The Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) has criticised a procedural manoeuvre, which will deny MPs the opportunity of voting on a crucial House of Lords amendment to the Agriculture Bill, strengthening the role of the Trade Standards Commission.
The Government is using a procedure under the Parliament Act 1911, to require the Speaker of the House of Commons to certify an amendment to the Bill moved by Lord Curry to be beyond the power of the House of Lords. The 1911 legislation provides that the House of Lords cannot pass legislation concerning the authorisation of expenditure. The Government argues that the amendment tabled by Lord Curry, which strengthens the operation of the Trade Standards Commission, will result in further public expenditure.
TFA chief executive, George Dunn, said “This is a shocking piece of political chicanery to prevent MPs from a vote on this important piece of legislation. Over a million people signed a petition earlier in the year calling on the Government to ensure the strongest standards in trade and it is an issue for which there has been cross-party support. It’s also not as if the amendment made in the House of Lords is against Government policy. The Government rhetoric is all about the extent to which it wants to maintain standards and the Trade Standards Commission will help the Government to fulfil that promise.”
“The Government should accept the amendment made by the House of Lords as a reasonable compromise. Expanding the role and remit of the Trade Standards Commission does not tie the Government’s hands. It merely ensures that the Government’s future trade policy has proper scrutiny and support from an expert panel,” said Mr Dunn.
“Day after day, we hear Government Ministers declare that they will not jeopardise our high environmental, animal welfare and consumer safety standards in trade. In view of this, they have nothing to fear from an expanded role for the trade standards commission and everything to gain. MPs must be given a chance to vote on this amendment and they must vote for it to remain part of the Bill,” said Mr Dunn.