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Agriculture Bill

Volume 806: debated on Thursday 1 October 2020

Third Reading

Relevant document: 13th Report from the Delegated Powers Committee

My Lords, I have it in command from Her Majesty the Queen to acquaint the House that Her Majesty, having been informed of the purport of the Agriculture Bill, has consented to place her interests, so far as they are affected by the Bill, at the disposal of Parliament for the purposes of the Bill.

Clause 17: Continuing EU programmes: power to provide financial assistance

Amendment 1

Moved by

1: Clause 17, page 14, line 45, at end insert—

“(ba) the Scottish Ministers, in the case of an agreement entered into or an operational programme approved in accordance with any provision or provisions so far as having effect in relation to Scotland;”Member’s explanatory statement

This amendment enables the Scottish Ministers to give financial assistance under Clause 17.

My Lords, I shall speak to a small number of technical amendments, and I declare my farming interests as set out in the register.

These are technical operability amendments and do not represent any change of policy. The Government are acting on very recent legal advice from the European Law Group and the Office of Parliamentary Counsel, the Government’s primary legislation drafters, on the interpretation of the withdrawal agreement as regards retained EU law, with the objective of ensuring that no doubt remains that these powers to continue EU CAP legacy schemes will operate as intended for England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Amendments 1 and 4 relate to the new clause created by Amendment 45, as agreed on Report, “Continuing EU programmes: power to provide financial assistance”, and will ensure that the Scottish Government are able to make domestic payments where agreements and programmes are currently supported under an EU programme relating to rural development or fruit and vegetable producers once the funding for the programme has been used up. This amendment has been tabled at the request of the Scottish Government, whose primary legislation has progressed quickly through their Parliament and who do not have, as a result, an immediate opportunity to correct this themselves.

Amendments 2 and 3 have the effect of adding the promotions aid legislation—EU regulation 1144/2014, delegated regulation 2015/1829 and implementing regulation 2015/1831—to the list of legislation which will become retained EU law under the new clause created by Amendment 46 “Retained direct EU legislation”, as agreed on Report. This ensures that EU legislation relating to promotion measures for agricultural products which has a direct impact under the withdrawal agreement in relation to existing programmes will also be included in retained direct EU legislation. We have made these amendments at the request of DAERA, which wants to retain the ability to carry out agri-promotion legacy schemes in Northern Ireland under this legislation after the end of the transition period.

Government Amendments 107 and 110 at Report gave Welsh Ministers and DAERA the power to modify retained EU law for CMO apiculture legacy schemes. Amendments 5 and 6 correct a drafting oversight by specifying the resolution procedure for government Amendments 107 and 110 as agreed at Report, for the Welsh Government and DAERA to make regulations in their respective parliaments.

In line with the Sewel convention, the UK Government have sought the legislative consent of all the devolved legislatures for the provisions that engage the LCM process. I am pleased to report that each of the devolved legislatures has agreed legislative consent for the Agriculture Bill on the recommendation of its respective devolved Administration. The Northern Ireland Assembly agreed to the LCM on 31March 2020; the Senedd Cymru on 29 September and the Scottish Parliament on 30 September.

I would like to make clear again that these are purely technical amendments and were tabled at the request of the devolved Administrations to ensure that the legislation operates as intended. These amendments are consequential upon those tabled at Report to reflect the new European Law Group advice. The Government have not changed their policy. I hope that noble Lords will understand my wish, on behalf of the devolved Administrations, to ensure that these matters are firmly settled before the Bill leaves your Lordships’ House. I beg to move.

My Lords, I am grateful for the opportunity to say a few words. First, I repeat what I said at Report: I am particularly grateful to the Minister for the way he has conducted this Bill, for his kindness and for the way he explained it and answered questions in such a helpful manner. I thank him and all the Front Benches for their hard work on this marathon Bill. They will be more pleased than anyone that we are now at Third Reading.

I want to ask a question or two about Amendment 1, on providing financial assistance for continuing EU programmes as far as Scotland is concerned. The Minister said this was a technical amendment—if I have got this right—because the Scottish Parliament did not have the opportunity to legislate. I was mystified, however, about why it was not included earlier and why we had to wait until Third Reading—at the 59th minute of the 11th hour—to include it, because the original draft included powers for the Welsh Assembly and the Northern Ireland Assembly, but Scotland was not included at all. Why has it been delayed? Are there changed circumstances? Will the Minister expand on that? Was it an oversight or have the circumstances changed?

I am a bit worried that sometimes in Whitehall—not through any malevolence, but just through oversight—we provide fuel for the fires of nationalism that are currently burning and that, on all sides of the House, we do not want to encourage. Therefore, it is very important that we get these things right and get them right early on in the process, so that we are not seen to be putting Scotland in as an afterthought.

Agricultural activities are carried out on two-thirds of the land area of Scotland. It is very important and right that the decisions about funding these continuing EU programmes be made as near as possible to the area in which they are taking place. The Scottish Parliament and Government clearly fulfil that objective. I hope that the Minister will reassure us that it was not an afterthought, that it is a technical amendment and that the interests of Scottish farmers, the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government were not overlooked, because it is a very important issue. I would be grateful for that reassurance from the Minister.

My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Foulkes. I thank my noble friend for bringing forward this small group of amendments and will speak in particular to Amendments 1 and 4.

My concerns echo those expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Foulkes. This is a recurrent theme expressed by the devolved Parliaments and Assemblies which we hear of in the EU Environment Sub-Committee, on which I have the privilege to sit. In thanking my noble friend for listening to their concerns and bringing these amendments forward, I note that consent was given by the Scottish Parliament only yesterday, which seems quite late. Would my noble friend use his good offices to keep Parliament informed and update us on continued progress and on how this will impact negotiations and, afterwards, the implementation of the new policy? It is very important that the national Parliament at Westminster should be kept informed on the impact on the devolved Assemblies.

I take this opportunity, as I will not participate on the last stage, to thank my noble friend for his boundless patience, courtesy and tolerance during the many hours of debate. Through him, I thank the Bill team for the outstanding service they have performed to the House. I also thank the Public Bill Office and all who have been involved, including my noble friend’s able assistant, my noble friend Lady Bloomfield, who has been utterly charming and patient throughout this process.

As my noble friend Lord Gardiner is aware, I hoped he would have brought forward a government amendment on another issue. The House has spoken; it voted overwhelmingly, by I think a majority of 100, to take forward an amendment to the House of Commons on protecting our standards and ensuring that imported food products continue to meet these standards. I also look forward to my noble friend and his department’s response to the Dimbleby report, which would have been very helpful to have.

We are on a voyage of discovery, as there is very little detail about either the interim SFI or the ELMS proceedings—the sustainable farming initiative and the new environmental land management schemes. But we are at this stage, and I congratulate my noble friend on all the hard work from him and his department to get us here.

My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for setting out the rationale behind these somewhat late amendments. Over the last 18 months, there have been several occasions on which we have debated legislation under the Defra banner which has been amended for a variety of reasons—with the sheer weight of legislation in Bills and statutory instruments, the degree of detail needed and the very short timeframes have meant that unforced errors have occurred. The main thing is that, in this case, the Government have been able to act so that omissions were rectified.

The first amendment, as the Minister indicated, is at the request of the Scottish devolved Administration to ensure that their agriculture Bill could provide the continuing financial assistance that will be needed and give Scotland the same powers as Wales, England and Northern Ireland. The third amendment is consequential on the first. It would have been helpful if the Scottish Administration realised this omission earlier, as indicated by the noble Lord, Lord Foulkes.

The second amendment, to Clause 18, relates to retained EU law for promotion schemes for agri-foods not to be used in England, Scotland or Wales. Northern Ireland wanted to keep its options open, so we have this amendment.

These are very technical issues, but it is often those that trip us all up. This is, as has been indicated, all very last minute. I understand that this could not be covered later by secondary legislation but would have needed primary legislation to comply with the multiannual financial arrangements.

The last two amendments relate to powers enabling the Senedd Cymru and the Northern Ireland Assembly to enact legislation for bees to be included in the Bill. We have debated on many occasions the crucial role that bees and other pollinators play in ensuring that our crops, flowers and trees flourish and survive. I find it extraordinary that such a vital section of the Bill, on apiculture, should have been left without any means of legally ensuring its continuity. However, the error was discovered in the nick of time. I support this group of amendments.

My Lords, I thank the Minister for his explanation of these amendments. As I know he is aware, it is clearly very frustrating that they have been tabled at such a late stage. As he has explained, several of the changes come as a result of late requests from the devolved nations. It is a worrying sign of the complexity of legislation across the four nations that decisions are being made on different timeframes and with different consequences for the agricultural community. It underlines our view that we need a robust framework agreement within which we can anticipate and plan legislative changes affecting the four nations in an orderly way in future.

It is understandable that Scotland might want the same powers as other devolved nations to provide financial assistance for rural development initiatives, but I share the concerns of my noble friend Lord Foulkes on this. When were the Scottish Government made aware that the powers applied to everybody apart from Scotland, and when did they put in their request to add these powers into the Bill? If future requests are made by the devolved nations, would it be possible to deal with them via secondary legislation, since, had this Bill passed, where or how else could these matters have been pursued?

The Minister also explained that there had been a drafting error on the management of apiculture. It needs a resolution procedure for changes, which has now been included in the Bill as a negative resolution. Have these late changes been sent to the Delegated Powers Committee for review? What provisions are available if other drafting errors of this kind come to light once the Bill has been passed? It goes without saying that we hope no other errors appear, but sadly, as the noble Baroness, Lady Bakewell, reminded us, the department has not been exempt from similar errors in secondary legislation in our recent past. Unfortunately, we have form on this.

Finally, the Minister explained that a small number of changes arise from a change in advice from the lawyers about how sections of the withdrawal agreement should be interpreted. Were the lawyers made aware that this Bill was reaching its final stages of consideration and were they given a deadline for their advice which would have allowed the consequences of it to be introduced into the Bill in a timely way? I know the Minister shares our frustration that these issues have arisen at such a late stage. If nothing else, I hope there can be a resolution from the department to learn from these errors so that the same mistakes do not occur in the next piece of legislation and that we can deal with all these matters in a timely manner.

My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have taken part in this short debate on these technical amendments. No one could be more frustrated than I am at coming before your Lordships at Third Reading with new technical amendments. It is not desirable, and I regret it.

However, on the issue with the Scottish Government, I emphasise to the noble Lord, Lord Foulkes of Cumnock, and all noble Lords that there was no afterthought. Nothing was overlooked. What I am bringing forward is at the request of the Scottish Government. I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Whitchurch, that this is why work on the framework, collaboration and working together, although agriculture is devolved, are so important.

We clearly did not want to assume that Scotland also wanted powers and we waited for the Scottish Government to confirm that they wanted the provisions extended to them before assuming that that would be the case. We are in regular contact with officials in the Scottish Government. We understood that they were made aware on 15 September; we gave timings and deadlines, and the Delegated Powers Committee was made aware.

I agree that in the perfect world we would have been able to include these at least on Report, if not before, but they are issues that have recently come forward. As I said, I felt that it was better these were dealt with, as they needed to be, in primary legislation. Given the fact that these were flagged up and that the devolved Administrations sought us to attend to them for them, I thought it would be austere—to say the least—to say, “No, you’d better wait for opportunities within your own Administrations.” That is why, although I am frustrated about it and I recognise that frustration, they have come forward.

I am very grateful to all noble Lords for their kind remarks. I say to my noble friend Lady McIntosh of Pickering that no one wants to have legislation that is in error in any sense. That is why we have professionals and lawyers bringing forward that expertise. Obviously, what has happened here is that there are some things which the devolved Administrations have looked at and said, “Actually, we would like to have this within our own legislative framework and our own schedules.”

On the point about apiculture, I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Bakewell, that bees and pollinators are absolutely essential not only for our crops but for the natural world. This was about ensuring that the regulations in Wales and Northern Ireland, and any changes in them, were to be dealt with by the negative resolution. It was not that there were no regulatory powers; it was to confirm it would be through the negative resolution.

As I say, I wish that these matters had come forward earlier, but—I say this particularly as the noble Lord, Lord Foulkes, raised it—I want to get these things right. That is why I have asked your Lordships to accept these amendments. I reiterate that they do not represent any change, they are consequential on those tabled on Report, and they reflect the advice that we need to attend to these for the devolved Administrations at their request. Given the time constraints, introducing them at this stage did at least allow us to ensure that the legislation operates as intended and, very importantly, to the satisfaction of the devolved Administrations. We have had very positive working relationships on the Bill, and more widely as a department. I am very pleased that each devolved legislature has agreed the legislative consent for the Bill on the recommendation of their respective devolved Administrations.

I know that my noble friend Lady McIntosh raised issues separate to the amendments themselves, which obviously I will reflect on. In the meantime, I beg to move the amendment.

Amendment 1 agreed.

Clause 18: Retained direct EU legislation

Amendments 2 and 3

Moved by

2: Clause 18, page 15, line 44, leave out “subsection (2), (3), (4) or (5)” and insert “any of subsections (2) to (6)”

Member’s explanatory statement

This amendment is consequential on the Minister’s other amendment to this clause.

3: Clause 18, page 17, line 19, at end insert—

“(6) The legislation within this subsection is—(a) Regulation (EU) No 1144/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 October 2014 on information provision and promotion measures concerning agricultural products implemented in the internal market and in third countries,(b) Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2015/1829 of 23 April 2015 supplementing Regulation (EU) No 1144/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council on information provision and promotion measures concerning agricultural products implemented in the internal market and in third countries, and(c) Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2015/1831 of 7 October 2015 laying down rules for application of Regulation (EU) No 1144/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council on information provision and promotion measures concerning agricultural products implemented in the internal market and in the third countries.”Member’s explanatory statement

This amendment ensures that EU legislation relating to promotion measures for agricultural products that has direct effect under the Withdrawal Agreement in relation to existing programmes will also be retained direct EU legislation.

Amendments 2 and 3 agreed.

Clause 60: Extent

Amendment 4

Moved by

4: Clause 60, page 53, line 32, leave out subsection (4)

Member’s explanatory statement

This amendment is consequential on the Minister’s amendment to Clause 17.

Amendment 4 agreed.

Schedule 5: Provision relating to Wales

Amendment 5

Moved by

5: Schedule 5, page 70, line 35, at end insert—

“(3) Regulations under this paragraph are subject to negative resolution procedure (unless section 54(5) applies).”Member’s explanatory statement

This amendment sets out the procedure for the regulation making power contained in paragraph 5 of Schedule 5.

Amendment 5 agreed.

Schedule 6: Provision relating to Northern Ireland

Amendment 6

Moved by

6: Schedule 6, page 84, line 21, at end insert—

“(3) Regulations under this paragraph are subject to negative resolution procedure (unless section 54(5) applies).”Member’s explanatory statement.

This amendment sets out the procedure for the regulation making power contained in paragraph 6 of Schedule 6.

Amendment 6 agreed.


Moved by

My Lords, we have come to this final stage of—I think we would say—lengthy deliberations on a Bill which will have a lasting impact on farming and the rural economy. It has been my privilege, coming from a farming background, to have responsibility for the Bill.

It has also presented, if I may say, some challenges from all sides of the House—and quite often from behind me. I am clear that our consideration of the Bill has been full and detailed. My noble friend Lady Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist—to whom I pay a very strong tribute—and I have enjoyed the opportunity to discuss with your Lordships these important matters. I think we would all accept that it has been wide ranging, and I entirely appreciate the commitment with which your Lordships have scrutinised the Bill.

In particular, I acknowledge the cordial working relationship we have both had with the noble Baronesses on the Front Benches opposite and the noble Lord, Lord Grantchester. We all seek a vibrant future for British farmers and the production of food of high quality and to a high standard. Farmers are also custodians of the countryside and our landscapes, and I believe the Bill provides a framework for these two imperatives: food production and an enhanced environment.

I also take the opportunity to thank the Bill team and all the officials at Defra and within the devolved Administrations for their collaborative working, which has made my task not only—on most occasions—straightforward but especially stimulating and rewarding. I beg to move.

My Lords, I thank the Minister for his kind comments. By any measure, consideration of the Bill has been a mammoth task. In many ways, this is not surprising: this Bill is the first major piece of farming legislation for about 40 years, so there was a lot to discuss. We certainly had a lot of discussion.

I feel I know so much more about the personal lives of so many Peers—their favourite butterflies, their favourite trees, their best-loved walks and landscapes, and even sometimes their special hobbies. Their determination to keep talking past my bedtime has been impressive. I have also been genuinely impressed by their commitment to the environment, and indeed to a policy based on nature-friendly farming for the future. Throughout it all, the Minister and the noble Baroness, Lady Bloomfield, have been the personification of patience and courtesy, and I pay tribute to them both for their professionalism and for initiating the many briefings and discussions which took place around the Bill in an attempt to reach understanding and consensus.

At the end of the day, we have sent only six amendments back to the Commons, and those represent some of the biggest issues where we were unable to reach a consensus. I hope the Commons will understand the strength of feeling from around the Chamber on our concerns, and indeed feel able to reflect on and reconsider its position on those issues. I really hope that it is able to do that, but I suspect that this is not quite the end of the road for the Bill and that it will be back with us again all too soon.

In the meantime, I formally thank both the Minister and the Bill team for getting us to this point. I also thank Daniel Stevens, our legislative officer, for his excellent advice and drafting skills. Finally, I thank my noble friends Lord Grantchester and Lady Wilcox for contributing their expertise with such style and for being such great partners in our team.

My Lords, I thank the Minister for his time, patience and wisdom in helping us through the passage of the Bill. We have had a great many amendments to deal with, many speakers and some very late nights. Throughout, the Minister has been thorough in his responses and polite; I am sure, had I been in his place, I would not have remained so placid. I am very grateful to him for his diligence and support.

Like others, I have learned a great deal more about agriculture and the land through the passage of the Bill. I also place on record my thanks to the officials for the numerous briefings we have received over the months since Easter. In some cases, there were over 15 officials on the Zoom calls, helping us to get to grips with the Bill and the many clauses we were attempting to amend.

I also thank the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Whitchurch, and the noble Lord, Lord Grantchester, for their support throughout this process, and those on the Cross Benches who have worked with us to ensure that the issues the public were so concerned about got a proper airing. I agree with her that it will be interesting to see what the Commons sends back to us.

Lastly, but by no means least, I thank the Liberal Democrat whips’ office, without which I would have been floundering with the processes involved in getting to this stage today. This has been a long haul, but we have got there. I again thank the Minister and the noble Baroness, Lady Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist, for their guidance on the Bill.

My Lords, it is a great honour to follow the noble Baroness, Lady Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville, and before her the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Whitchurch. Both have contributed enormously to the debates on this Bill. It is a daunting task to be speaking on behalf of my noble friends from the Cross Benches. I could not possibly reflect the depth and breadth of experience and knowledge that resides within the Cross-Bench group. It is a great honour to speak on behalf of my colleagues at Third Reading.

This Bill is of huge significance. I was listening to a presentation yesterday, during which this point in history was once again likened to the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846 and the 1947 Agriculture Act. It represents fundamental change: a once in a lifetime opportunity to reshape the management of the countryside and how we redesign our agriculture. For myself, and a number of us on the Cross Benches and indeed across the whole House, farming and land management have been our main occupation and our lifetime’s work. So, to have the opportunity of participating in this Bill, trying to shape it to make sure it is fit for purpose, has been a privilege and an incredible experience.

I genuinely believe that the amendments that my noble friends and I have sponsored have improved the Bill. I will not attempt to list them, because I run the risk of missing an important contribution, but I have, once again, been so impressed by the depth of resource, the expertise and the knowledge available on the Benches. To be able to interrogate this Bill line by line and scrutinise with vast knowledge of the subject does demonstrate, once again, the value of this House.

Of course, the job is not finished: I do hope our colleagues in the other House do not dismiss our amendments out of hand, but take them seriously, recognising that they are a genuine attempt to improve the Bill and to cover issues of importance and relevance to the agricultural sector at this great time of change. Also, since this is a framework Bill, we look forward to receiving more detail in due course, particularly as evidence from the ELMS pilots becomes available. Perhaps the Minister will confirm that the House will have the opportunity to comment on the ELMS pilots and the plans to roll them out nationally in due course.

Finally, it is my pleasure to thank all those who have contributed to the smooth running of the process in challenging circumstances: the Bill team was incredibly helpful in dealing with endless queries and in the drafting of amendments; the clerks, as usual, in their guidance and organisational professionalism; the many who work behind the scenes have played a key role, particularly the digital team, who successfully delivered a service to us all so we could contribute in sequence—quite remarkable technology. I thank them all very much indeed. Once again, a big thank you to the Front Bench ministerial team for their tolerance, courtesy, patience and the comprehensive way in which they responded to debates. Thank you.

My Lords, we have had a very interesting, worthwhile and civilised series of sessions, discussing our individual, and the Government’s, visions, ideas and plans for the future of rural Britain and agriculture. Clearly there are disagreements, but overall there is a degree of consensus, which I personally much welcome. However, while I do not wish to be the bad fairy at the christening, I do wish to point out that this is an enabling Bill, and without the measures that follow, nothing can result. It is about that that I wish to comment and, at this point, I reiterate my interest as declared in the register and note the agricultural organisations with which I am involved.

I feel I have no alternative but to tell the House that I fear the emperor may have no clothes. I have had no information not in the public domain, and I know that some confidential information has in fact found its way into the press. However, I am quite clear that a number of those who are committed to working closely with the Government and Defra on these matters, and who will not fail to continue to do so—people who come from the practical world of agriculture and the environment—are very concerned that the department is simply not grounded in reality. Farming and land management have to be grounded.

In particular, there are real anxieties about the ability of the Sustainable Food Initiative to act as a bridge between the basic payment scheme and ELMS because, quite simply, there is not enough money. It is as simple as that, and those who say it understand these things. Equally, there is no confidence that working IT systems either will or indeed can be put in place in time. After all, we have been there quite recently. Failure in these respects will certainly lead to significant numbers of farms and rural businesses going bust.

The Minister, as many have said quite rightly, has conducted the proceedings in a genial and constructive manner admired by all around the House, but we must not forget what is happening behind the proscenium arch and curtain in front of which he delivers his lines. If I am right—and, unusually for me, I hope I am not, but I fear it is possible I may be—all that we have been discussing over the past few weeks will turn out to be an agreeable hallucination that will turn into nightmares or worse for many in rural Britain, particularly smaller businesses. Perfectly decent enabling legislation is quite capable of metamorphosing into appalling public administration. Let us all hope and pray that it will not happen in this instance, but the potential for it to do so is clearly there.

I think, perhaps, if the noble Lord, Lord Marlesford, cannot hear us, we will have to call it a day. I am sorry about that. The noble Lord, Lord Judd, has withdrawn, so I now call the Minister.

My Lords, perhaps I may say to my noble friend Lord Marlesford that I will contact him and hear what he has to say. We have heard from the South Downs, Somerset, Northumberland, Cumbria, and we would have heard from Suffolk—that range of great landscape and food production. I am reminded by the two noble Baronesses talking of late nights that of course there are late nights of harvest as we try to ensure we get as much in before the weather changes or before the moisture rate gets too much. There are also early mornings, which is so much a feature of livestock farming. I know very few farmers who think that late nights are a very good idea. So there has been some stamina about our deliberations, and that is something I admire in this House. We really get stuck in and we take to these things.

The noble Lord, Lord Curry of Kirkharle, with his very great experience, used the word “reshaping”, but there are some great constants as well. It is essential that we provide good food in this country. It is essential that we have good husbandry of the animals that we are the custodians of as farmers, that provide food as well.

I also reflect on the experience of your Lordships and, as I have said before, being a Minister in the House of Lords is a very different concept to the other place. I know that there are many noble Lords who know far more about the subject than I do. That is not the case, I suspect, in the other place, and it sometimes does help to raise one’s game.

On ELMS, I well understand the importance of the test and trials. That is why I have been very straightforward with your Lordships that across the piece, in every part of the country, with all land tenures and different topographies, the tests and trials are in place so that this works for the farmer and the land manager. Whether it is tier 1, 2 or 3, it is designed to be their scheme too. I look forward to keeping your Lordships involved and engaged in those matters.

I have to warn your Lordships that obviously Defra will bring forward a programme of statutory instruments; I understand that three will arise from this legislation. However, clearly, in the months and years ahead, statutory instruments will be engaged as we move forward, and I look forward to working with your Lordships on them.

I say to the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, that we have of course found a lot of consensus, and where we have disagreed and there have been civilised collisions, I utterly respect the views that have been expressed. I say to the noble Lord that I think I am grounded, and I know jolly well that my ministerial colleagues are. We are acutely aware, as we go through a period of change, that we need to work with each and every farmer up and down the land and to work collaboratively with them, because this is a joint venture. I am not very good with IT systems—I am always nervous of them. I have taken that point and I have already made that point, but it is helpful to have that on the record. [Interruption.] There must be a farmyard somewhere in the House.

We have all worked extremely hard on the Bill and it has been a privilege to serve your Lordships.

Bill passed and returned to the Commons with amendments.

Sitting suspended.