Ministers are coming under increasing pressure to allow Parliament to approve any post-Brexit trade deals covering agri-food.
The chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Efra) Select Committee, Neil Parish, told Farmers Guardian he had tabled a new amendment to the Agriculture Bill which would force the Government to put a ‘draft negotiating mandate’ to MPs when starting talks for any new trade deals.
He made the remarks during the first episode of FG’s new podcast, Ploughing Through Brexit.
A second amendment tabled by Mr Parish would require the Secretary of State to get approval from Parliament before any new agreement could be signed.
He said: “I am putting down some more amendments as we speak to get the Government to have to go before Parliament, a bit like the Senate in America, before they do a trade deal. Then as they go to sign the trade deal, they have got to come back with it and say what they have actually agreed.
“We will export our industry if we import foods which do not meet [domestic] standards, because you will put our higher standards of welfare out of business.
“Animal welfare will suffer globally. We have got to try and wake up to the situation.”
Mr Parish went on to say he hoped the amendments would be picked up in the House of Lords, where peers have already threatened a radical overhaul of the Bill.
Brexit director at the NFU Nick von Westenholz, who was also a guest on the podcast, supported the idea of more parliamentary oversight of new trade deals.
“It is something we argued for on the Trade Bill,” he said.
“There actually needs to be a requirement for Parliament to sign these things off, which there is not going to be at the moment.”
He added he would like to see much more detail from Government on how they intend to deal with the problem of sub-standard food imports.
“If the Government cannot do it through legislation, for whatever reason, then what other tools are at its disposal,” he said.
“We really need to understand the details and have a proper transparent, detailed policy statement and debate around it.”
Listen to Ploughing Through Brexit on FG’s Brexit hub HERE.