Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments Fifth Report


Memorandum by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food

SHEEP SCAB ORDER 1997 (S.I. 1997/968)

  1. The Committee asked -

    Article 2(2) provides that for the purposes of this Order, a sheep is visibly affected with sheep scab if it exhibits clinical signs of the disease. Explain what is meant by the italic words.

  2. An animal may exhibit signs of sheep scab which are apparent on examination or inspection of the animal without taking samples for further examinations, such as the loss of wool or scratching. These are examples of the "clinical signs" of the disease (described as "clinical findings" in Radostits, Blood and Gay, Veterinary Medicine, eighth edition). On the other hand, if an animal is sub-clinically infected it will not exhibit clinical signs, but it will carry the parasites responsible for sheep scab in sites such as its ears. These parasites are "visible" in the sense that anyone taking a scraping from the site would be able to see them, either with the aid of a magnifying glass or with the naked eye, but they are not readily apparent without taking such a sample.

  3. In these circumstances the Ministry decided that the phrase "visibly affected with sheep scab" required further explanation. It wanted to require treatment if the animal exhibited the clinical signs, which are evident without taking samples, but did not wish to impose a duty on keepers to take samples from likely sites to establish if mites were present. Veterinary advice is that the accepted meaning of the phrase "clinical signs" describes the findings of a physical examination or inspection of the animal without taking samples or tests. This is why the phrase is used.

  4. The Committee asked -

    Article 6(1) provides that no person shall move any sheep visibly affected with sheep scab, or any flock containing one or more sheep visibly affected with sheep scab, on to or off any premises except for - (a) treatment; (b) immediate slaughter. Article 7(1) requires any person who is the keeper of sheep visibly affected with sheep scab to treat those sheep as soon as is reasonably practicable with an authorised product. Explain whether Article 7(1) is intended to apply in a case where a person moves the sheep off the premises for immediate slaughter (Article 6(1)(b)) so that he is required to treat them before the slaughter.

  5. Articles 6 and 7 are intended to be read together. Article 6 permits the movement of sheep off premises in certain circumstances; one of these is for treatment, and another is for slaughter. It is not intended that sheep being moved for slaughter should be treated for sheep scab. The Ministry accepts that this is a possible construction of the two Articles read together, and that it would have been better if Article 7 had been phrased so that it is clear that there was a choice between treating the animals and slaughtering them. The provision will be amended at the earliest opportunity.

23rd June 1997

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