Agriculture Bill (Tenth sitting) DebateFull Debate: Read Full Debate
Ben LakeMP Main Page: Ben Lake (Plaid Cymru - Ceredigion)
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(1 year, 8 months ago)Public Bill Committees
We do not need a schedule inserted into the Bill. We do not need anyone to legislate for us on devolved matters. We have been producing our own legislation in such areas since 1999, when there was devolution to the Scottish Parliament. In terms of rushing into making legislation, I would have thought the hon. Lady would share my concerns about the views expressed by the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee in the House of Lords on the Bill. It clearly demonstrates what happens when we rush into making legislation. The Scottish Government knows that it does not legally have to do it. They would much rather take their time, consult all the necessary organisations within the sector and arrive at stability and simplicity, which is of course the name of our document.
That is a perfect point and well illustrates my point, so I thank the hon. Gentleman for his remarks.
I have already commented, in my reference to the hon. Member for Brecon and Radnorshire, on the difficulties with thinking that a schedule to a Westminster Bill will protect devolved interests. The amendment I referred to came not from the Welsh Government or the UK Government, but from three Back-Bench MPs, so relying on a schedule for absolute protection is trusting to luck.
Although the Bill extends to Scotland in great part, it does little that would support Scottish agriculture. I will seek to amend and improve it where I can—much of it so far has been subject to the English votes for English laws process, meaning that I am unable to vote on it—but there is no amendment that will make it completely fit for purpose for Scotland. That will be a running issue in Scottish farming and for all the support mechanisms devolved to Holyrood. The flexibility of the EU support mechanisms gave some room for manoeuvre to allow support for Scotland’s farmers, but that is missing in the Bill, and I expect that Members representing parts of England are also a little concerned about that apparent rigidity. It will not come as any surprise that the Scottish National party would far rather all responsibility and power for managing Scottish agriculture rest in Scotland, but we are here and I will be looking to improve the Bill where I can. We will be back for the rest.
I turn to clause 22 and new clause 5 and amendments 56 to 64. The clause strays into devolved territory and could do with a bit of tidying up, just to save DEFRA Ministers having to deal with Scottish issues down the line, which would be tiresome for them. Amendments 56 to 64 would amend clause 22 to require that applications for recognition of producer organisations be made to the appropriate Administration. In other words, an organisation operating in Scotland would make its pitch to the Scottish Government, rather than leaving DEFRA to deal with it. That would save work for DEFRA officials and Ministers, but also has the virtue of respecting the devolution settlement.