Animal Health Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:15 pm on 7th October 2002.

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Photo of Lord Livsey of Talgarth Lord Livsey of Talgarth Liberal Democrat 5:15 pm, 7th October 2002

Before I withdraw the amendment, I should like to respond to one or two of the Minister's remarks. I point out that the contingency plan available resulted from the 1967 foot and mouth disease outbreak, but applies to all such diseases. It appeared at the beginning of the 2001 foot and mouth disease outbreak that the only source of information was the excellent Northumberland report, which came to conclusions. Where that fitted into the Government's contingency plan to deal with the disease was not clear, and there are many lessons to be learned. I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, will address the point, but everyone should know what procedures are contained in the national contingency plan and exactly what is the plan, so that from the first minute of the known outbreak of an infectious disease, we can pursue that course of action as fast as possible. Indeed, we can then measure how effective we have been in tackling such an outbreak. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Hereford is right to ask where that will feature in the Bill and in what order. I am glad to hear the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, say that it will appear early on. That is right; we need to know exactly where we are.

I noted what the noble Lord, Lord Plumb said about relationships and instituting best practice. When I lectured in agricultural colleges, we always tried to let students know what was best practice. I believe that there is a much more effective system for disseminating information in the Scottish colleges. The advisory service in Scotland adjoins, and is a part of, the colleges and there seems to be a better communication system there to farmers on the ground, now that ADAS has become rather expensive for some smaller farmers. That whole area needs to be considered. The noble Lord, Lord Plumb, is right to say that that requires considerable discussion outside the Bill.

So, given the assurance of the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, that he will table his own contingency plan amendment, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.