Lord Trees debates involving the Department for International Development during the 2019 Parliament

Trade Deals: Animal Welfare

Lord Trees Excerpts
Wednesday 5th February 2020

(1 year, 7 months ago)

Lords Chamber

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Department for International Development
Lord Trees Portrait Lord Trees
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To ask Her Majesty’s Government how they will safeguard animal welfare and environmental standards in negotiating trade deals with respect to livestock products.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Portrait The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Department for International Development (Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park) (Con)
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My Lords, as set out in our manifesto, we will not compromise on our high environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards in our trade negotiations. The Government’s Agriculture Bill sets out our plans to reward farmers for enhancing our natural environment and for safeguarding the nation’s high welfare standards. We will stand firm in trade negotiations to ensure that any future trade deals uphold the standards that farmers and consumers across the UK expect.

Lord Trees Portrait Lord Trees (CB)
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I am grateful to the Minister for that Answer and I welcome him to the Front Bench. I do not doubt the sincerity of Her Majesty’s Government’s assurances, but there is widespread—and, I would suggest, justifiable—concern that our own livestock industry could be out-competed by imports of cheap livestock products from animals reared to poorer welfare and environmental standards. This might mean cheaper food, but it would be at a global cost to animal welfare and the environment and at some risk to our own indigenous livestock enterprise. Will the Government enshrine in UK law their manifesto commitment to require that imports of livestock products meet our high animal welfare and environmental standards?

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Portrait Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
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The UK, as the noble Lord points out, has world-leading environmental and animal welfare standards, and that will not change. They are backed up in legislation and, even more importantly, are backed by both producers and consumers right across the land. There is no value to anyone in imposing high standards here on our own producers if we then allow low-standard imports of those same products. We would merely be undermining our farmers while exporting cruelty elsewhere.