Amendment 6

Part of Trade (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership) Bill [HL] - Report – in the House of Lords am 6:30 pm ar 16 Ionawr 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Lord Curry of Kirkharle Lord Curry of Kirkharle Crossbench 6:30, 16 Ionawr 2024

My Lords, I rise to speak to Amendment 12 tabled by my noble friend Lady Willis. I also very much support Amendment 10 tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh of Pickering, and support her comments this evening.

As I mentioned during earlier stages of the Bill, I have been extremely concerned about the potential impact on domestic food production of the various trade deals that the Government have negotiated. Of course, it is vital that we negotiate trade deals that encourage reciprocal trade and benefit the economies of those involved. We absolutely need to do that. We in agriculture need access to global markets to have the opportunity to expand the range of excellent food products produced here in the UK. I fully respect the fact that other partners to this agreement expect access to our markets.

We are not afraid of competition. We have some of the most efficient farmers in the world, but competition must be fair. I am reassured by the Minister, in his opening statement this afternoon, that domestic standards will not change and will not be weakened. I thank him for that confirmation. However, that is not my primary concern. For those not close to the world of farming, let me explain what is currently taking place.

Farmers are about half way through a seven-year transitional period which involves the most radical shake-up of agricultural policy in over 70 years. All direct support is being removed, so that within about three years there will be no direct subsidies. Farmers will have to survive unsubsidised in the marketplace. Any future support will change to incentivise farmers to deliver public goods, mainly environmental outcomes, which is very appropriate in the light of climate change, loss of habits, et cetera. However, for farmers to survive and trade successfully in a very competitive global market, it is essential that competing businesses are able to operate under the same trading rules.

As has been stated by the noble Baroness, Lady Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville, and my noble friend Lady Boycott, within this CPTPP agreement are countries where over 100 chemicals are used that are banned here in the UK. Not only does this represent a serious commercial disadvantage for UK farmers: we have to believe that they are banned for good reason. They were harmful either to ecosystems, or to people. I am sure that exporting partner countries will give us assurances that food commodities and products sent to the UK will conform to our high standards. However, it will be impossible to audit the myriad production systems to verify that this is the case. Therefore, this amendment is necessary to protect ourselves from potentially harmful chemicals and our farmers from unfair competition. It is important not only that our standards are not diluted but that we set international standards that are applied within this important trading partnership. We have an opportunity here to demonstrate global leadership, and we should seize it. The same principle applies to animal welfare standards and to our commitment to deliver higher environmental standards. I hope that the Minister will accept the principles behind these amendments.