Glue Traps (Offences) Bill - Second Reading

– in the House of Lords at 12:48 pm on 25th March 2022.

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Baroness Fookes:

Moved by Baroness Fookes

That the Bill be now read a second time.

Photo of Baroness Fookes Baroness Fookes Deputy Chairman of Committees, Deputy Speaker (Lords)

My Lords, I pay tribute to my honourable friend in the House of Commons, Jane Stevenson, who ably took the Bill through all its stages in that House. Without her valiant efforts, I would not be standing here today to introduce this Bill—so my warm thanks go to her and the colleagues who supported her. Before I forget, I declare my interests in the register relating to animal welfare.

I am extremely proud to take this Bill through the House, as it will end a great deal of animal suffering. Let me sketch in the background. Glue traps are widely available and cheaply sold online and in various stores and shops. They are small boards covered by a non-drying glue. They are usually set down on the floor or on some horizontal surface. Any animal that gets on to them is then immediately trapped by its feet or paws. This can lead to horrific injuries and suffering. In a panic, the animal may try to tear itself away, maybe tearing its skin or fur. It will certainly suffer from exhaustion and hunger, if it is not found immediately, and could have a slow, lingering death. That is torture in my language, and no animal, whether regarded as a pest or not, should have to suffer such an inhumane way of dying.

It is not only rodents, for which these traps are intended, that are caught. The RSPCA says, horrifyingly, that over the last five years it has found over 200 animals caught, including an unfortunate cat, many birds and a hedgehog, which is endangered. This is a truly horrifying spectacle.

It is made worse because many members of the public, rather than professional pest controllers, apparently panic when they see an animal caught and then commit the ghastly second torture of either throwing it away or drowning it. That is quite horrible to contemplate. There are plenty of other ways of dealing with this. The gold standard, of course, is to rodent-proof buildings. Failing that, there are traps that will catch the creatures alive, so they can be dispatched humanely, or there are what are usually called snap-traps, which immediately cause the death of the animal. That may be rather sudden but that is all to the good. There is no case for the general use of these inhumane traps.

Every animal welfare organisation I know of deplores them, so does the veterinary profession. Yesterday, I had an encouraging conversation with the noble Lord, Lord Trees, who is one of the most eminent veterinary surgeons in the country. He warmly endorses this Bill, and is sorry that he could not be here to offer his commendations in person.

I turn to the terms of the Bill. Clauses 1, 2 and 10 are the key parts, and I will concentrate my attention on them, since I must not try the patience of the House too much with a lengthy speech.

Clause 1 makes it an offence for a person to set a glue trap if the intention is to kill rodents or if they know it could kill a rodent. It would be an offence for a person to allow or permit someone else to set the trap. In addition, if a person passing sees such a trap and does nothing whatever about it, this is also an offence. Some people have suggested that this could be unfair on the innocent passer-by, but there is a useful addition: it has to be without reasonable cause. A passer-by who would not even recognise a glue trap if they saw one would be quite safe, so there is no real problem there.

Another point that has been put to me is why this is confined to rodents and not all vertebrates. My understanding from the officials is that they could come under this Bill anyway. In any case, as was discussed as part of the previous Bill, the Animal Welfare Act 2006 made it an offence to allow an animal to suffer unnecessarily, which includes an animal that has been trapped, as it would then be under a person’s responsibility or control. I am reasonably happy about that.

The only exception to all these persons who commit an offence is a pest controller with a licence to do so. That brings me to the second important clause, Clause 2, which institutes a licensing regime. Given what I have just said, people may ask why on earth we would want a licensing scheme to permit these traps to be set. In fact, the Bill is tightly drawn: the Secretary of State may grant a licence only to preserve public health and safety and, importantly, if there is no other satisfactory solution.

It may perhaps be helpful if I give one or two examples. Rodents may have gnawed through the wiring in a hospital or power station where there is an imminent worry about danger to human life or health or danger from fire. The other possibility is if an aircraft is in flight, or even taking off or landing, and an animal is found. These traps are useful, in that they are simple and can be tucked into places where perhaps another trap could not.

Interestingly, New Zealand, which we have sometimes looked to for examples, instituted an Act that forbade all glue traps, but had to roll that back a little to allow it in particular circumstances—the kind of circumstances that I have described. Happily, though, I gather that there are very few of these that now take place in New Zealand.

The Secretary of State can attach all manner of conditions to the issue of a licence. It could be for a single person or a group of persons, and the licence can be revoked; a great deal of power rests with the Secretary of State to have a solid and clear-cut set of conditions. Regulations made under the Bill—or Act, if it reaches the statute book—will be via statutory instrument with the negative procedure in place.

I have to declare that, as a former chairman of the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee, I am always very wary of regulations that give Ministers power, now and in the indefinite future, to do whatever they wish by regulation. I would have preferred if it had been possible—it was not possible for me—to ask that draft regulations and a draft licence should be here for us to look at, so that we had a much better idea of precisely what would be covered. For example, I would want to see a regulation stating very clearly that the traps had to be inspected every hour or two hours, so that they were not left for a long time, which is one of the horrors of the regime as it currently stands. However, I am in the hands of my noble friend the Minister as to what he may be able to tell us in response. The Bill has government support, so I live in hope.

The final clause, Clause 10, is also of some importance. It applies only really to England because the devolved Administrations have the power to work on this issue themselves. My understanding is that the devolved Administrations are very likely to have Bills very similar to this one, or may already have them, and I hope that is the case.

The other part of Clause 10 relates to the time when the Bill, if it became law, would be implemented. The Secretary of State has the power to decide the day on which it should be implemented, and it could be that different parts of the Bill were implemented on different days. My understanding, from discussions with officials and from the Explanatory Memorandum that the Government produced, is that they have in mind about two years. I have to say that that is a disappointment to me. I understand that those who produce these traps have to change their ways of doing business and that a licensing system needs to be set up, but I still think that the two years that has been suggested is far too long; I would like to see a much shorter time span. That said, I believe the Bill is three-quarters of the way to where I want it to be, and I very much hope that it will receive a fair wind through this House.

I must add by way of warning that, if anyone seeks to amend the Bill, it will have to return to the House of Commons and the Bill will then be lost. I issue that as a final warning. I hope very much that it will be sufficiently good to win the acceptance of this House and will soon pass on to the statute book. I beg to move.

Photo of Lord Randall of Uxbridge Lord Randall of Uxbridge Conservative 1:00 pm, 25th March 2022

My Lords, having taken up rather a large amount of time on the previous Bill, it is only for me to say that I fully support my noble friend Lady Fookes, a well-known and long-standing champion of animal rights; that I congratulate the Government, since, being psychic, I think that they like this one—and that, without submitting to the danger, as we heard in considering the previous Bill, of becoming unnecessary, I shall sit down.

Photo of Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth Conservative 1:01 pm, 25th March 2022

My Lords, it is always a great pleasure to follow my noble friend Lord Randall—particularly when he is so brief. It is also a great pleasure to follow my noble friend Lady Fookes, who is well known for her commitment to animal welfare and who set out the case with admirable clarity for why this measure is needed.

Obviously, I speak in favour of this Bill. I also pay tribute to Jane Stevenson in the other place for the work she has done on it and thank the Government and the Minister for facilitating this very sensible and positive measure. It deals with unspeakable and unnecessary cruelty to primarily rodents, as we have heard, but it also applies to hedgehogs, robins, birds, pets—to all animals that are caught in these dreadful traps and then die of hunger, dehydration, exposure and suffocation, often clawing through their own limbs to get free.

The RSPCA has done considerable work in this area, and also deserves praise. Although this is not the primary reason for the legislation, it is worth saying that these traps can pose a considerable danger to human health, because the animals defecate and urinate once they are caught. It is also worth saying that public opinion, unsurprisingly, is very strongly in favour of legislation in this area. We should not lose sight of that.

We have heard about the experience of New Zealand; Ireland has acted in a similar way. I am not sure whether Ireland has the exceptional circumstances exemption that New Zealand has, but there is no evidence of a particular hazard from rodents—from pests—because of their acting in the way we are looking at here. Can the Minister tell us whether Ireland has a similar exceptional circumstances exemption to New Zealand’s, and as is proposed here? I can see the case that has been made by my noble friend for such an exemption, but it must be as narrowly drawn as it is because of the cruelty involved. May I also ask the Minister about the devolved Administrations? I gather that Scotland and Wales are progressing similar legislation, but I am not sure whether that is true of Northern Ireland. It would be strange if they were the only authority within the UK and Ireland that is not acting, and it would be good to hear about that.

Upon going online, it is obvious that it is very easy to purchase these things through Amazon, for example. Enter “glue traps” and up pops a plethora of places where you can order them. If we legislate as is proposed here—and I hope we do—outlets that offer these things would, I think, be caught and it would be illegal to do so unless they are offered expressly to those with a licence, proof of which would be required. The Minister may wish to comment on this. I appreciate that he might not want to be too specific about the legislative position, but it seems to me that these people are aiding and abetting the commission of an offence if they are offering these things for sale to members of the public, even if they are operating outside the jurisdiction. If they are sending these things to people in the UK, it seems to me that they are knowingly causing or permitting an offence to be committed, but it would be good to have that confirmed, if possible.

Like my noble friend Lady Fookes, I think two years is far too long to wait; we should be able to act much more quickly than that. I cannot see why it should take so long, but that said, we clearly need to have publicity and education about the measure, particularly on the impact on people who are offering glue traps for sale. What is going to be done in that regard?

That said, this is an extremely sensible measure. I am sure it will be evident that there is widespread support within the House for it, just as there is among the public. It would be really good if we could progress it very quickly. I strongly support of the Bill.

Photo of Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle Green 1:06 pm, 25th March 2022

My Lords, I rise with pleasure to support the Bill introduced by the noble Baroness, Lady Fookes, and to commend her on her clear and thoughtful introduction. As she said, the practical reality of animal population dynamics is that if you kill or remove animals in a situation where there is a food source and access, populations will breed very quickly to replace them, and the only real long-term solution is to make the structure in question rodent-proof, and that should be the ultimate long-term solution.

I shall be quite restrained in pointing out that we are not hearing the phrase “world-leading” here because, as other noble Lords have said, New Zealand, Ireland and various Australian states and territories have already brought in such a ban on glue traps. I note the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Bourne, about the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention highlighting the health dangers of these traps as they are a way to spread disease.

Several noble Lords have commented on how broadly available these things are. Prices start from 99p, and they are undoubtedly being bought and put in utterly inappropriate places by people who really do not understand what they are doing, so I agree with noble Lords who have said that two years is far too long for this legislation to come into effect. I cannot see why six months would not be a perfectly reasonable timeframe.

It has been said before, but we have to think about what, according to the British Veterinary Association, we are talking about: animals suffering torn skin, broken limbs, hair removal and a slow and painful death from suffocation, starvation, exhaustion and even self-mutilation. It is horrific that this has been allowed to go on for so long, but we are at least taking a step forward here.

Like the noble Lord, Lord Bourne, I am also concerned that this legislation talks just about setting the traps. As far as I can see, it does not say anything about selling them, so it does not appear to ban that. I am interested in the noble Lord’s interpretation that selling would be aiding and abetting. I wonder how much prosecution of small sellers through online marketplaces we might be likely to see, and to what extent that might be regarded as a police priority in these circumstances. I would like to see this Bill ban sale as well as placement.

Like others, I have concerns about Clause 2 and the potential loophole it creates of registered use. Humane Society International has noted the unregulated nature of the pest control industry and the concern that a large loophole might be created. However, I take the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Fookes, that we have what we have now, and we take this or nothing. That is certainly the basis on which I will be operating: taking what we have now but seeking to improve and strengthen it. Given that the Government are apparently likely to back the Bill, what plans do they have to review and re-examine it two or three years after it comes into effect, to see whether it needs strengthening, improving or changing?

Photo of Baroness Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville Baroness Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) 1:09 pm, 25th March 2022

My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Fookes, for her excellent introduction to this Bill. The noble Baroness has a strong reputation on animal welfare and has been a formidable advocate on animal welfare issues for a great many years. She is a force to be reckoned with.

Glue traps are extremely effective at catching small animals and are designed to deal with rodents, such as mice and rats. However, they are an indiscriminate tool and catch everything that is unfortunate enough to pass over their surface, including birds, snakes, hedgehogs, kittens and even, in one case, a parrot. The animals so caught struggle to get free but cannot and suffer a long and painful experience, before death eventually releases them from their agony. While it is desirable to get rid of rodents, this is an inhumane way of doing it.

Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, it is an offence to set a glue trap where wild birds may be captured. The RSPCA found, in a survey undertaken in 2015, that 73% of the animals caught in glue traps were species other than rodents. I have not personally had experience of a glue trap. However, glue traps are readily available and members of the public can buy one and set it to catch a rat or a mouse, with no knowledge of what will happen or how to deal with the animals caught in their trap. They are unaware of what will happen to the animal and how to dispatch it humanely or quickly end its misery. Glue traps are not an appropriate mechanism for dealing with either a minor rodent problem or an extensive infestation of rats.

I support the need for a properly trained pest control officer to be able to obtain a licence from the Secretary of State to deal with a specific infestation in a particular location, where another means of pest control would be inappropriate or impossible. This safeguard in exceptional circumstances is essential. The example given in the briefing of a rat in the cockpit of an aeroplane is one such circumstance.

Clause 5(5) lists, in paragraphs (a) to (h), a range of purposes when an inspector may enter premises to make an inspection. These provisions are very wide. Can the noble Baroness, Lady Fookes, and perhaps the Minister, say why it is necessary to have such a wide range of detailed restrictions for action to be taken? Clause 5(7) says:

“The inspector must, on request, provide a record of anything that is seized under subsection (5)(h) to any person who … has possession or control of the thing seized immediately before its seizure.”

This seems a bit obscure. Can the noble Baroness or the Minister please give a little more detail on what it actually means?

Clause 7 refers to “Offences by bodies corporate” and its subsection (1) to an offence under the Act being

“committed by a body corporate”.

Can the noble Baroness give some indication of what kind of body corporate she is referring to?

Clause 9 refers to several interpretations of what is meant in the Bill. Under “premises”, paragraph (b) refers to

“any tent or movable structure”.

I imagine this might refer to a marquee which has been erected for a fete or a wedding. Can the Minister confirm this, please?

In 2015, a YouGov poll indicated that 68% of the British public agreed that glue traps should be banned in the UK, with only 9% opposed. Since 2015 was seven years ago, is there any more up-to-date information on what the public think about glue traps? Given the general tenor of public opinion on animal welfare, I imagine that this figure may have increased, not decreased.

Lastly, I come to the date of implementation, referred to by the noble Baronesses, Lady Fookes and Lady Bennett of Manor Castle, and the noble Lord, Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth. Why will the offence of setting a glue trap not come into force for two years? I can see no rationale for this, other than that it might take that long for stocks of existing glue traps to be used up. Surely this is unacceptable. To be condemning small animals and rodents to acute suffering during this period is not humane when it could be stopped sooner. The Welsh and Scottish devolved authorities have indicated that they plan to introduce similar legislation, and I welcome this. Given the time lag, if the UK Government are not careful, Wales and Scotland will have their legislation in place before England. Surely the Government can act sooner to end this abhorrent practice.

I congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Fookes, on bringing forward this legislation and fully support the aim and thrust of the Bill.

Photo of Baroness Hayman of Ullock Baroness Hayman of Ullock Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), Shadow Spokesperson (Levelling Up, Housing, Communities and Local Government) 1:15 pm, 25th March 2022

My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Fookes, for her excellent and thorough introduction to the Bill, which answered a number of questions that I had, having read it. As the noble Lord, Lord Randall, and others have said, she has a fearsome reputation as a champion of better animal welfare, and I am so pleased that she has introduced to the House this important Bill, which we will support from these Benches. I also pay tribute to Jane Stevenson MP for steering it through the other place—and to the RSPCA, which was mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Bourne, and HSI, for all their campaigning on this issue.

We have heard many reasons why glue traps should be banned: they are inhumane and cause absolutely unacceptable and unnecessary suffering. If animals are caught on them, they suffer often horrific injuries and a slow and painful death from starvation, dehydration, suffocation and exhaustion—it really is horrible. Even worse, they are known to break and dislocate their limbs, tear off fur and skin and even attempt to gnaw off their limbs. It is really appalling that these traps are still available in this country.

So we know that trapped animals will experience prolonged and unnecessary suffering, and we have also heard from the noble Baroness, Lady Fookes, that the traps are considered to be inhumane by the British Veterinary Association. She mentioned that this was also endorsed by the noble Lord, Lord Trees. A University of Oxford study has found that capture on a glue trap has an extreme impact on animal welfare, lasting many hours, and that they scored worst, on the overall welfare impact of non-lethal components, out of all rat control methods that were examined.

As other noble Lords—the noble Baronesses, Lady Fookes and Lady Bakewell—said, it has been reported that protected species, birds, bats, wild mammals, hedgehogs, foxes and even pet cats and kittens have been caught by these traps. One thing that was very helpful for me was the explanation and clarification from the noble Baroness, Lady Fookes, of why only rodents are mentioned in the Bill. I was concerned about that, but she answered that question very thoroughly in her introduction.

We know that birds have been trapped in many instances, despite it being an offence to install glue boards in a place where wild birds could be captured. So it is still happening, even though we have had legal assurances that it should not be. The England and Wales Animal Welfare Act makes it clear that animals caught on or in traps are protected under the Act. Therefore, failing to deal with trapped animals humanely is an offence. However, in practice, members of the public are not aware of their responsibility to deal with a captured animal and are either unwilling or unable to dispatch animals that are caught in a humane manner.

One of the concerns is the fact that the vast majority of high-street manufacturers do not include any specific information on the packaging or any instructions for the user. So I support the noble Baroness, Lady Bennett, on the fact that, actually, we should be looking at the sale of these traps, as well as a ban on their use. In 2015, HSI did a poll that found that over half of respondents said that they did not know what to do with a trapped animal when they found one. Most of them suggested something that was actually an offence under law.

Another issue that has been discussed is the use by so-called professional operators who often do not behave professionally at all. It is really important that, when we look at the licensing section of this Bill, the exceptional circumstances are genuinely exceptional. The situation that Clause 2(2) in the Bill describes is tightly worded so that the Secretary of State may provide licences only under exceptional circumstances. I am interested to hear more from the Minister about what they might be, beyond those which have already been mentioned.

We have heard that glue traps have been banned or restricted in many other countries, and that a UK ban has very strong public support. We really need to catch up. I agree with other noble Lords who have already spoken that two years seems to be a long time. If it possible to bring this forward, I hope that the Minister will be able to talk to his department about how this might be achieved. We have also heard how New Zealand has banned the sale and use of glue traps since 2015. I understand that, in 2022, there were only two approvals there, for use and sale respectively, so that suggests that there are adequate alternatives that can be deployed successfully, if necessary, to manage rodents. Again, I think that these exceptional circumstances should be very, very exceptional.

In conclusion, I am pleased to see that we have legislation on banning glue traps. It is an important step forward in animal welfare, and I am absolutely delighted that the Government are supporting this Bill.

Photo of Lord Benyon Lord Benyon The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 1:21 pm, 25th March 2022

My Lords, I echo the thanks around the House to my noble friend Lady Fookes for her sponsorship of this important Bill, and for the powerful manner in which she made her case. I am also very grateful to noble Lords’ invaluable contributions in today’s debate. Like others, I pay tribute to my honourable friend Jane Stevenson, the Member of Parliament for Wolverhampton North East, who successfully steered this Bill through another place with passion and clarity. I also pay tribute to the Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation for its support as we progress this important legislation.

I confess that I have been a legislator, in one form or another, for around 17 years, and, in a way, I am quite shocked that we are getting to this only now. I am as horrified as other Members of this House by the nature of this type of pest control, and I am delighted that we are doing something about it at last.

As noble Lords are no doubt aware by now, glue traps cause extreme suffering. As has been said, the British Veterinary Association reports that animals can suffer from

“torn skin, broken limbs and hair removal and die a slow and painful death from suffocation, starvation, exhaustion and even”— an horrendous concept—

“self-mutilation”.

Furthermore, a study published in the journal Animal Welfare earlier this year concluded that glue traps are one of the very worst methods of rodent management when it comes to their impact on welfare.

I always remember a pest controller telling me why he only used humane traps. He said that it was not the rat’s fault that it is a pain in the—he used a word which is probably not acceptable in Parliament, so I will use another—neck. His point was absolutely right. We must remember that there are often very good reasons for controlling pests, but we must do so in a way which is as humane as possible. The findings that we have discussed today support the British Veterinary Association reports which add that:

“rats may die of exhaustion or suffocation, are unable to perform normal behaviours and are likely to cause fear, anxiety and pain.”

While we can all agree that rodent control is essential, I hope that we can also agree that it should not lead to undue suffering. As has been said, it is not just the intended victims which suffer. There have been over 200 incidents reported to the RSPCA over a five-year period involving some species which are rare, including hedgehogs, squirrels and even a parrot. Victims of these traps have suffered horrendous injuries, many of which may have been fatal. Some of us are no doubt all too familiar with the tragic case of Miles, a black and white cat found in an alleyway in north London last year with four glue traps stuck to him, and with injuries so severe that the only humane choice was to end his life. This is just one of many disturbing incidents which ended with unnecessary animal suffering and unnecessary distress for members of the public who do not anticipate the poor welfare conditions which are likely to come from amateur use of such means.

That brings me on to the purpose of the Bill: to recognise the immense suffering that glue traps can cause and to take them out of the hands of amateurs. This Bill will ensure that glue traps are used only by professional pest controllers, and only in very limited circumstances when they are needed to preserve public health and safety and there is no other tool suitable for the job. This measure is a proportionate step which strikes the right balance between protecting animal welfare and preserving human health. With more humane traps readily available, it is therefore right to ban these traps in all but the most exceptional circumstances.

My officials have had early discussions with the pest control industry to establish when these traps may be needed. The feedback has been that rodents are often cautious of changes to their surroundings and may avoid approaching unfamiliar objects, such as more traditional mouse and rat traps. However, due to the way a glue trap is set, it may capture rodents more quickly than other methods. For this reason, professional pest controllers may need to use glue traps for the very rare situations when rapid speed of capture is important and a delay may cause a serious risk to public health or safety. An example is the possible need for rapid removal of rodents from places with—as my noble friend Lady Fookes said so eloquently—critical infrastructure involving wiring and electrics where there is a danger of gnawing damage and, in extremis, fire. Another possible example is a mouse being spotted in the cockpit of a commercial aircraft. In this case, the mouse must be caught quickly as there is a real risk to public safety if wiring is damaged. Other rodent traps may be harder to position in this case and use of glue traps may allow the mouse to be caught more quickly than using other methods.

For such rare cases where these traps are needed, a licensing regime will be required. This has been set out in the Bill and will enable such traps to be used only by professional pest controllers and only when absolutely necessary. The wording of the Bill is clear that licences may be granted only for the purpose of preserving public health or public safety and where there is no other satisfactory solution. Licences will also place conditions on the use of traps to minimise any detrimental welfare impacts. The licensing regime will allow for the scale of use of glue traps by pest controllers to be monitored and for the inspection of authorised pest controllers to ensure compliance with the terms of licences, allowing enforcement action to be taken if terms are breached.

The two-year lead-in period has been discussed by noble Lords. This period before the offences apply will give adequate time to put a suitable licensing regime in place. We look forward to working closely with animal welfare groups and pest control organisations to ensure that the licensing regime is appropriate and effective.

While some may claim that this Bill could lead to problems with rodent infestations, the experience in other countries does not support this. Both in Ireland and New Zealand, where these traps have been banned, we are not aware of any experience of increases in rodent infestations. The pest control industry in both countries appears to have successfully and easily moved to the use of alternatives.

I will quickly go through some of the questions put to me by speakers in today’s debate. The question regarding Ireland and New Zealand is an interesting one. Ireland has a full ban and New Zealand has allowed exemptions by ministerial approval, such as we are proposing, from the outset. Approved exemptions have declined year on year and are now in very small numbers—single figures—per year, which I think will be reflected here when we implement this legislation.

A question was asked about why are we not banning glue traps in their entirety. I think that I covered that in terms of the cases, in extremis, where life and limb and public health may be put at risk.

I will not goad the noble Baroness, Lady Bennett, about who is world-leading—she is right that we are not world-leading on this, but it is high time that we did this. We might be UK leading, as we are doing this before Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, but we will work with the devolved Administrations to make sure that we are sharing, best practice, licensing and all the rest of it.

The two-year delay is an issue; I understand that. I will reflect the mood of the House on that in my discussions with officials and in the process of implementing this legislation.

My noble friend Lord Bourne asked why we are not banning the sale of glue traps. Under the UK internal market rules, it is not practical to ban the sale of glue traps in England as they could still be purchased elsewhere in the UK. However, as we discussed, legislation may be impending in those countries. Glue traps also need to be sold to pest controllers under exceptional use licences. We expect a ban on their use to be effective as existing stocks of glue traps are used up over the two-year lead-in time. It should become impossible for the wrong kind of people to obtain them after then. We will engage with the devolved Administrations, as I say, as they progress this legislation.

My noble friend also asked what the Government will do to educate businesses and the public regarding the change to the law so that unnecessary persons are not buying traps that they cannot legally use. In the two years before the offences come into force, the Government will work with stakeholders, including pest control and animal welfare organisations, to educate businesses and the public about the ban on the use of glue traps and the use of alternative, humane traps. We note that, after the Humane Society’s “Unstuck” campaign, also supported by the British Pest Control Association and the RSPCA, many retailers have withdrawn these traps from general sale on welfare grounds. We also expect that, in response to the ban, large importers of glue traps will begin importing fewer of them and offering more alternatives as part of their business planning, so that the market for glue traps will dry up.

There is no indication that the ban on the sale of glue traps will be detrimental to human health. Other humane methods are available; we want to encourage people to use them through both good practice and this legislation.

A question was asked about licensing. We currently expect the public authority delegated with the licensing functions to be Natural England, as it already fulfils this function for other licences relating to wildlife management. However, there may be a change in the remit and responsibilities of Natural England and other public bodies in future, so the provision in the Bill to appoint any competent public authority is needed.

We have been clear that high standards of animal welfare are one of the hallmarks of a civilised society. We already have some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world. This Bill takes forward an important commitment in the Government’s Action Plan for Animal Welfare

“to restrict the use of glue traps … to help make sure rodents are despatched in a humane manner.”

As I conclude on behalf of the Government by thanking noble Lords for their involvement in today’s debate, in particular my noble friend Lady Fookes for her work in guiding the Bill through this House, I also thank the animal welfare organisations, pest control organisations and suppliers who have engaged with my officials throughout the passage of the Bill. The Bill will add a small but vital part to our animal welfare legislation. I hope that we can ensure its smooth passage through this House.

Photo of Baroness Fookes Baroness Fookes Deputy Chairman of Committees, Deputy Speaker (Lords) 1:33 pm, 25th March 2022

My Lords, in turn, I thank all those who took part in this debate. I also thank the Minister. I was much encouraged by most of his remarks. The old schoolteacher in me says, “Seven out of 10”.

Photo of Baroness Fookes Baroness Fookes Deputy Chairman of Committees, Deputy Speaker (Lords)

One query about bodies corporate was not answered by the Minister. My understanding is that this is simply to ensure that corporations cannot get away with it because they are corporations and so can give the blame to somebody else, which is why there is a reference to particular senior people in a corporation who would have to take the blame if anything happened.

The noble Baroness made another point, which I did not quite get, but which related to the paragraphs about inspectors on premises. I know these look rather detailed, but the idea is to make sure that nobody has any wiggle room. They perhaps rather overegg the pudding, but better that than to underegg, in the circumstances.

I very much hope that the Bill goes through unamended, because of the danger that it would otherwise be lost altogether. I will be closely following the speed with which the department acts in dealing with these matters and the care that it takes in drawing up the conditions attached to licences. I forewarn my noble friend the Minister that I will be after him if progress does not seem satisfactory.

Bill read a second time and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.