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Lord Monro of Langholm: The noble Lord, Lord Carter, is being unfair in his criticism of the Opposition in regard to this extremely disappointing Bill. He does not seem to realise that we are in favour of good legislation and that we are trying to make this Bill better. It is a bad Bill. We are trying to make it better and to translate the reports, which are so significant, into legislation. That does not mean to say that the Government have got it right each time they have translated the reports into legislation. Under his Amendment No. 192, my noble friend Lord Peyton criticises the draconian powers contained in Clause 4, and we have every right to ask whether it is necessary to have such strong wording in the Bill.
The noble Lord, Lord Carter, should take his mind back to the time of the foot and mouth epidemic and remember how we on this side of the House, week in and week out, were calling on the Government to use the powers they had to get on and make decisions, and not to drag the matter out much longer than in fact turned out to be necessary. He should remember how local authorities and the Army wanted to act, and yet were prevented by the Government from getting on with stamping out the epidemic as quickly possible.
My noble friend Lady Byford is right to raise again the issue of compensation and market value. She has explained carefully to the Committee, both yesterday and today, that, once a beast is vaccinated, at the present time it suffers a serious drop in value. We are trying to make the Government understand that. Until the food chain has accepted that vaccination is quite safe and that there is no worry at all to the consumer, there is bound to be a significant drop.
In any event, I wish we could get away from the word "compensation". The issue relative to a farmer is the loss of market value. As I have explained, I lost my sheep flock last year under the contiguous cull, and in one day I saw 45 years of bringing up a sheep flock of reasonable quality fly out of the window. One gets no compensation for the value of the herd or the flock that day, or for the next four or five years that the ewes would have been in production; one gets no compensation for loss of profit over the years. One gets only the market value on the day the stock is slaughtered. We should put into the Bill "market value" rather than "compensation", because that is where the true impact lies.
I support my noble friend Lord Onslow in his criticism of the Government in regard to the Bill. We want to see a much better Bill and we have every right to indicate, through the many amendments that we have tabled, how we think the Bill can be improved. I am very disappointed with the progress we have made in improving a Bill which is most disappointing for the farming community and, directly, for the public at large.
Baroness Mallalieu: One acceptsor I do at any ratethat when Ministers come to this House and say that they require an additional power which they may have to use in the event of a future outbreak, we should listen to what they say and give them that power. But I should say to my noble friend Lord Carter that criticism of the way the Bill is currently drafted does not come solely from the Opposition; it comes from some of us on his own Benches who have paid close attention to the progress of the Bill.
In urging that legislation should be robust, unambiguous and fit for the purpose, Dr Anderson did not specify legislation which should be blanket and unfettered by reason. All we are asking is that the Bill be drafted in such a way that any future Minister who comes to exercise these powers is bound to pause and ask himself what is the basis of the use of that power. As presently drafted, the Bill is blanket, unfettered
The criticism is not unreasonable. It should not disappoint my noble friend Lord Carter, who is, as we all know, a very fair man. It is something that noble Lords on all sides of the Committee should want to see incorporated into the Bill now.
My noble friend Lord Peyton was totally right to bring this clause as it stands to the attention of the Committee because we cannot seek Royal Assent for the Bill in this form. That would be a monstrous imposition. The Committee will be indebted to my noble friend Lord Peyton for having raised this point.
I agree with the contribution of the right reverend Prelate. This clause has to be qualified. I, at least, would wish it to be qualified with the words "subject to the provisions of this Act". That would qualify the powers of entry provisions with which I propose to deal later on.
Baroness Masham of Ilton: Perhaps I may ask for clarification in relation to Clause 4, which deals with proposed new Section 16A and the slaughter of vaccinated animals. There is a large difference between those animals which go into the food chain for meat and those animals which are used for breeding purposes. In the definition contained in the clause, there is no clarification of the difference between breeding stock and animals going for meat. I believe that there should be. If the breeding stock is vaccinated, why should there be a drop in value? I do not understand it. If vaccination works, why should there be a risk of animals being slaughtered?
We saw in the last outbreak the real problem of people querying the value of valuable breeding stock. They simply did not understand. The problem is that many people do not understand what goes into the breeding of the good, valuable stock that is part of our heritage. I should like to see a definition in the Bill to distinguish between animals used for breeding and animals used for meat.
Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: Perhaps it would help if I set the amendments in context. The Government's foot and mouth disease control strategy is to eradicate FMD quickly. Nevertheless, one of the objectives of any disease control strategy is also to minimise the number of animals slaughtered consistent with eradication and control of the disease.
Use of emergency vaccination in future outbreaks will be a key option as part of the disease control strategy. As the Secretary of State's Statement to another place on the FMD inquiries made clear, the Government would ideally use a vaccinate to live strategy if emergency vaccination were used. Future scientific advances may allow vaccination a larger role but it could still be used only in conjunction with slaughter, movement restrictions and biosecurity.
The Lessons to be Learned Inquiry and the Royal Society report recommend that future outbreaks of FMD should be dealt with primarily by "stamping out", but that emergency vaccination should be an important adjunct to this primary strategy. And the Royal Society report recommends that a vaccination policy should be on a "vaccinate to live" basis. However, we should not wish to rule out the use of a "vaccinate to slaughter" policy as there may be situations when that is appropriate.
Any development or change to UK policy on FMD vaccination has to take place within the framework of European regulations and agreed international disease control and trading standards. As noble Lords taking part in debate on the Bill are fully aware, vaccination is a complex issue. Any steps to use it would require full consideration of all the implications for the disease, the handling and control of vaccinated animals and products, and wider implications for the EU's FMD-free without vaccination status. Use of foot and mouth vaccines is prohibited unless specifically authorised by a European Commission decision following confirmation of the disease. I hope that that helps to set some of this in context.
In the general context, the noble Baroness, Lady Byford, raised the issue of human rights and EU law. The powers in the Bill are compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. Clause 4 compensation will be payable for animals slaughtered in accordance with the convention rights. A further issue was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Williamson, to which I shall come shortly.
The noble Earl, Lord Onslow, raised a point about the report and about Dr Anderson not being on the Front Bench today. That is self-evident. It is for the Government to place before Parliament recommendations which flow from the Anderson report, and that is what we are seeking to do in the Bill.
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