‘Box Notes’ are short briefings included in a Minister’s red box, to bring them up to speed on a developing issue.
I’m writing to brief you about our latest CPF report, on the Environment and Animal Welfare. As always, there’s a summary of the report’s conclusions on this website and, as with all our reports, a more detailed private version has gone to #10 Downing Street too. The key proposals are:
We’re still a Party of animal lovers, with a strong consensus for maintaining and improving the UK’s existing food and animal welfare standards once we regain full control of these regulations at the end of the Brexit transition period. For example there are specific proposals for reviewing the rules around abattoirs, and a complete ban on live animal exports as well. Plus we believe in putting our money where our mouth is by offering lower tariffs and using the overseas aid budget to encourage other countries to raise their standards to match ours in future too.
But there is an important strand of opinion in favour of better food labelling, so consumers can make fully-informed decisions about buying food that is locally or seasonally-grown, or sustainably-sourced. While the consistency of uniformly high standards is important, we also value the variety and choice which well-informed people-power creates as well. A few of us (less than a quarter) would extend this principle still further, to make clearly-labelled GM and chlorine-washed food available as well.
Because of Covid-19, improved biosecurity is not just essential, but will require stronger international enforcement, since new diseases can emerge anywhere and don’t respect international borders. The report draws parallels with nuclear safety and suggests a new international UN agency to inspect and enforce food security across the globe, so standards are maintained not only in British supermarkets but in foreign wet markets too.
Finally, for a Party that believes in preserving what’s best about the past, we are big believers in the power of new technologies to help us hit our net-zero carbon targets too. We are particularly interested in replacing our carbon-based economy with a hydrogen-based one in future, plus the possibilities of small-scale nuclear power, making new homes more sustainable, and a ‘Festival of Green Britain’ international event to showcase our abilities too.
One of the things that makes CPF different from every other Think Tank is that we know our reports land on the right desks of Cabinet Ministers and in Downing Street. You can see a short video summarising the round-table with Liz Truss following our report about International Trade, and many of us have been contributing to the new CPF online ‘snap polls’ which we’ve been running over the summer, to give instant feedback on topical issues as well. So ‘thank-you’ from me and the rest of the CPF team for all your contributions; they’re worth it, and they’re definitely hitting home!
Best wishes & stay safe
John Penrose MP
Conservative Policy Forum Chair