Source: The Farmers Weekly

The Agriculture Bill had its third reading in parliament on Wednesday (13 May), which saw MPs take a historic vote on a number of important amendments.

Because of the coronavirus lockdown many MPs are working from home, and this was the first ever virtual vote to be held in the House of Commons.

The most important piece of farming legislation to come before parliament in decades included an amendment tabled by Neil Parish, Conservative MP for Tiverton and Honiton, which sought to protect UK farmers from low-standard food imports.

The clause would have prevented future trade deals from allowing food into the UK not produced to the standards required of farmers and processors within the UK.

But it was defeated by 328 to 277 votes – a majority of 51 – after failing to receive the support of the Conservative government, despite several previous commitments to safeguard our farming industry from cheap food imports, produced to standards that would be illegal in the UK.

In total, 183 Labour MPs, 44 Scottish National Party (SNP) MPs and 11 Liberal Democrat MPs, as well as Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, voted in favour of Mr Parish’s amendment.

Despite priding themselves on being “the party of the countryside”, only 22 Conservatives voted to support Mr Parish’s defeated amendment, which included former Defra secretary Theresa Villiers, MP for Chipping Barnet.