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The Countess of Mar: I do not oppose what the Minister has said. The noble Lord, Lord Carter, spoke of the precautionary principle and no one appreciates more than I do what a horrible disease CJD is. The fact that it hits young people is very emotionally stirring. However, we must also remember that farmers breed their sheep over many years. Some of them would be extremely distressed to lose their sheep—and we know about farmers' suicide rates. We must carry out a risk assessment before deciding on how extreme we shall be on removing farmers' livelihoods.

I am exercising the precautionary principle in another direction and believe that the matter should be viewed from both sides. I recognise that CJD is a horrible disease, but there is insufficient scientific evidence to show that BSE is in sheep or is linked to human CJD. We need to look at both sides of the picture.

The Duke of Montrose: I am grateful to the Minister for what he has said. He was convincing in his assertion on how he will take in all the scientific

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evidence and exercise his judgment. The purpose which lies behind Amendment No. 19 is that when publishing the statutory instrument he should publish the scientific reasons behind the making of the order as it applies to the matters contained in the instrument.

I am not satisfied with the answer that the Minister has given and I should like to test the opinion of the Committee.

7.16 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 19) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 59; Not-Contents, 74.

Division No. 1


Addington, L.
Allenby of Megiddo, V.
Anelay of St Johns, B.
Astor of Hever, L.
Attlee, E.
Barker, B.
Biffen, L.
Blatch, B.
Brabazon of Tara, L.
Brooke of Sutton Mandeville, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Burnham, L.
Byford, B.
Caithness, E.
Craigavon, V.
Dahrendorf, L.
Dholakia, L.
Eccles of Moulton, B.
Elton, L.
Freeman, L.
Gardner of Parkes, B.
Glentoran, L.
Greaves, L.
Greenway, L.
Hanham, B.
Harris of Richmond, B.
Hereford, Bp.
Hooson, L.
Jopling, L.
Linklater of Butterstone, B.
Livsey of Talgarth, L.
Lucas, L.
Lyell, L.
Mancroft, L.
Marlesford, L.
Monson, L.
Montrose, D. [Teller]
Newton of Braintree, L.
Park of Monmouth, B.
Pearson of Rannoch, L.
Phillips of Sudbury, L.
Plumb, L.
Rawlings, B.
Redesdale, L.
Renton, L.
Roper, L.
Russell, E.
Seccombe, B. [Teller]
Selsdon, L.
Soulsby of Swaffham Prior, L.
Strathclyde, L.
Taylor of Warwick, L.
Thomas of Gresford, L.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Wallace of Saltaire, L.
Watson of Richmond, L.
Williams of Crosby, B.
Willoughby de Broke, L.
Windlesham, L.


Acton, L.
Ahmed, L.
Alli, L.
Andrews, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Ashton of Upholland, B.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Borrie, L.
Brett, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Brookman, L.
Bruce of Donington, L.
Campbell-Savours, L.
Carter, L.
Chandos, V.
Corbett of Castle Vale, L.
Crawley, B.
Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B.
Desai, L.
Donoughue, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Dubs, L.
Falconer of Thoroton, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Gibson of Market Rasen, B.
Gilbert, L.
Goldsmith, L.
Gordon of Strathblane, L.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Grenfell, L.
Grocott, L. [Teller]
Harris of Haringey, L.
Harrison, L.
Haskel, L.
Hayman, B.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Howells of St. Davids, B.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Jay of Paddington, B.
Judd, L.
Kirkhill, L.
Layard, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
Lipsey, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller]
MacKenzie of Culkein, L.
Mar, C.
Mitchell, L.
Morgan, L.
Morgan of Huyton, B.
Pitkeathley, B.
Puttnam, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Renwick of Clifton, L.
Rogers of Riverside, L.
Rooker, L.
Sainsbury of Turville, L.
Scotland of Asthal, B.
Simon, V.
Thornton, B.
Turner of Camden, B.
Uddin, B.
Warwick of Undercliffe, B.
Whitaker, B.
Whitty, L.
Wilkins, B.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Williams of Mostyn, L. (Lord Privy Seal)
Woolmer of Leeds, L.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

25 Jul 2002 : Column 595

7.26 p.m.

[Amendment No. 19A not moved.]

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton moved Amendment No. 20:

    Page 15, line 7, leave out "Minister" and insert "Secretary of State"

The noble Baroness said: I spoke to this amendment with Amendment No. 11. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Plumb moved Amendment No. 21:

    Page 15, line 12, at end insert "provided that the device can be administered or attached without causing pain to the animal and without any danger of its becoming detached other than by deliberate removal"

The noble Lord said: The age of electronic identification can mean many things. The method is more difficult to apply to sheep than to other animals. The identification is implanted in the form of a bolus. That is the only way at present that we can achieve electronic identification.

However, the Bill has to guard against the cheapest form of identification and must openly consider, therefore, the animal's welfare. The amendment attempts to do so. It is vitally important that any electronic identification device is effective and as tamper proof as possible. It is for that reason that we have tabled the amendment. I beg to move.

Lord Jopling: We have been somewhat remiss in not drawing attention during debate to the first appearance on the Front Bench of my noble friend Lord Plumb. If Members of the Committee will allow me to do so, I remember being, I think, the youngest member of the National Farmers Union Council many years ago when the noble Lord, Lord Plumb, was one of the gods. He later became President of the National Farmers Union and President of the European Parliament. It is a great reflection on his abilities that he should add to his CV, "Front Bench spokesman"—occasional it may be—"in the House of Lords".

25 Jul 2002 : Column 596

I should not like this moment to pass without expressing congratulations to him. I am sure they will be reflected throughout the Chamber.

Some years ago I was a director of a company—I no longer am and have no interest in it—which was involved with electronic tagging. It is all very well stating in the Bill,

    "attach to it an electronic identification device".

Often that is not enough. There has to be some means of interpreting what is in the tag.

Hand-held devices are available on the market for reading the information held in the tag. Crushes are available which sheep and cattle can pass through. Again, they are equipped to identify the information stored in the device. But the equipment is fairly expensive. Can the Minister say whether this will involve a large capital outlay which farmers will have to face in order to fulfil their half of the job of tagging the animal?

As I recall, another problem could arise. Difficulties can be encountered when implanting tags under the skin. I understand that the tag can move around the body of the animal. That was certainly the case when I had some knowledge of these matters some years ago, but I may be out of date.

It would be helpful if the noble Baroness—from watching the body language on the Front Bench, I have the impression that the noble Baroness is the Minister who is to reply—could set out the details with regard to the capital outlay for the electronic reading devices and what is the position with regard to implanted tags possibly moving around in the body.

The alternative is to use an external device such as an ear-tag on the animal. I hope that the noble Baroness will be able to explain exactly what is involved in these matters.

7.30 p.m.

The Countess of Mar: I have explained that we are members of the national scrapie plan. The current procedure involves shooting a bolus into the stomach of the sheep, which remains in place for the rest of the animal's life. It is provided free of charge by DEFRA. I should like to know whether the tagging will continue to be provided free of charge. Individual farmers do not need the reading devices because only DEFRA is interested in the information.

I believe that it is set out in the Bill that DEFRA will continue to bear the cost of tagging. I should be grateful if the noble Baroness could confirm that.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: I, too, should like to take this opportunity to welcome the noble Lord, Lord Plumb, to his role—not permanent but for an occasional guest performance—on the Opposition Front Bench. Given the noble Lord's knowledge and background, I must admit that I shall welcome him even more when my noble friend replies than when I must do so personally. I am sure that he will understand that.

25 Jul 2002 : Column 597

The noble Countess, Lady Mar, was right. She answered the point with regard to genotype identification by saying that the Government meet the capital outlay. On the further point, we recognise the concerns about causing distress to animals. We would not want to cause any unnecessary pain or suffering. However, it can be difficult to identify pain in an animal and thus it is a very subjective term to use in legislation. I can assure noble Lords, however, that we recognise the concerns and want to continue to put the welfare of sheep as a matter of paramount importance to inspectors as they apply the electronic identification devices.

I hope that those explanations will reassure the noble Lord. The Government are paying for the devices and, as the noble Countess, pointed out, they remain in place for life. The reading is carried out as a part of the project and therefore the identification devices are not a problem for farmers.

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