Veterinary Surgery (Testing for Tuberculosis in Bovines) Order 2005

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 2:42 pm on 18 November 2005.

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Photo of Lord Addington Lord Addington Spokesperson in the Lords (Sport), Culture, Media & Sport, Spokesperson in the Lords (Disability), Work & Pensions, Deputy Chief Whip, People With Disabilities, Non-Departmental & Cross Departmental Responsibilities 2:42, 18 November 2005

My Lords, coming as I am rather new and nervously to the field, the arguments that have been put forward by the noble Baroness have a certain degree of weight. If you are going to allow some highly-specialised people onto farms to do one particular function, the general power to observe the well-being of the animal is almost bound to decrease and things will be missed.

Also, as the noble Baroness pointed out, we have an area where we are short of vets. We are effectively taking away a revenue stream from them, and the laws of supply and demand may mean that it cuts down the number of vets further by cutting down the revenue streams, which means that those vets that remain can charge more. That also means that people will delay longer in calling in a vet and will let certain situations go on longer. That may cause more infectious disease, more distress to the animal and higher degrees of infection.

The fact of the matter is that it is something of an emergency, stop-gap measure. An indication from the Government of exactly how much of an emergency measure it is would be helpful. Also, are they planning to expand the numbers of state vets? I am informed that the numbers have fallen in recent years. If the Government can give us some assurances that they do not look on this as a long-term solution and they are merely doing it to make up the lost time and the backlog, there might be a grudging acceptance from us. If, however, it is seen to be a general fix of getting people in to do one specific task that might be opened up to the entire veterinary profession, then we would have much more of a problem with it. I look forward to the Minister's reassuring answer.