Clause 37 - Orders under section 29, 31, 33, 34 or 36: pending appeals

Animal Welfare Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:45 am on 26th January 2006.

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Photo of Bill Wiggin Bill Wiggin Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) 9:45 am, 26th January 2006

I beg to move amendment No. 186, in clause 37, page 20, line 13, at end insert—

‘(4A)A person appointed under subsection (4)(d) must be a person who the court is satisfied has appropriate training and qualifications in, and experience of, animal welfare in order to carry out the directions.’.

Reading my notes on the amendment, it seems that we have had most of the debate, so I shall keep my comments short. I seek to ensure that when a matter comes to the law courts, the welfare of the animals is put first in all circumstances. Subsection 4(d) gives the courts the power to appoint a person to carry out the directions that it has ordered. The amendment will ensure that that person is properly qualified. The   person will become the animal’s guardian, so they will fall under the duty of care in the Bill. We have heard that from the Minister; my amendment is a way to ensure that such a provision is in the Bill. I understand why the Minister may not want that to happen, but in the circumstances it is probably worth having this debate, so that an animal that has experienced trauma or cruelty will be looked after by someone who is properly qualified and possessed of the skills to deliver that care.

Photo of David Drew David Drew Labour, Stroud

Again, I shall be brief. To rehearse and synthesise earlier arguments, I am not sure whether the Bill is the right place to go into detail about what is implied by “animal welfare inspectors”. However, through secondary legislation or at least a code of practice, we will need subsequent clarification about the experience and qualifications that such people should bring to bear. I imagine that it will link with the veterinary surgeons Bill, which, as I said on Second Reading, I hope the Government introduce rapidly. We did not spend much time discussing that subject during the Select Committee proceedings. I hope that the Minister has something to say about what the Government have in mind, so that we know where we are going with the issue.

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

We have discussed the issue before, and although we agree that a court should appoint the most appropriate person, it is not necessary to include that provision in the Bill to achieve that goal. The person appointed would temporarily be responsible for the animal and therefore subject to the welfare offence, and I reassure hon. Members that, should it become obvious that the absence of that requirement was causing animal welfare problems, we would issue appropriate guidance to the courts. I urge the hon. Member for Leominster to withdraw his amendment.

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

I rather suspected that the Minister would say that. We have already discussed the matter, and we should make some progress. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 37 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 38 and 39 ordered to stand part of the Bill.