Animal Health Bill

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

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Photo of Lord Monro of Langholm Lord Monro of Langholm Conservative 7:15 pm, 7th October 2002

As one who was involved in the contiguous cull, I think it important to clarify the procedures when a cull is likely to take place. The amendments would help to do that. With a foot and mouth epidemic all around, one could contemplate that a contiguous cull within the three kilometre limit was a possibility, but when it comes it comes swiftly. On the Friday the veterinary officer and my vet came to see the stock and agreed that they were all healthy, but were within the mileage limit. On Saturday there was the valuation and the setting up of the pens for slaughter and on Easter Sunday came the slaughter. One does not have much breathing space to consider whether there is a reason to object to the cull. In any case, when there is a huge epidemic in the area it would be very wrong for any farmers to try to stand out against the cull if it was in the interests of the majority to get on with it.

However, a number of cases, particularly in the hefted hill flocks, ended up in court cases in Edinburgh. They needed clarification, because the chance of a hill ewe crossing a boundary, which never really happens with a hefted flock, was so remote that most people thought that the hefted hill flock cull was going a step too far.

What my noble friend has suggested would clarify how and when the cull should take place—and whether it should take place at all. That will help the farming industry if we have another outbreak of foot and mouth, although I hope we do not.