DUMFRIESSHIRE MP David Mundell has been criticised by Colin Smyth, MSP for South Scotland, after he appeared to make a U-turn over NFU-backed amendements to the Agriculture Bill, voted down by MPs last week.
Mundell faced criticism earlier this year after voting against a Commons amendment which would require imported food to the UK meet domestic standards, citing fears over the impact on future trade negotiations.
The legislation returned to the chamber from the House of Lords last Monday in a second attempt to enshrine current standards in law – and was rejected by 332 votes to 279.
Preoccupied by a “long arranged constituency surgery tour,” the MP was not present at the vote but said afterwards: “Had I been present I would have voted with my colleague Douglas Ross, the Scottish Conservative leader, to put the requirements to maintain high food standards and animal welfare explicitly in the Agriculture Bill.”
Appearing to contradict earlier intentions, MSP Colin Smyth reacted on Twitter: “What an insult to local farmers that @DavidMundellDCT didn’t turn up to Parliament to vote on the hugely important Agriculture Bill and then pretend he’d have voted for Labour’s amendment to protect food standards had he not arranged to be somewhere else.”
However Mr Mundell said he had formed his opinion after “carefully listening to the debates in recent weeks and the concerns of many within the farming and wider community, locally and nationally.”
Meanwhile, Dumfries and Galloway MP Alister Jack was amongst MPs voting down the amendments, saying last week that the proposed changes put forward “would have meant that we couldn’t have rolled over the current trade deals the EU has with other countries, which we are rolling over into UK law.”
Mr Jack added: “It was a more protectionist amendment than the EU have at the moment.”