Lords accept government assurances over Brexit food standards after MPs defeat peers twice

The Houses of Parliament in London

The Houses of Parliament in London - Credit: PA

Opposition peers have accepted government assurances over post-Brexit food standards after MPs continued to overturn their amendments to the Agriculture Bill.

Ministers have pledged to offer increased parliamentary scrutiny of free trade agreements to ensure consistency of standards on human health, animal welfare and the environment.

The Trade and Agriculture Commission, which represents UK farmers, retailers and consumers, will be put on a statutory footing and produce a report on the impact on animal welfare and agriculture of each free trade deal the Government signs.

Environment minister Lord Gardiner of Kimble said the government had listened to the strong representations made by peers and met its manifesto commitment not to compromise on standards.

Critics on all sides of the House welcomed the government’s concessions after concerns over chlorinated chicken or hormone-treated beef entering the UK market from the US.

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Labour's Lord Grantchester said ministers had recognised the public’s concerns about standards of imported foods and boosted confidence with its concessions, but Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville said the government had not gone quite far enough to meet her party’s concerns.

She said the amendments suggested it may be able to “permit imports of products that do not meet our stringent standards when they merely report to parliament that it has done so”.

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A further Liberal Democrat amendment to ensure imported food must meet or exceed UK standards was defeated by 290 votes to 130, a government majority 160.

This brought to an end the legislative tussle known as parliamentary “ping pong”, where legislation is passed between the two Houses.

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The bill, which introduces a new farm support system after leaving the EU, now stands ready to become law.

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