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Leaving the EU: Agriculture Frameworks

Volume 639: debated on Thursday 26 April 2018

8. What discussions he has had with the Scottish Government on common UK frameworks for agriculture after the UK leaves the EU. (904951)

I regularly meet Ministers from the Scottish Government and other devolved Administrations. The most recent occasion on which I did so was 26 February, to discuss the Government’s planned agriculture consultation document. I am looking forward to seeing Ministers from Scotland and Wales, as well as representatives from the Northern Ireland Administration, on 14 May in Edinburgh.

My right hon. Friend will understand that, whether potatoes are grown in the Mearns or in the March fens, they must all be grown under common UK regulations; otherwise we risk damaging the UK internal market. Does he therefore agree that farmers across the UK expect UK-wide regulations and that politicians must not throw up artificial barriers for narrow political gain?

My hon. Friend makes an absolutely brilliant point. Recently, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster has been negotiating with devolved Administrations to ensure that, as we leave the European Union, we can have a successful internal market in the United Kingdom. Agreement has been reached with the Welsh Government. Mark Drakeford, the Labour Minister, has shown a degree of flexibility and taken a constructive approach, which is in stark contrast to that of the Scottish Government and the First Minister of Scotland, who has put a narrow ideological pursuit of separation ahead of the interests of the people of Scotland—and not for the first time, either.

Many agricultural unions in Wales have expressed concern about clarity relating to the future arrangements for common frameworks. Do the UK Government intend to apply the Barnett formula to any funding allocated to Wales in the future?

We want to make sure that, as is the case at the moment, farmers in Wales—indeed, farmers under all the devolved Administrations—receive more money than would be strictly the case under the Barnett formula. It is appropriate that they should continue to do so, because of the unique nature of the landscapes they farm.

I do not think that anyone disagrees that there might be a need for common frameworks, but I do not think they would disagree either that democratic decisions by democratically elected Parliaments are artificial barriers, so will the Secretary of State guarantee that no frameworks will be imposed across the UK without the democratic consent of the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly?

That is a good try, but the hon. Gentleman knows that the stark contrast between the constructive approach of the Labour Administration in Cardiff and the obstructive approach of the nationalist Administration in Holyrood does not redound to the credit of the Scottish National party. The truth is that the SNP has only one policy, which is separation. Everything else is tactics and they are prepared to throw Scottish farmers under the bus—[Interruption]—or, indeed, the bandwagon in their desperate desire to elevate the destruction of the United Kingdom above the creation of wealth for the people of Scotland.