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Lord Warner: My Lords, the noble Baroness is right. She puts her finger on the point that there are many ways to provide such spiritual care. We supported that, as Ministers and as a department, through the 2003 guidance, but we have to leave local people to arrive at local decisions on the best way of providing that spiritual care.

Baroness Neuberger: My Lords, does the Minister accept that, if there are cuts to chaplaincy services, there may be some difficulty meeting the guidelines set out, for example, in the Liverpool Care Pathway and the end-of-life care strategy that the cancer tsar, Professor Mike Richards, is preparing? Does he further accept that the Government have said that NHS organisations should make provision for those services? It is important to know the extent to which the Government are monitoring whether the arrangements are properly in place and that they will be maintained.

Lord Warner: My Lords, I cannot think of another way of saying how much we stand by the 2003 guidance. We acknowledge those needs and have always made clear that it was guidance, not a performance management system. I thought that both Benches opposite were in favour of the Government giving local people more independence to make their own decisions.

Baroness Hanham: My Lords, is the Minister aware that the attributes of hospital chaplains are unique—those of not just the Anglican or Catholic faiths but all other faiths—and that their attachment to a hospital is of enormous benefit to the patients who need them? As chairman of a hospital that has an active and vital chaplaincy that encompasses all faiths, I hope that the Minister will make clear his support for maintaining the hospital chaplaincy.

Lord Warner: My Lords, I am aware of what the noble Baroness has said, and I have indicated our support for the guidance. I have looked at the Church of England website, which shows that the number of full-time stipendiary clergy fell from just over 11,000 in 1990 to some 8,700 in 2005. Reductions in their services were going on outside the NHS.

Diplomatic Protection

3.04 pm

Baroness D'Souza asked Her Majesty’s Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): My Lords, the Government are not in a position to provide diplomatic protection or consular assistance to foreign nationals. This includes those who have refugee status in the United Kingdom and who are or have been resident in the United Kingdom.

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Baroness D'Souza: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his Answer. I shall refer specifically to Guantanamo Bay. The UK wishes to see this prison camp closed and, indeed, has described it as an abomination. The US wants to return nine of those still held, two of whom have refugee status in the UK and whose rights should therefore be indistinguishable from those of a UK citizen. One has long-term residency and the others various lengths of residency in the UK. None of the nine has another state to which to apply for any form of protection and none of them has been charged with an indictable offence, but the UK is apparently unwilling to accept them because of the stringent control orders imposed by the USA. I simply wish to clarify to whom, if anyone, these people can apply for justice, following well documented and severe ill treatment while being held at Guantanamo Bay.

Lord Triesman: My Lords, we tell refugees who have refugee status in the United Kingdom that should they choose to travel abroad and should difficulties arise—they are told this before they leave the United Kingdom—they can apply, as all refugees can, to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights through the local offices, which provide a full range of excellent services. We most certainly do not expect them to have to return to or to apply for assistance from the country from which they were refugees in the first place. The Home Secretary is the person who will take a decision about whether they can be returned to the United Kingdom in the event that they are released. In the judicial review, both the High Court and the Court of Appeal found that the only proper stance that he could take in these circumstances, until such time as their release became imminent, was the one that I have just described.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, is there not a need for further clarification of the law on the obligations of the British Government to long-term residents who have refugee status? We are all concerned, particularly in the Guantanamo case, about the number of people who are effectively being made stateless because they have lost or are in danger of losing their resident status here and have nowhere else to go to. What legal obligations under international and domestic law do Her Majesty’s Government recognise?

Lord Triesman: My Lords, in these cases, there are no obligations under international or domestic law. That was precisely the point that was put to the High Court and to the Court of Appeal in October, and the matter was resolved unequivocally in those courts. Of course there were discussions between the families of those individuals and my noble friend Lady Symons, who was at the time responsible for these matters. She passed on the views of those families to the United States. So we were not unhelpful to them, but we have no obligation to go further in law, and that has been the position for a very long time.

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Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, is it not the case that diplomatic protection cannot be extended unilaterally by a single Government in the way that the original Question implies? Is it not also the case that the Government can and, indeed, do intervene on a humanitarian basis on matters relating not just to Guantanamo but to other United Kingdom residents who may be held in other countries?

Lord Triesman: My Lords, I completely agree with my noble friend. We make representations on behalf of a large number of people in an effort to persuade Governments to behave in an appropriate and humanitarian way. Indeed, I and others often have the opportunity to express views about that to the House. The whole issue of diplomatic protection has perhaps been somewhat misunderstood. It means the invocation by one state through diplomatic action or other peaceful means of settlement, on the basis of state-to-state judicial proceedings, of the responsibility of the other state for a wrongful act to the citizens of the first state. In other words, legally you can act in that context only for a citizen of your own state.

Armed Forces Bill

Baroness Crawley: My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing on the Order Paper in the name of my noble friend.

Moved, That the amendments for the Report stage be marshalled and considered in the following order:

Clauses 1 to 53,Schedule 1,Clauses 54 to 113,Schedule 2,Clauses 114 to 164,Schedule 3,Clauses 165 to 169,Schedule 4,Clauses 170 to 181,Schedule 5,Clause 182,Schedule 6,Clauses 183 to 206,Schedule 7,Clauses 207 to 272,Schedule 8,Clauses 273 to 276,Schedule 9,Clauses 277 and 278,Schedule 10,Clauses 279 to 321,Schedule 11,Clauses 322 to 351,Schedule 12,Clauses 352 and 353,Schedule 13,Clauses 354 to 358,Schedule 14,Clauses 359 to 370,Schedule 15,Clauses 371 to 378,Schedules 16 and 17,Clauses 379 to 386.—(Baroness Crawley.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

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Animal Welfare Bill

3.10 pm

Report received.

Clause 4 [Unnecessary suffering]:

The Duke of Montrose moved Amendment No. A1:

“(f) whether the practice was a part of traditional animal husbandry in areas of mountain and moorland.”

The noble Duke said: My Lords, it is good to see that the Government are set on completing this very important legislation, which has been a long time in process. It is always a good challenge to come back to a Bill after switching off over the long Recess, and I am sure that we are all now approaching it with fresher minds and more concentration.

As I did in full at Second Reading, I declare my interest, particularly as a hill livestock farmer in Scotland. In that regard, this legislation does not apply to me, so I hope that your Lordships will allow me to voice my concerns.

At first sight, the precise wording of my amendment may appear a bit too specific to appear in what is generally an enabling Bill, but the Government have allowed certain specific areas of concern to be mentioned, so I feel that there is justification.

In the Bill, we are replacing legislation going back to the Protection of Animals Act 1911, including Part I of the Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1968. The comforting thought is that we are to extend to all animals the same protection that currently ensures the welfare of livestock situated on agricultural land.

At Second Reading, I raised the concern that, as well as having a greater understanding of what constitutes the welfare of animals, we now apply different standards of judgment from those required 90 years ago. There is a real question whether truly extensive hill farming can meet the sort of standard that can be easily identified by the public in livestock husbandry carried out on low ground.

Perhaps I should say that, if the Minister finds difficulties with my amendment, it might be possible to address some of my concerns in the context of Amendment No. 7, in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Miller of Chilthorne Domer, which I would support. The context in which this might arise would be in regard to the Government's attitude to the degree of domestication of hill sheep and even, in some cases, cattle. We will debate later what constitutes a “degree of domestication”.

These animals are bred for their hardiness and their ability to withstand harsh conditions. As part of the process of natural selection, which has established these breeds, a certain number do not survive annually. Good management means that many steps are taken to protect them from infection and disease, and it is not uncommon for farmers and shepherds to struggle out with bales of hay when sheep get cut off

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by snow drifts, but not much can be done when the problem is sheep getting washed away in swollen rivers and streams.

As noble Lords may know, part of the management employed is to allow the animals to gain condition through the summer and autumn in order to be able to use that energy source and emerge in a lean condition in the spring. One reason that shepherds will go through their flocks to cull those that are found to have what are termed “broken mouths” is that those sheep will have difficulty in pulling through, but others will succumb for other reasons.

Again, because of the terrain and its extent, a shepherd may be able to get around only a quarter of his ground in a day, so there will be days when many individual sheep will not be supervised. Given the current state of the industry, that problem is only likely to get worse.

Other issues arise given the fact that, when sheep are gathered for handlings—a process that can take two or three days—there is no guarantee that all the sheep will have been found, and so things such as one-day duration treatments for sheep scab are likely to be counterproductive.

There is also the problem of what action to take if it has not proved possible to castrate all the male lambs before they are seven days old, as required by the current code of welfare. A small handful of uncastrated lambs loose on a mountain can cause havoc with the breeding programme. It is a question of whether my concern should be directed, as I have done, at Clause 4, which deals with cases where,

or at Clause 9, headed:

Either way, one must question the ability of the Government to make such allowances only later in regulations must come into question.

This concern encompasses the question of the livelihood of current hill farmers, but there is also an ecological question of whether the type of upland landscape that we desire can be maintained without the grazing provided by sheep and cattle managed on an extensive basis. I know of nature reserves where yearly mowing has had to be introduced to produce a habitat for ground-nesting birds, and there are many areas of mountain where an animal is the only realistic form of mowing that can be contemplated.

My contention today is that we will not have produced a truly comprehensive regime for animal welfare unless we address these issues. I beg to move.

3.15 pm

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: My Lords, I, too, welcome the arrival of Report stage of this extremely important Bill, and look forward to debating the issues that we did not resolve in Committee. We have had a long Recess and it is quite hard to cast one’s mind back, but on the other hand, that gap has allowed the Government to make helpful progress. I thank the Minister and his team for the progress made to date and what we have received on it.

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The noble Duke raises some extremely interesting questions in his amendment. Indeed, he goes to the heart of my amendment, on the degree of domestication, which I shall speak to later. He referred to hill sheep—perhaps a hefted flock, which pretty much looks after itself day to day. I could speak, for example, about the difference between the wild ponies of Exmoor, which are very different from thoroughbreds, which need a rug in chilly wind or weather. The noble Duke is right to mention the problem of undergrazing, whether on mountain, moorland or—where I spent some of the Recess—in the Culm grassland of Devon. That area is experiencing undergrazing not overgrazing, with all the knock-on effects on species that—people may not even appreciate—depend on grazing. For example, we are used to hearing curlews on estuaries, but they rely on a suitable site to nest. A site that has become semi-scrub and brambly rather than rough grassland will not be suitable.

The question of how animals are treated and how the public will react to those animals to which the noble Duke referred is critical. I very much look forward to hearing the Minister’s reply on these issues.

Lord Rooker: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Duke for the way in which he introduced his amendment. I believe that I can reassure him because essentially he is asking for a commitment that what he described as being in some ways traditional farming practices in areas of mountain and moorland will not be made illegal under this Bill. Broadly speaking, I can say that they will not.

The special regulations relate not exclusively but mainly to sheep. The noble Duke is concerned that sheep management practices that take place now should be allowed to continue. We understand that. The practices that he is concerned about will still be legal. Indeed, under Clause 5, some mutilations are banned. However, a number of practices which involve the short-term suffering of the animal on the mountain have a longer-term gain. It is custom and practice, and it works: the animals benefit from it. A number of mutilations—that is the technical word—in the interests of good husbandry should therefore be permitted in mountain and moorland circumstances.

There are obviously going to be some regulations, referred to by the noble Duke, which will go out to public consultation in the next few weeks, enabling them to come into force next April. The general point that I have made, however—that we do not intend to outlaw traditional practices of husbandry in the interests of the animals—is sufficient for this short debate and the issues raised.

The Duke of Montrose: My Lords, I thank the Minister for clarifying the point. I am sure we had all taken it for granted that the Government do not currently intend to make it increasingly difficult for hill farmers. The worry in my mind is whether, given the wording of the legislation, some future judgment might be made that what is done, such as a shepherd finding a lamb over a week old and castrating it on

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the hill, causes unnecessary suffering. As the Minister says, it is short-term suffering but for a much greater benefit.

We will take this away and think about it further. In the mean time, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 6 [Docking of dogs’ tails]:

Lord Rooker moved Amendment No. 1:

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I will also speak to Amendments Nos. 2 to 4.

A considerable amount of time has been spent—long before I joined the department—discussing the docking of dogs’ tails. The Government’s amendments are in response to the amendment tabled in Grand Committee by the noble Lord, Lord Soulsby of Swaffham Prior, prompted by concerns raised by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. The RCVS was worried that a vet could be accountable if they had been misled into docking a dog illegally, and that assessing whether a dog was “likely to work” from evidence provided was not within their professional expertise and training.

Rather than having to certify that, in his opinion, a dog is likely to work, the amendments will allow a vet to certify that he has seen the evidence required by regulations to demonstrate that the dog is likely to work. On that basis, I beg to move.

Baroness Byford: My Lords, on our behalf and that of my noble friend Lord Soulsby, I thank the Government for looking at these amendments. I would like the House to know that my noble friend has a hospital appointment, so cannot be here today.

I remind the House of my own farming family background, although we are without livestock. I am also an honorary associate member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. We support these amendments, and are grateful to the Government for taking our concerns away and coming back with something that will make it easier for those in the veterinary service to undertake their duties.

The Countess of Mar: My Lords, I, too, declare in interest: I am a partner in our small family farm and we have livestock. What knowledge does the Minister have of the means by which these puppies that will have their tails docked will be identified? I understand that chips are now in, whereas they were not before. Has that been conveyed to him?

Lord Rooker: My Lords, I do not specifically know how the animals will be identified. I imagine vets would have to be as certain as possible that they were dealing with the animal so presented to them, and paperwork would be needed to explain the likelihood of the animal working or not. I cannot, however, say whether they will be chipped or not.

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