Written Statement: Attendance at Inter-Governmental meeting on 17 April

In accordance with the inter-institutional relations agreement, we wish to notify you a meeting of the Inter- Ministerial Group for environment, Food and Rural Affairs was held on 17 April 2023.

The meeting was chaired by Mark Spencer MP, Minister for Food, Farming and Fisheries, Defra. The meeting was also attended by Alistair Jack MP, Secretary of State for Scotland; James Davies MP, Parliamentary Under–Secretary of State for Wales; Mairi Gougeon MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Land Reform and Islands; Lorna Slater MSP, Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity; and Norman Fulton, Deputy Secretary, Food, Farming Group DAERA in absence of Northern Ireland Minister and Permanent Secretary.

We again expressed our disappointment and frustration at the lack of attendance again by the Secretary of State. Due to the reduced quality of engagement over the last six months, we informed the meeting Welsh Government would not attend the next meeting if the Secretary of State did not attend.                                         

We discussed the Deposit Return Scheme. We had expected an update from Defra on the progress of Scottish Government’s request for an exclusion from the Internal Market Act, however this was not forthcoming. Scottish Government emphasised the urgency for this exclusion.

We then discussed the continuing work on Retained EU Law and emphasised the need for thorough engagement and an agreed consent process.

Following this we talked about the recent food shortages and issues around food security. While supply of produce is now back to normal levels, we still have concerns relating to long-term food security due to the pressures on the labour market, the war in Ukraine, and climate change. We agreed to continue to collaborate on these issues going forward

Defra then provided an update on the Windsor Framework and how it will affect our portfolio. We discussed concerns regarding the need for businesses to make changes by 1 October.

Finally, there were a number of items of any other business, including the UK Agriculture Partnership, the Subsidy Control Bill, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement Trans-Pacific Partnership, the recent fisheries framework agreement with the Faroes Island and England’s plan relating to bovine IDs.

The next meeting will be held on Monday 22 May.

A communique regarding this meeting will be published on the UK Government website at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/communique-from-the-inter-ministerial-group-for-environment-food-and-rural-affairs.