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Lord Clement-Jones: I thank the Minister for that reply, which was very much as I had anticipated. I can say that the penny is gradually beginning to drop, though I should definitely like to see it in writing. I am thinking “pets", which is the clue to the whole thing. I suspect that the wording of the clause is rather confusing. Although pet food is of course an important animal feedstuff, when taking into account the many farm animals it would not necessarily have been an obvious item for the food standards agency. However, it will do so because in a sense such feedstuffs hang together. The confusion may lie in the difference between household pets and farm animals, but they all seem to have been swept up in clause 9.

The penny is beginning to drop, unless I am mistaken. The Minister may tell me that I have totally misunderstood it, but I believe that that is where we are heading. I accept her point that the food safety duties of the agency will ensure that the public are kept informed not only about animal feedstuffs but about pesticides and veterinary medicine. Therefore, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

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Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 33 to 38 not moved.]

Clause 9 agreed to.

Clause 10 [Power to carry out observations]:

Baroness Hayman moved Amendment No. 39:

Page 4, line 32, after (“activities;") insert--
(“(ba) premises, businesses or operations involved in fish farming;")

The noble Baroness said: It may be for the convenience of the Committee if in moving Amendment No. 39 I speak also to Amendments Nos. 41 and 43. This group of amendments deals with the scope of the agency's ability to include fish farms within its programmes of observations under Clause 10. Amendment No. 43 clarifies the agency's power to take samples from food sources during its programmes of observation. In order properly to inform the development of food policy, the agency will need to gather representative information on food safety and related matters, subject of course to the limitations contained in the Bill and the agency's general duty to act proportionately. As the agency's remit covers the entire food chain, these observations must, similarly, cover the entire process from production to sale. Clause 10 provides the powers to make these observations.

These amendments make minor technical changes to ensure that there are no technical gaps in the powers to carry out observations. Clause 10 also gives details of the information that may be sought through these observations and this amendment includes a reference to fish farms, alongside the existing references to food, agricultural and animal feed businesses and premises. In view of the animated discussion we had about the importance of fisheries and the safety of fish as a food, I hope that the Committee will warmly welcome the filling of this gap.

I should like to comment on Amendment No. 43 tabled by the noble Earl, Lord Radnor. The amendments provide a useful clarification of our definition of fish farming. It was certainly not our intention--as he pointed out, we should be careful to avoid it-- to include the production of ornamental or other fish not intended as food within the scope of the clause. The agency will in any case exercise discretion in planning surveillance to make sure that only relevant premises are included in the surveys. The noble Earl's amendment helpfully draws attention to this point and I am glad that it has given me the opportunity to put firmly on the record that there is no intention to give the agency powers in such areas as the farming or production of ornamental or other fish which are not intended as food.

I am assured, however, that as currently drafted the powers in Clause 10, which look as though they are wide enough to encompass such areas of fish production, would apply only to premises used for food or animal food production. Clause 10 states:

    “for the purpose of carrying out its function under section 8 or its corresponding function under section 9".

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They relate to food safety and the other interests of consumers in relation to food. So we are certain that those powers could only be exercised in relation to premises used for the production of food or animal food. When I saw the noble Earl's amendment, I thought the point was well clarified. It does not need to be clarified in drafting terms because of that reference back, but I am happy to make it clear in terms of the debate. I beg to move.

The Earl of Radnor moved, as an amendment to Amendment No. 39, Amendment No. 40:

Line 2, at end insert (“for the production of food")

The noble Earl said: I wish to speak to Amendments Nos. 40 and 42. I was not able to hear too well the answer that came and I shall read my Hansard very closely tomorrow, but I must start by reiterating that I am both a fish farmer and a processor and rear all sorts of other fish as well. Once again, I felt this was perfectly simple and these two amendments to the noble Baroness's amendments made it absolutely clear that the owners of fish farms growing food were to be visited. It is well known that some fish farms are dedicated entirely to decorative fish, some are dedicated entirely to stocking rivers, reservoirs and so forth, and many of them duplicate on those two performances.

The noble Baroness felt that her Amendment No. 43 covered the whole situation. If that is the case, the people who are going round making their observations will be visiting quite a lot of farms totally unnecessarily in order to find out whether there are food fish there or not.

Secondly, my amendment to the Minister's amendment cannot possibly be misunderstood and it seems to deal with the situation as well as anybody can. Perhaps the provision should be left out altogether because of the generalities that we were discussing. Here is a very interesting situation. We had a very wide discussion about fish yesterday, but said nothing about how they are to be examined. After all, the filleting, boning or skinning on a fish farm often takes place at sea and there is not a word about that, or wholesale markets, or anything of that sort.

Far be it from me to pile more inspections on anybody, let alone myself, but there seems to be something rather incongruous about the fact. I cannot say it is not a level playing field when one is dealing with the sea, but it seems unusual. I shall listen again to the noble Baroness's answer, but I feel my addition is more adequate than she describes. I beg to move.

Baroness Hayman: Perhaps I may respond to the noble Earl. I apologise if I was not completely clear that I was urging the Committee to support Amendments Nos. 39, 41 and 43, which include “premises, businesses or operations involved in fish farming", which perhaps gives the breadth of coverage to which the noble Earl was referring. I hope that when he looks carefully at what I said earlier as to his own Amendments Nos. 40 and 42, although on first sight it appears that they would be necessary to clarify that the only fish production with which the agency would

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properly be concerned was that in relation to food, I am assured that the general governing of Clause 10 by Clause 8 means that there would be no question of the agency interfering in the production of farming; for example, of ornamental fish. Perhaps it would be most sensible if I suggest to the Committee that it adopts the government amendments, which I believe are generally welcome to extend properly to fish production for food the powers of the agency. I hope that the noble Earl will read what I have said in relation to his own amendment. We can if necessary come back to it on Report.

5.15 p.m.

The Earl of Radnor: I certainly shall read it very carefully; and as I verge towards simplicity, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment No. 40, as an amendment to Amendment No. 39, by leave, withdrawn.

On Question, Amendment No. 39 agreed to.

Baroness Hayman moved Amendment No. 41:

Page 4, line 43, at end insert (“; and
“fish farming" means the breeding, rearing or keeping of fish or shellfish (which includes any kind of crustacean or mollusc)")

The noble Baroness said: I have already spoken to this amendment. I beg to move.

[Amendment No. 42, as an amendment to Amendment No. 41, not moved.]

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 10, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 11 [Power of entry for persons carrying out observations]:

Baroness Hayman moved Amendment No. 43:

Page 5, line 13, at end insert--
(“(ba) take samples from any food source found on any premises;")

The noble Baroness said: Clause 11 sets out powers of entry for authorised persons carrying out programmes of observation on food safety and other matters under Clause 10. Like the amendments we have discussed earlier, this is a minor technical amendment to make sure there are no significant gaps in the agency's ability to gather information, to inform policy development and protect public health. It makes clear that the samples that may be taken during programmes of observation include samples from food sources such as live animals and plants. The existing text refers only to “articles or substances". There is some doubt as to whether this would be sufficiently wide to cover any samples taken from animals and plants, which obviously could have effects on human health and food safety. For purposes of clarification I commend this amendment to the Committee. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

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