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Scottish Seed Potato Industry

Volume 699: debated on Thursday 22 July 2021

What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on support for the Scottish seed potato industry. (903139)

The Scottish seed potato industry is renowned globally for its high health status and it is second to none. It exports to some 40 countries around the world and 80% of its exports are outside the EU—to markets such as Egypt and Morocco. As my hon. Friend knows, the EU has adopted a curious stance in respect of authorising Scottish seed potatoes. Although EU law provides a mechanism for equivalence to be recognised, the Commission has so far refused even to allow its Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed to assess our application. We are continuing to work with industry to unblock this issue.

To remove the risk to Scotland’s seed potato industry and respect the principle of reciprocal trade, will the UK Government agree to prohibit the importation of seed potatoes from the EU?

We introduced a temporary six-month marketing authorisation that allowed EU seed potatoes to be marketed in England and Wales earlier this year. That has now expired, as agreed with the industry and the devolved Administrations. If any applications are received for marketing equivalence, the UK will consider whether seed potatoes have been produced under conditions equivalent to requirements in GB regulations. Of course, the sensible thing to happen is for the EU to apply its own rules and laws, and to assess the application that we have lodged with it.