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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

My hon. Friend is right. We discussed such issues earlier in Committee, especially in relation to separate sheep flocks being wintered off or grazing on other land. The problem with extensification is that one has to take animals to where the food is. That provides a perfect example of when the farmer might be away from the premises. The sheep would be on a parcel of land and might be checked now and again to ensure good husbandry, but the occupier would not be present. In that case, so far as scrapie, enforcement and the powers in the Bill are concerned, action could be taken by an official in the absence of the owner or occupier of the land, who would then turn up and find that action had been taken without his knowledge or any attempt having been made to contact him.

As most parcels of land are registered under the integrated administration and control system, and housing is usually nearby if land is rented, one would have thought that reasonable inquiries could be made as to whose flock was on a parcel of land. Reasonable attempts could therefore be made to contact the owner of the flock and discuss with him the action that the inspector would take, so that he was aware of the warrant that was about to be granted.

Amendment No. 135 is also about land or premises that are unoccupied or from which the owner is absent. It provides that if any animals were mistakenly slaughtered while the occupier was absent compensation would be payable at a level of 200 per cent. That follows on from the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton and Honiton (Mrs. Browning). If for some good reason the occupier is not present, and then comes back to find that the flock has been slaughtered or dealt with without his permission or knowledge and without attempts to contact him, it is reasonable for compensation to be at double the market value of the mistakenly slaughtered stock.