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The Countess of Mar: The noble Baroness's strategy is also good discipline. It makes one sit down and look at each issue step by step. What is the hazard? The hazard is this disease. What are the critical control points? Airports? Farmers being sloppy? Vets carrying illnesses from one farm to another? How is one to control them? Then there should be a report at the end. That is something which I do every day. I am used to it and can recommend it. Even if it comes at the beginning of the contingency plan, that would help. It would bring everything into a framework. I earnestly ask the Minister to think about it much more seriously than he has indicated that he might do.
I can just imagine the scene around the table when this amendment was being discussed with Ministers. I can hear the civil servants saying, "Minister, this is very dangerous stuff. This will lead us into all sorts of difficulties and a lot of unnecessary work". Sir Humphrey would say, "Minister, I think that we had better turn it down".
Actually it is a sensible course to pursue. If there were proper discipline, as the noble Countess said, we would overcome a lot of our problems. Not only thatwe would create a lot more confidence than there is at present. I beg the Minister to think again, not take the advice of his civil servants. They are far too conservative and far too keen on these occasions
Lord Carter: I will just point out to the noble Lord that I spent 10 years as an Opposition Front Bench spokesman on agriculture. I cannot remember how many times that I moved amendments asking a Conservative Government to report to Parliament, produce plans or whatever. Almost invariably, those amendments were turned down. With this Bill, we have already seen the acceptance of an amendment covering reporting on imports and a commitment to producing a contingency plan. The noble Lord was just a little unfair.
Lord Prior: I do not think that our party was any better when in officeand I do not suppose that when I was a Minister all those years ago, I was any better. All we are trying to do is improve the situation.
Baroness Byford: I will jump in before the Minister does so. I follow the thinking of my noble friend Lord Peelthat as the noble Lord, Lord Carter, pushed for such measures, surely he must support them. I hope also that when we were in power, we never introduced such a rotten Bill, which highlights the practical difficulties. I thank the Government for acknowledging that there are difficulties and for being willing to do as the noble Lord, Lord Carter, said.
I am grateful for the support of the noble Countess, Lady Mar. She copes with risk assessment in her everyday life. She regards it as essential and I certainly do. My noble friend Lord Onslow commented about contingency plans and vaccination policy. According to the European report, things have moved on since Anderson took his viewsalthough people such as Fred Brown were pushing for vaccination, saying that tests were available, and held their ground strongly. That is another argument and perhaps we shall reach it later.
I am grateful to the right reverend Prelate. He said that I was not being strong enough. Perhaps that is because I had been through his beautiful city, which I had never visited before. The amendment was put together 1,200 feet up in the Brecon Beacons, thinking what could we do to introduce some kind of strategy in the form of an amendment. We share the same concerns at the right reverend Prelate. I once described this measure as the Animal Death Bill, which I still think it will be if we are not careful, and said that we were going straight to slaughter. We walked and sat
I watched the civil servants in the Boxalthough perhaps that is something to which I should not referthinking "No, Minister" and quietly smiled to myself. But perhaps that is unparliamentary. If it is, I apologise.
I am grateful for the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Livsey. As to the comment by the noble Lord, Lord Carter, he is right that science is not clear and about what Anderson said. I have the book with me but could not find the right page. The EU report to which we have referred many times this afternoon comments at paragraph 47:
On the question of meat entering this country from countries where foot and mouth is endemic, perhaps the Minister will clarify one point. I was not aware that the meat had to be heat treated, but I was aware that
I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Peyton for his support on some of these points. I hope that the Minister will take on board some of the suggestions in the amendment. I had it in mind, if I did not receive an encouraging response to my amendment, to put the matter to a vote this evening. However, because of the discussion on all sides of the Chamber, I would rather wait to see what the Government have to say and give them a chance to return to the matter on Report. My noble friend says that I am "very kind". I could take Members of the Committee through the Lobby nowand lose heavily, I fear. I hope that, knowing that I had intended to press the amendment to a vote, the Minister will realise how seriously I view the matter. I hope that he will respond to a couple of my queries before I withdraw it.
Lord Whitty: I was attempting to clarify the situation in regard to meat imported from areas where there has been foot and mouth. The noble Baroness is right to say that it has to be de-boned. But there are also some stipulations in relation to its being heat treated in certain circumstances. In a sense, I put it the wrong way round. The principal qualification is that it should be de-boned; heat treatment is a supplementary qualification in some circumstances.
I appreciate the importance that the noble Baroness places on this matter. There is a difficulty in the way in which we deal with legislation as regards what the right reverend Prelate suggests should be a "preamble". We do not normally legislate in terms of preambles or strategies; we legislate in terms of powers and duties. The duty here is clearly on the Minister to produce a contingency plan which meets many of the objectives that lie behind the noble Baroness's amendment. To promise to go further than that in the direction of her amendment would not be appropriate. That is why I have had to take the attitude that I have.
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