Skip to main content

Leaving the EU: Policy Framework

Volume 630: debated on Thursday 26 October 2017

7. Whether he has met representatives of the National Farmers Union to discuss a policy framework for agriculture after the UK leaves the EU. (901406)

Since taking up my role, I have met representatives from the NFU, NFU Scotland, NFU Cymru, the Farmers’ Union of Wales and the Ulster Farmers Union, all of whom help me to shape my work.

In that case, the Secretary of State should be aware that the UK does not have a single agricultural industry; we have several. The needs of farmers and crofters in my constituency will be very different from those of dairy farmers in the south-west of England, but all will have to be accommodated in the framework. Will the right hon. Gentleman therefore continue to engage with both NFU Scotland and the Scottish Crofting Federation, because in this they are the experts?

I quite agree. I had the opportunity to hear from representatives of the crofting sector when I visited Scotland. I make a commitment to visit every part of the United Kingdom and to work constructively with the devolved Administrations to create a UK-wide framework that ensures that we can preserve the internal market within the UK and get the best trade deals with other countries, but at the same time be sensitive to the specific needs of, for example, Orkney’s very fine beef farmers.

Many farms and rural communities in my constituency straddle the border with England. Can my right hon. Friend confirm that the voices of those communities are not ignored in the discussions about Brexit and devolution?

Their voices are certainly not ignored, not least because they have such an excellent and articulate representative in my hon. Friend, whose dramatically increased majority at the last general election is testament to his hard work on behalf of all his constituents.

Can I press the Secretary of State to confirm whether the Government have undertaken an assessment of the impact of Brexit on the food and drink manufacturing sector, and to explain how they have consulted with businesses as part of that process?

Not only have I spoken to the farming union representatives I mentioned earlier, but I have had regular conversations with the Food and Drink Federation and others across the food and drink sector. The hon. Gentleman will be aware that food and drink is the UK’s biggest manufacturing sector. We see huge opportunities outside the European Union to export more and make the most of British produce, because we are so lucky that British food and drink is the best in the world.

13. The most recent scientific evidence again shows the link between a decline in our pollinators and the use of neonicotinoids. My right hon. Friend has secured so many successes in the last few months, including on ivory, plastics, CCTV in slaughterhouses and mandatory sentencing for cruelty. Will he now ensure that the science that we know is correct is implemented and we introduce a permanent ban on the main three neonicotinoids on the market today? (901412)

I thank my hon. Friend for his campaigning on this issue. It is vital that we do all we can to ensure that our insect population, and in particular our pollinator population, is protected. They are vital to the health of our environment. We are looking closely at the science in this matter.