Luke is the Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

What is the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)?

In the UK, the Prime Minister leads the government with the support of the Cabinet and ministers. Departments and their agencies are responsible for putting government policy into practice.

DEFRA stands for the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. It is responsible for policy and regulations on environmental, food and rural issues. DEFRA’s priorities are to grow the rural economy, improve the environment and safeguard animal and plant health.

What does the Shadow Environment team do?

Labour’s Shadow Environment team is selected on merit by the Labour Leader, Keir Starmer MP, with Luke having an input on their selection. Their role is to hold the Conservatives to account and specifically, to scrutinise the policies of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) Secretary of State, George Eustice MP.

What is Luke’s role in the Shadow Environment team?

Shortly after being elected in Summer 2017, Luke was appointed to be the Parliamentary Private Secretary to Sue Hayman MP, the Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Following a mini-reshuffle in July 2018, Jeremy Corbyn announced  Luke was promoted to become Labour’s Shadow Fisheries Minister.

Following the General Election in 2019, Luke was promoted to Shadow Secretary of State, leading the DEFRA team. He was re-appointed to this role following Keir Starmer’s election as Leader of the Labour Party and is currently working with Keir to form his new Shadow DEFRA team. He had this to say following his re-appointment:

I’ve spoken to Keir Starmer today and have accepted his offer to continue as Shadow Environment Secretary. This job is more important than ever in working to tackle the Climate Emergency and I look forward to continuing to hold the government to account in this area. Right now, we need a greater focus on food issues and I will keep making constructive suggestions to DEFRA Ministers to keep food on shelves and jobs in the supply chain following the COVID-19 pandemic.”

What did Luke do when he was Shadow Fisheries Minister?

Luke’s brief included responsibility for Labour’s position on fishing as well as coastal communities, flooding, water and National Marine Parks.

What is different now that Luke is the Shadow Secretary of State?

Luke’s brief now includes all of Labour’s DEFRA policy, including Agriculture, Biodiversity and Conservation, Animal Welfare, Air Quality, Flooding, Food, Fisheries, Forestry, Marine Policy, National Parks, Hunting, Land Management, Rural Development, Water and, most importantly, tackling the Climate Crisis.

Luke is supported by a team of Shadow Ministers each with their own briefs/policy areas.

How does this help Luke’s campaigns for Plymouth?

Fishing is hugely important to Plymouth and to the far south west. Plymouth has world-class marine science and engineering skills as well as one of the most important fish markets in the country.

In November last year Luke launched the campaign to designate Plymouth Sound as the UK’s first National Marine Park. This campaign has now been backed by Plymouth City Council and UN Patron of the Oceans, Lewis Pugh, on his recent visit to Plymouth. After lobbying from Luke, the Labour Party adopted creating National Marine Parks as party policy.

What else has Luke already done in Parliament on DEFRA? 

Flooding has affected people up and down the country, and one of Luke’s first jobs following his promotion to Shadow Environment Secretary was leading Labour’s response to scrutinising the government’s flooding response following Storms Ciara, Dennis and Jorge. Luke spoke both in the Opposition Day Debate, where he called for an independent review into the UK government’s flooding response, and in response to a Statement by the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs following Storm Dennis.

Luke is also working constructively with George Eustice MP, the Secretary of State, regarding food policy to support the food supply chain following the COVID-19 Crisis. This is especially important in the wake of a UK-wide lockdown, where the UK must develop a plan to ensure British-grown food is harvested, especially as it is expected that there will be a lower intake of seasonal workers to support British farming.

Fishing is also incredibly important to Plymouth, and has consistently been one of Luke’s top priorities. Since being elected, Luke has spoken in the House of Commons about fishing boat safety following the loss of two Plymouth trawlers where two people died. Luke called for more investment in lifejackets for fishermen, more quota for small fishing boats and for better enforcement of British fishing waters. Luke is also co-chair of Labour Friends of Fishing, an open forum for discussion and debate on fishing in the Labour Party.

Luke has been a strong advocate of efforts to tackle plastic pollution and has backed the Plastic Free Plymouth initiative.

“This new role will give me a bigger platform to talk up our city and fight on our issues.” Luke Pollard MP, Labour's Shadow Environment Secretary
Luke Pollard MP, Labour
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