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Schedule 2 - Scrapie

Part of Animal Health Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:30 pm on 4th December 2001.

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Photo of Ann Winterton Ann Winterton Conservative, Congleton 4:30 pm, 4th December 2001

I do. We rightly put a lot of faith in new technologies and hope that they will improve all the time, but they are by no means 100 per cent. perfect. Added to that is the possibility of human error. For that and many other reasons, the amendments are worth considering.

I turn now to amendments Nos. 100, 101 and 138. Amendment No. 138 would remove proposed new section 62B(4)(b), which states that the third condition is that

''the case is one of urgency''.

The hon. Member for South-East Cornwall spoke to his amendments earlier.

Amendment No. 149 repeats our position on the previous group of amendments and relates to proposed new section 62B(4)(c) which states:

''the premises are unoccupied or the occupier is absent.''

That relates to the power of entry for the purpose of slaughter. We believe that we should add to that provision the words

''and the inspector can demonstrate that all reasonable efforts to contact the occupier have been made.''

The Bill makes no provision for a reasonable effort to be made to contact the owner of the land or of the flock. That should be a requirement and a responsibility. It is wrong for people to slaughter animals without first making serious efforts to contact the occupier. That should not be allowed.

Amendments Nos. 41 and 139 relate to proposed new section 62C(3), which states:

''The inspector may require any person on the premises to give him such assistance as he reasonably needs for the purpose mentioned in section 62A.''

Amendment No. 139 would replace the words ''any person'' with the words

''the owner and any person employed by the owner.''

That is surely the way forward. How can an inspector be allowed to turn up at a farm or premises and press-gang anyone present

''to give him such assistance as he reasonably needs''

for the purpose of slaughter? Would the provision include members of the farmer's family or someone who was making a delivery? Could the inspector turn to the delivery man and say: ''I've got a bit of a problem. I can't cope, so you've got to give me a hand to get these animals into position so that I can slaughter them.'' Do the words ''any person'' mean a younger member of the farmer's family? Many farmers' children who are in their teens or a little younger help around the farm, doing odd jobs and learning the business. Would the inspector require someone who was under-age to assist him in the grizzly business of slaughtering stock? The phrase ''any person'' is far too wide and must be focused on what is reasonable.