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Volume 612: debated on Thursday 7 July 2016

12. What recent steps the Government have taken to work with industry to increase the number of apprenticeships in the food, farming and agri-technology sector. (905725)

The Government are committed to trebling the number of apprentices in the food and farming sector by 2020. I am delighted that the Skills Minister has committed to the apprenticeship levy being used by major organisations such as supermarkets and food manufacturers through the food supply chain, so that they can help small and medium-sized enterprises and farmers to take on apprentices.

As chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on bees, I got a tremendous buzz from welcoming apprentices of British bee farmers who are completing an innovative three-year programme in an industry with sales of over £100 million per year. What steps are the Government taking to encourage more honey providers to take on apprentices?

I thank my hon. Friend for his question. Honey is an important product for our country, generating over £100 million. As I have said, the apprenticeships that are created through the apprenticeship levy can be found throughout the food chain. DEFRA has its own beekeeper apprentice helping to maintain our hives at Noble House—DEFRA’s headquarters—where we produce our own Whitehall honey.