between the devolved Governments and the UK Government.
“I think we should be looking towards memoranda wherever we can get them, because this accommodates and respects devolution better than a heavy-handed legislative approach.”
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