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Earl Ferrers moved Amendment No. 7:

The noble Earl said: We now come to calmer waters. I beg to move Amendment No. 7 and speak to Amendments Nos. 8 to 11.

Amendment No. 7 allows for the forfeiture of animals which are kept by a person who has not been prosecuted or convicted of keeping animals under Clause 1(1); for example, a tenant whose landlord may have been convicted of knowing there was mink farming taking place on his land. It also applies when someone who has not kept the animals is convicted; for example, the landlord.

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The forfeiture powers should be confined to the person who kept the animals. In other words, the tenant should be convicted under Clause 1 before his animals are forfeited. If only his landlord is convicted, the forfeiture should not take place. That seems to be wholly reasonable, and I hope that the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, will think so also.

Amendment No. 8 relates to the words,

    "so as to deprive any person of his rights in those animals".

That is pungent stuff. Should one deprive a person of his rights? The effect would be just the same without them because the animals would have gone anyway.

Amendment No. 9 relates to Clause 3 and leaves out paragraph (c). Where a court makes a forfeiture order, the person may be compelled to give up his animals and also pay for them to be destroyed, or pay for them to be kept before they are destroyed by somebody else. That again is hefty stuff. First, the person is fined £20,000; secondly, his animals are destroyed, or he pays others to keep them before they are destroyed; and, thirdly, he pays for them to be destroyed. It is hard on a person who is already going to lose his animals, and is unnecessary and heavy-handed.

Amendment No. 10 inserts another subsection. The amendment ensures that the animals cannot be destroyed under a forfeiture order before an appeal can be made or dealt with. That seems obvious. If a person has a forfeiture order made against him, he ought to be allowed to appeal before the order is carried out. That is based on Section 4(3) of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 which deals with orders for the destruction of dogs.

Amendment No. 11 prevents the release of forfeited animals into the wild. Much has already been said about animal rights activists who, while claiming sympathy for the mink, then let them out of their cages, ostensibly doing them a service. The result is that some of them have died, not being used to the wild conditions, and others have killed birds, fish and other sorts of wildlife. As I said earlier, one mink farmer has had 7,500 of his 9,000 mink let out into the open by these animal rights activists. Some farmers have been made ill by all of this and I believe that this would be a reasonable amendment to be included.

As regards Amendment No. 11, it is currently an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and the Destructive Imported Animals Act 1932 to release mink or to allow them to escape into the wild. It is still in the interests both of the animal rights activists and the mink to have this amendment in the Bill so that the prohibition is prominent and clear. I beg to move.

Lord Hylton: I have already protested against the excessive level of the maximum possible fine. Therefore, I should like to support the noble Earl, Lord Ferrers, in what he has said about the possible accumulation of penalties against an offending person.

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While I am on my feet, perhaps I may say also that I very much support his Amendment No. 11 which deals with the release of animals into the wild.

Baroness Hayman: I shall deal first with Amendment No. 11, as the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, referred to it. I hope I can reassure the Committee that it is not necessary to pass that amendment. It is already illegal under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to release mink into the wild and there is no way in which a court could, or would, sanction something that would be illegal. Therefore, I hope that, in the way of a belt and braces provision, that is unnecessary in a situation that I believe we all wish to avoid for the reasons that have been referred to already today.

I hope I can reassure the Committee that the provisions of the Bill in relation to forfeiture are not in fact heavy-handed but only those that are necessary to cover all the circumstances that may arise. Indeed, I suggest to the noble Earl, Lord Ferrers, that the need to convict a tenant before forfeiture would produce an unnecessarily cumbersome procedure.

Where a secondary offence under the Act has been committed, the court needs the power to impose a forfeiture order on the animals being kept. For example, a landlord may have permitted a person to commit an offence under Clause 1(1). In such circumstances where the offender is prosecuted under subsection (2), the court needs to have the power to make any animals kept subject to a forfeiture order.

On Amendment No. 8, Clause 3(1) ensures that, when a court makes a forfeiture order, it is fully effective regardless of who may have an interest in the animals. Perhaps it would be easier for the Committee if I were to give an example. Let us suppose that a farmer mortgaged his property and the lender had a charge on it and that that included the animals. The court would not thus be prevented from using its powers to supervise the keeping or disposal of the animals as appropriate. Deletion of this provision would give rise to uncertainties as to the effect of a forfeiture order in such circumstances where someone else has an interest in the property.

Amendment No. 9 would make it unclear as to who was responsible for the keeping of animals subject to forfeiture. The Government are not prepared to fund these costs and it is right that the court should have this power.

As regards Amendment No. 10, under subsection (3)(d), the court may order that the animals may not be destroyed or otherwise disposed of until any appeal is determined. It is best left to the court to consider what is appropriate in the circumstances of each case, as is achieved by the current drafting of the Bill. In our view, however, a court would be most unlikely to allow destruction to proceed pending an appeal. On that basis, I hope I have removed some of the concerns that lay behind these amendments and that the noble Earl will feel able to withdraw them.

Earl Ferrers: I am grateful to the noble Baroness for explaining the position. There is a danger with Amendment No. 7 that the animal keeper might suffer

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a penalty by losing the animals without necessarily being convicted of an offence. That could be unjust, particularly under provisions of the Human Rights Act. I would ask the noble Baroness to comment on that in a moment, if she would be kind enough to look at it. I am grateful to her for her other replies and explanations with regard to the amendments. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 2 agreed to.

Clause 3 [Effect of forfeiture orders]:

[Amendments Nos. 8 to 11 not moved.]

Clause 3 agreed to.

Clause 4 [Powers of entry and enforcement]:

Earl Ferrers moved Amendment No. 12:

    Page 2, line 32, leave out subsection (1) and insert--

("(1) If a justice of the peace is satisfied by information on oath that there are reasonable grounds for believing that an offence under section 1(1) has been or is being committed at any premises, he may issue a warrant authorising a person authorised in writing by the appropriate authority to enter the premises and inspect the premises and any animals or things found there.").

The noble Earl said: In moving Amendment No. 12, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 13 to 19. Amendment No. 12 seeks to secure that a warrant from the justice of the peace is necessary before entry can be made into premises. It is not merely a regulatory inspection. Entry is allowed under Section 4(1) only if the commission of an offence is suspected, when people are permitted to enter premises by the appropriate authority, which means presumably some kind of government authority. Entry should be effected only with a warrant from a justice of the peace. The powers of entry under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 and the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 both rely upon such warrants.

Amendment No. 13 is a standard provision in the rights of entry, being based on Section 196C(1) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. It could be particularly important in fur farming cases because the shutting of gates is a necessity. If it is known that premises have been entered into because of suspected fur farming, there is a risk that people will enter in order to release the animals or to cause damage, which would clearly be undesirable.

Amendment No. 14 seeks to remove the word "intentionally" and insert the word "wilfully". The noble Baroness might question the difference but it takes me back to the House of Lords Bill when I moved an amendment that it should be "an" hereditary Peer and not "a" hereditary peer! I was told that it was not right. Everyone thought that it was right apart from the parliamentary draftsman and the Government can apparently modernise everything in this country other than the parliamentary draftsman. Here, "wilfully" is used more often than "intentionally" in respect of obstruction to the rights of entry. That appears in the Section 2(2) of the Breeding of Dogs Act 1973 and Section 196C(2) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. So there is a very good provenance. I am sure that now the Government will come round to

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modernising the parliamentary draftsmen as well as everything else under their view and they may perhaps agree to that.

Then we come to Amendment No. 15, which leaves out the word "includes" and inserts the word "means". This is a technical amendment. In the Bill at present, "premises" includes any place. What else can it include other than the premises? Surely the word it should have is "means". In other words, the premises "means any place", as opposed to "includes any place", unless the Government have the idea of including something else other than the place.

We then come to Amendments Nos. 16, 17 and 18 where I have suggested that instead of "private dwelling" we should insert "dwellinghouse". I will ask the noble Baroness to take her mind back to the House of Lords Bill and "a" and "an". The parliamentary draftsmen were always keen to use that which went before, and these amendments replace "private dwelling" with the word which is more commonly used; in other words, "dwellinghouse". Those are the words parliamentary draftsmen use for powers of entry under the Town and Country Planning Act and many other Acts. In order to achieve conformity they should be used.

Amendment No. 19 provides for compensation if damage is caused while exercising the powers of entry and enforcement. That is a perfectly natural thing if the damage is done when enforcement is being undertaken. The amendment is based on compensation provisions for rights of entry under Section 196C(3) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

Amendment No. 19 provides for compensation if damage is caused while exercising powers of entry and enforcement. This is a standard provision to which I have already referred. I beg to move.

5 p.m.

Lord Kimball: I do not quite agree with my noble friend Lord Ferrers on this particular point. As I understand it, MAFF has the right to go into a fur farm at any point and inspect it. After all, we have in front of us an application to MAFF to keep a mink farm. It can go in at any time and inspect that mink farm.

If an offence is being committed by somebody else, it is a different matter, and of course you have to go to the magistrates and obtain the necessary authorisation. As I understand it, a police constable would need an authorisation, whereas the man from the Ministry would not. He would be allowed to go in because of the licence issue that has already been done. But I agree with my noble friend Lord Ferrers that anyone else going in would want to be absolutely certain that he had something issued by the magistrates and would have to take great care not to do things such as leaving the gates open.

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