Michael Moore MP’s Westminster Notes

Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore writes a weekly column for newspapers in his Borders constituency. Here’s the latest edition.

Surgeries

Last week I completed my second week of summer advice surgeries where I visited many more towns and villages in the Borders and discussed a huge range of issues affecting individuals and communities. These surgeries are a highlight of my work as Borders MP and it has been great to meet with so many people over the last two weeks.

Border Union Show

Last week I attended the 199th Border Union Show in Kelso and spent a fantastic couple of days holding advice surgeries at my stand and meeting local farmers and business people. The livestock, foods and activities at the show were as exceptional as ever and a testament to the creativity and success of our local farm and food businesses here in the Borders.

 Milk prices

I was pleased to hear last week that farmers and dairy processors have agreed to an outline dairy industry Code of Practice on milk contracts. The details of the Code will be finalised by the end of August with the aim that in future, contracts between farmers and dairy processors will be properly negotiated, fairer and more transparent.

I have had regular meetings with dairy farmers, the NFUS and Caroline Spelman in recent weeks on this issue and I believe this agreement is a major breakthrough for dairy farmers here in the Borders and across the UK. For too long the balance of power has been firmly in the hands of the processors so I welcome this agreement to bring fairness into the dairy market and empower the farmers who produce the milk.

I will be continuing my work with the NFUS, local farmers and UK Ministers to ensure that, as the details of the agreement are hammered out over the summer, we get the right outcome for farmers in Scotland.

Grocery Adjudicator

The House of Lords completed the third reading of the Groceries Adjudicator Bill last week which means the Bill will now be considered by the House of Commons after the summer recess and, all being well, become law before too long.

The Lib Dems have long-campaigned for a Grocery Code Adjudicator to end the unfair practices of supermarkets who regularly demand retrospective charges from farmers and alter contractual arrangements at will, according to a Competition Commission report,.

The new groceries code will apply to the UK’s ten ‘large’ retailers and ensure that they deal fairly and lawfully with suppliers. It will also ensure that any complainants are able to remain anonymous, to encourage farmers to report any malpractice. I believe the Bill is good news for local farmers and I look forward to it becoming legislation as soon as possible.

* Michael Moore was the Liberal Democrat MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk from 1997-2015 and Secretary of State for Scotland from 2010-2013.

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