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Schedule 2 - Scrapie

Part of Animal Health Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 5:00 pm on 4th December 2001.

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Photo of Angela Browning Angela Browning Vice-Chair, Conservative Party 5:00 pm, 4th December 2001

I want to add to my recent intervention on my hon. Friend the Member for Congleton (Mrs. Winterton) and discuss further the refusal and obstruction of an inspector, not just by the owners of animals but by third parties on whatever grounds. I understand the Minister's remarks, but during the recent foot and mouth outbreak, one of the Ministry's problems was that its plans to slaughter were thwarted when people made reasonable demands for delay while blood tests were carried out and other factors were taken into consideration. There were many reasonable propositions against slaughter, yet the Bill tries to get rid of every extraneous reason why the Ministry cannot proceed at a rate of knots regardless of people's rights and considerations.

I raised with my hon. Friend the question of employees of the owner of the animals, or employees working on the land when the owner may not be present. The Bill states that it is an offence for employees not to co-operate, but surely there are limitations on what one can expect them to do in the absence of the owner of the animals. I do not mean just people who winter animals or run rearing units for pigs, or those who have an arrangement whereby they keep other people's animals on their farms. This has a broad read-across for any person who the inspector thinks might be useful in getting what he wants.

I want to pick up on the question of professional people involved, who could be veterinarians, licensed slaughtermen, or anybody who feels that they are being asked to do something against their professional judgment. I will not make the rather invidious comparison between veterinarians and doctors, but one cannot think of an example of a third party demanding that a doctor do something against their better judgment. However, there is a slight read-across here—the Minister is shaking his head—