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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 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.