Examinations of Witnesses (Questions 297-299)|
9 SEPTEMBER 2004
Q297 Mr Mitchell: I welcome Mr John Thorley,
Chief Executive of the National Sheep Association, and Mr Lawrence
Alderson, Chairman of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust. May I start,
as we have done with all the other witnesses, and ask for a broad
statement about why you think the Bill is a good thing, if you
do, and why it could be a bad thing, just a for and against statement
of your position.
Mr Thorley: We in the National
Sheep Association think the Bill is in fact a very good thing
because updating legislation which dates back to 1911, which has
had an enormous amount of alteration and amendment in the interim,
is very important. What we are concerned about is that some of
it is open to interpretation. We see an enormous potential for
problems in interpretation. Last night, I sat through a meeting
of APGO, the all-party group on animal welfare. I am a member
of that. I was very pleased to hear that this is a draft Bill.
The Minister made it very clear that there are areas open to redrafting
and sorting out. On that basis, I am reasonably content.
Mr Alderson: Similarly, we would
welcome the draft as an opportunity to update the legislation
and make it more coherent. We would agree with much of what is
in it. We are very concerned by the feasibility of incorporating
under one set of regulations groups as disparate as wild animals
on the one hand and some of the farm livestock on the other, with
leisure and pet animals in between. It is very difficult to see
how they could be accommodated within the same legislation. Secondly,
we would have reservations about sections 6 and 7, which seem
to need much more attention, and hopefully will have much more
attention because if they were applied in detail, they could lead
to legislation which would be unacceptable and not feasible for
much of the livestock industry.
Q298 Mr Mitchell: Would you prefer a
separate Bill then, say for farm animals as opposed to companion
Mr Alderson: No, I do not think
it would be necessary to go that far. To a certain extent, that
would be fragmentation, which we are not in favour of, but, when
it comes to codes of practice, then I think it could be dealt
with in that way.
Q299 Mr Mitchell: This question is to
you both. In the end, if alteredand I am sure Ministers
will be listening to the kind of evidence we are getting here
which is an important contribution to the Billdo you see
this as something that will improve the welfare of farm animals
or just lead to more red tape?
Mr Thorley: We would take the
view that provided we can get the bits which we consider to be
anomalous at the moment sorted out in a satisfactory way, that
will lead to an improvement.
Mr Alderson: We would endorse