Over recent weeks, I have been visiting recently reopened retail businesses across the Forest of Dean. This week, indoor gyms, sports facilities and swimming pools are among those to reopen.
On Monday, the House of Commons debated amendments to the Trade Bill. I know that there have been a number of misleading media reports on this topic, but this Trade Bill is all about simply transitioning Free Trade Agreements we have already agreed so they continue in force after the transition period with the EU ends.
To implement new agreements with global partners, the Government will bring forward separate primary legislation.
In my most recent meeting with local National Farmers’ Union (NFU) Members, we discussed the importance the public attach to the UK’s high standards of food production, and the unique selling point it provides for our farmers, whose high-quality produce is in demand around the world.
The Government has reiterated the Conservative manifesto pledges that our very high animal welfare, environmental, food safety and food import standards will not be compromised in any future Free Trade Agreements.
I recently spoke to Liz Truss, the International Trade Secretary, on this matter. We discussed the Government’s recent announcement of a Trade and Agriculture Commission to allow the agriculture industry to inform how the UK develops our trade policy in a way that is beneficial to our agricultural sector. This Commission is supported by the NFU and will ensure that our food and farming standards are protected no matter what.
In other news, the Government has confirmed the distribution for the £500 million of new funding for councils, including individual local authority allocations. Covid-19 has had a profound impact on councils across the country, in every constituency, and it is great to see that the Forest of Dean District Council and Gloucestershire County Council will have received over £1 million and £31 million in extra funding respectively.
Local government has been at the heart of our national response, and I will keep working closely with our District and County Councillors – supporting our communities and their recovery from the pandemic.