Agriculture Bill

Lord Foulkes of Cumnock Excerpts
Committee stage & Committee: 6th sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 6th sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Thursday 23rd July 2020

(4 years ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Agriculture Act 2020 View all Agriculture Act 2020 Debates Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: HL Bill 112-VII Seventh marshalled list for Committee - (23 Jul 2020)
Earl of Kinnoull Portrait The Deputy Chairman of Committees (The Earl of Kinnoull) (Non-Afl)
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My Lords, I have received three requests to speak after the Minister from the noble Lord, Lord Foulkes of Cumnock, and the noble and learned Lords, Lord Wallace of Tankerness and Lord Hope of Craighead.

Lord Foulkes of Cumnock Portrait Lord Foulkes of Cumnock (Lab Co-op) [V]
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My Lords, the Minister mentioned his meetings with his counterparts in the devolved Administrations. Does he or any of his colleagues have any such meetings planned between now and Report to discuss and get their views on these amendments, and others, before we come to discuss them on Report? If not, would he consider arranging some meetings? It would be very helpful for the House to get the results of these sorts of discussions.

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
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My Lords, the noble Lord makes a fair point. I am not the Minister having these discussions, but I will make sure that the noble Lord’s point is put to my ministerial colleagues. Again, consideration and discussion of all these matters is the healthy way forward. I will certainly ensure that a record of Hansard is passed on to my ministerial colleagues. It is a good point.

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Moved by
264: Clause 40, page 36, line 29, after “may” insert “, following consultation with relevant stakeholders,”
Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment would impose a duty on the Secretary of State to consult relevant stakeholders when making regulations as specified.
Lord Foulkes of Cumnock Portrait Lord Foulkes of Cumnock [V]
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My Lords, I shall speak also to my other amendment in the group, Amendment 265. They both relate to Clause 40, which concerns powers for the Secretary of State to make regulations for securing compliance with the WTO Agreement on Agriculture. As presently drafted, there is no requirement in the Bill for the Secretary of State to consult any parties prior to making regulations under this clause. The amendment would impose a requirement on the Secretary of State to consult relevant stakeholders if making such regulations.

As I and many others have highlighted in respect of this Bill—we have heard it earlier today and I have argued for it frequently in my parliamentary career in both Houses—it is important that we provide an additional layer of scrutiny of government action from the stakeholders who have a direct interest and relevant responsibility, and of course agriculture is devolved. Such a requirement to consult included in the regulations under this clause would help to ensure openness and transparency from government, and it might also provide exposure to critical comment from stakeholders which could improve the instrument.

Amendment 265 would remove powers in the Bill for the Secretary of State to confer and delegate functions. In the clause as it stands, it is not clear why it is necessary for the Secretary of State to have these powers. It is not clear to whom it is intended that such functions would be conferred or delegated, or who would require to exercise a discretion for what purpose. The provisions are therefore too vague. In addition, subsection (3)(c) seems to attempt to grant unlimited scope for exercise of this discretion. The amendment would remove these powers in the Bill to confer and delegate functions and to exercise discretion by removing subsection (3).