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Lords amend the Trade Bill on food standards and public health

Peers defied the government last night to add amendments to the Trade Bill on standards, public health and health inequalities. 

Laid by Lord Grantchester (L) and supported by Sustain patron Baroness Rosie Boycott, Amendment 22 calls for a new code of practice for standards on food, animal welfare, environment, human and employment rights, if those rights might be impacted by new trade agreements.  

Also laid by Lord Grantchester and again supported by Baroness Boycott, Amendment 31A calls for public health and health inequalities to be added to the role of the Trade and Agriculture Commission. Ministers have previously stated that protecting public health in trade agreements is important but have not said conclusively who might be responsible for reporting on the matter to parliament.

Lord Grantchester raised the issue of the Trade and Agricuture commission during the debate and said the way it was being put in place was not 'the shape agreed with Defra Ministers regarding public health or the fact that others may well have other ideas about what the TAC should be.”

Speaking during the debate, Baroness Boycott said: "Health matters are intrinsically interwoven with all food and farming. It is very hard to see how Ministers can try to unpick them and put one bit here and one bit there. Research shows that some of our prospective trade partners have really irresponsible approaches, for instance, to using medically critical antibiotics in farming. It could have a serious impact on health in the UK, despite our own standards, if we water them down in any way. Similarly, prospective trade partners use a great many more pesticides. Some of these are known to be linked to cancers and are currently banned in the UK."

The debate will now have its third reading in the Lords before moving back to the House of Commons.

For information on how peers voted please click here. For the full text of the debate on 6 January, please click here.

7 Jan 2021
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