A Cumbrian MP is among those part of the cross-party EFRA Committee urging the Government to allow ‘proper Parliamentary scrutiny’ of Australia deal.
The Chair of the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee has today, Thursday May 27, written to the International Trade Secretary Liz Truss, calling for any agreement in principle with Australia to be published as soon as it is signed off.
Dr Neil Hudson, MP for Penrith and The Border and Member of the EFRA Committee has called the ‘lack of parliamentary scrutiny’ on the agreement ‘concerning’.
“Our EFRA Select Committee felt strongly that there is a complete lack of parliamentary scrutiny of the Australia trade agreement,” he said.
“We were promised this scrutiny and it is very concerning that the Trade and Agriculture Commission that we all fought for is not even constituted at the moment and therefore is unable to look at and advise on this agreement.
“I firmly believe that we can get a good deal with Australia but it needs to be right for both countries and it must not come at the detriment of our UK farming sector.”
The Committee also highlights the ‘distress and concern’ in the farming community caused by reports the UK is offering a zero-tariff, zero-quote trade deal.
He has therefore called for the key details of the agreement to be made public as soon as possible, ahead of the agreement of the full legal text later in the year, to allow scrutiny of potential implications for UK farmers.
The letter also urges the Government to clarify details of the Trade and Agriculture Commission (TAC), which will play a vital role in the scrutiny of new Free Trade Agreements.
In particular, the Committee call for the public announcement of the TAC’s Chair and membership, which will, the letter notes, be crucial in ensuring the TAC’s credibility.
Chair of the EFRA Committee, Neil Parish MP, said: “UK farmers are worried, having seen press reports of possible details of the Australia trade agreement.
“These proposed measures could have detrimental effects for British producers and undermine the UK’s ambition to be a global leader on the sustainable production of food and animal welfare. Parliament’s job is to ensure that this is not the case- and in order to do so, we will need to see the proposed agreement as soon as possible.
“The Trade and Agriculture Commission will be fundamental to the scrutiny process. The Government’s delay appointing a Chair is wasting time during which Parliament should be working with them to ensure the best outcome for British farmers and consumers.”