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Baroness Thornton: My Lords, how many cases of CJD does the noble Baroness consider to be the price worth paying not to follow the advice of the noble Baroness, Lady Howarth?

Baroness Byford: My Lords, I am totally inadequate to answer the question and I say that most humbly. At present some scientists follow the thought of the noble Baroness, Lady Howarth, while other scientists clearly say that there is no proven link. There is still a big question mark out there. The noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, can shake her head but she asked me for my view. I can only give my view.

Lord Carter: My Lords, perhaps I may briefly interrupt the winding-up speeches. It may be for the convenience of the House to know that the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay of St Johns, has decided not to proceed with the Second Reading of the Marine Wildlife Conservation Bill this evening but we will find another date for it.

10.23 p.m.

Lord Livsey of Talgarth: My Lords, I wish to exercise my right to comment on the amendment which I tabled today, referring in particular to subparagraph (a). Before doing so, I would like to enlighten the noble Baroness, Lady Byford. It is my understanding that in devolution the Welsh Assembly, the Scottish Parliament and the Northern Ireland Assembly proposed to bring forward secondary

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legislation. I believe that the legislation they bring forward will resemble what we are discussing today. That is my understanding as a Welsh Member of this House.

In subparagraph (a) of my amendment, I seek merely to protect the rights of producers and animals and balance that between the vital human consequences of BSE and the impact of TSE. There is a balance to be struck and my amendment seeks to achieve that. The whole point of having a seven-day period is that if there is an appeal by a livestock keeper against the decision to slaughter, all the facts can be taken into consideration and assembled in order to make a good case to persuade the powers that be that perhaps they are wrong in deciding to slaughter. That is particularly the case in relation to the phrase, "TSE susceptible animals", a point which has been debated at great length this evening in the House. However, it would be helpful if we could have a more succinct definition than that presently contained in the statutory instrument.

I am grateful to the Minister for accepting paragraphs (b) and (c) of my amendment, which will introduce a degree of independence into the appeal mechanism. If his amendment falls in a vote, I appeal to Members of the House to accept the whole of mine, including paragraph (a). It is worthy of support in order to achieve a balance of protection for those who actually produce the animals and whose welfare is extremely important.

The Countess of Mar: My Lords, I am grateful to all noble Lords who have supported me. I am very concerned that noble Lords should understand exactly what is happening tonight. Either a regulation is annulled by a prayer to Her Majesty or the regulation stays as it is. The noble Lord, Lord Livsey, spoke most eloquently and almost entirely supported my case. But his amendment will do no good at all. Similarly, the Minister's amendment will do no good because there is no obligation on the Government to take any notice of an amendment to a statutory instrument agreed by the negative procedure.

We have one option only. Either we pray against the statutory instrument or we leave it as it is. A great deal has been said tonight and I do not wish to detain noble Lords any longer. I have made my points. I am extremely concerned about the constitutional position of this instrument and others that are being laid. We are told that they all follow the same pattern and that it has all been done before. That is not right. It is not democratic and it is not a parliamentary practice that should be allowed to continue. I leave it at that.

10.27 p.m.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, this has been a wide-ranging debate in which, frankly, several of the points which have been made are not directly relevant to the issue before the House. I shall try to touch on a number of those which I think are germane.

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I, too, wish to clarify what is before the House. The key issue is whether, quite extraordinarily, this House is about to take a decision which will have severe implications both for public health and confidence in our livestock industry. If we reject these regulations, it may well be that, after many generations of having adopted this procedure, noble Lords do not like it. However, it is a fact that if we reject the regulations, there will be no BSE controls in place in England. That will be a significant blow to consumer confidence and it will have huge implications for people working in the farming industry and in the meat industry. Furthermore, it could well have widespread implications for public health.

I wish to say a little about the issue of public health. Somewhat to my surprise, there is an agenda which has been quite explicitly expressed tonight by the noble Countess and—again to my amazement—largely supported by the noble Baroness, Lady Byford, querying whether it is necessary for us to have in place a BSE-control regime because there is some doubt about the science.

The Countess of Mar: My Lords, I must interrupt the noble Lord at this point. I accept completely that, given our present state of knowledge, we must have a BSE regime in place. I have no argument with that whatever. What I object to is the way it is being done; that is, the draconian measures that are being put in place. They may never be used, but those measures will be put in place. That is what is wrong.

Baroness Byford: My Lords, before the noble Lord rises to respond I, too, wish to register my strong objection. I shall check Hansard tomorrow because I am sure that at no stage did I say that we should not have a regime. I know full well that we should. It is a question of the way it is being brought in under the procedure before us tonight. We have had no chance to discuss it.

I know that several noble Lords are muttering on the Benches behind the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, but I think that he will himself acknowledge that the issue of scrapie is relevant. The wrong brains were tested for at least six years. The science on scrapie is unknown. I do not know whether the noble Lord the Chief Whip wishes to disagree with me, but everyone acknowledges that there has been a mix up. For that and several other reasons we are questioning the way in which the regulations are being introduced.

We support some restrictions in relation to BSE, but the density of the regulations and the way in which they are being introduced causes us great difficulty. We are being asked to do something without knowing the implications.

Baroness Hayman: My Lords, before the noble Baroness sits down—I apologise to the House for doing this, but it is a matter of grave concern—I hope that she will make clearer her position on this and on the link between variant CJD and BSE and the scientific debate now, before she checks Hansard. Anyone listening to her earlier comments would have

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felt that there was an equivalence in her view of the scientific debate between whether there was or was not a link between variant CJD and BSE.

I understand the noble Countess's view on this point—it is very clear and understood—but even she would agree that she is a minority against a swathe of scientific opinion in this country, in Europe and in the world. The noble Baroness would be misunderstood if, from what she said earlier, she allows her former remarks to continue on the record.

The Countess of Mar: My Lords, I am reminded of Dr Lind, who discovered that vitamin C saved sailors from having scurvy. He was in a minority for 40 years, but he was right. Some scientists who have been looking at this issue may well be right that there has never yet been an infectious pathway proven for BSE or CJD.

10.33 p.m.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I was grateful for the noble Countess's earlier intervention when she made it clear that she was in favour of having a BSE regime, irrespective of the fact that she doubts some of the overwhelming scientific opinion. The noble Baroness also agreed with that. Nevertheless, the effect of a vote tonight to support the noble Countess's prayer would leave us without a BSE regime.

I am grateful to my noble friend for pointing out the difficulty of the noble Baroness's position. I think the whole House understood that she was querying whether we should be acting on the "overwhelming" evidence, as it is referred to in the Phillips inquiry report, that variant CJD is caused by the transmission of BSE to humans. If that is the overwhelming opinion, I am particularly surprised, without making a cheap point, that the party that formed the previous government is not prepared to take the precautionary measures which we and the vast majority of scientific, veterinary and public health opinion suggest we should in maintaining a BSE regime and would jeopardise it in this kind of vote today.

The noble Baroness said that these are draconian measures. But time and again I have pointed out that what we are doing with these regulations is consolidating existing statutory instruments which have already been operated and form part of the regime. The noble Lord, Lord Willoughby de Broke, referred to the number of statutory instruments which are covered. We are engaging in an act of consolidation of the existing regime and in the transposition of the European regime which has direct applicability.

The noble Baroness asked why, if it has direct applicability, we need to spell out some of the provisions in the regulations. It is because the substance has direct applicability. The implementation of it is a matter for the nation state—as is always the case in this kind of legislation at European level—which means that we have to spell out how we are to fulfil our European commitments. The only part of these 220 or so pages that can

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conceivably relate to gold plating is the one example I quoted in relation to incineration. We are doing so because we have had heavy advice from the advisory committee in that area and we thought it sensible to take the opportunity to include that.

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