MPs in the House of Commons were debating the Flood and Water Management Bill during its second reading yesterday afternoon (15 December).
APPGHG secretary Brian Donohoe raised the issue of a code of practice for water use with Defra secretary Hilary Benn.
The issue arose during the droughts of 2006, when water restrictions resulted in millions of pounds of loss to the gardening industry.
Donohoe said: "My right honourable friend will know of my interest in horticultural businesses, as secretary of the APPGHG, and I declare an interest accordingly. On drought and the problems associated with the last one, would it not be sensible to introduce a code of conduct to protect the industry and gardeners from what was seen last time as a blanket ban? It could, and should, have been a phased ban."
Benn responded: "I appreciate my honourable friend's point, and I know of his close interest in the horticultural industry. The purpose of this part of the bill is to give us clearer powers to do the right thing in the right circumstances. However, I can give him an undertaking that we will wish to consult those affected, as necessary, according to the circumstances."
The HTA now plans to work with MPs to get an amendment laid in the committee stage of the bill in January, which would include a code of practice.
HTA director of business development Tim Briercliffe told HW: "It is vital for the garden industry that water companies have a consistent approach to introducing measures which combat water shortages in the event of a drought that do not unnecessarily penalize gardeners. That is why we are working with MPs to get an amendment laid which calls for a statutory code of conduct when the bill reaches committee stage in January."