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Baroness Hayman: It makes a good argument for the euro!

Lord Kimball: It might cost somewhat more in the euro but as it stands at the moment, the price being paid out for every single female mink on a farm should be £390. The mink mink are extremely productive. It must be admitted that the fur farmers have been doing extremely well; and why should they not? They have been running a good business and deserve to be properly compensated for it. I hope, therefore, that we start off by bearing in mind that in respect of the only fur farm to have been abolished within the European area--the man moved over into Czechoslovakia and was able to start again--the farmer received the proper price for his fur farm. I hope that I can add to what my noble friend, Lord Luke has said: that we should put a figure on this question of compensation. That is the figure that we should ask for the farmers.

Lord Davies of Coity: I should certainly like some help with regard to this amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Luke. There seems to be no question as to whether the farmers should be compensated but rather how that should be done. I am somewhat bemused about the way in which it is now being proposed that the compensation should be paid. It is a business and is being allied to the land compensation provisions. The noble Lord seemed to say that he saw no difference between compensation in terms of land and that in terms of business and that there should, therefore, be a parallel between the two.

It strikes me that in my lifetime, the value of land has been either fairly constant or it has increased. When it comes, however, to compensating business which is

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more open than land to the whims of the market, the position seems to be inflexible and the two are not parallel. There could be a quite different situation in one fur farm as compared with another and there needs to be a measure of flexibility. I thought the Government were proposing to consider the circumstances with a view to compensating adequately, certainly, but not over-compensating, which might be a difficulty were this formula to be introduced.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: At Second Reading, I did mention that for those on the Liberal Democrat Benches, the issue of compensation was now our main concern with the Bill. Clearly, it is imperative that the scheme should be fair, transparent and quick. The noble Lord, Lord Luke, referred to compensation covering prospective income losses. For what length of time into the future does he envisage that that should apply? This would help me to consider his amendment.

Lord Luke: I cannot guess the period into the future on which an actuarial assessment might be made.

Baroness Hayman: I suspect that that interchange illustrates that the simplicity of the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Luke, but the attractiveness of that simplicity belies the difficulty of applying it in practice.

I hope the Committee will accept that throughout the debates on this issue--and it was a central issue in our debate at Second Reading--we have made clear the Government's intention to provide fair and reasonable compensation. However, there is no established practice of compensation in this field, and it is only after proper investigation and consultation that an appropriate and fair scheme can be drawn up.

In the debate at Second Reading, I alluded to the fact that the Government would obviously have serious regard to the recommendation of the Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Deregulation, to which the noble Lord, Lord Kimball, referred. Indeed, if the amendment is not pursued and we deal with the government amendments, I hope the Committee will accept that the Government have tried to make explicit on the face of the Bill that they will ensure that income losses are covered. That was the crux of that recommendation.

The amendment sets out one way of trying to ensure what is an agreed objective; that of providing fair, appropriate and reasonable compensation. I hope the Committee will agree, however, that what the Government recommend will provide a better way of doing this than Amendment No. 19A. Our intention is to look at the books of the fur farmers and at the profits that were described, so that we can then consult the industry on the basis of a compensation scheme which would be fair and reasonable.

The amendment would remove the consultation exercise with industry which is a key element of the Bill and which we inserted after representations from the industry itself. In moving the amendment, the noble

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Lord, Lord Luke, said that it would mean that the compensation scheme would be more transparent. In fact, the amendment in effect would mean that the details of the scheme would be less transparent as they would not be set out in an order. It would be much more difficult for the fur farmers to see the basis of the compensation scheme in order to inform their own decision making.

There would be no speeding up of the payment of compensation moneys through the amendment, and the speed by which this can be done is an issue with the fur farmers, as in practice we would still have to look at individual farmer's books and go through with the consultation exercise which the Bill formalises.

We have made clear that we will be willing to consider payment of interest in the interim. However, the way we suggest of going forward--that is, consulting with the industry and considering issues such as the closing-down costs, valuer's fees, redundancy payment, land clearance costs and interest payments before compensation--will be able to be considered in the framework that is set down in later government amendments.

While I recognise the motivation behind the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Luke, I hope he will feel able to withdraw it, and perhaps listen to the argument on the government amendment and be reassured that the provisions we are putting into the Bill will cover the areas of concern.

Lord Luke: I am most grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, for that explanation. I am also most grateful to my noble friend, Lord Kimball. His desire to have a figure put on the compensation as soon as possible is something the fur farmers would like to hear.

I am a little worried by the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, saying that all these things are going to happen. I wonder why a certain amount of consultation has not already taken place with the fur farmers as to what their incomes might have been without the Bill going through.

I hope very much that when the Minister deals with her own amendment, she will be able at least to give us some ballpark figure as to how long these fur farmers will have to wait before they obtain compensation after the Bill comes into effect, after which presumably they will not be allowed to continue trading. I hope that perhaps the noble Baroness might be able to give a better answer to the question to me from the noble Baroness, Lady Miller, which I was unable to answer. Having said all that, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

5.30 p.m.

Baroness Hayman moved Amendment No. 20:


    Page 3, line 16, after second ("of") insert ("income and non-income").

The noble Baroness said: In moving Amendment No. 20 I shall also speak to Amendments Nos. 21, 22, 23 and 25. Perhaps I may say at the outset that I cannot

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guarantee to answer the question posed to the noble Lord, Lord Luke. I have enough difficulty in answering my own questions without taking on the task of answering his as well.

As I said when speaking to Amendment No. 19A, this set of amendments relates to the compensation scheme for fur farmers put out of business by the ban. At Second Reading of the Bill in July, as Members of the Committee will recall, concerns were raised about the proposed compensation scheme. As I explained at the time this is an enabling Bill. It is not appropriate therefore for full and exact details of the compensation scheme to be included in the Bill. The intention is for Ministers to decide on the detail of the compensation scheme after Royal Assent, once we have undertaken a valuation exercise of the fur farms to provide financial information on which a decision may be based.

Indeed there has been no official inspection of fur farmers' books; that in turn awaits Royal Assent. But I can give an assurance that it will happen quickly thereafter. The key to this whole process is to get the Bill onto the statute book and then proceed appropriately with the consultation and the drafting of the scheme.

At present Clause 5 of the Bill does not specify whether or not compensation would include loss of income. That was a cause for concern during Second Reading, and the noble Lord, Lord Kimball, has alluded to it again today. In the light of the concerns that have been raised, and in the light of the report of the Select Committee, the Government have decided to put forward these amendments permitting Ministers to include loss of income in the compensation scheme. Clause 5(1) therefore requires the scheme to cover income and non-income losses incurred as a result of ceasing fur farming because of the enactment or coming into force of the prohibition in Clause 1.

Subsection (1)(a) requires the scheme to specify the descriptions of income and non-income losses in respect of which payments are to be made, although the scheme need not provide for all such losses to be compensated.

Clause 5(2) goes on to provide that the scheme shall specify the basis of the valuation for determining losses; the amounts of the payments to be made or the basis on which such amounts are to be calculated; and the procedure to be followed in respect of claims under the scheme.

Concerns were raised in another place that the use of the word "may" in Clause 5(2) could theoretically allow the Government to avoid including these matters in the compensation scheme. This was never our intention, as I made clear, but in drafting these amendments in order to remove any doubt at all as to the Government's commitment, we are proposing to change the word "may" to "shall" in line 20.

The full details of the scheme would be subject to a consultation exercise with the industry after Royal Assent and before the order introducing the compensation scheme is made. I hope that Members of

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the Committee will feel that we have genuinely moved to meet the concerns that were expressed. On that basis I ask them to support these amendments. I beg to move.


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