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Lord Livsey of Talgarth: I also support this amendment. One of the sadder impacts of the economic situation in the countryside is that many farmhouses have now been sold off and do not have anything to do with the farm itself. Their occupiers are non-agricultural and very often they have some of the farm buildings as well. I believe that this amendment defines those kinds of situations. I fully support it.

Lord Whitty: I understand what is said in this amendment. I have a piece of paper which tells me that this matter has already been covered, but I have temporarily lost it. It indicates that there is a definition of "premises" in the Bill. The premises in this context are those which are relevant to the purposes of the warrant. Therefore, it would not be appropriate to use powers to enter premises which do not house animals or which it was not necessary to enter in order to carry out the purposes of the warrant, be it for vaccination or slaughter.

Obviously, there may be some complications to that in that private houses may house animals, but access to them would have to be reasonable and proportionate. Any houses which were not concerned with animals and therefore with the purposes of the warrant, would not come within the definition in Clause 7 of the Bill, which is the closest we come to a definition of "premises" for the purposes of this Bill.

This additional provision would cut across that although it is attempting to achieve the same purpose. The matter is already covered by the Bill as it stands.

The Countess of Mar: We have one or two definitions of "premises" in the Bill. There is a reference in the scrapie section of the Bill which states,

As regards infected premises, there is reference to premises constituting an infected place at a given time as that which is in force in the notice. I believe that that was the reference to which the Minister was speaking. We need a tighter definition. I shall be grateful if the Minister will take this matter back and look at it.

Lord Plumb: Perhaps I may express my support for the remarks just made by the noble Countess, Lady Mar, and add the following suggestion for the Minister's consideration. In an effort to be helpful, I should point out to the noble Lord that Amendment No. 242 states:

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

I hope, therefore, that the noble Lord will reconsider the matter and ensure that such buildings are included. Otherwise, as the years go by, this will develop into an ever-growing issue. Although we shall return to this

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matter on Report, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment in the hope that the Minister will look again at the matter.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Livsey of Talgarth moved Amendment No. 243:

    Page 4, line 28, after "satisfied" insert "and having heard representations from the owner and keeper of the livestock should they choose to make them within the given timescale,"

The noble Lord said: After the word "satisfied" in Section 62B(1) of the 1981 Act, this amendment seeks to insert the words,

    "and having heard representations from the owner and keeper of the livestock should they choose to make them within the given timescale".

It is most important that such representations should be allowed and that a timescale should be established within which they could be made.

As I am on my feet, I hope that it is in order for me to speak also to the other amendments under this grouping which are tabled in my name and that of my noble friend. Perhaps I may begin with Amendment No. 250, which seeks to insert in new Section 62B(4)(c) of the 1981 Act the words,

    "after due effort has been made by the inspector to establish contact with the owner if he is away from the premises".

Without such wording, it seems to us that forced entry into premises would be the order of the day and could cause an animal to be slaughtered. It is obviously common sense that every effort must be made to contact the owner of the premises.

Amendment No. 253 seeks to substitute the word "week" for the word "month" in relation to the length of time that a warrant can remain in force. We have already debated this issue in a different context and stated that that is the period we wish to see in the legislation. I stand aside as regards Amendment No. 256, because it has been jointly tabled with the Conservative Opposition. I am sure that the noble Baroness and the noble Lord will wish to be involved in the moving of that amendment.

Amendment No. 277 contains the same wording as Amendment No. 243. It addresses the power of a warrant to authorise a veterinary inspector to enter premises, if necessary with reasonable force, in order to take tests and samples. The amendment seeks to ensure that the owners of the premises must be given a chance to make representations. We believe that they have a fundamental right to do so.

Amendment No. 288 refers to new Section 62F(4) of the 1981 Act, which requires,

    "any person on the premises",

to help in the process of taking tests and samples. Our amendment would ensure that only the owner and employees could do so, not "any person". Finally, Amendment No. 295 relates also to the taking of tests and samples. At present, the Bill states:

    "A person commits an offence if",

he or she fails to give assistance in the process of taking tests and samples. This amendment returns us to what has been playing on the gramophone, so to speak,

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most of the evening; namely, the words "without good reason". It seeks to ensure that someone commits such an offence only if he fails to give assistance "without good reason".

I apologise to the Committee if I seem to have jumped the gun as regards the amendments to which I have just referred. However, they all fall within the group headed by Amendment No. 243, which is the main amendment. I beg to move.

Lord Whitty: I have no objection to the noble Lord speaking to all these amendments at this time. They were grouped with Amendment No. 243, and many of them follow a progressive theme. However, most of them have already been mentioned in earlier debates. In relation to Amendment No. 243, we are dealing with representation to magistrates. I do not wish to rehearse that ground at great length, but I believe that the provision of rights to representation could undermine the whole disease control approach and that the other built-in safeguards are preferable.

Amendment No. 250 returns us to the question of whether inserting words like "due effort", "mitigating circumstances", or whatever, would improve the general requirement of the inspector and the officers to act reasonably. Before they determine that the owner is uncontactable, they must have acted reasonably in order to ascertain whether or not the owner could be contacted or when he or she would return. If the matter ever reached the courts, that would be taken into account. All that seems to me to be subsumed under the general duty to act reasonably.

I believe that we have debated the issue of whether the duration of the warrant should be one week or one month. Although I understand the argument, I do not see an overriding need to alter the general warrant procedure that calls for a period of one month. Indeed, one can conceive of circumstances in a really bad epidemic where we would not be able to carry out all the necessary action within the period of one week.

Amendment No. 277 also deals with representation, although it relates to slightly different circumstances. Again, I have outlined why I do not believe the right of representation is appropriate in the context of controlling an epidemic. As regards Amendment No. 288, we made clear in an earlier amendment that the requirement for assistance should be reasonable and limited to the keeper of stock. Therefore, the possibility of asking someone extraneous to co-operate with officials will not arise. Indeed, if we limited it solely to the owner of the livestock, we would be confining the provision even more tightly than is the case with the subsection that we adopted earlier. I do not believe that the proposed wording would improve the words that we adopted under Amendment No. 233.

On the phrase, "without good reason", since officers are required to act reasonably and to take account of other people's reasonable behaviour, the phrase is superfluous. If it were inserted in the proposed place, one would have to put it in all sorts of other legislation and other parts of the Bill. The lawyers and those

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concerned with parliamentary draftsmanship would resist that strenuously. I understand what lies behind the amendments but they would not add to the Bill.

7.30 p.m.

Lord Livsey of Talgarth: I listened to what the Minister said on Amendment No. 243. I still believe that,

    "representations from the owner and keeper",

could be spelt out in relation to a given timescale and that the amendment contains the correct procedure. I note what the Minister said about that and some of the other amendments to which I referred. On his latter remarks and those on Amendment No. 250, the river or stream of sweet reason that seems to be flowing through this debate has again been prayed in aid. In certain circumstances, the matter should be spelt out. In relation to Amendment No. 250, that might involve forced entry into premises to slaughter an animal without contact with the owner of the premises; that is a pretty serious situation with which to be confronted. However, I do not doubt that these matters will arise on Report. In view of that, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 244 and 245 not moved.]

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