Just before Parliament goes into summer recess, Neil held a debate on the role of the Trade and Agriculture Commission in international trade deals. The TAC published its report in March on how we can liberalise agri-food trade whilst maintaining our high environmental and animal welfare standards. They laid out 22 recommendations to achieve this. Five months on, and the Government has still not responded to it. We urgently need a response before we sign any trade deals.
The Government has also not yet set up the full TAC to allow it to scrutinise the Australia deal, which needs to be ready to report (by law) as soon as the deal is laid before Parliament.
Neil called the debate to press the Government directly, and had 6 key asks:
#1. A date that the Government will respond to the TAC’s report, and for that response to take on board the report’s recommendations;
#2. In particular, a list of core standards we will not compromise on;
#3. An overarching strategy for agri-food trade which joins up our policy at home and abroad. This would include more agri-food counsellors and a UK Export Council;
#4. The Government must hurry up and set up the statutory TAC so it is ready to provide scrutiny on the Australia deal, as it is legally obliged to;
#5. Just how long before the Australia deal is put before Parliament will the TAC have to scrutinise it? These are long and complex technical documents, and scrutiny should not be rushed;
#6. More detail on the support for the statutory TAC. Will it have the technical capacity and staff to properly fulfil its role, and ensure that the interests of farmers and producers are looked after in trade deals?
You can see a range of clips of the debate below:
To watch the full speech, click here.
To see Neil summarise the points in his speech, click here.
Neil was disappointed in the Minister’s reply to his questions. Watch Neil’s response to the Minister here.
Given the disappointing response, Neil pressed on further and the next day urged the Environment Secretary to provide a clearer answer to the question ‘just when will we have a list of core standards which we will not compromise on in trade deals?’ – Watch here.