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Plants: Imports

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN 45175, tabled on 8 September 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking at border control posts to ensure that plant inspection charges are fair and reasonable.

Answered on

16 September 2021

It has long been UK Government policy to charge for many publicly provided goods and services. The standard approach is to set fees to recover the full costs of service delivery. This relieves the general taxpayer of costs, so that they are properly borne by users who benefit from a service. This allows for a more equitable distribution of public resources and enables lower public expenditure and borrowing. Defra plant health services operate in line with that principle and have done for many years. Plant health fees are reviewed regularly and adjusted to ensure no under, or over, recovery of costs and amended as necessary.

Additionally, to reduce the burden on businesses, Defra took the decision to delay the introduction of inspection fees for imports of ‘high-priority’ plants and plant products from the EU until 1 June 2021 in England and Wales. In arriving at the decision to delay the introduction of plant health import inspection fees for these goods, officials have had to balance the need to support affected businesses, against legal considerations and the rules around managing public money. Delaying these fees until 1 June 2021 struck the right balance between these competing demands.