Animal Health Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:30 pm on 7th October 2002.

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Photo of Lord Whitty Lord Whitty Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) 4:30 pm, 7th October 2002

My Lords, if I accepted the noble Baroness's amendments it would have the effect of removing compensation issues from the Bill, except for those in the specific clause regarding compensation for vaccinates to which I shall return shortly. It would mean that the whole system of compensation would be delayed until further policy decisions have been taken and further legislation introduced, and would include the wider issues of risk sharing and of possible insurance or levy-based schemes upon which the Government propose to consult at some length with the industry. Therefore, such issues are not appropriate for this Bill. All those matters now fall outside the scope of this legislation.

I turn to vaccination, which is referred to in the Bill and in some of the amendments. In particular, the powers of entry relate to entry for vaccination and for blood testing, as well as for culling. We will have some culling in any situation; for example, even if we maximise the use of vaccination elsewhere, we will kill the clearly diseased animals. Therefore, even if we fully adopt the recommendations for a vaccinate-to-live process, there will be a mixture of measures. A vaccinate-to-live process is very complicated to introduce as the mainstream choice of weapon to deal with the disease: it requires not only EU backing but there are also implications in the OIE review as regards how vaccinated meat is dealt within the trade.

Further, we must consider how the domestic meat industry and the retail industry deal with meat from vaccinated animals. Until the position is clear, it is difficult to answer the question posed by the noble Lord, Lord Peel. The Bill provides for 100 per cent compensation for vaccinated animals where they are slaughtered. If a vaccinate-to-live programme were introduced, it would be largely dependent on the trade being prepared to take vaccinated meat on the same terms as non-vaccinated meat. If the situation were different we would have to consider the noble Earl's question, but we have not yet reached that point. Therefore, it is not covered in the Bill.

In relation to the issues raised by the noble Countess, Lady Mar, and the noble Earl, Lord Onslow, both of whom sought to delay the Bill, I should point out to the noble Countess that the use of orders would not fulfil the aims of this legislation. Orders can be put forward only within the confines of existing primary legislation. The Animal Health Act does not provide sufficient powers in terms of the scope of vaccination or slaughter and in terms of the scope of the powers of entry to enable us to deal with it through secondly legislation—