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|Protection Of Animals (Amendment) Bill|
These notes refer to the Protection of Animals (Amendment) Bill
Protection Of Animals (Amendment) Bill
1. These explanatory notes relate to the Protection of Animals (Amendment) Bill as brought from the House of Commons on 24th July 2000. They have been provided by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food with the consent of Baroness Fookes, the Peer in charge of the Bill, in order to assist the reader of the Bill and to help inform debate on it. They do not form part of the Bill and have not been endorsed by Parliament.
2. The notes need to be read in conjunction with the Bill. They are not, and are not meant to be, a comprehensive description of the Bill. So where a clause or a part of a clause does not seem to require any explanation or comment, none is given.
3. The Bill makes additional provision in the context of the Protection of Animals legislation in England and Wales for steps to be taken to protect the welfare of animals kept for commercial purposes during the course of proceedings for cruelty or neglect brought under section 1 of the Protection of Animals Act 1911 by certain public bodies which conduct prosecutions or by persons who have entered into written agreements with the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food or with the National Assembly for Wales.
4. The Bill supplements existing powers under the Protection of Animals Act 1911 (which applies in England and Wales) by allowing a court to make an order relating to the care, disposal or slaughter of animals kept for commercial purposes which are the subject of a prosecution under section 1 of the Protection of Animals Act 1911 for cruelty or neglect.
5. The power of the court to make an order under the Bill for the care, disposal or slaughter of animals applies only in proceedings brought by one of the prosecuting bodies identified in clause 1(3) of the Bill - see below. The power can only be exercised in
circumstances where it is necessary for steps to be taken in the interests of the welfare of the animals concerned and where the specific order is justified in all of the circumstances.
6. The Bill extends (in the same way as the relevant provisions of the Protection of Animals Act 1911) to England and Wales only.
COMMENTARY ON CLAUSES
7. Clause 1 specifies the circumstances in which the substantive provisions of the Bill apply: these are where a prosecution for cruelty or neglect is being brought under section 1 of the Protection of Animals Act 1911 by one of the prosecutors identified in subsection (3) - see paragraph 9 below) against the owner of animals which are being (or have been) kept for commercial purposes.
8. Although farm animals are the most obvious example of animals kept for commercial purposes, the term extends to all animals kept for commercial purposes. Examples (which are not intended to be exhaustive) of such animals might include circus animals, animals kept for commercial breeding, animals being kept for sale in pet shops, guard and sniffer dogs and dray horses.
9. Subsection (3) lists the prosecutors to whom the provisions of the Bill apply. The prosecutors who can apply for court orders under clause 2 and exercise powers under such orders and under clauses 3 and 4 are as follows:
10. Clause 2 sets out the terms upon which the court (the Magistrates' Court) can exercise a power to make orders for the care, disposal or slaughter of animals kept for commercial purposes which are the subject of a prosecution under the 1911 Act.
11. Subsection (1) defines the circumstances in which the court can make an order under clause 2: before an order can be made, there must be evidence from a veterinary surgeon that it is necessary for action to be taken in the interests of the welfare of the animals.
12. Subsection (2) sets out the types of orders which the court can make. A court order can permit one or more of the following steps to be taken by or on behalf of a prosecutor:
13. An order under subsection (2) would not exempt a prosecutor from any normal requirements which must be complied with. Examples of such requirements (which are not intended to be exhaustive) might include:
14. Subsection (3) sets out the test to be applied by the court when determining what type of order to make under subsection (2): in reaching this decision the court must take all of the circumstances into account, including the value of the animals and the costs which would be incurred by the owner (who, under clause 4(1), is liable for any reasonable expenses which are incurred - see paragraph 19 below). These are additional factors to be taken into account, as well as the interests of the welfare of the animals (which are, by virtue of subsection (1), the basis of any order under clause 2).
15. Subsection (4) provides that any order made under clause 2 only applies until the proceedings in which it is made come to an end. It also provides that this does not affect anything which has been done (or any binding arrangements which have been made) before that time.
16. Subsection (1) gives a prosecutor who is making an application under clause 2 the power to enter premises (other than, by virtue of subsection (4), a dwellinghouse) for the purposes of identifying and marking animals which are the subject of the application.
17. Subsection (2) gives a prosecutor who has been granted a court order under clause 2 the power to enter premises (again, other than a dwellinghouse - under subsection (4)) for the purposes of carrying out the order and to use equipment on premises where animals are kept for the purpose of carrying out an order under clause 2(2)(a) to care for those animals on those premises. Subsection (2) also creates an additional power to mark animals - for example, for identification purposes or in order to comply with any regulatory requirements, such as eartagging.
18. Subsection (3) makes it a criminal offence to obstruct anyone acting under a court order made under clause 2 or exercising a power of entry under subsections (1) or (2). The maximum penalty for such an offence would be a fine of up to level 3 on the standard scale (currently, up to £1,000).
19. Subsection (5) creates a right for anyone who owns, occupies or is in charge of premises to require a person exercising a power of entry to those premises to produce evidence of his entitlement to do so and to provide a written statement of the reasons for entering the premises.
20. Subsection (1) provides that a prosecutor is entitled to recover any reasonable expenses which are incurred in relation to the care, disposal or slaughter of animals under a court order made under clause 2 from the owner of the animals. This could be done by means of an ordinary civil action (or, under subsection (2), by means of proceedings in the Magistrates' Court, commenced by means of a complaint) or by deducting the expenses from any proceeds from the sale, disposal or slaughter of the animals. Subsection (1) also provides that any proceeds from the sale, disposal or slaughter of the animals (after deducting any reasonable expenses incurred) are payable to the defendant.
21. Subsection (3) provides that, where an order for the sale, disposal or slaughter of the animals is made by the court, the owner of the animals must, within 10 days of the order being made, deliver to the prosecutor any documents which are necessary for the animal to be slaughtered for human consumption or which relate to the condition or value of the animals. Under subsection (4), failure to comply with this obligation is (unless there is a reasonable excuse) a criminal offence, punishable with a fine of up to level 3 on the standard scale (currently, up to £1,000).
22. Subsection (5) provides for alternative arrangements to be made if any documents which are necessary for the animal to be slaughtered for human consumption are not delivered to the prosecutor within the 10 day period. In that event, the prosecutor can apply to the issuer of the documents for replacements to be issued and subsection (5) provides that replacements can be issued if sufficient information is available. Under subsection (6), this can only be done if a copy of the court order is produced to the issuer of the documents and if any reasonable fee required by the issuer is paid.
23. Under the domestic and EC legislation currently in force (the Cattle Identification Regulations (S.I. 1998/871), which implement Council Regulation (EC) 820/97(OJ L 117, 7.5.1997, p.1)), this provision would only apply to passports for cattle and other bovine animals, which are issued by the British Cattle Movement Service.
FINANCIAL EFFECTS OF THE BILL
24. Costs cannot be estimated accurately but are not expected to be significant and at least some of any costs incurred will be recovered under the provisions for reimbursement contained in the Bill. Any residual costs will be spread across a number of public sector bodies (such as the Crown Prosecution Service, MAFF and local authorities throughout the country) and it is anticipated that they can be met from existing resources.
25. Costs to businesses would only be incurred as a result of the Bill in circumstances where a prosecution for cruelty or neglect is being taken in any event. Any costs payable to a prosecutor under clause 4 should not significantly exceed the ordinary costs of the proper care of the animal(s) concerned. For these reasons, a full Regulatory Impact Assessment is not necessary and has not been produced.
THE EUROPEAN CONVENTION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
26. In the opinion of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the Bill is compatible with the provisions of the European Convention of Human Rights and, accordingly, satisfies the requirements of the Human Rights Act 1998.
27. The provisions of the Bill will come into effect 2 months after Royal Assent is given.
|© Parliamentary copyright 2000||Prepared: 10 October 2000|