Debates between Lord Northbrook and Lord Gardiner of Kimble during the 2019 Parliament

Tue 14th Jul 2020
Agriculture Bill
Lords Chamber

Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard): House of Lords

Agriculture Bill

Debate between Lord Northbrook and Lord Gardiner of Kimble
Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
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I apologise to the noble Baroness, but the only way that I can reply to that is to repeat that the whole construct of this is to ensure that farming with food production and enhancing the environment go hand in hand. There is obviously a limited sum of money. The noble Baroness and other noble Lords have said that we must be careful that we do not make this Bill a Christmas tree affair by adding everything on—so we need to be pragmatic.

The area where we have not hitherto rewarded farmers is in relation to the purposes set out in Clause 1(1)(a) to (j). They are considerable projects that will, in the end, help us to produce even better food. If one were to start rewarding food production, it would drive a coach and horses through the construct of the Bill, which is that produce is created by the farmer, for which they receive money. They do not often receive money for the projects in paragraphs (a) to (j). We think, looking at the British taxpayer, that this is the best way of reflecting that we need food production for which the farmer receives payment, and in Chapter 2 we recognise that we need to address fairer arrangements for the farmer. But this is better than, in effect, having a direct payment for the food you produce when you are already being paid whatever you sell your wheat or your milk for. We can have a discussion about that price, but in terms of the taxpayer rewarding and acknowledging farmers, we think that subsections (1)(a) to (j) and (2)(a) and (b) are the right way forward.

Lord Northbrook Portrait Lord Northbrook
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I thank the Minister for his detailed response to the group. I think he has answered my question. Is what he has just said the reason why he does not approve of Amendment 60—because it does not directly support domestic production financially?

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
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My Lords, I will have to look again at Amendment 60. The construct is about where, following the Health and Harmony consultation we undertook, it was decided that we should recognise support for farmers in a post-CAP world. It was recognised that we needed to put food production and food security in the Bill, and we have put them in. This is the difficulty when you have improvements in iterations. They were valuable new iterations, but the point about rewarding food production is that, with better fair dealing, the farmer gets a reward from the market. They do not as yet for the purposes in Clause 1(1)(a) to (j), and we think that is where the reward should be.