Before section 3

Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:30 pm on 31st May 2006.

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Photo of George Reid George Reid None 2:30 pm, 31st May 2006

Group 2 is on a national contingency plan. Amendment 45, in the name of Mark Ruskell, is the only amendment in the group. I ask for speeches of no more than three minutes, please.

Photo of Mr Mark Ruskell Mr Mark Ruskell Green

Amendment 45's purpose is to bring Scotland into line with the other countries of the United Kingdom by ensuring that our contingency plan has a statutory basis. We need a statutory framework, which must be flexible. We need due process, because we cannot rely for ever on old Uncle Ross or, indeed, Ted Brocklebank to make decisions in the future. We need a light and flexible statutory framework that works and keeps everybody right.

Unfortunately, the recent avian flu contingency plan does not mention the organic farming bodies. Organic poultry producers were not consulted on it, although they are key stakeholders that would be affected by a disease outbreak. We need due process. We need a process that considers how we produce contingency plans, how they are laid before Parliament, how they are consulted on and how they are published. Surely that is not too much to ask. That is best practice in the rest of the UK.

We do not want the minister to be challenged—as he rightly was in 2001—in the middle of a disease outbreak because people believe that he has acted unreasonably by not having a framework for operating with a contingency plan. We need flexibility and due process. I ask members to ensure that we get that by voting for amendment 45.

I move amendment 45.

Photo of Ross Finnie Ross Finnie Liberal Democrat

I am not sure whether Mark Ruskell understands precisely what he calls for. He says that he wants flexibility, but his amendment 45 calls for all the diseases that are specified in section 32E of the Animal Health Act 1981 to be dealt with in a single contingency plan. Perhaps he wishes us to align ourselves with other countries in the United Kingdom, but we are here in Scotland, and our agriculture and poultry industries have found it much more helpful to have separate contingency plans for foot-and-mouth disease, Newcastle disease, avian influenza and other exotic diseases. Those plans have been welcomed by the industry, which has been clear that it would prefer to have individual plans that deal with specific circumstances that might arise and for which we ought to plan.

Review under a contingency plan is not the issue. People's actions can be reviewed only in terms of whether they have properly complied with a law. Amendment 45's rigid requirement for all the diseases under section 32E of the 1981 act to be brought into a single plan is not how the industry in Scotland wishes us to proceed.

Let us be clear about the organic sector. We supported the exemption of organic producers from avian influenza measures after consulting them, and we were among those who successfully lobbied the European Union to change the regulations in that regard. Our plans did not prevent us doing that.

I urge members to reject amendment 45.

Photo of Mr Mark Ruskell Mr Mark Ruskell Green

I am not sure how the minister knows that the whole industry is behind his approach, because he has clearly not spoken to the whole industry. He has not spoken to organic poultry producers, for example. Recently, he has been at great pains to point out that, in treating avian influenza, Scotland and the rest of the UK have been part of a single disease control unit. Given that we have such a unit, I do not see a problem in having a single unified plan. We want due process. If the minister had introduced proposals at stage 3 to give us that due process, I would have welcomed and supported them but, unfortunately, I have had to bring back my proposals. I urge members to vote for amendment 45, because we cannot merely have blank pieces of paper and a lack of due process, as that would leave the minister open to judicial review in the middle of a disease outbreak.

Photo of George Reid George Reid None

The question is, that amendment 45 be agreed to. Are we agreed?



Division number 6

For: Ballance, Chris, Ballard, Mark, Byrne, Ms Rosemary, Canavan, Dennis, Harper, Robin, Harvie, Patrick, Ruskell, Mr Mark, Scott, Eleanor
Against: Aitken, Bill, Arbuckle, Mr Andrew, Baillie, Jackie, Baker, Richard, Barrie, Scott, Boyack, Sarah, Brankin, Rhona, Brocklebank, Mr Ted, Brownlee, Derek, Butler, Bill, Chisholm, Malcolm, Craigie, Cathie, Curran, Ms Margaret, Davidson, Mr David, Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James, Eadie, Helen, Ferguson, Patricia, Fergusson, Alex, Finnie, Ross, Fraser, Murdo, Gillon, Karen, Glen, Marlyn, Godman, Trish, Gordon, Mr Charlie, Gorrie, Donald, Home Robertson, John, Hughes, Janis, Jackson, Dr Sylvia, Jamieson, Cathy, Jamieson, Margaret, Johnstone, Alex, Kerr, Mr Andy, Lamont, Johann, Livingstone, Marilyn, Lyon, George, Macdonald, Lewis, MacDonald, Margo, Macmillan, Maureen, Martin, Campbell, Martin, Paul, May, Christine, McCabe, Mr Tom, McConnell, Mr Jack, McGrigor, Mr Jamie, McLetchie, David, McMahon, Michael, Milne, Mrs Nanette, Mitchell, Margaret, Muldoon, Bristow, Mulligan, Mrs Mary, Munro, John Farquhar, Murray, Dr Elaine, Oldfather, Irene, Peacock, Peter, Peattie, Cathy, Petrie, Dave, Pringle, Mike, Purvis, Jeremy, Radcliffe, Nora, Robson, Euan, Scott, John, Scott, Tavish, Smith, Elaine, Smith, Margaret, Stone, Mr Jamie, Swinburne, John, Tosh, Murray, Whitefield, Karen, Wilson, Allan
Abstentions: Adam, Brian, Crawford, Bruce, Ewing, Fergus, Fabiani, Linda, Gibson, Rob, Grahame, Christine, Hyslop, Fiona, Ingram, Mr Adam, Lochhead, Richard, MacAskill, Mr Kenny, Marwick, Tricia, Mather, Jim, Matheson, Michael, Maxwell, Mr Stewart, McFee, Mr Bruce, Morgan, Alasdair, Neil, Alex, Robison, Shona, Stevenson, Stewart, Watt, Ms Maureen, Welsh, Mr Andrew, White, Ms Sandra

Photo of George Reid George Reid None

The result of the division is: For 8, Against 69, Abstentions 22.

Amendment 45 disagreed to.

Photo of George Reid George Reid None

I will explain my application of rule 9.8.5A. The rule allows any member to lodge a motion without notice to extend a debate on a grouping of amendments. The debate has been extended by 10 minutes, which will knock on throughout the proceedings. We have the facility to extend the proceedings, the time for which is very tight, by up to 30 minutes.