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Baroness Byford: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for taking us through this statutory instrument. Many of us are very concerned about the avian flu outbreak on the Continent, because it spreads very quickly through the poultry sector. The noble Lord was right to give us the figures on that. I had them as well, so I will not repeat them. However, I have one or two questions for him.
This instrument is being introduced in our House; I do not think it has been debated in another place. It is the first time that we have had a chance to look at it. In his comments the Minister referred particularly to "commercial poultry". Will he look at Article 4(3)(c), which defines,
What animalsthat is bad Englishor what poultry are included in the definition of "any poultry"? Does that include game birds, for example, or exotic, expensive birds kept in wildlife parks? Would somewhere such as Slimbridge have some of its animals killed in a cull if the Minister thought it fit? What about endangered species and pets, which many people have? I believe that after cats and dogs, birds are the most popular animals kept. I am concerned that the Minister clearly said in his comments that the order refers to commercial poultry, yet the statutory instrument states "any poultry". I would be glad for that to be clarified.
I appreciate what the Minister said about vaccinations. We had a long debate on the Animal Health Bill and we would obviously be in favour of vaccination rather than slaughter. In this case, as it stands, medical science is not far enough advanced along that line and therefore there is no option, so I do not take the Minister to task on the matter.
Why does the order refer to the 1981 Act, since I understand that in the Animal Health Act 2002 the matter is covered under Schedule 2A on page 13? We need to clarify that point; we should not have to go back to previous Acts if the new updated Act can cope with it. From my interpretation of reading through, that is how I viewed the matter.
The Minister is right to say that we have fewer and much larger farms and therefore many more birds; and so our problem may be different from that on the continent. I accept that the order is necessary. With those few comments and questions, I thank the
Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: My Lords, we on these Benches also welcome the order, but I would like to clarify a few points. Some while ago in your Lordships' House the Minister mentioned that Defra had a horizon-scanning departmentI think that is how he termed it. I am slightly surprised that, given that horizon-scanning ability, there was an outbreak in March, but we are only now getting the order in July, so I am questioning the speed with which the department scans the horizon.
I wonder what sort of guidance keepers of ducks, in particular, can expect from Defra. I would not want to think that the result was that all free-range keeping of poultry would be so constrained so that they would not be exposed to these diseases. I have in mind the Welfare of Ducks Bill, which was introduced in the House by the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, quite rightly, because ducks need water and they often do not obtain it. This may be a step further in making it more difficult for poultry-keepers to ensure that they obtain it.
I wish to make a point about the number of regulations. The Government have said that they encourage small producers. I looked at the British Poultry Council's very helpful web site to see how many pieces of legislation that, as a small poultry keeper of around 100 chickens supplying the market with very high-quality free-range birds, I might expect to deal with. There is almost one regulation or piece of legislation for each of the 100 birds. There are 97, of which 39 are concerned with housing, keeping, feeding, transporting, marketing and slaughtering, and 58 relate to processing and labelling. I urge the Government, when they feel that they have time, to consolidate those provisions as was done in the Water Bill. That would be particularly helpful to small producers, who cannot spend their entire time reading legislation; otherwise, they will never have time to produce anything.
Lord Whitty: My Lords, I appreciate the welcome given to the order by both Front-Bench speakers. The noble Baroness, Lady Byford, was wrong in saying that the House of Commons had not considered the order. For the record, it was considered in the House of Commons this afternoon.
The noble Baroness questioned my reference to "commercial poultry". She is right that the definition of poultry in the order includes domestic fowl, turkey, geese, ducks, guinea fowl, pigeons, pheasants and partridges and would therefore cover a range of fowl outside commercial premises. The structure of the industry is such that exposure is likely to arise within commercial premises. However, the powers would extend to breeds defined as poultry under Section 87 of the Act. The powers may be extended, although we would need a separate statutory order to do that.
The problem with avian influenza is that almost any bird can carry it. Indeed, the most likely incursion to this country would be via a bird. That is a slight problem, but, in general, it is likely that any preventative cull would be in the commercial sector.
The noble Baroness asked why the order referred to the 1981 Act. Footnote (a) to the order explains that the Animal Health Act is an amendment Act to the 1981 Act. Noble Lords will recall that that difficulty arose during the passage of the Animal Health Act. Although the noble Baroness is right to say that the issue was covered in the 2002 Act, it was as an amendment to the 1981 Act. Reference is therefore made to the 1981 Act, as it has now been amended.
The noble Baroness, Lady Miller, referred to horizon-scanning in the department, which happens on this front as on others. We did not introduce the order on the basis of the outbreak in the Netherlands because the Dutch authorities thought that they could contain the disease in the initial stages without engagement in a substantive preventive cull, as did we. The Dutch authorities have shared much of their report with their European colleagues. It is clear that the outbreak was very similar to foot and mouth in that the disease was not detected until at least 20 premises had already contracted it. In those circumstances, the authorities had to engage in a preventive cull to stop the further spread of the disease to areas where they had not yet detected it. In the light of the experience of the Dutch after the outbreak, we decided that we needed to introduce the extended power.
The noble Baroness asked whether the order would cover free-range poultry. Regrettably, free-range poultry are more vulnerable, in a sense, because the most likely arrival of the disease would be via a stray wild bird from the Netherlands. I am afraid, therefore, that free-range birds will not be exempt from the order.
Baroness Byford: My Lords, before the Minister sits down, will he answer my question about the birds in wildlife communities such as Slimbridge? Is there a chance that such birds might be considered, should a disease outbreak be known in a certain area? They are commercial flocks in a way, although not in the same sense as the Minister mentioned earlier.
Lord Whitty: My Lords, the fowl in Slimbridge would not be covered by the list of poultry that I read out. We could extend the cover, but that would need a separate statutory instrument, which is not before the House tonight. The definition does not include the type of fowl at Slimbridge.
The noble Lord said: In moving this amendment, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 55, 56 and 57. I am very grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, for her support for these amendments. The amendments concern Clause 13, the subject of which is grant and conditions of bail. The specific subject that we wish to probe in this group of amendments is the conditions to be imposed on bail for under 18 year-olds. As in our debate on Clause 12, our concern is to ensure that the child's welfare remains the predominant priority. Speaking in Committee in another place, Mr Grieve expressed a concern that,
He said that intervention is taking place earlier when full representation is not readily available. We also have doubts over the appropriateness of a custody sergeant setting the conditions of bail, however well intentioned, without the presence of the relevant welfare authorities.
I draw the attention of noble Lords to Article 3(1) of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which was quoted by the Joint Committee on Human Rights in its report on the UN Convention:
Without the guaranteed involvement of the appropriate family member or welfare authority, the granting of bail may cease to be primarily concerned with the welfare of the child and would instead be in the best interests of administrative convenience. We understand that the provision has been included in the Bill at the recommendation of the Law Commission, which observed that a defendant might be remanded in custody when release on bail with imposed conditions would have sufficed.
Although we approve of any reasonable proposal that minimises the chances of a child spending time in custody, this provision could place a heavy burden on the police, and, at the same time, present them with conflicting responsibilities that may be difficult to reconcile. I do not expect that these amendments are
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