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Policy response – AG bill

Many of you have been getting in touch with me about the Agriculture Bill and the crucial importance of maintaining our high animal welfare and food standards in future trade deals.

I very much share your deep concern that if we do not have provisions in place to prevent future trade deals allowing in imports produced to lower standards than our own, this will severely threaten our British farmers and our high animal welfare, environmental and food safety standards.

Like the British public, Labour will not tolerate Trump’s chlorine-washed chicken or hormone-injected beef on our supermarket shelves, with all of the animal welfare implications surrounding these products.

While the Prime Minister has said that our standards won’t be lowered in future trade deals, you are entirely right that these are nothing but warm words until we have legislative guarantees binding the Government to this promise – particularly when the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has already made it clear that in any future US trade deal they will expect the UK to accept such lower standard products.

This is an area I am highly concerned with and I previously scrutinised this bill in my role on the Agriculture Bill Committee. I was also PPS to Luke Pollard MP assisting his team in important work in ensuring that the Agriculture Bill legislates for the continuation of the UK’s good food and animal welfare standards.

A Labour colleague tabled an amendment to the Bill in Committee stage to include a legal requirement that food imported to this country must not be produced to lower standards than our own, but this has been rejected by the Government.

My Labour colleagues and I will continue to press the Government at every available opportunity to safeguard our animal welfare, environmental and food safety standards and legislate against lower standard imports. I will certainly be supporting amendments in the Agriculture Bill’s Report stage seeking to do precisely this.

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MP weighs in on major changes to law

Local MP Abena Oppong-Asare has been working hard in Parliament to improve two major pieces of legislation which will impact the UK for years to come.

Abena sits on the Bill Committee for the Agriculture Bill, which will determine Britain’s food and farming policy post-Brexit. She’s part of a small number of MPs who are scrutinising the Government’s Bill line by line and proposing amendments to support British farmers, protect food safety standards and animal welfare regulations.

Abena has also been working as a member of Labour’s Shadow Defra team on the Second Reading of the Environment Bill, which will determine our environmental policies. Abena and Labour colleagues are putting pressure on the Government to improve the Bill to introduce tougher commitments to improving air quality and tackling plastic waste. These are issues of great concern to many people in Erith and Thamesmead.

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MP reports back on first weeks in Parliament

Abena speaking in Parliament

Labour MP for Erith and Thamesmead, Abena Oppong-Asare, reports back on her first weeks in Parliament since December’s General Election.

With Christmas in the way, Parliament has only met for a short time since December’s General Election. However, that hasn’t stopped Erith and Thamesmead’s new MP from getting to work in Westminster on behalf of local people.

Since her election on 14th December, Abena has been busy attending and speaking in debates, scrutinising Government legislation and challenging Ministers.

Abena gave her maiden speech in the Commons and took the opportunity to criticise the Government’s appalling record on homelessness. She committed to fighting for safe and secure housing for all during her time in Parliament. Watch here

Abena also challenged the Government’s proposal to introduce a voter ID law which will make it more difficult for people to exercise their right to vote. This will particularly impact poorer communities and ethnic minorities who are less likely to have a passport or drivers licence. Abena and Labour will continue to oppose this proposal, for which there is no evidence to justify its need.

After being appointed as a member of Labour’s Shadow Defra team, Abena has joined efforts to protect British farmers and secure our tough animal welfare and food quality standards post-Brexit and in any trade deal the Government attempts to negotiate with the United States.

Abena was delighted to attend the first meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for London and looks forward to working with colleagues across all parties to champion London and its citizens.

Abena spoke to BBC Radio Five Live about her first weeks in Parliament on the John Pienaar show as Backbench MP of the Week.

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MP joins Shadow Environment Team

Erith and Thamesmead MP Abena Oppong-Asare has taken on a new role as a member of Labour’s Shadow Environment, Food and Rural Affairs team in Parliament.

Abena will serve as Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Shadow Secretary of State, Luke Pollard MP, working with him and Labour’s team to hold the Government to account and attempt to improve the law on environmental and food issues and rural affairs.

With a new Environment Bill, the Agriculture Bill and the Fisheries Bill going through Parliament in the coming months, it will be a busy time.

Abena said “The climate emergency means we need bolder and swifter action to cut carbon and water use and protect vulnerable habitats and species. In the next three months the Government will be introducing mammoth changes to laws governing fishing, farming, food, chemical regulations and environmental protections. The Shadow Defra team will be holding the Government to account, strengthening what we expect to be weak legislation and ensuring that the climate doesn’t play second fiddle to the Tories Brexit ambitions.

“Labour won’t accept any lowering of environmental protections or animal welfare standards and we will keep pressure on Ministers to enact the urgent action we need to address the pressing climate crisis.”