The MP for Penrith has raised his concerns about the impact of the Australia Trade Agreement on farmers in a House of Commons debate.
Neil Hudson asked whether tariff rate quotas and animal welfare clauses would be included in the deal, before then questioning if the Trade and Agriculture Commission will be formed in time to scrutinise the deal.
Addressing the Secretary of State for International Trade Lizz Truss, he asked: “I welcome the prospect of a productive trade agreement with our closest friends in Australia but it has to be right for both partners. As a vet who has worked on farms in the UK and Australia, I very much welcome confirmation from the Prime Minister yesterday in the House that this deal will be the first ever to incorporate high animal welfare standards.
“Will my Right Honourable Friend reassure the farmers and food producers in Cumbria and across the UK that tariff rate quotas and animal welfare clauses will be used in the agreement to safeguard it and that the Trade and Agriculture Commission will be constituted in time to allow for meaningful parliamentary scrutiny of this deal so we get it right for farmers, producers and not least animals in both our countries?”
Liz Truss replied: “I can confirm to my Honourable Friend that there will be an animal welfare chapter in the agreement, we have published the outlines of that in the Agreement in Principle (AIP) document, that we have put online today.
“I can also confirm to him that there will be a transition period of 15 years which will give significant time to our farmers both to work on this but also to expand exports into these important markets in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). I recognise my honourable friend’s expertise in this area and I very much welcome his engagement as we approach the signing process.”
Speaking after the Commons session, Dr Hudson added: “I am pleased to hear that the Government has listened to our calls for an all-important animal welfare chapter in the agreement and I shall study that in detail. I am determined to ensure that the voices of farmers in my constituency are heard loud and clear at the highest levels of government.
“Whilst I welcome the direction travel on animal welfare from the government, I am clear that this deal must not disadvantage our farmers and food producers. I call for the Government to use tariff rate quotas to turn down the supply of imports if our local producers are being undercut and outflanked.
“I was disappointed that The Trade Secretary didn’t respond to my point on the Trade and Agriculture Commission and parliamentary scrutiny; its work will be vital in making sure we get the best deal possible. I will continue to push the government on an answer to this point and that we get full and meaningful parliamentary scrutiny of this deal, including the ability to amend or block it.”