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Lord Peyton of Yeovil moved Amendment No. 239:

The noble Lord said: The noble Lord on the Front Bench just now inspired us all with new hope when he said that reasonableness ran through the whole matter. Those words are so welcome coming from that source that I feel that one ought never to lose an opportunity to repeat them just in case they were only a dream.

I hope that the noble Lord's reasonableness will come to my aid in what I now seek to do. Subsection (1) of new Section 62A states:

    "An inspector may at any time enter any premises for the purpose of—

    (a) ascertaining whether a power conferred by or under this Act to cause an animal to be slaughtered should be exercised".

I know that the statute book is absolutely packed full of the most inelegant, ugly and awful language. I hope that the noble Lord will stir himself and his officials to see whether it would be possible to put this point a little more simply. That is all that I ask in this amendment.

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I refer also to Amendment No. 240. There is no need for me to detain members of the Committee for any length of time as I know how anxious they are to get on to the next business. Subsection (1) of new Section 62A further states:

    "An inspector may at any time enter any premises for the purpose of— ... (b) doing anything in pursuance of the exercise of that power".

What on earth do the words "doing anything" mean? What does the Minister contemplate that the inspector might do that makes it necessary to entitle him to do anything? That is a reasonable question. I do not think that I need to repeat it. It seems to me that the Minister is obviously shaking his head in bewilderment as he does not know the answer. However, I hope that he may be able to explain why that particular subsection is necessary. I repeat the words,

    "doing anything in pursuance of the exercise of that power".

What on earth is the Minister contemplating? I beg to move.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Baroness Fookes): I should inform the Committee that if this amendment is agreed to, Amendments Nos. 240 to 262A inclusive cannot be called by reason of pre-emption.

Lord Plumb: I speak in complete support of my noble friend Lord Peyton on this issue which, as he said, constitutes a small alteration but a very meaningful one for the people concerned. My noble friend set the tone well and we shall remember this debate. As has been said, reasonableness has run through it. I have tabled an amendment which deals with the same kind of issue. Therefore, I shall not move it when we reach it as the matter is already covered. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, will take note of some of the points that we have raised. We shall certainly take note of them. If he disagrees with them, we shall bring them back at a later stage. The matter we are discussing is of particular importance. Therefore, I hope that the noble Lord will accept the small amendment proposed by my noble friend Lord Peyton which is nevertheless of considerable importance to many people who look forward to reading a report that states, "We understand the problems that you face".

Lord Carter: I am not sure that I have understood the matter but I believe that the noble Lord inadvertently seeks to remove virtually the whole of Clause 7. Amendment No. 239 states,

    "Page 4, line 17, leave out subsection (1)".

We have been told of all the amendments that would be pre-empted were that amendment to be accepted. I believe that the noble Lord meant to refer to line 19 of subsection (1). However, the amendment is tabled in such a way that, were it accepted, it would remove the whole of subsection (1) and would also nullify subsection (2). I am not sure what the noble Lord has

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in mind as such a process would wreck the whole of the clause. However, he may have a case to argue as regards the wording of line 19.

Lord Peyton of Yeovil: Wrecking the whole clause would be a matter of comparative indifference to me. I would lose no sleep over that. Indeed, it would give the Minister every opportunity to bring back something more elegant at the next stage. However the noble Lord reads the amendment, perhaps I may make it clear what I am objecting to. I would like to delete subsection (1)(a). I also ask the Minister to explain what subsection (1)(b) is about.

Lord Carter: In the amendment that the noble Lord has moved he is following the wrong line. We can have the discussion, if my noble friend agrees, on the point which the noble Lord is making.

Lord Peyton of Yeovil: The noble Lord need not bother about this at all. I am exceedingly broad minded. All the noble Lord has to do is to say that if he believes my amendment is badly drafted he will return without hesitation at Report stage and move something which he knows will be satisfactory to me and to Members of the Committee.

Lord Whitty: I was well aware that the noble Lord is broad minded, but I thought for one moment that both he and the noble Lord, Lord Carter, were being excessively modest by saying that it was a small amendment. As it stands it deletes the totality of the slaughter powers in the Bill, which is a pretty immodest amendment. In this context one would be forgiven for using the term "wrecking amendment" because the provision is a major pillar of the Bill.

It may well be that the noble Lord can sleep easy in doing that. However, it is not what he intended, as I understand it. I would have to resist that proposal entirely. One cannot do that and at the same time accept the broad conclusions of the Anderson and Follett reports, and the Government's response to those reports, as indicated in the Bill. There is no way in which the Committee could accept this amendment without recognising what it is doing.

I address the points which the noble Lord was making in terms of the reduced form of his amendment and not what is described in the Marshalled List of amendments. I believe that he is specifically objecting to Clause 7(1)(b), which states,

    "doing anything in pursuance of the exercise of that power".

I could say that it means what it says. It does not mean that an inspector can do anything. He can do anything which enables him to carry out the powers of slaughter in this context. It is the same form of words as regards the powers for vaccination or blood-testing. It does not mean that the inspector has carte blanche to do absolutely anything, but to carry out the powers conferred on him by the Bill and by the Animal Health Act. I suspect that that is not a satisfactory explanation for the noble Lord, but that is all the words mean. They are no more sinister than that. In

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any case, the amendment as it stands would leave such a colossal hole in the Bill that I would have to advise the Committee strenuously to reject it.

Lord Peyton of Yeovil: I am very tempted to take the opportunity of being destructive. The Bill deserves to be destroyed. Nevertheless, I am sufficiently broad minded and I do not want to put the Minister to endless trouble to revive this horrible creature should I do it mortal harm. However, I would be very content if he accepted my regret that by a slip of the pen I went slightly further than I had intended. I am quite prepared to say that. Other people have done much worse things in your Lordships' House and from the Minister's Bench, too! I am prepared to be reasonable. I withdraw the amendment in the constant hope that the noble Lord will look at the clause to see whether it should be tidied up and made a little clearer. I do not like the provision of "anything he wants to do" in a Bill.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 240 and 241 not moved.]

7.15 p.m.

Lord Plumb moved Amendment No. 242:

    Page 4, leave out lines 23 and 24 and insert—

"( ) In this section and sections 62B, 62C and 62D premises excludes dwelling houses and buildings being used for non-agricultural purposes."

The noble Lord said: In a sense I believe that this amendment has already been dealt with, but I make no apology in following it through again. In the debate the noble Lord, Lord Jopling, the noble Earl, Lord Onslow, and many others made the point as regards dwellings and the effect on them in the event of an outbreak of foot and mouth disease. We are well aware of the fact that farmers are encouraged, and many forced, to diversify and therefore many farm buildings have been converted into medium-sized businesses or offices, storage and so forth. That could create an embarrassing situation in the event of a temporary take-over by inspectors or the police.

It is therefore difficult to be precise in law in establishing the fact. The noble Lord, Lord Carter, made reference to the fact that it is those in charge of the animals who are in control. When there is tension on the farm and one is surrounded by people who are carrying out their respective roles in different buildings, it becomes difficult for entry and for people to know what their position is. Others are isolated. It is difficult to be precise in law on this issue. We have to register the important problem, which is the growing concern as this development spreads to the farmer and the occupier of the building. I beg to move.

The Countess of Mar: I support the noble Lord's amendment. I have already suggested to the Minister in an earlier debate that there is a definition of "premises" which goes some way to sort out the

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problem. It might be better if we had a definition section in the Bill which included this word. I support the noble Lord.

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