My Question to the Minister during an Opposition Day debate on the cost of living and food insecurity

Rt Hon Sir John Redwood MP (Wokingham) (Con): Does the Minister agree that there is no reason why we should not produce 100% of the temperate food that we need? We lost a huge amount of market share when the common agricultural policy was introduced, and some of us want to get that back now that we are out of the CAP. Is it not better to cut the food miles and rely on local jobs and local production?

Victoria Prentis (The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs): It is also a pleasure to talk to my right hon. Friend about these matters. I have also spoken to him many times, in this instance about his plan to boost horticulture, particularly fruit and vegetable production, in his constituency and, indeed, across the nation. Fruit production has fallen to 16% of what we consume nationally, and fruit is one of the very few foodstuffs whose price has risen in comparative terms over the last 10 years when the price of most other foodstuffs has fallen.


  1. alan jutson
    February 9, 2022

    No plan then.

    1. lifelogic
      February 9, 2022

      Indeed. Local food production need cheap reliable energy too – for tractors, fertiliser, warming greenhouses, transport, chilling and freezing foods, powering fishing boats and building storage buildings and pack-houses…

      Philip Johnson in the Telegraph today:-

      “Britain needs a new dash for gas to save us from the lunacy of net zero
      Boris will be to blame if energy policy continues down the route of surging prices and rationing”

      Indeed he May, Carrie, Hug a huskie Cameron and all MPs (other than about 20 sensible ones) will be responsible . Alas we needed the dash for gas many years ago but better late than never. Yet still few signs of sense. Expensive energy (and deliberate currency devaluation from Sunak) are the main causes of inflation. It affect the costs of everything, renders the UK uncompetitive, destroys who industries, damages the economy and exports jobs. Well done to all those deluded virtue signalling MPs!

      1. lifelogic
        February 9, 2022

        Also for the food grade CO2 for packing that government now has subsidise. Taxpayers cannot keep subsidising everything!

        1. James1
          February 10, 2022

          She didn’t answer the question

    2. SM
      February 9, 2022

      Well quite, Alan – if that is a Ministerial response to a serious question from a highly-respected backbencher, I can only say that one of my exceedingly dim dogs could do better.

    3. Denis Cooper
      February 9, 2022

      Not even to grow more plums.

  2. No Longer Anonymous
    February 9, 2022

    Fruit is OK for nutrients and fibre but diabetics are warned off it as it is a source of sugar that is harmful to them. A healthy person can have too much of it for its sugar content.

    Whilst we rebuild our post CAP farming we should focus on foodstuffs that are optimally nutritious and seasonal. Here is a chance to get scientific about it.

    Solar panels and housing estates on arable land are not the solution. And nor is mass immigration – which eventually produces a lot of old people with the backward ideas they grew up with, whom Andy will eventually grow to dislike too.

  3. Mickey Taking
    February 9, 2022

    ‘his plan to boost horticulture, particularly fruit and vegetable production, in his constituency’.
    Well Sir John the places you could boost fruit and veg are running out fast, and in gardens football nets and trampolines take priority !

    1. Everhopeful
      February 9, 2022

      Yes! Yes!
      Trampolines to cabbage patches!!
      Hot tubs and basket ball nets to go next.
      Rhubarb, carrots, beans….we shall not starve!
      And veg is very quiet…….

    2. Ian Wragg
      February 9, 2022

      Same here, every bit of land is being built on and now we have 3 local planning applications for vast solar arrays on arable farm land

      The government is absolutely nuts allowing these projects when they ate foreign owned and Importing.g panels from China.

    3. David L
      February 9, 2022

      From what I’ve seen happening to the productive farm land around Wokingham Victoria Prentis was surely speaking in jest!

  4. lifelogic
    February 9, 2022

    So the prime minister told the House of Commons that crime had fallen by 14 per cent – a claim later denounced as “misleading” by the head of the UK Statistics Authority.

    The claim is only true if you exclude fraud, computer and similar crimes – overall crime has actually risen by 14 per cent, according to ONS. Furthermore, in my experience, it is rarely worth reporting many crimes other than for insurance as the police so rarely do anything. Often very reluctant to even take the crime report I have found. So very many crimes are never reported which is doubtless what they want.

  5. Shirley M
    February 9, 2022

    Isn’t Boris encouraging farmers not to farm, with his idea to pay farmers to re-wild? We have already lost a great deal of good arable land to housing. Does Boris want us to be totally reliant for food on imports? There is no alternative when we have combined mass immigration and rapid loss of farmland.

  6. forthurst
    February 9, 2022

    She could at least of have suggested as part of the Tory ‘rewilding’ of our agricultural land, the potential for crab apples, blackberries, rosehips, hazelnuts, chesnuts and a jolly day out via electric bus for winners of the ecoloon of the year contests.

  7. Original Richard
    February 9, 2022

    No answer given, then.

    The reason the civil service do not want to increase temperate food production in the UK is because all agriculture is very difficult to decarbonise and in fact will require energy and hence money to be spent sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere in order to compensate and reach the all important net zero CO2 emissions target.

    Quicker to reach Net Zero if we import all our food and (re-)wild the country to absorb CO2.

    Food prices and food security are unimportant for Marxists who believe “the ends justifies the means”.

  8. Sea_Warrior
    February 9, 2022

    So, a non-answer then. The government needs to put food-production as the primary objective of our agricultural policy. It seems that we are only to get more eco-lunacy.

  9. agricola
    February 9, 2022

    No discernable plan.
    It would be to our advantage to eat seasonally because we would always be eating fresh and of high quality. Asparagus that has travelled from South America and is available year round is a travesty when compared to home grown in May/June.
    Tunnels and greenhouses extend our seasons and are acceptable providing quality is not sacrificed.
    The bad UK diet and its consequences are a supermarket product. Control them and you control the problem. Get it right and you reduce the load on the NHS.

  10. Dave Andrews
    February 9, 2022

    No reason?
    Here’s some reasons.
    Government wants to develop agricultural land for housing, occupied with more tax payers. What housing that might be available for farmworkers is sold off for second homes and holiday lets (not that snowflake generation wants to work on a farm).
    Lets convert the entire country to an urban sprawl and import cheap food. Like Singapore except much bigger. Happy days down at the Treasury.

    1. Shirley M
      February 10, 2022

      Well said. Quality of life for the plebs gets no consideration, not does our traditional way of life. We must adopt the lifestyle of our immigrants, especially Halal food which is being forced upon us by stealth, pretty much as the EU was given control of the UK.

  11. Nig l
    February 9, 2022

    What does this mean then? What an ****** useless zero information response. Frankly insulting.

  12. Norman
    February 9, 2022

    All ‘tooty fruity’ greenie and vegan then – nothing about the realities of food production in relation to terrain and climate. But yes, Britain could certainly do better, with the right climate (political and economic). But ironically, we grow great Brussel’s sprouts!

  13. Lifelogic
    February 9, 2022

    Food production in the UK requires cheap reliable energy to compete – so very good to hear that:- The UK-based JET laboratory has increased its own record for the amount of energy it can extract through deuterium fusion. The experiments produced 59 megajoules of energy over five seconds (11 megawatts of power) they claim.

    So can we not get fracking now please – we can always remove CO2 from the atmosphere later (if needed) using almost limitless fusion energy will bring once we crack it in say 15 years time. Not that this will actually ever be needed in reality (if you follow the real science). Anyway the current solutions pushed by government Wind, EVs, public transport, walking… do not even save any CO2 (or any significant CO2) at all. Many things they do – such as importing gas or wood by ship or building new EVs rather than keeping your old car actually increases CO2.

  14. X-Tory
    February 9, 2022

    No attempt whatsoever to even begin to answer your question – not even in part. She just completely ignored everything you said. Offensive, insulting and utterly unacceptable.

  15. Mickey Taking
    February 9, 2022

    The UK-based JET laboratory has smashed its own world record for the amount of energy it can extract by squeezing together two forms of hydrogen. If nuclear fusion can be successfully recreated on Earth it holds out the potential of virtually unlimited supplies of low-carbon, low-radiation energy.
    The experiments produced 59 megajoules of energy over five seconds (11 megawatts of power).
    This is more than double what was achieved in similar tests back in 1997.
    It’s not a massive energy output – only enough to boil about 60 kettles’ worth of water. But the significance is that it validates design choices that have been made for an even bigger fusion reactor now being constructed in France.
    “The JET experiments put us a step closer to fusion power,” said Dr Joe Milnes, the head of operations at the reactor lab. “We’ve demonstrated that we can create a mini star inside of our machine and hold it there for five seconds and get high performance, which really takes us into a new realm.”

  16. The Prangwizard
    February 9, 2022

    How do we produce more food when land is being planted with trees and being built on as matters of priority. Promotion of tree planting is popular with ‘green’ people.

  17. Enrico
    February 9, 2022

    No answer then from this so called minister of state?No wonder the country is in the state it is employing people like this who no doubt earns (sorry wrong word) lots of salary.

  18. Lester_Cynic
    February 9, 2022

    And growers could pump Co2 into their poly tunnels to speed crop growth!

    But would that be allowed?

    1. Bryan Harris
      February 10, 2022

      Rather than reducing co2 you would imagine they would encourage more of it to take us over the paltry 16% of food grown in the UK.

  19. Lester_Cynic
    February 9, 2022

    And growers could pump Co2 into their poly tunnels to speed crop growth!

    But would that be allowed?

    And it’s not a duplicate comment

  20. Enrico
    February 9, 2022

    I know what he means, but I think many of the answers lie in the hands of good Ministers. Ministers with a large majority have the crucial power to change the law if the old laws get in their way. They can command huge resources of people, money and message. They can abolish quangos, appoint new Heads, issue clear new public instructions to them which Parliament may debate. They can ask their departments to do more of this and less of that. They have the power of the purse and of the pulpit.

    Excellent article Sir John and I particularly liked the above paragraph.Great pity we haven’t got the ministers to act on this.

  21. Nottingham Lad Himself
    February 9, 2022

    So, what if overseas producers produce the foods that we want to a higher standard and more cheaply?

    For instance, tasty speciality tomatoes, grown in the fresh air in sunny Spain?

    Spain is a temperate country.

    As far as I know the UK already does produce most of the potatoes, carrots, sprouts etc. consumed here anyway.

    1. Mickey Taking
      February 10, 2022

      I’m so glad we can pull up carrots and sprouts at this time of year Martin. (sarc) We certainly won’t get ‘new” potatoes.

  22. Ian Smith
    February 9, 2022

    This comment shows the naivety and ignorance of our MP. It would be great to say we produce all of our own food in the UK and it is a great sound byte, but it is delusional and arrogant to think it is possible and based on the same pathetic logic which lumbered us with Brexit.

    Here are a few obvious reasons why the plan is flawed:

    1) The uk climate isn’t great for growing many fruit and vegetables – I can’t picture UK banana plantations! Maybe we will only be allowed potatoes, carrots and apples!

    2) Whilst we may have people currently unemployed, it isn’t a job many want to do – the people who will do the work are the ones the Brexit voters didn’t want to be in the country.

    3) is there enough land to grow the required amount?

    We had a decent setup for importing things, but sadly the ignorant minority managed to brainwash the delusional majority which has resulted in the current mess we have!

    Reply I said temperate food, not bananas

    1. Christine
      February 10, 2022

      What mess? I’ve not noticed any food shortages and fruit and veg are at a very low price.

      Please tell me what mess you are referring to?

  23. Everhopeful
    February 9, 2022

    Oh…that was a good answer….NOT!
    I bet she wanted to say…
    “Nah! We’re going to “rewild” half the bally countryside and build on the other half.
    So there!”
    Assuming that is, that the govt. ever works out how to do either. So we may be safe.
    We need some rich folk to buy up farmland ….and FARM it!

  24. Denis Cooper
    February 9, 2022

    Relevant to this, I watched Prime Minister’s Questions and the second question came from Gareth Bacon:

    “The Northern Ireland protocol frustrates business, undermines the Belfast agreement, and restricts the free movement of goods and people within our United Kingdom. What action will my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Union take to reunite the UK and uphold the interests of all its residents, including those living in Northern Ireland?”

    To which Boris Johnson replied:

    “My hon. Friend is quite right. The protocol does not require, contrary to how it is being applied by our friends, all foods, all medicines and all plants to be systematically checked in the way that they are. We must fix it, and with good will and common sense I believe we can. However, if our friends do not show the requisite common sense, we will of course trigger article 16.”

    Well, the protocol is complicated and I find it difficult to work through all the details to establish whether or not his answer is true, but if it is true then he did not get the protocol that he proposed:

    2 October 2019”

    Paragraph 7a:

    “Building on the existing practice established to maintain the Single Epidemiological Unit (SEU) on the island of Ireland, Northern Ireland would align with EU SPS rules, including those relating to the placing on the market of agri-food goods. Agri-food goods entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain would do so via a Border Inspection Post or Designated Point of Entry as required by EU law, building on the provisions that already exist to support the SEU. They would be subject to identity and documentary checks and physical examination by UK authorities as required by the relevant EU rules.”

    So Boris Johnson proposed that the checks would be performed by UK authorities but the rules would be set by our “friends” in the EU, and while the EU Commission and/or the EU Court of Justice might decide that as they were being applied certain checks were too stringent, or alternatively too lax, it would not be for Boris Johnson or anyone else to decide, or do anything more than argue their case before the EU institutions.

  25. Stred
    February 9, 2022

    What are they planning for the recently re- wilded farmland. Perhaps wild boar and pork pie production staffed by Channel hoppers who don’t want to work in care homes.

  26. Christine
    February 9, 2022

    In my opinion fruit and veg, relative to income, has never been cheaper. I’m not sure where Victoria Prentis does her shopping but it’s certainly can’t be the same supermarket I use. I bought a large bag of pears for 50p, a kilo of carrots for 39p, a cabbage for 45p, a lettuce for 55p, a pineapple for 79p and a large bag of bananas for 99p a couple of days ago. This isn’t even from one of the cheap supermarkets.

    We get fresh produce from around the world and at this time of year very little from EU countries. I haven’t noticed any shortages in the shops since Brexit.

    This is just more ministerial waffle and doesn’t answer the question asked.

  27. Iain Gill
    February 9, 2022


    I see that the SNP are taking ScotRail into public ownership. With the full rhetoric of nationalisation.

    I also see that in Wales all newly identified prostate cancer patients are being denied treatment. As an active decision of the politicians.

    Can the government not point out the injustices of these things?


  28. Everhopeful
    February 9, 2022

    Our PM seems to have a great talent for choosing advisers !

  29. Iain Gill
    February 9, 2022

    I see the PM’s new Permanent Secretary and Chief Operating Officer has a background as an NHS manager, never in history has management from such a failing institution been a success in such a role.

  30. Edwardm
    February 9, 2022

    A non-answer.
    Implies total failure to realise the importance of food security, and no concern that covering the countryside in solar farms reduces food production and increases food miles.
    It is most irksome that all the common sense points JR makes, are ignored by the government.

  31. Peter2
    February 9, 2022

    You are correct as usual Sir John.
    We should encourage and support our growers and farmers to produce sufficient foodstuffs to provide for our population.
    Please carry on with your efforts!

    1. Nottingham Lad Himself
      February 10, 2022

      How are you going to compel the population to buy it from them, and not perhaps better quality or more interesting varieties imported from sunnier but still temperate lands?

      “You can’t buck the markets”

      1. Mickey Taking
        February 10, 2022

        Do you not remember the supermarkets buying millions of acid green French apples some years ago?
        The Brits decided they were sour and awful fruit and seem to have decided never to ever buy again. We are not offered then any more! The market was bucked.

      2. Peter2
        February 10, 2022

        No need to compel anyone NHL

        Let the growers decide what to grow.
        They will choose to grow produce that can compete on price.

        Let UK consumers choose products they would purchase instead of imported produce.

        1. Nottingham Lad Himself
          February 11, 2022

          How, with less sun and no local people willing to pick the stuff?

          1. Peter2
            February 11, 2022

            Lots of products and produce grow in the UK NHL
            Plenty of opportunities for our clever farmers and growers.
            Why are you so cynical?

  32. JayGee
    February 9, 2022

    No answer then. Seems there’s little point anyone asking questions of anyone about anything.

  33. Jasper
    February 9, 2022

    Sorry did I miss her answer the question??

  34. Bryan Harris
    February 10, 2022

    WOULD the minister like to speculate on which policies, laws and decisions are getting in the way of this country being unable to produce more than 16% of required food items?

    Are there any plans to help boost home production, or is this something we are going to have to live with?

  35. Margaret Brandreth-
    February 10, 2022

    There is nothing more satisfying than growing your own fruit and veg. Most homeowners cannot be wholly self sufficient due to very small gardens and the time needed to devote to growth , but every little helps . If we are talking about health then we can grow all foodstuff which supports an all round vitamin and trace element supply. Broccoli , sprouts and spinach are very easily grown and most have freezers for excess. My carrots from last year are still growing . We as amateurs are too well aware of the difficulties involved and the years where trees don’t fruit and the birds and squirrels take the strawberries , the caterpillars eat the apples so forth and so on , but one doesn’t give up because there is not a 100 % success rate. We need to show the children how to grow and respect the food we grow,

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