Letter to Neil Parish from a supporter - Food standards

Posted on 12th June, 2020

Dear Mr Parish

I am sorry to be writing again asking for clarification on government policy.

I understand that there has been discussion, described as “heated”, concerning the standards for ensuring the safety of food and animal welfare at Cabinet level and during the passage of the Agriculture Bill.

This is baffling. My assumption is that if there has been “heated” discussions it cannot be that our leaders are arguing over whether to maintain food standards as they currently are. So I must speculate that the Government is either proposing to raise food standards or, in some way, lower them.

It would be reasonable to conclude that the debate concerns proposals to raise food standards as the Conservative party Manifesto 2019 stated the ambition to “Raise standards in areas like workers’ rights, animal welfare, agriculture and the environment“ (this was one six of the bullet points listed under Get Brexit Done and therefore something that the Prime Minister would have advised Mr Johnson to be significant). Whilst I am not an expert in these matters, there may well be a case where improvements in the requirements for food production and animal welfare would be fully justified although they are not specified.

However, there appears to be some confusion on this point. There are reports that elements within the Government are seeking to reduce standards or harness them to those of the United States pursuant to some type of trade deal. Palpably this is nonsense. We did not go through five years of arguing about the importance of sovereignty in setting our laws and standards to now surrender ourselves to another nation over whom there is no democratic accountability or scrutiny. Obviously I exempt Mr Cummings from those burdens.

I had assumed this could not be true until I noted an article in Pig-World.com (The Voice of the British Pig Industry) where you are quoted as saying:

"An exasperated Neil Parish, chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee, who tabled the other amendment [seeking to ensure new post-Brexit trade agreements do not permit imports produced to lower standards than in place here that was rejected by the conservative MPs], suggested we were being ‘led up the garden path’ by Government. It is no good being told, “Don’t put it in the Agriculture Bill; put it in the Trade Bill.” When we try to put it in the Trade Bill, it will be out of scope. We are being led down the garden path—we really are —and it is time for us to stand up and be counted he said.

Now, garden paths can go up as well as down, but the implication is that you consider that the Government is seeking to deceive you and fellow MPs.

Is this correct? If so, It would be a sad day that the only objective this Government can claim to have successfully achieved is that it has misled Members of Parliament over the protections that ensure the safety of the food we eat.

Make A Comment

Characters left: 2000

Comments (0)