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My Lords, I will speak to Amendment 48. I am a director of the Horserace Betting Levy Board as a government appointee, and a former Member of Parliament for Newmarket, which, after all, is historically the world headquarters of racing. Equine matters are very dear to my heart.
The situation we have, which is a tripartite deal, developed before the European Union became involved. There is some level of involvement on the part of the European Union and negotiations have been going on in Brussels between the British Horseracing Authority and the Commission. It is important to highlight this because the system has been in existence for many years and has been absolutely seamless. The relationship between the United Kingdom, France and Ireland has flourished. We can think of Irish horses winning in large numbers at Cheltenham, French successes at Ascot and Newmarket, and our own recent victories in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
The real key is this. The system of horse passports and documentation is managed in the United Kingdom by our highly respected industry bodies: Weatherbys, the Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association and the British Horseracing Authority, with the approval of Defra and the Animal and Plant Health Agency. It works extremely well and is therefore something that should be cherished. It is particularly important to the economy of the Republic of Ireland. People in the equine industry in Ireland are extremely anxious about this situation being damaged in any way.
As a result of the support over the years of our Governments for the equine industry, stretching right across party divides, it has turned into a great success story and is the best-managed and best-organised racing industry in the world. It contributes to the pleasure of millions of people who watch horseracing either at racecourses or on television. All our facilities have been upgraded and the industry should be supported.
I will refer to the comments made by my noble friend Lady McIntosh. If it were somehow possible to retrieve this from where it seems to have landed up and see it go back to its original tripartite status, which was actually free of the European Union, that would be excellent. However, the reality is that for whatever reason there has been a process of greater and greater involvement by the European Union; in which case, I will ask my noble friend two simple questions. What will happen during the transition period in this area of activity which is so important to us? What is our negotiating objective for the longer term as far as the work of the British Horseracing Authority with our own Government is concerned?
I conclude by expressing my admiration for many colleagues both in your Lordships’ House and in another place who have done so much work over the years to keep this industry up to the highest possible standards of governance and popularity. Finally, I will praise one particular individual. When the Single European Act came in and there was a change in the way that VAT was dealt with, we nearly lost the racing industry altogether. We had a huge fight, but it was saved by the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, my noble friend Lord Lamont. For anyone who is interested in and has a passion for racing, he of all people is someone to whom we owe a great deal.