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Lord Campbell of Alloway: My Lords, perhaps I may detain your Lordships' attention for a very short time. I totally accept what the right reverend Prelate has said about the need for a new and comprehensive Bill. I have tabled a series of amendments which are based on the assumption of slaughter. There is no other assumption. For that purpose certain new rights are claimed such as entry into premises and co-operation: if people co-operate this will happen; if they do not, then that will happen, with penal conditions and so forth.
Nobody has written to me about it and there is no reason why they should. I have been sitting here and listening to what is going on. It now appears that the whole scenario has changed. What am I supposed to do with my amendments? They are designed wholly for slaughter, but we are now going to talk about vaccination. I suppose that the best thing to do is to pack it in and, so to speak, shove off. But is that the way to deal with the Bill? How is it to be dealt with? Am I going to be given time to talk to a few of my friends in the farming community and redraft my amendments? Lord, no! There is not an earthly chance of that. It is the kind of imposition against which I personally protest and I do not believe that the House should indulge it.
Lord Whitty: My Lords, I say to the noble Earl, Lord Peel, the right reverend Prelate and others, that we are following a slightly unusual procedure today because, under pressure from noble Lords during the first day of Committee, I was asked to make clear at the beginning of the second day how the Government intended to proceed with the remainder of the Bill. That was broadly welcomed by the House and that is why I made the Statement today, which is now available in the Printed Paper Office.
We need to recognise the history of this Bill. The noble Lord, Lord Livsey of Talgarth, asked if it was an interim measure. We first proposed this Bill several months ago in the shadow of the foot and mouth disease. The House voted not to proceed with it at that point until we had the outcomes of the committees of inquiry. We now have them. Since July we have considered in detail the implications for this Bill. The noble Lord, Lord Moran, said that he is unhappy that the central features of the Bill still remain. The reason is that there was very strong support for it in the two inquiry reports. They indicated very clearly, first, that we needed to widen the scope for slaughter and vaccination to ensure that we can carry out a disease-control strategy which had some pre-emptive culling or vaccination. Secondly, the powers of entry needed to ensure that we rapidly carried out those powers. Both those measures are now firmly based in the recommendations of the reports and that is why the central features of the Bill have not been significantly altered.
What has altered is the reassurances that people sought about the warrant procedure, the protocol and clarification of the reasons for such a policy. I am committed to all of them. They are either on the agenda today in my name or I am committed to producing them for Report stage. The same applies for contingency planning and import controls where I have indicated that I will accept the gist of the Liberal Democrat amendment.
We have also responded to the strong view from the industry that the provisions on adjusted compensation would not be appropriate and that as they stand they would alienate rather than help to carry out disease control. With that section being removed, I believe that the bulk of the farming industry would actually support the remaining provisions of this Bill. Therefore, I do not believe that it is going against the view among farmers in general, although some will have different opinions.
The issue of vaccination has obviously concerned a number of noble Lords who have spoken. I made clear from the early stages of this Bill that the powers we were seeking were those needed for a wholesale vaccination process as much as for a wholesale culling process. One needs powers for rapid entry in order to carry out vaccination as much as one needs them for culling. Indeed, it could be argued that for a vaccination process to be effective one needs even fewer loopholes than one can afford under the culling process.
It is true that the Royal Society and, it would appear, the European committee to which the noble Lord, Lord Moran, referred, and others, say that vaccination should be higher in the priority of weapons used in disease control. We made a Statement on 25th July which I repeated in this House. We indicated that we accepted the proposition that vaccination should be a weapon of first resort, where appropriate, rather than last. Not all circumstances will be appropriate: the vaccination available may not be appropriate. Moreover, we accept the recommendation that the procedure should be normally to vaccinate to live rather than was the case as regards the options we considered during the previous disease and the options followed in the Netherlands, namely, vaccinate to kill.
What is needed and what this Bill provides, are powers to cover all of those options so that we have flexibility, clarity of law and speed of operation to carry out vaccination to live or as a prelude to slaughter or to the culling process. The powers are the same. If the EU raises the priority given to vaccination, we shall still need these powers to carry out the vaccination programme.
Therefore, the issue of whether we carry out vaccination more substantially than we carry out culling and whether the balance changes represents an important signal to the farming community and to society at large as regards how we would deal with a future disease. However, in terms of the powers in this Bill, those same powers will be required. That is why
I believe that we shall end up with a better Bill than the one with which we began. It will certainly be a slightly narrower Bill than was the case originally. However, as the noble Lord, Lord Livsey, said, that does not preclude our returning to some of these issues in pursuit of a more substantial piece of legislation at a later stage. When first proposed, this Bill was meant to cover us for the immediate period. It will still need to cover us for some considerable time until we have fully developed the animal health strategy that emerged from the reports, including the European report that will shortly be before the House.
However, in the immediate period, we have already lost several months by not having the powers that the Government were convinced we needed earlier in the year. The committees of inquiry support the fact that we need those powers and, by and large, with the compensation requirements removed, the farming community accept that we will need them. Without further ado, I suggest that we move forward to deal with the substantive amendments. Therefore, I beg to move, once again, that the House resolve itself into Committee on the Bill.
The Earl of Onslow: My Lords, I have one suggestion for the Minister to consider. We have about four weeks until the State Opening of Parliament. Would it not be miles better to take away this Bill, reintroduce it in the dog days of the early part of the Session to your Lordships' House and do so in a way whereby we could have time to consider it properly and get it through this Chamber in, say, six weeks? We would have it ready to go to the Commons before Christmas, and it could be out of the other place fairly quickly. In those circumstances, the Bill would have been well scrutinised in this place and we would not have this gobbledegook of how not to approach legislation.
The noble Lord, Lord Whitty, is clever enough to realise the advantage of my suggestion. As for the noble and learned Lord, Lord Williams of Mostyn, he is much cleverer than the noble Lord, Lord Whitty. He can certainly see the advantage of such an approach. I am not being beastly to the Government; I am trying to suggest to them a way out of what is a ghastly legislative muddle. We must get this right. If we do it in the way now proposed, it is likely to become a sort of Mark l, gold-plated "Dangerous Dogs Bill". I am sure that neither the noble and learned Lord, Lord Williams, nor the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, would like to see that happen.
I refer to the question of vaccinated animals that are not slaughtered but are prevented from entering the food chain. In such circumstances, is it the Government's intention that farmers with such animals will be fully compensated? The answer to that question is absolutely essential to the way that this Bill proceeds.
The Countess of Mar: My Lords, the Minister said that he needs these measures. However, in a state of emergency, has he considered issuing orders to cover such matters? This has been done frequently to cover all sorts of situations in emergencies on previous occasions. Further, as other noble Lords, especially the noble Earl, Lord Onslow, have suggested, will the noble Lord consider taking away the Bill and rehashing it to take into account not only what the European Union is saying but also what the other reports have found? In that way, we would have something that is a composite, not a hotchpotch.
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