Clause 21 - Inspection of records required to be kept by holder of licence

Animal Welfare Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 6:00 pm on 24th January 2006.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Bill Wiggin Bill Wiggin Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

I shall keep my comments uncharacteristically short—certainly for this Committee. I should like to know what inspection records pet shop owners, in particular, are likely to have to keep for up to three years. I am concerned that the clause might place an extra burden of regulation on anybody who receives a licence. If I am right, I would like the Government to think about the issue; if I am wrong, and there is no onerous extra burden, this little clause stand part debate will give us an ideal opportunity to clarify the point.

Photo of David Drew David Drew Labour, Stroud

Like the hon. Gentleman, I shall be brief. I simply seek clarity from the Minister on one issue. The licence obviously implies that an inspection will take place, but will it set out which data will be required to be held, so that there will be some commonality in the format that inspections take? On the back of that, what format will that data be required to take? In some respects, the clause is innocuous, but we need to tease out what it really means.

Photo of Ben Bradshaw Ben Bradshaw Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Local Environment, Marine and Animal Welfare)

I apologise in advance to both the hon. Gentleman and my hon. Friend. The difficulty is that we cannot say at this stage what records will be required to be kept, because that will depend on the licence conditions. The records that might need to be kept under existing licensing systems include those of animals kept on the premises, animals’ movements and a register of the licence holder’s employees. However, we have not yet published and consulted on the draft secondary legislation, and it is impossible for me to predict what details the licence holder will be required to keep.

Photo of Bill Wiggin Bill Wiggin Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

That is very honest of the Minister, although I am not sure that it is particularly helpful to the Committee. I hope that he will go away with the understanding that we do not want huge volumes of extra regulation. An enormous amount of record keeping is already involved in keeping farm animals, and whether it is all completely essential is a matter for the Government’s strategy for dealing with diseases. In this case, however, we are dealing with a rather different mindset, and I would be grateful if the Minister took the point away with him.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 21 ordered to stand part of the Bill.