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Baroness Mallalieu: I support the comments of the right reverend Prelate; he conveys exactly my feelings.

Listening to the way in which the Minister responded to this group of amendments, I became profoundly depressed. It seems to me that we are learning nothing from all that occurred last year. It is absolutely crucial to get away from the situation that one farmer described to me: he said that for the first time he understood what Shakespeare meant by the "insolence of office". We are providing powers to do more of the same, although that went wrong. I appreciate that the Minister said that he needs such powers and that he has not got them. However, the circumstances in which they could conceivably be used

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in future, after all that has happened, must be very limited indeed. We should look beyond simply trying to take powers to justify what went wrong last time and look at ways of avoiding ever having to use them again in such a way.

Baroness Byford: I intervene in view of the last three contributions. I am sure that the Committee has the necessary resolve. We are very concerned about the use of the word "immaterial"; we want to have "material" in the legislation because there are material facts that should be taken into consideration. Perhaps I should give the Minister another chance before deciding what to do with the amendments.

Lord Whitty: If the right reverend Prelate or the noble Baroness can find a word that means the same as "immaterial" without wrecking the Bill, I might consider it. However, that is not what is being proposed. The whole point of using the term "immaterial" is that it is no longer necessary, in relation to animals that fall under the four categories, for us to engage in a policy of pre-emptive culling, as was firmly recommended by the Anderson inquiry. Changing the word "immaterial" to "material" would have exactly the opposite effect. That is why this is a wrecking amendment; it would wreck not only the Government's intention but also the very firm recommendations of the inquiries.

I turn to the point of my noble friend Lady Mallalieu. Clearly, because we have taken on board the recommendations about being more positive about using vaccination as a strategy, we hope that the number of occasions on which a pre-emptive cull was proven to be necessary would be limited. Nevertheless, we cannot exclude the possibility—for logistical reasons or because the disease was running out of control—that we may need to engage in a pre-emptive cull. Nor can we ignore the firm recommendation of the inquiries that we need to clarify the law to that effect. If the Committee wishes to pursue this amendment, it must recognise that it does so in the face of the recommendation of the inquiries, which the House has hitherto said are the main reasons for delaying progress on the Bill. Therefore, I would not recommend the Committee to go down that road. If it were to do so, far from meeting the concerns of the farming community, I believe it would be acting seriously against its interests.

Lord Peyton of Yeovil: Before the noble Lord sits down, I do not believe that I made the point very well in my previous remarks on my amendment. The noble Lord must avoid letting the law look plainly silly, which it would do if he continued to make the statement that obviously material facts shall cease to be material. That is a real "sillyness" and it must be taken out of the Bill.

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Lord Carter: Perhaps my noble friend would agree that the wording means that, in applying sub-paragraph (1)(c), the application shall not be restricted to the four cases listed below. That is all that it means.

Lord Peyton of Yeovil: Then why not say so?

The Earl of Onslow: The wording actually says that we can go and kill anything whenever we want to, however we wish, simply because we believe that we should. The use of the word "immaterial" means that that is exactly what one can do. That is what the noble Baroness, Lady Mallalieu, said. It is the arrogance of power and it is very unattractive. It does not matter whether it comes from our side, the opposite side or the Liberals in 1909. It is still arrogance of power, which is unattractive.

Lord Whitty: I cannot conceive that the proposed sub-paragraph bears the interpretation that the noble Earl has just put on it. As my noble friend Lord Carter said, it is intended to say that the categories of animals will not be confined to the previous considerations. If Members of the Committee wish to use a different word from "immaterial" and wish to come forward with an amendment on Report, I shall obviously be prepared to consider it. However, I am not prepared to consider allowing on to the statute book a measure which entirely reverses the intention of the clause and the intention of the inquiry.

Baroness Byford: I am grateful to hear what the Minister has just said.

Earl Peel: I return to a point that I raised earlier. I tried to explain to the Minister my hope that somewhere in the Bill the Government would make a commitment that, if effective diagnostic tests were in existence, there would be a statutory obligation on those making the decisions to use those tests before they decided to go ahead with the pre-emptive power. Is that or is that not a possibility? If the Minister could give us an assurance along that line, I believe that Members of the Committee would be far happier.

Lord Whitty: I have already made two commitments. One was that there would be a published slaughter protocol; the other was that the Secretary of State would have to make clear the reasons for the general strategy in terms of disease control. Both would be public documents, and neither was required during the outbreak of the disease last year. Therefore, with those commitments we should make a considerable advance in terms of transparency.

If the diagnostic tools were universally accepted, one would expect that to feature in a disease protocol. Although substantial advances have been made, there is also an international dimension to this issue in terms of tests which are internationally validated, both in

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this context and also in the context to which the noble Earl referred earlier distinguishing between vaccinated and diseased animals. However, if the tests were to be totally validated, I should expect that to be reflected in the disease protocol. We have not quite reached that point yet, but it will obviously be a consideration when we draw up the protocol.

The Countess of Mar: I am very much at heart with the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Hereford. To use the word "immaterial" is to say that it does not matter. Would the Minister be prepared to place the words "it does not matter" on the face of the Bill? Would he be happy with that wording? That is what he is saying. He is saying that it does not matter whether or not the animals have been affected, whether or not they have been exposed or any of the other points listed. The noble Lord, Lord Peyton, made a very strong point. Is the Minister happy with the words "it does not matter"?

Lord Whitty: I suspect that "immaterial" is neither a Civil Service nor a ministerial word but a legal one. I can blame the lawyers and possibly reach some consensus in this Chamber. However, it does not mean that "it does not matter" in the sense to which the noble Countess referred but that it is not the determining factor. As I said, if there is a better way in which to express that, I shall consider it. However, as I also said, the amendments before us reverse the meaning rather than clarify it.

Baroness Byford: We are still debating Amendment No. 111. I hesitated slightly because we have jumped from one amendment to another. At this stage, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 112 not moved.]

Baroness Byford moved Amendment No. 113:

    Page 1, line 10, at end insert—

"( ) After sub-paragraph (1) insert—
"( ) Where the Minister uses the power under sub-paragraph (1)(c) above he shall give, in writing to the keeper of the animals, his reasons for doing so.""

The noble Baroness said: It is a little while since we debated the group containing Amendment No. 113. Although the Minister responded to my noble friend Lord Plumb, I do not believe that he gave a satisfactory answer. I wish to test the opinion of the Committee.

7.46 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 113) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 62; Not-Contents, 80.

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Division No. 1


Alton of Liverpool, L.
Avebury, L.
Barker, B.
Blatch, B.
Byford, B.
Carlisle of Bucklow, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Chelmsford, Bp.
Chester, Bp.
Cope of Berkeley, L. [Teller]
Cox, B.
Dean of Harptree, L.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Eccles of Moulton, B.
Elton, L.
Falkland, V.
Fookes, B.
Fraser of Carmyllie, L.
Geddes, L.
Greaves, L.
Griffiths of Fforestfach, L.
Henley, L.
Hereford, Bp.
Hogg, B.
Hooson, L.
Jenkin of Roding, L.
Jopling, L.
King of Bridgwater, L.
Kingsland, L.
Livsey of Talgarth, L.
Lyell, L.
Maddock, B.
Maginnis of Drumglass, L.
Mar, C.
Marlesford, L.
Masham of Ilton, B.
Mayhew of Twysden, L.
Monro of Langholm, L.
Monson, L.
Moynihan, L.
Northesk, E.
Onslow, E.
Palmer, L.
Peel, E.
Peyton of Yeovil, L.
Phillips of Sudbury, L.
Pilkington of Oxenford, L.
Plumb, L.
Rawlings, B.
St. John of Bletso, L.
Scott of Needham Market, B.
Seccombe, B. [Teller]
Selborne, E.
Selsdon, L.
Sharples, B.
Shutt of Greetland, L.
Stewartby, L.
Stodart of Leaston, L.
Strange, B.
Waddington, L.
Wallace of Saltaire, L.
Wilcox, B.


Acton, L.
Ahmed, L.
Alli, L.
Amos, B.
Andrews, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Bach, L.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Bernstein of Craigweil, L.
Blease, L.
Borrie, L.
Campbell-Savours, L.
Carter, L.
Chandos, V.
Clark of Windermere, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Cohen of Pimlico, B.
Corbett of Castle Vale, L.
Crawley, B.
Davies of Coity, L.
Davies of Oldham, L.
Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B.
Dixon, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Dubs, L.
Elder, L.
Evans of Parkside, L.
Falconer of Thoroton, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Filkin, L.
Gale, B.
Gavron, L.
Gibson of Market Rasen, B.
Golding, B.
Goldsmith, L.
Gordon of Strathblane, L.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Grenfell, L.
Grocott, L. [Teller]
Harris of Haringey, L.
Hayman, B.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hogg of Cumbernauld, L.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Howells of St. Davids, B.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Chesterton, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L. (Lord Chancellor)
Jordan, L.
Judd, L.
Kilclooney, L.
Kirkhill, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
Lipsey, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller]
MacKenzie of Culkein, L.
Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
Massey of Darwen, B.
Mitchell, L.
Morgan, L.
Morris of Aberavon, L.
Morris of Manchester, L.
Patel of Blackburn, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Randall of St. Budeaux, L.
Renwick of Clifton, L.
Richard, L.
Sainsbury of Turville, L.
Sawyer, L.
Simon, V.
Thornton, B.
Turnberg, L.
Varley, L.
Warwick of Undercliffe, B.
Whitty, L.
Williams of Mostyn, L. (Lord Privy Seal)
Winston, L.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

7 Oct 2002 : Column 89

7.57 p.m.

[Amendments Nos. 114 to 117 not moved.]

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