COMMONS

Chair nominations for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee

Nominations close for Chair elections

Three nominations have been received for the position of Chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee. The Chair will be elected from the Conservative party.

A full list of candidates is published below with accompanying statements.

As set out by the Speaker, the election will be held in Committee Room 8 from 10am to 4pm on Wednesday 12 July. The results are expected to be announced by the Speaker, the Rt Hon John Bercow, as soon as possible after the ballots close.

The candidates are:

Nominated by (own party)

Mrs Kemi Badenoch, Helen Whately, Bim Afolami, Kit Malthouse, Bob Blackman, Peter Aldous, Andrew Percy, Mrs Helen Grant, Nadhim Zahawi, Heidi Allen, Anna Soubry, Mr Edward Vaizey, James Cleverly, Mr Shailesh Vara, Sir William Cash

Nominated by (other parties)

Kerry McCarthy, Mr David Lammy, Sarah Champion, Barry Gardiner, Carolyn Harris

Statement

My passion for environmental issues goes back to well before I first became an MP, and I have consistently championed green policies in Parliament and in my constituency. For many years, I have actively supported campaigns that speak for Britain’s small and family farmers, and I have always taken a strong stance on animal welfare. My record shows that I have never been afraid of working across party lines and standing up to the Government.

There is no doubt that few areas of policy will be more significantly affected by Brexit than food, farming and the environment. Those changes present big risks and big opportunities. 

I believe it is vital that we use the new level of control we will have over areas like farming, fisheries and animal welfare to enhance our natural environment across the UK, and support our food producers. The EFRA Committee should be at the forefront of making sure that this happens.

There are numerous key issues for the committee to tackle, such as the growing problem of air pollution; the illegal wildlife trade and the ivory ban; flood prevention and preparedness; access to services in rural areas, migrant labour; animal welfare concerns such as live exports and conditions in slaughterhouses; the effect of pesticides on our pollinators; and ensuring EU environmental protections are safeguarded in UK law.

But the biggest challenge, and by far the biggest opportunity, involves making sure the regimes that replace the failed EU Common Agriculture and Common Fisheries Policies both support food production, and improve and protect our natural environment.

It would be a privilege to be elected Chair of this vital committee, and I very much hope that you will consider supporting me in the vote next week. I would be delighted to discuss any questions or concerns you may have.

Relevant interests

Trustee: The Aspinall Foundation

Director: The Countryside Restoration Trust

Director: The Rainforest Foundation (UK)

Shareholder: Weeding Technologies Ltd

Investment in WHEB Ventures Private Equity LP 

Nominated by (own party)

Scott Mann, Jo Churchill, Richard Drax, Peter Heaton-Jones, Mr Gary Streeter, James Gray, Mr Mark Harper, Chris Davies, Michelle Donelan, Julian Sturdy, John Penrose, Dr Dan Poulter, Martin Vickers, Mrs Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Alistair Burt

Nominated by (other parties)

Angela Smith, Geraint Davies, Angus Brendan MacNeil, Rachael Maskell, Ian Paisley

Statement

I am standing for re-election as Chair of the EFRA Select Committee on my strong record of holding the Government to account.

Under my Chairmanship in the last Parliament, the EFRA Committee held the Government’s feet to the fire on a whole range of issues, from air quality to flood defences and rural tourism to the performance of the Rural Payments Agency.

On air quality in particular, we pressed the Government time and again on their lack of action in getting to grips with toxic air in our urban areas. If re-elected, I look forward to holding the Government to account on their imminent new air quality plan.

No single Department is affected by Brexit more than Defra. As a former MEP, I know how Brussels works and how negotiations are conducted at a European level. I was also Chairman of the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee from 2007-2009 when I had many dealings with the then French Agriculture Minister, Michel Barnier – now the European Chief Negotiator for Brexit. I am keen to use this experience to scrutinise the Government’s stance on agriculture, tariffs, fisheries and EU labour throughout Brexit negotiations.

As a former dairy farmer, I care deeply about devising a sustainable and productive agricultural system. Leaving the EU gives Britain a big opportunity to simplify regulations on the Basic Farm Payment and Stewardship schemes. I want to ensure we devise the best possible domestic support system over this Parliament, producing good quality food at a competitive price, while protecting our precious countryside.

Regarding fisheries, we have the chance to right the wrongs of the Common Fisheries Policy, especially the very poor deal that was done for British fishermen when we first joined the ECC. We can now have greater access to fish stocks, look after the marine environment and stop overfishing in our waters very quickly. This will be of huge benefit to fishermen and to conservation.

I am passionate about animal welfare. Under my chairmanship, the EFRA Committee recommended banning the third party sale of puppies. I want to press for stronger laws on animal exports and care for livestock if re-elected.

I have enjoyed working with you all and have had an open door policy of being accessible, as well as visiting Members’ constituencies in order to help with food, farming and the environment.

I believe I have the experience and cross-party support to be an effective Chair during this vital Parliament. It would be an honour to be re-elected and I humbly ask for colleagues’ support. 
 
CV

  • Chair of the EFRA Select Committee 2015-17.
  • Lead inquiries into air quality, flood defences, food waste, animal welfare and the CAP.
  • Strong focus on air quality issues in last Parliament.
  • Extensive EU/Brexit knowledge
  • MEP 1999-2009
  • Chair of the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee 2007-2009. Member for 10 years.
  • Member of the EU Fisheries Committee 1999-2004.
  • Multiple dealings with former French Agriculture Minister Michel Barnier – now the European Chief Negotiator for Brexit.
  • Former Dairy Farmer – over 30 years real life agricultural experience.

Relevant interests

Partner in R.T. parish & Son Dodds farm in Somerset.

Nominated by (own party)

Mr Richard Bacon, Mr John Baron, Robert Neill, Mr Iain Duncan Smith, Nigel Mills, Alec Shelbrooke, Henry Smith, Bob Stewart, Mr Bernard Jenkin, Mrs Maria Miller, Dr Julian Lewis, Nigel Huddleston, Matt Warman, Lucy Allan, Andrea Jenkyns

Nominated by (other parties)

Clive Efford, Dr David Drew, Christian Matheson, Margaret Beckett, Mr Jim Cunningham 

Statement

I am standing for the Chairmanship of the DEFRA Committee because I want to see far more attention and affection for this department as well as holding the Government to account.

I have been Opposition Spokesman for the Environment on two separate occasions and once for Agriculture. During that time I sought to increase the maximum custodial sentence for those who commit acts of unspeakable cruelty towards domestic animals in the Animal Welfare Act.

I have served on many Select Committees during my 16 years in Parliament, including the DEFRA Committee. During the last Parliament, I chaired the Committee of Selection and was Vice Chair of the Liaison Committee. 

I intend to follow the example of all the best Select Committee Chairs I have served under, who have been those who have shared out the work and questions evenly, and importantly not tried to impose their views on the rest of the Committee. 

I also have a very small farm in Herefordshire, with only my family to help me. I breed the ‘Parliament’ herd of Hereford cattle, whose sole ambition is to cover me in muck. I also keep chickens and do my best to protect them from foxes and avian flu! 

I am eligible for a very small single farm payment and passed my farm inspection earlier in the year. I drive a hybrid electric car and do what I can to protect the environment. 

I have given my parliamentary time to promoting British cider, beer, better healthier local food and animal welfare. Chairing this Committee will help ensure that the Department does better.

There is a great deal of work to be done for the DEFRA Committee in the forthcoming Parliament, and I am greatly looking forward to holding the government to account and working cross-party to ensure that the most important issues are properly examined.

Relevant interests

I run a very small farm in Herefordshire, including cattle, with help from only my family. 

I am eligible for a very small single farm payment and passed my farm inspection earlier in the year.

I drive a hybrid electric car and receive feed in tariff for the solar panels at home.

Image: Parliamentary copyright