Animal Health Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:30 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) 7:30 pm, 7th October 2002

If the right reverend Prelate or the noble Baroness can find a word that means the same as "immaterial" without wrecking the Bill, I might consider it. However, that is not what is being proposed. The whole point of using the term "immaterial" is that it is no longer necessary, in relation to animals that fall under the four categories, for us to engage in a policy of pre-emptive culling, as was firmly recommended by the Anderson inquiry. Changing the word "immaterial" to "material" would have exactly the opposite effect. That is why this is a wrecking amendment; it would wreck not only the Government's intention but also the very firm recommendations of the inquiries.

I turn to the point of my noble friend Lady Mallalieu. Clearly, because we have taken on board the recommendations about being more positive about using vaccination as a strategy, we hope that the number of occasions on which a pre-emptive cull was proven to be necessary would be limited. Nevertheless, we cannot exclude the possibility—for logistical reasons or because the disease was running out of control—that we may need to engage in a pre-emptive cull. Nor can we ignore the firm recommendation of the inquiries that we need to clarify the law to that effect. If the Committee wishes to pursue this amendment, it must recognise that it does so in the face of the recommendation of the inquiries, which the House has hitherto said are the main reasons for delaying progress on the Bill. Therefore, I would not recommend the Committee to go down that road. If it were to do so, far from meeting the concerns of the farming community, I believe it would be acting seriously against its interests.