MP's Column

Boris Johnson’s speech on Sunday set out a future timeline for easing lockdown measures. We are encouraged to go to work if you can with social distancing and exercise more than once a day. The fundamentals haven't changed - the reasons for leaving home remain the same. Still no non-essential travel (which would include coming to Cornwall for a holiday etc). Social distancing remains in place and there will be bigger fines for those that break the rules. Further details have been released including further guidance for workplaces and employers. As things change, directed by Government and Public Health England, I want to reassure you that my priority is to ensure people remain safe but not forgotten.

The government has updated its FAQs page addressing many of the most common queries about the changes coming in to effect. Please refer to one of the longest website addresses to date - it does what it says on the tin:

In continued support for employees the Chancellor has announced that the Job Retention Scheme will be extended until the end of October. Until the end of July, furloughed workers will continue to receive 80 per cent of their current salary. From the start of August, the scheme will be more flexible, and furloughed workers will be able to return to work part-time with employers contributing towards their salaries. 

On Wednesday Parliament expected to vote on the Agriculture Bill, one of the most significant pieces of legislation to come before us for decades (this column was submitted before this). I stressed to Government that, with Parliament not sitting conventionally, it is not possible to properly scrutinise this Bill. There are five key areas that the Bill must ensure and, in its current form, it fails to. The Agriculture Bill must include a method to monitor and track UK food security. If we learn anything from coronavirus it is how dependent we are on our food supply and an annual assessment of how well we can provide for ourselves will guide effective support and development of our food production and farming capability. It must ensure high standards of animal welfare and food quality are maintained for imported food as well as homegrown! The Bill must address the need for resilience in the production of UK food and allow flexibility for Government to intervene and support food producers where necessary. Finally the Bill must be clearer about how public money for public good favours food production in harmony with high environmental standards and nature recovery. We produce fantastic food for UK and international consumption but we need good legislation to support this, I was delighted that the Government finally identified a method to support our dairy industry. Our argument has been that we need to enable the dairy herd to survive in order to ensure we can meet the UK demand once we get to something of a recovery or new normal! The Government recognised this and announced specific support for dairy farmers last week.