All 1 Lord Cunningham of Felling contributions to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022

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Tue 22nd Mar 2022
Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill
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Consideration of Commons amendments: Part 1 & Lords Hansard - Part 1

Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill Debate

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Department: Home Office

Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill

Lord Cunningham of Felling Excerpts
Consideration of Commons amendments & Lords Hansard - Part 1
Tuesday 22nd March 2022

(2 years, 2 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: HL Bill 123-I Marshalled list for Consideration of Commons Reasons and Amendments - (21 Mar 2022)
Baroness Boycott Portrait Baroness Boycott (CB)
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I support the amendment from the noble Lord, Lord Rooker. It is insane that we do not have this. Food crime is complicated and difficult. Food chains are very long with no roles of responsibility. It is not like selling an egg to your next-door neighbour and then they end up sick; the egg has probably travelled 1,000 miles and nobody really gives a stuff about what happens at the other end.

There are lots of categories of food crime: illegal processing, which can mean the unapproved slaughter or ingestion of food; waste diversion, which means you send waste food back into the supply chain; adulteration, which is fake food; substitution, which is what happened in the horsemeat scandal; misrepresent-ation, which is endless and to do with marketing saying, for example, that pork has come from a happy pig when, in fact, it came from some pig reared in Poland in a miserable condition; and discount fraud. It is very common, widespread and difficult to deal with.

The fact that we bring only a tiny number of prosecutions, as the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, mentioned, is a scandal, but it is one that we can fix. The FSA has a brilliant new chair in Professor Susan Jebb, who is gagging to go and to get on top of this. It would do more than just sort out crime; it would also bring safety and responsibility. It would stop this massive dispersion of food into all different places.

The noble Lord, Lord Rooker, mentioned the horsemeat scandal of however many years ago. At that point I was working for the current Prime Minister as chair of the London Food Board. He rather jovially suggested that he and I should go up to Trafalgar Square and eat a horsemeat burger. We did not, because it probably would have got him into even more trouble than usual. However, the point is that at that moment we all saw the chains. Some of that horsemeat had passed through no fewer than 15 hands as it travelled around, each time making a little bit of money. Every moment is a moment for adulteration. I cannot understand why the Government are not happy to accept the amendment and to put it in the Bill. We would then have a much brighter future for all of us.

Lord Cunningham of Felling Portrait Lord Cunningham of Felling (Lab)
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My Lords, I strongly support my noble friend—indeed, my very personal friend. He and I wrote the White Paper on the Food Standards Agency. It was necessary then and it was the right thing to do. The public had lost confidence in politicians of all parties and we had to create a new and independent organisation. That is what we did. Believe me, I cannot for the life of me understand why Ministers object to the proposal. It is already in legislation, so what is the problem?

The reality is that food crime is a global occupation. The European Union is concerned about it, as is the Government of Australia. In the United States of America, the Department of Justice recently fined a Brazilian company $110 million for trying to rig the beef market. For that matter, it also tried to rig the chicken market there. We need these powers to combat that level of organised and very sophisticated criminal activity in food markets. I do not know why there is any hesitation about this. If America can do it, we can. Australia is looking very closely at the activities of this same food company intervening in the Australian market. It already has two subsidiaries here in the UK. I have drawn this to the attention of the noble Lord, Lord Benyon. The reality is that, unless we strengthen the Food Standards Agency, these people will fiddle, rig, and have criminal activities in our food markets. We cannot stand by and allow that to happen. As I said at the outset, I strongly support my noble friend’s amendment. I urge noble Lords on all sides of the House to support it too.