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MP defends Agri Bill vote

Created on 16/10/2020 @ 07:46
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Montgomeryshire MP, Craig Williams has responded to criticism that he and his Conservative colleagues at Westminster voted in favour of a bill that rivals claim will lower food standards and impact animal welfare.

MPs voted 332 votes to 279, majority 53, to disagree with a House of Lords amendment to the Agriculture Bill which would have required agricultural and food imports to meet domestic standards.

Critics say the vote is a direct breach of their 2019 manifesto commitments to guarantee food quality and animal welfare.

Local political rivals and farmers’ organisations have called for the MP to explain his decision, with the Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) President, Glyn Roberts, saying that it was a “grave error” not to enshrine in law measures that would protect consumers and producers from sub-standard food imports.

“This government sacrificed our industry at the altar, paving the way for lower-quality food to come into this country, rather than standing by their manifesto commitments,” he said.

Yesterday our sister site MyWelshpool put the claims to Mr Williams who told us the following:

“I have had a number of constituents contact me who are concerned about the recent vote on the Agriculture Bill. I will of course write back to each one, however I thought it would be helpful to share my thoughts on the Bill.

To start, the quality of food imported into this country cannot and will not change as a result of the Bill. The purpose of the Bill is to set agricultural policy in England only, with Agriculture Policy in Wales being set in Cardiff Bay.

Food from abroad comes in through specific bilateral trade deals. I will never vote for a deal that allows produce in that undercuts our farmers.

This means that our food standards, healthcare standards and all other standards cannot be undercut by any trade deal we make with any other nation.

Domestic Standards can only be changed by a vote in Parliament, which I will not vote for or support. For example, Chlorinated chicken and hormone injected beef are already illegal to import – and to produce – in this country and will always remain so unless a new law is introduced in Parliament. Which I will never vote for.

The Government have already listened to many concerns from those in the Agricultural Community. The establishment of an independent Trade Standards Committee will ensure that trade deals are independently scrutinised.

As a member of the International Trade Select Committee, I and other MPs have many opportunities to raise concerns and question Ministers about trade deals they are negotiating. Time and time again, Ministers have said on record that they will not lower standards in any trade deals and I remain confident that this will continue to be the case.

Again, it will take a separate vote in Parliament to change any standards and I will not vote in favour of it. I speak regularly with many in the Agricultural Community who are proud of the goods they produce, many of whom are looking forward to exporting our high-quality produce across the world. I continue to fight for our farmers and will not support any measure that lowers our food standards or harms the livelihoods of our farmers.”

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