Animal Health Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:00 pm on 7th October 2002.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord Peyton of Yeovil Lord Peyton of Yeovil Conservative 7:00 pm, 7th October 2002

Although I normally support my noble friend with enthusiasm and salute the charm with which she speaks to amendments, on this occasion I think she has got things a little wrong. It is surely unreasonable of her, on this day of all days, with the experience of the past three or four hours to guide her, to expect that the Minister will clarify the Government's intentions. That would be asking him to exercise miraculous powers, which he does not have. The Bill has proved beyond all shadow of doubt that the Government's intentions are immune to clarification, even by such a genius as the Minister on the Front Bench.

My Amendment No. 116 is distressingly simple and for that reason is bound to fail. No one would dispute that the fact that animals are affected with foot and mouth disease or are suspected of being so affected is a material fact. Nor would anybody doubt that the fact that animals have been in contact with others so affected is also a material fact. The same applies to those that have been exposed to infection or treated with vaccine against foot and mouth disease. These are all clearly relevant material facts. The Bill says that it does not matter whether they are material.

That heightens my concern about the level and quality of the Minister's thinking, which is referred to in paragraph (c) inserted by subsection (2). I hope that the Minister will attempt to clarify this extraordinary situation in which the Government are suggesting that, at the stroke of a pen, Parliament can make material facts immaterial, or at least can decide that it does not matter whether they are material.