All 4 Chris Stephens debates involving the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Oral Answers to Questions

Chris Stephens Excerpts
Thursday 23rd June 2022

(1 month, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Jo Churchill Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Jo Churchill)
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As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has highlighted, we have witnessed the worst avian flu outbreaks on record in recent months, having sustained 122 cases this year. We will lift restrictions in disease control zones, including those on racing pigeons, as soon as we are able to do so, because of the biosecurity need. This week, we have announced that scientists across the UK will join forces in a major new research consortium to fight against avian flu. I note that my hon. Friend has written to me, so he will get a fuller answer.

Chris Stephens Portrait Chris Stephens (Glasgow South West) (SNP)
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T3. Almost 343,000 meals were redistributed in Glasgow South West thanks to FareShare and other charitable organisations, yet FareShare says that its Government funding has been cut. Does the Secretary of State intend to meet FareShare and concerned Members of the House to discuss its funding, so that we can support its #FoodOnPlates campaign?

George Eustice Portrait George Eustice
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I met FareShare recently to discuss a particular proposal it had around trying to ensure that waste on farms was redistributed where possible. We did increase the funding for FareShare temporarily during the coronavirus pandemic, and we continue to support it, but obviously I will look into the specific case he raises.

Cost of Living and Food Insecurity

Chris Stephens Excerpts
Tuesday 8th February 2022

(6 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
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Jim McMahon Portrait Jim McMahon
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I am happy to clarify the record. I am, of course, referring to the Dulux dog, my favourite being Digby, although everyone has their own favourite.

Let us return to the real task in hand, because as much as we talk about the fun of Parliament and the Prime Minister’s latest crisis and turmoil, this debate is about the people of this country. The people of this country are being ignored while Downing Street is in despair: first, there is the cost of living crisis on food, energy bills and goods; secondly, the universal credit cut, cutting the income of 6 million families; and, finally, putting up taxes on working people and businesses, leaving us with the biggest tax burden for 70 years.

Chris Stephens Portrait Chris Stephens (Glasgow South West) (SNP)
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Is not part of the reason why the Secretary of State is not here perhaps that some of us will ask why the Department has been sitting for 18 months on a report on food bank use and ask what is driving that?

Jim McMahon Portrait Jim McMahon
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There is that, but I have no idea what the Environment Secretary does. I remember going up to Durham at the height of Storm Arwen, when families were disconnected from electricity for two weeks and more. The Environment Secretary, who sits around the Cabinet table with the Prime Minister, did not even turn up, and that matters to people.

--- Later in debate ---
Victoria Prentis Portrait Victoria Prentis
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The food to the vulnerable ministerial taskforce was set up at a particularly frightening time for our country right at the beginning of the pandemic, when, for the first time, we were dealing with people’s access to food not just in terms of paying for it but in terms of physically going out to buy it. The Government had to deal with a whole range of problems that, frankly, I could never have predicted. I am very proud of the work that we did. We worked closely with the devolved Administrations, who were very much part of that taskforce, and we were able to provide help to the shielding and to people who felt unable or were unable to leave home. We also worked closely with retailers at a time when they were under enormous strain.

Chris Stephens Portrait Chris Stephens
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Will the Minister give way?

Victoria Prentis Portrait Victoria Prentis
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No, I am going to conclude now.

The food strategy will be published shortly and I am very much looking forward to bringing the White Paper before the House. We are working on the final draft at the moment, and I very much expect it will be here in weeks, rather than months. It is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a food system that feeds our nation today and protects it for tomorrow. It will build on existing work across Government and identify new opportunities to make the food system healthier, more sustainable, more resilient and more accessible for people across the UK.

Cost of Living and Food Insecurity

Chris Stephens Excerpts
Tuesday 8th February 2022

(6 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
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Victoria Prentis Portrait Victoria Prentis
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With the leave of the House, I would like to thank Members from across the House for sharing the experiences of their constituents this afternoon.

I will start with my hon. Friend the Member for Montgomeryshire (Craig Williams), who made some very important points about growing enough food. We will answer them in the food White Paper and much more in our future farming policies. I undertake that I will continue to work with the Welsh Agriculture Minister, as he suggests.

I thank the hon. Member for Swansea East (Carolyn Harris) for being the sandwich lady everyone deserves. That is a great initiative. She knows that members of my family have been involved in those deprived areas of Swansea for many years. I applaud everything she does.

My hon. Friend the Member for Stourbridge (Suzanne Webb) spoke powerfully on the effects of covid interventions on the economy. My hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent Central (Jo Gideon), who runs the all-party parliamentary group on the national food strategy, referred to a very important quotation from Lord Woolton:

“Feeding is not enough, it must be good feeding.”

My hon. Friend the Member for North West Norfolk (James Wild) shared his experience and spoke with real authority on nuclear energy. My hon. Friend the Member for Peterborough (Paul Bristow) again spoke of his pride in his city and the Peterborough Heroes. I thank them too, as I thank all volunteers working in the food charity space, although I say to the hon. Member for Wirral South (Alison McGovern) that we share many of her views on ending the need for food charity, but we do applaud the volunteers who take part in those endeavours.

To the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne North (Catherine McKinnell), I say that this is a very worrying time for employees at the Fawdon factory. I am told that the Minister for Employment would be delighted to meet her as soon as possible to discuss what support can be put in place for them.

I have met the hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Ian Byrne) many times to discuss his important work in this space, particularly Fans Supporting Foodbanks, which is another great initiative. I will continue to work with him on his pleas for a right to food, although I am not promising yet. If only we could pass a law that would bring food poverty to an end, it would be a wonderful thing, but I am afraid that the challenges before us are more significant than that.

Animal Welfare

Chris Stephens Excerpts
Thursday 30th March 2017

(5 years, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Neil Parish Portrait Neil Parish
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I thank my right hon. Friend for his intervention, and he is absolutely right. I just feel that if we have a stronger sentence and there is more flexibility in the courts, the magistrate will be able to impose that sentence for the very worst of cases. My right hon. Friend is right, but sometimes the current sentence of six months is just not long enough.

Chris Stephens Portrait Chris Stephens (Glasgow South West) (SNP)
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I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on securing this debate. He mentioned the Committee being unanimous. Will he also acknowledge that many constituents across the UK have emailed their MPs and asked them to come here today because they agree with the Committee?