Trade Bill: Bishop of St Albans backs amendments on food and environmental standards

On Tuesday 6th October 2020 the House of Lords considered the Government’s Trade Bill in Committee. The Bishop of St Albans spoke in support of amendments on securing food and environmental standards in future trade deals:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans [V]:  My Lords, I plan to say a few words on Amendment 20, moved by the noble Lord, Lord Grantchester. I am also sympathetic to Amendments 23, 25 and 26.​

Food production and environmental standards, as well as the safety that they enshrine, are crucial to a healthy agricultural sector that seeks to mitigate the dangers arising from poor practices and the low-quality products they produce. Ensuring continuity has been a big priority for a number of Members. Issues surrounding the responsible administration of antibiotics to livestock, for example, are not national issues but global public health ones. Despite the Bill covering existing trading arrangements, we should not forget that the raison d’être for leaving the European Union was the assertion of our sovereignty. It is therefore right that the existing arrangements, conducted while we were in the EU, ought to be scrutinised by the relevant departments to ensure that the UK does not inadvertently undermine measures to achieve reductions in the risk of disease or contamination—or, indeed, targets for antibiotic reduction.

This by no means seeks to discredit trading arrangements made while we were in the EU, which I am confident already abide by the regulations set forth in Amendment 20. However, the scrutiny put forward in this amendment will guarantee this and ensure that the UK reinstates its commitments to the environment, food standards and a safe and healthy agriculture sector globally through its existing trading partners. I look forward to hearing what reassurances the Minister can give us on this group of amendments, particularly on whether there is some way in which the broad drift of what many of them try to get at can be brought back in the hope that we do not have to table specific amendments on Report.

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