This week Edinburgh P4Indy invited Heather Anderson to talk to them about the controversial Bill currently going through Westminster – the UK Internal Market Bill. After the meeting, their our oldest campaigner, Olive, commented “I thoroughly enjoyed your talk, but it has frightened me to death!”. We all felt the same!
Heather was involved with Farmers for Yes and continues to have an active interest in rural economy regeneration, and meeting environmental targets. She is an organic farmer at Whitmuir Organic Farm near West Linton.
Her talks are witty & interesting. In this recording she is talking about what the Internal Market Bill really means for the future of agriculture. The effects it will have on our standards for everything we grow, sell, eat, use. Unless of course we become an Independent Nation.
Heather talks for about 30 mins and then takes question and points of view from the group.
View and download the slides which Heather used in her presentation. And listen here:
Here are some of the points that were made in the discussion:
Heather’s Presentation :
What’s in the Bill?
- White Paper published in July 2020 and starts off with lauding the Treaty of Union and how good it will be for devolve
- aims of the bill is to create an internal market. It covers goods & services
- assert Westminster’s sovereignty over UK devolved governments
- any business can claim being discriminated against eg in provision of subsidy, eg Scottish farmers getting less favoured areas, etc Basically Standards in IM will be being set by business
- it reverses devolution of State Aid which went direct to devolved Governments from the EU. This Bill means that it’s WM who will decide what’s the equivalent spending will be spent on in Scotland, Wales & NI.
- it rips up Devolved Settlement which says that what is not reserved is devolved. This Bill will ensure that Westminster who will decide on what are now reserved areas, eg Westminster would have to agree to a new Forth Bridge. Under this Bill we will not be able to protect Scottish products, ban GM crops,
- Produce and product standards will be challenged by businesses
- Characteristics of goods : kite marks, safety performance, anything which distinguishes a product which covers name and packaging. All these indicators are under jurisdiction of this bill. It includes organic farming standards too.
- The Bill says that incoming goods can’t be put at a disadvantage. So Holyrood can’t say it’s going to use local meat. School can’t use local veg, local milk….. Because that would be indirect prohibition of other goods.
Why does all this matter?
- We’ve had decades of protection provided by EU standards, checks, and verified safety. Forty seven years of enjoying a safe environment. From 1Jan 2021 all that will disappear.
- We are staggeringly unprepared. Custome & Excise is now part of HMRC
- To set up a Scottish Excise & Customs would need 800 officers. We have 12. UK as a whole is similarly unprepared.
- Yet cairnryan port will become crucial imp/exp port linking with NI and Ireland. No clarity about paperwork, or whose responsible for dealing with it. And nowhere for anyone to park.
- UKGov want Freeports which are ways of avoiding tax and revenue. They benefit business not consumers,
- The Road Haulage industry have tried to get Gove to pay attention. Well on 23 sep Gove said 50% of lorries won’t have correct paperwork and will be fined, there will be delays, access to Kent may be required. And overall he expects 80% fall in flow rate through ports for 3-4 months.
- EU set legal standards of organic product, UK have done nothing to set up standards, so current organic label is no longer usable.
- Meat coming in with have no traceability, no passport of origin
We need to get the hell out of here and be an independent country….
After Heather’s presentation, we had a lively Q&A session which is included in the recording.
The event will be broadcast by IndyLive Radio as part of their Pensioners for Indy Podcast Series.