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Baroness Crawley: My Lords, financial estimates of the cost of the deployment are made on a continual basis. I cannot go into any detail but I can say that it will cost whatever it takes. We shall ensure that our forces are equipped to carry out their duties in this operation whatever the cost. I cannot go into further detail as regards obligations of other countries. As the noble Lord knows, many other countries are now considering deployment and are actually deploying.

Lord Glenarthur: My Lords, will the noble Baroness answer the question that my noble friend Lord Elton asked about medical reserves? I declare an interest as chairman of the National Employer Advisory Board for the reserve forces. Perhaps she will encompass in that answer whether or not today's announcement entails further deployment of more reserve medical forces.

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Baroness Crawley: My Lords, I understand that the announcement today is additional to a call-out order that was made under Section 54(1) of the Reserve Forces Act 1996 on 7th January for possible operations against Iraq, following which call-out notices sufficient to ensure 1,500 reservists were sent out. In broad terms our requirement for the RAF is about 1,600 reservists. We are talking about 900 medical staff of whom 100 are doctors.

Earl Attlee: My Lords, I remind the House that I have a direct interest in this matter. My noble friends Lord Vivian and Lord Elton, and the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, asked who would be in command. Is not the reality that a US commander will have operational control of our forces—what we call OPCON? Is that not a perfectly sensible arrangement? Is not one of the weaknesses of our European partners that they will not agree to such an arrangement and therefore are of far less utility to the US commanders? As regards the painting of vehicles, the infra red reflecting paint used on vehicles is highly toxic. Can I take it that we shall adhere to UK health and safety regulations when applying this paint in theatre?

Baroness Crawley: My Lords, I really cannot go any further this afternoon on the detail of command and control. All I can say is that, of course, we shall work closely with our American allies. Ultimately British forces will be under the control of the British Government. I can confirm that our health and safety regulations will be upheld.

Lord Mayhew of Twysden: My Lords, I did not hear the noble Baroness reply to the question asked by my noble friend Lord Vivian about the interoperability of our air component with American counterparts. I hope that it is not unfair to ask her to deal also with the matter of whether our front-line units on the ground will be equipped with communications that enable them to speak directly to their American counterparts.

Baroness Crawley: My Lords, the British Government are confident that there will be effective interoperability between our own troops and the United States forces. I believe that my noble friend Lord Bach talked about radio communications in a previous Statement on this issue.

The Earl of Liverpool: My Lords, when repeating the Statement the noble Baroness mentioned the deployment of 27 helicopters. I believe that those comprise Puma and Chinook helicopters. However, she did not say anything about the Apache helicopter. Will any of those be deployed and, if so, how many?

Baroness Crawley: My Lords, I do not know, but I will write to the noble Earl.

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Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2003

4.20 p.m.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Whitty) rose to move, That the draft regulations laid before the House on 14th January be approved [7th Report from the Joint Committee].

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I will also speak briefly on the draft codes of recommendation for the welfare of pigs and cattle, which were laid on 9th January.

The regulations implement Council Directive 2001/88/EC and Commission Directive 2001/93/EC by amending the Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2000 as they apply to pigs. The key provision of the directives is an EU-wide ban on close-confinement sow stalls, to be in place by 1st January 2013. Noble Lords will be aware that that provision has already been implemented in the UK, not without some controversy, and sow stalls for housing dry sows have been banned in the UK from 1st January 1999. We are therefore ahead of that change. I will deal with the other main changes that will be brought about in the regulations, which are mainly to Schedule 6 to the 2000 regulations.

Schedule 6, Part II, covers general additional conditions. All animals must have permanent access to manipulable materials to enable investigation and manipulation activities. There are also detailed provisions for concrete slatted floors. Schedule 6, Part IV, on sows and gilts now contains a requirement to group-house sows and gilts, minimum space requirements, minimum pen-side lengths and a minimum continuous "solid" lying area for sows and gilts. Existing buildings have, again, until 1st January 2013 to comply. Part V of Schedule 6 concerns piglets and introduces an increase in the minimum weaning age from 21 to 28 days, with the exception of "all-in/all-out" systems.

The pig directive will be subject to reviews in 2005 and 2008 that will cover other matters including castration, space allowances and floor types for weaners and rearing pigs. The 2008 review will also consider farrowing systems. Proposals to amend the directive will be based on Commission reports.

I shall turn briefly to the codes of recommendation for the welfare of pigs and cattle. In both cases, the existing codes date back to 1983. New codes have therefore been prepared in what I hope is a more user-friendly format, highlighting legal requirements alongside the advice sections. Welfare codes are made under Section 3 of the Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1968. In the event that a livestock keeper is prosecuted for causing unnecessary pain or unnecessary distress or suffering, a breach of the code can be brought forward in evidence.

The pig welfare code provides guidance on the new regulations for farmers. The new cattle code is issued in the absence of specific EU legislation. However, it takes account of the recommendations in the

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independent Farm Animal Welfare Council's dairy cattle report, and the Council of Europe's recommendations on cattle.

I need to point out a couple of drafting errors in the version of the cattle welfare code before us today. The references to "pigs" in paragraphs 23 and 40 should, fairly obviously, read "cattle". Following this debate, the correct version will be the one used for guidance to cattle farmers.

The regulations and new codes apply to England only. All three have been subject to full public consultation. Similar regulations and codes are in the process of being produced in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The regulations and welfare codes are an important part of the Government's animal welfare strategy, and with that in mind I commend the draft regulations to the House.

Moved, That the draft regulations laid before the House on 14th January be approved [7th Report from the Joint Committee].—(Lord Whitty.)

4.24 p.m.

Baroness Byford: My Lords, before I go into the detail of the regulations, perhaps I may express my dismay to the Minister. I think that he is already aware of my concern, because he referred to the errors in the cattle code. At best, it is sloppy; if not sloppy, it is shoddy; if not shoddy, it is complacent. What is the department doing?

The NFU brief to my colleagues in another place for the debate that took place on Tuesday was dated 26th January, the date when the NFU picked up the errors. The matter was raised by my honourable friend Jonathan Sayeed when he referred to the mistake in his speech on Tuesday. I understand—I can only say that I understand, because no Hansard is available to us at all at this stage—that the Minister, Mr Morley, said that it was a typing error.

Erskine May and typing errors may be all right on Tuesday, but it is two days later, yet the House is asked to approve something that is not correct. The noble Lord may brush it off lightly, but it is not a light matter. I would like him, perhaps after my and any other comments, to come back to the issue of whether we should approve the cattle code in particular, in which the errors occur. It is very difficult when Hansard is not available to us, and I understand that it will not be available before Monday at the earliest. I do not know whether the Minister has a brief of what went on, but I cannot get one. I have tried here in the Printed Paper Office and through the Library in the Commons.

I also understand that in the debate that took place in another place on Tuesday the Minister implied that the copies ready to be sent out to farmers were correct, and said "cattle" and not "pigs" where they should say "cattle". If those copies were available, why on earth were they not made available to us? It seems nonsense to have a correct copy available and yet ask us to consider something incorrect. Perhaps the noble Lord will comment on that.

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The noble Lord pointed out the two errors that were picked up in two paragraphs. However, paragraph 137 of the cattle code refers to "animals". Does that mean cattle, calves or something else? If it means calves, surely the provision should be in the section that starts at paragraph 95, which deals with calves. The cattle section also talks about electronic prods. Although we are all keen that those are used very sparingly and obviously not used on animals under six months of age, they are still a valuable way to try to get cattle to move forward if there is space when perhaps they are reluctant.

The National Pig Association raised several queries with the pig code. At the outset, I should say that obviously all farmers support and want to work towards high standards of animal welfare, something that we have traditionally always done and would continue to do. However, I want to ask several questions of the Minister.

Does the code of recommendations that deals with pigs apply equally to those pigs kept outdoors? That is not made clear. Obviously, some recommendations refer to indoor pigs, but I am not sure whether the code covers outdoor pigs.

What evidence do the Government have that the new welfare measures, for example, will be fully implemented in other member states? Do the measures mean that third-country imports that reach us will also have been subject to the same animal welfare standards? If not, will the Government ban the importation of such meat? The Minister will know clearly—he has only to look at the figures on the production of sows in our sow-breeding units in this country—that we have already exported much of our pig trade.

It is totally unacceptable that we set standards and are within the EU, which also accepts those standards, if other countries can import into the EU and the UK meat produced to standards that we ban. All that is happening is that, in the first instance, we are putting our farmers out of business. Even more worryingly, we are exporting animal welfare problems. I am sure that the Government do not wish to do that.

Does the Minister accept that if such regulations and requirements are gold-plated in this country, that puts UK producers at a competitive disadvantage? What are the Government doing to encourage trade in Britain's high-welfare pigmeat at home and abroad to ensure sustainability in the industry? It is hard to see how the industry can be sustainable if additional requirements continue to be placed on it.

The number of UK sows has contracted by 40 per cent and has been replaced on the home market by cheaper imported products, which come from units that use lower standards. I understand that DEFRA's regulatory impact assessment puts the implementation costs of the proposed legislation at between 8 million and 14 million. Are the Government considering giving any aid to the industry to help with that, or do they expect the industry to absorb those costs?

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The code of conduct refers to sudden noise and continuous noise and suggests that that is not acceptable. I understand what "continuous noise" means but can the Minister explain what "sudden noise" means? How is that assessed and how can farmers avoid it?

I turn to the inspection and enforcement of the regulations. Will they be EU-wide or will it be up to each country to implement them? Other EU countries have sometimes borne the costs of additional legislation. Will that be the case with these new codes and, if so, which countries will adhere to them? Will the Minister confirm that the codes are suggestions and do not implicitly have legal status? Will all other countries implement them?

I turn to a matter that is not directly relevant to our debate. The House of Commons Library produced information about pig farrowing crates, in which a DEFRA official spokesman said:

    "Indeed, in Britain we have some of the strictest legislation in the EU to protect the welfare of pigs . . . and in several respects these go beyond EU requirements, most notably by banning from the beginning of 1999 the use of closed confinement in stalls and tethers".

There are also pig welfare codes that encourage good husbandry. Failure to follow those codes of recommendation can be used in evidence in court to support welfare prosecutions. Will the Minister enlarge on that? Either a code is a code or it is a way of bringing evidence against someone. The situation needs to be clarified.

The code does not refer to the position of fallen stock. Why was it not included in the code? If it is included and I have overlooked it, I apologise to the Minister.

Finally, much though we encourage and welcome high standards of animal welfare—we are happy to pursue that, provided that other countries do the same—do the Government accept that what consumers buy is invariably determined by price rather than their hearts? While some people would like to buy British food, they often buy the cheaper food on offer.

I apologise to the House for taking so long. I hope that the Minister will return to my first complaint in particular, which was that the code of conduct is unacceptable as it is because it is still technically incorrect.

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