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Lord Whitty: While not dissenting from much of what the noble Lord, Lord Plumb, said, again I believe that my Amendment No. 232 is better. Whereas the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Plumb, seeks to insert the wording "personal assistance as is reasonably necessary", my Amendment No. 232 seeks to insert the words "may reasonably require". There may be some doubt about the meaning of "personal" in such circumstances and I believe that my wording is better. Taken together with my subsequent

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amendments, it deals with the issue more effectively. So while I accept the argument, I do not accept the amendment.

Lord Plumb: It is at least something that the Minister accepts the argument on an occasion such as this. I have a sense of relief that the first time I stand up my argument is accepted. The Minister claims that he would like fewer words than the ones I have suggested. I disagree with him—I have that privilege—in the same way as he disagreed with me over my wording. However, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 232:

    Page 4, line 7, leave out "reasonably needs" and insert "may reasonably require"

The noble Lord said: As I have spoken to this amendment during the discussions on the previous two amendments, I beg to move it reasonably formally.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Whitty moved Amendments Nos. 233 and 233A:

    Page 4, line 8, at end insert—

"(9A) The following persons fall within this subsection—
(a) the occupier of the premises;
(b) a person appearing to the inspector to have charge of animals on the premises;
(c) a person appearing to the inspector to be under the direction or control of a person mentioned in paragraph (a) or (b)."
Page 4, line 10, at end insert—

"( ) If the inspector enters any premises by virtue of a warrant issued under subsection (3) he must at the time of entry—
(a) serve a copy of the warrant on the occupier of the premises, or (if the occupier is not on the premises)
(b) leave a copy of the warrant in a conspicuous place on the premises."

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Lord Livsey of Talgarth moved Amendment No. 234:

    Page 4, line 11, leave out "month" and insert "week"

The noble Lord said: Amendment No. 234 is a precise amendment which seeks to ensure that warrants will remain in force for a week rather than for a month as it presently stands in the legislation. Given that the diseases with which we are dealing are all infectious diseases, clearly if we cannot deal with a situation within hours, or at least one day, there is something radically wrong if it has to lie for one month. We believe that the amendment will help to speed up the process, which is what the Minister desires. I beg to move.

Lord Whitty: Although it may be desirable to carry out most of the actions the ministry is being empowered to carry out within a week, at the height of

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an epidemic it may well not be able to do so. The amendment would mean an additional delay in terms of reapplying for a warrant after seven days.

The one-month validity of the warrant procedure is standard in all other warrant arrangements. For the reasons I have stated, I do not see an overwhelming reason to vary that—although I agree that the objective must be to carry out the action in significantly less than a week if we possibly can.

Lord Livsey of Talgarth: I thank the Minister for that reply. It would depend on how effectively the authorities carried out what was desired in the warrant during that time period. The legislation should be tightened up to ensure that effective speed is of the essence. I note what the Minister says. I know the protocol in relation to normal warrants lying there for one month. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Byford moved Amendment No. 235:

    Page 4, line 12, at end insert "and the warrant shall be dated by the justice of the peace"

The noble Baroness said: My noble friend has just won the argument with the Minister. I hope to do more than win the argument. I hope to win my amendment.

In seriousness, we discussed this matter yesterday and I do not understand why the Government do not accept the amendment. It is surely basic that a warrant should be dated by the justice of the peace who signs it. We do not want warrants lying around without a date on them. In my opinion all warrants should be dated, and I am sure that most are.

My only doubt concerns the point at which they are dated. Without being a member of the police force or working in the courts, it is difficult to prove that the dating of warrants is ever open to conjecture. There are, however, persistent tales of warrants being applied for, obtained and held undated until required.

Our concern is simply to ensure that in matters relating to the Bill any warrant issued is dated at the point of signature. It is, we believe, immaterial whether the date is added to the form as part of its production process or whether it is added by the magistrate during the signing process. All that matters is that it should be he or she who signs the relevant form. I beg to move.

Lord Livsey of Talgarth: I totally agree with the amendment. It is entirely logical—indeed essential. If a warrant is not dated, it will make it extremely difficult to administer.

The Countess of Mar: Can the Minister confirm the legal situation in regard to magistrates signing warrants? In a different context, I have seen a warrant signed by a magistrate where the details were left for whomsoever was concerned to fill in. I was frankly appalled. So, even if the normal practice is for a

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magistrate to sign and date a warrant—which I imagine it is—there should be a reference on the face of the Bill.

Lord Jopling: The amendment proposed by my noble friend has broad support on all sides of the Committee. The noble Lord on the Liberal Democrat Front Bench has supported it, and we have heard support from the Cross Benches.

I hate to say this to my noble friend, but I do not think that the wording of her amendment follows her argument. She said that a magistrate should date a warrant when he signs it. The amendment does not state that. As I read it, it leaves it open for a magistrate to sign the warrant and date it at a different time.

I hope that the Government will accept the amendment. It seems eminently sensible. Perhaps we can return to it on Report. If the amendment could be changed to the effect that the warrant should be dated by the justice of the peace at the time of signing, that would seem to fulfil the words that my noble friend used. I hate to argue with her because my admiration for her is unbounded; however, I believe that that would be an improvement. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Livsey, agrees.

Lord Livsey of Talgarth: I strongly agree that this type of rider should apply in this case. After all, in relation to a previous amendment the Minister spelt out the desirability of a warrant lying for a one-month period. It would make the situation far more precise if the magistrate not only signed the warrant but dated it as well.

Lord Whitty: My advice is that this amendment or any similar provision is unnecessary. It is already general practice. It is not specified on the face of other Acts containing references to warrants that the magistrate shall date the warrant, or that anyone shall date it, at the point at which it is granted. That is the practice.

I hear what Members of the Committee say about the matter. I shall re-examine it. I do not think that the wording of the amendment would cover all circumstances in any case. I need to double-check the legal advice—which is normally: if a provision is unnecessary, do not include it. If that is indeed the case, I shall need to report back. I take some of the arguments that clarity as regards the length of time and the date from which a warrant should run could be quite important. I shall examine the matter again.

Baroness Byford: I am grateful to the Minister. I am grateful also to my noble friend Lord Jopling. He rightly points out something that we missed. I indicated our intention and I apologise that we have not defined the amendment tightly enough. I thank the Minister for his response and look forward to his proposal.

He referred to current practice, but the feeling on all sides of the Committee is that we are dealing with something slightly different from a commodity or

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whatever else a warrant may concern. Any help that the Minister can give to reassure those who are likely to have their animals killed would be of great benefit. It would be a great addition to the Bill. At this stage, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 235A:

    Page 4, line 12, at end insert—

"( ) A warrant issued under subsection (3) must be executed only at a reasonable hour unless the inspector thinks that the case is one of urgency.
( ) In relation to any premises to which entry is obtained by virtue of a warrant under this section the Secretary of State must retain for a period of not less than 12 months beginning with the day after entry—
(a) a copy of the warrant;
(b) a copy of any record of the steps taken to effect entry to the premises and the actions taken on the premises by the inspector and any other person entering the premises with him."

The noble Lord said: I beg to move.

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