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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

We come to the vast group of amendments which I have marked in red ink although I do not know whether it is a red-letter day. I shall begin at the beginning with amendment No. 95, which was tabled by the hon. Member for South-East Cornwall (Mr. Breed) and Conservative Members. Essentially, it would leave out the third condition in the Bill under proposed new section 36H of the Animal Health Act 1981, which is entitled ''Warrants''. The proposed new section states that

''If a justice of the peace is satisfied on sworn information in writing that the first condition is satisfied and that the second or third condition is satisfied he may issue a warrant authorising a person mentioned in section 36G(1) to enter premises . . . The first condition is that there are reasonable grounds for a person mentioned in section 36G(1) to enter premises for the purpose there mentioned . . . The second condition is that . . . admission to the premises has been refused or a refusal is expected''.

There is another part to the second condition, but the amendment refers to the third condition, which we want to omit. It is that

''an application for admission or giving notice of intention to apply for a warrant would defeat the object of entering, . . . the case is one of urgency, or . . . the premises are unoccupied or the occupier is absent.''

Other amendments refer to the second condition, which is in proposed new subsection 36H(3). Its paragraph (a) states that

''admission to the premises has been refused or a refusal is expected''.

Amendment No. 96 would leave out the words

''or a refusal is expected''.

Short of having a crystal ball, I do not know how that phrase could have been included in the provision. When admission to the premises has been refused, the provision will be reasonable and sensible, but I cannot understand what is meant by a refusal being expected. When officials and others call on farmers and find a problem or dispute, people often say things in anger and become extremely worked up. However, that is not fair to insist that even if a refusal were expected, or had been hinted at or threatened, a warrant would be issued under those terms. It seems wrong.

Amendment No. 97 seeks to leave out the whole of the third condition.

I move on to amendments Nos. 111, 112, 133, 134 and 135, and I shall leave the first two and talk about amendment No. 133. It seeks to delete proposed new section 16(6)(a) of the 1981 Act, which is proposed in clause 6 of the Bill under the powers on enforcement. It states that

''an application for admission or giving notice of intention to apply for a warrant would defeat the object of entering''.

I cannot see what that adds, so perhaps the Minister would like to intervene. How would that provision defeat the object of entering premises? We need some clarification.

Amendment No. 134 is rather meaty. It deals with the third condition, under which entry can be gained if

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

It is quite wrong that no notice can be given if that is the case, so the amendment adds that the occupier should also be

''uncontactable during the 24 hour period from when the warrant was granted''.

An occupier might be absent for good reasons, and I can think of many examples but I will spare the Minister them.