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Viscount Astor: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his Answer. Can he explain why, in the consultation paper issued by his department, a second option was giventhat of passports purely for horses that would be entering the food chain? It was not a requirement that all horses have passports. Is this not a case of the Government, again, gold-plating a directive in an entirely unnecessary way?
Lord Whitty: No, my Lords. Indeed, the majority of organisations within the equine industry supported the view that, in order to comply with the European legislation, it would be more sensible to ensure that all horses were covered by the passport legislation. In that way, we could ensure that horses not destined for the food chain could continue to receive the veterinary medicines which would otherwise be banned.
Viscount Falkland: My Lords, is it not the case that the almost universal derision with which this measure has been metcertainly within the horse communityis due to the fact that most people realise that, for a human, obtaining a passport is a voluntary act? If you wish to travel, a passport provides you with government protection. However, apparently horses and donkeys are made compulsorily to have passports, whether they are travelling, as some do, and may need them or whether they are munching in a field. Is this really a passport or are we talking about a registration document? If the latter, why not say so? The presentation here has been quite incredible.
Lord Whitty: My Lords, I completely refute the first part of the noble Lord's question. Although there was a certain amount of derision in the short debate that we had in this House, by and large, as I said, the equine organisations support the legislation. It is, in a sense, a registration document and "passport" may not be the most appropriate term, although it would be used if the horse went between one European country and another.
Lord Higgins: My Lords, as the motivation for this impractical measure seems to come from those involved in the horsemeat trade, is the Minister aware of the concern of the International League for the Protection of Horses that, under the new draft legislation, it would not be possible for the UK to ban the export of live horses for slaughter? What is he going to do about that?
Lord Whitty: My Lords, it is true that the European Union is considering, as a separate issue, the regulations covering the transport of live horses. It is also true that, although in a rather indirect way, the UK ensures that horses and donkeys are not exported for slaughter, although that is not an explicit regulation at present.
Lord Whitty: My Lords, I assume that the noble Baroness meant "children's elderly horses". Clearly, in the enforcement of this legislation, both local authorities and the FSA will consider the priority areas. But any horse, however elderly, could change hands and could therefore require this degree of legislation. Therefore, in the long run, it would be better if all horses were covered.
Baroness Byford: My Lords, does the Minister accept that it is estimated that only 10,000 to 12,000 horses and ponies are exported for human consumption? Would it not be far more sensible if only those animals were required to have documentation? Further, does he agree that, following the issue of the consultation paper, it was recommended that those animals should not be given medicines six months prior to being killed? If that is the case, would it not be sensible to put a stop to the overall passport scheme and to apply it only to horses that are to be exported for human consumption?
Lord Whitty: My Lords, clearly the motivation for these regulations was to deal with horses for human consumption. Some human consumption of horsemeat does take place in this country, so let us not pretend that it is consumed only by foreigners. The benefit of having a comprehensive horse passport system is that horses whose owners declare them to be not destined for human consumption will continue to be able to use the veterinary medicines which would be banned were that not clear. Therefore, one good reason for pursuing this matter, and one reason that the industry, by and large, supports it, is that we would be able to continue to use traditional veterinary practices.
Baroness Gardner of Parkes: My Lords, can the Minister tell me what the penalty will be for failing to register or obtain a passport for a horse, how enforcement will be carried out and what the cost of enforcement will be?
Lord Whitty: My Lords, the noble Baroness will have to wait until the statutory instrument is placed before this House. That should be within the next month or so. Enforcement will be carried out by the Food Standards Agency in relation to animals which are, or may be, destined for food consumption. The rest will be dealt with by local authoritiesusually through trading standards offices. The level of enforcement will be relatively light.
Lord Berkeley: My Lords, if my noble friend is correct, horses are exported live to France, with or without passports. Does he really believe that the French authorities will care whether they have the right documentation before they are slaughtered in France?
Lord Swinfen: My Lords, if a horse is sold at auction and has previously been given banned medication, how will the new owner, who might use it or sell it for human consumption, know that it has had that medication?
Lord Whitty: My Lords, most horses will have some documentation. If a horse changes hands at an auction, once the passport system is up and running, the passport will either carry a declaration that the animal is not destined for human consumption, in which case the new owner would not be allowed to use it for that purposethe designation cannot be changedor it will indicate that it is for human consumption and therefore, as the noble Baroness has just said, the last six months of its veterinary record would need to be checked.
Baroness Byford: My Lords, perhaps I may suggest to the Minister that I consider the Government to be very complacent in this matter. The consultation finished in June this year. The legislation is due to be implemented in November this year, when animals must also be registered, and the noble Lord has just said that the statutory instrument might be brought forward in the next month or so. I believe that November is the next month.
Lord Whitty: My Lords, I certainly agree with the noble Baroness on that last point. It is our intention to bring forward the statutory instrument in November. We are still considering whether any leeway should be given in respect of the implementation date.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): My Lords, the Iraq Survey Group (ISG) is not part of the Coalition Provisional Authority. It is part of the United States-led military forces in Iraq and is therefore accountable to the United States Administration. British personnel seconded to the survey group are under the tactical control of the United States' commander. They are under the operational command of and accountable to the United Kingdom Chief of Joint Operations and thus to Her Majesty's Government. On reporting, the
Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, can the Minister confirm that the second-in-command of the ISG is a British brigadier, that the second largest component in the ISG is British and that David Kay in his interim report to a joint meeting of four congressional committees referred to the ISG as "a joint operation" of the coalition partners; that is, the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom? Is this a joint operation which, nevertheless, is entirely American?
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Indeed not, my Lords. I believe my Answer was very clear. I have been extraordinarily careful in the drafting of this response for the purposes of accuracy. The noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, is right; the second-in-command is British. He is right that there are about 60 to 100 British personnel involved in the ISG. Numbers vary; in the whole operation there are about 1,300 or so. Indeed, this is a joint operation and the reporting is as I have indicated to your Lordships.
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