Animal Health Bill
Baroness Mallalieu (Labour)
One accepts—or I do at any rate—that when Ministers come to this House and say that they require an additional power which they may have to use in the event of a future outbreak, we should listen to what they say and give them that power. But I should say to my noble friend Lord Carter that criticism of the way the Bill is currently drafted does not come solely from the Opposition; it comes from some of us on his own Benches who have paid close attention to the progress of the Bill.
In urging that legislation should be robust, unambiguous and fit for the purpose, Dr Anderson did not specify legislation which should be blanket and unfettered by reason. All we are asking is that the Bill be drafted in such a way that any future Minister who comes to exercise these powers is bound to pause and ask himself what is the basis of the use of that power. As presently drafted, the Bill is blanket, unfettered and, potentially, in the hands of a Minister—and we do not know who it may be at some stage in the future—capable of being misused.
The criticism is not unreasonable. It should not disappoint my noble friend Lord Carter, who is, as we all know, a very fair man. It is something that noble Lords on all sides of the Committee should want to see incorporated into the Bill now.