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Lord Livsey of Talgarth: My Lords, I wish to add to my noble friend's remarks. I believe that, when talking about speed, the Minister mentioned delays that may occur as a result of representations being made to magistrates. However, in rural areas magistrates are easily accessible. I believe that that argument is the thin end of the wedge in terms of claiming that such a process would take a long time; it would not.
The Minister said that a thread of reasonableness runs through everythingthe whole of life, all legislation, the whole of government, everything that government officials ever do, everything that magistrates and everyone connected with them ever do, and through everything that people contracted to all those bodies ever do. If that was the case, we would not need any laws at all as everyone would behave completely reasonably under all circumstances. We could simply rely on a system of voluntary mutuality for us all to behave reasonably with everyone else and the world would be a rather more ideal place than it is now. The reason we have laws and rules and regulations is that often people do not behave reasonably. Even when they are meant to behave reasonably, they behave in an arbitrary manner or they behave in an unreasonable manner unwittingly because of the circumstances in which they find themselves.
We must remember that the powers we are discussing, particularly the slaughter powers and the compulsory vaccination powers, will be exercised under conditions of great stressstress for communities, farmers, people who own livestock and occupy the relevant premises, and stress for the whole community. I refer also to stress among magistrates and everyone else. We all observed what happened in last year's outbreak. In such situations people are under great stress. When they are under great stress, they do unreasonable things. All kinds of unreasonable events occurred that should not have taken place under the rules that were laid down. Therefore, we can assume that in stressful circumstances human beings will behave in ways which are not only unreasonable but which they regret later.
The idea that the whole world is wonderful and everyone is reasonable is not something that I can accept. It seems to me that if the rules require reasonablenessI refer in that connection to unoccupied premises or to premises where people are absentthere is no harm in including that in the Bill. If it is not included, it may be said of certain people, "They may be at the church just down the road but they are not on the farm and therefore we shall ignore them", or, "They may be on their other holding at the other end of the village", or, "They may be in the pub", or, "They may be at their grandmother's across the road", or whatever. Simple inquiries may ascertain where the relevant people are and enable a warrant to be served in a proper way. When people are under stress and under great pressure to achieve things quickly, standards slip and, therefore, that is when it
I believe that the House will want to return to these issues. There may be a fundamental division of opinion. The Minister may say that he cannot go even halfway to accommodate us, or accommodate us at all. If that is the case, there will have to be a showdown. I should regret that because it would be helpful if we could achieve some consensus in this area. Despite what the Minister said, perhaps during the next fortnight some efforts may be made to achieve that. I give notice that this matter will have to be debated again. In the mean time, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I listened with care to what the Minister didor did notsay in response to my amendment. This matter involves a catch-all situation and extra powers will given to the Minister, although I do not believe that he needs them. I am not happy with the Minister's response and I wish to test the opinion of the House.
Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.
The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 22, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 29, 37 and 56. Perhaps I may point out to noble Lords that Amendment No. 56 appears twice on the groupings list. However, I believe that it is relevant to this group and therefore I shall speak to it now.
I accept that the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, amended the wording of the Bill to reflect some of the concerns expressed by myself and other Members of the House. He has not, however, gone far enough to protect people on a farm from the demands of overwork and perhaps being harassed by an inspector, who in turn is being hassled by a boss to achieve the object set him.
The amendment seeks the insertion of the words "the affected" animalsnot "infected" animals. We contend that not everyone would feel able to give assistance to an inspector needing help. He would be quite within his rights, as they are currently laid down in the Bill, to call upon, for example, a stable girl, or a daughter or someone living in the household, to assist. She might well be doubly qualified because she has charge of some other animals on the premises. But she might well have nothing to do with the animals that the inspector wishes help with; for example, a stable girl who for particular reasons is petrified of cows, and, knowing little about them, is not able to give the kind of help that the Minister through his inspector seeks. If such a person is coerced into helping and an accident occurs while giving that assistance, who will be liable? Who covers someone who, when asked to give assistance, is perhaps not able and not capable of giving it?
In Committee, the Minister clarified and narrowed the number of people who can be reasonably expected to give assistance. But because the Bill refers to "animals" rather than "affected animals", I believe that the Minister would welcome the insertion of this word. I beg to move.
Nowadays, far fewer people in the countryside are involved in agriculture than when I was a young man and starting farming in the 1950s. As a consequence, there are on a good deal of farms premises that are part of the farm but which are let for entirely non-farming purposes.
I cite an example from the top of my head. Let us say that a house on a farm is part of the farm premises and is occupied by someone who carries on a business breeding dogsnothing whatever to do with the farm but occupying premises that are part of the farm. Why should someone be involved in all of the legislation who appears to the inspector,
The amendment is entirely appropriate. The Bill should state that the only people who fall under the subsection are persons appearing to the inspector to have charge of animals on the premises that are affected by the outbreak that we are discussing.
As I speak, I can think of another example. A farm that neighbours mine in North Yorkshire has set up a side enterprise in which they breed and sell ornamental fish. When they come to stay, my grandchildren love to go to that farm either to look at or to purchase fish for their aquarium. But those fish are animals.
Nowadays, people on farms are considering alternative enterprises. Years ago, I was one of the first Ministers to encourage alternative enterprises on farms and give public money to support them. Because there was insufficient money to be made from farming, many farming families have arranged for interested people to occupy houses or other premises to carry out enterprises which, through a rental, provide revenue for the farming business but which are totally separate and run by different people from the farming enterprise.
I have cited two examplesdog breeding and fish breedingthat could perfectly well fall under the provision. I plead with the Minister to understand the point. He may not have previously considered such a situation, although I thought that we explained it in Committee. Something must be done to detach from the legal process and legislation people who are totally separated from the enterprise of the farm on which animals are or could be affected by an outbreak of disease. We should concentrate the effect of the law on
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