The UK Government will not compromise on our standards. Our manifesto is clear that in all of our trade negotiations, we will not compromise on our high environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards. We remain firmly committed to upholding our high environmental protection, food safety and animal welfare standards outside the EU and the EU Withdrawal Act will transfer all existing EU food safety provisions, including existing import requirements, onto the UK statute book.
These import standards include a ban on using artificial growth hormones in domestic and imported products and set out that no products, other than potable water, are approved to decontaminate poultry carcasses. Any changes to existing food safety legislation would require new legislation to be brought before this Parliament.
The legislation for the hormones in beef ban is contained in EU legislation 2003/74/EC.
On chlorinated chicken – retained EU law under Section 3 of the WA. Regulation (EC) No 852/2004 defines ‘potable water’ as water meeting the minimum requirements laid down in Directive 98/83/EC.
(4) Regulation (EC) No 853/2004 lays down specific rules on the hygiene of food of animal origin for food business operators. It provides that food business operators are not to use any substance other than potable water to remove surface contamination from products of animal origin, unless the use of the substance has been approved in accordance with that Regulation.
The UK’s food standards, for both domestic production and imports, are overseen the by the Food Standards Agency and Food Standards Scotland. These are independent agencies and provide advice to the UK and Scottish governments. They will continue to do so in order to ensure that all food imports comply with the UK’s high safety standards. Decisions on these standards are a matter for the UK and will be made separately from any trade agreement.
Parliament plays an important role in scrutinising our trade policy. We have provided extensive information to Parliament on our negotiations, including publishing our objectives and economic scoping assessments prior to the start of talks.
At the end of negotiations, we will lay the final agreement text in Parliament alongside an explanatory memorandum and a final impact assessment. In the case of Japan, the US, Australia, New Zealand and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) we will also work closely with the International Trade Committee and International Agreements Sub -Committee, so those committees may produce an independent report on those deals.
The International Trade Secretary has set out transparency and scrutiny arrangements for international trade deals starting with the UK - Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (UK-Japan CEPA).
Other important scrutiny is provided by a range of groups who advise the Government on trade policy. These include the Department for International Trade’s Agri-Food Trade Advisory Group, which was recently renewed and includes over 30 representatives from the food industry.
Defra also continues to run various supply chain advisory groups such as the Arable Group, Livestock Group and Food and Drink Panel.
We have established the Trade and Agriculture Commission. The Commission is already working hard. It has met six times and has set up three working groups covering consumers, competitiveness and standards, bringing more than 30 additional representatives to the Commission’s work. Recently, the Commission launched a call for evidence to 200 relevant parties and experts covering several questions, including how standards can best be upheld while securing the benefits of trade. Its report will come before Parliament to be debated after the end of its term.
I know my ministerial colleagues are always considering how best to strengthen the machinery of government to ensure effective decision-making and scrutiny and I will continue to have discussions with them on these matters.
The Government has committed to a rapid review and a consultation on the role of labelling to promote high standards of animal welfare.
We must take this opportunity to use public money to reward environmentally-responsible land use, as well as maintaining and enhancing high standards of animal welfare. I am convinced that we will harness this opportunity and ensure that our best days as a food and farming nation lie ahead of us.
For these reasons, I welcome the Government's commitment to upholding our standards and will support the Government during the Bill's passing through Parliament.