Bill To Amend The Animal Health Act 1981
Taken out of context and read in isolation, the Bill to amend the Animal Act 1981, may well give rise to misunderstandings and interpretations. However, it should be read together with not only the guidance notes but also the original Animal Health Act 1981.
Under the terms of the new animal health (amendment) bill....
11. Clause 2 enables the Minister to extend to diseases other than FMD the power to cause to be slaughtered for disease control purposes animals other than those affected, suspected of being infected or exposed to disease. (in other words my animals can be legally slaughtered if there is a case of any disease in the vicinity to which they might possibly be susceptible, even though they are perfectly healthy. So can yours, members of the BHS. )
Power of entry
29. New section 36G provides powers of entry for inspectors or constables to carry out functions under new Part 2A. It will be possible to exercise this power at all reasonable times except for premises which are used only as private dwelling-houses, where 24 hours notice must be given. (so my dogs - or cats, or horses or other animals - won't be killed until I have been given 24 hours notice. 24 hours in which I am not allowed to do anything to save them. Any legal quibbles will take place, not in a court, but between "inspector" and magistrate.)
31. New section 36J creates offences relating to these powers of entry. ......a justice of the peace may issue a warrant authorising an inspector to enter premises, if necessary using reasonable force, for the purpose of ascertaining whether any power to cause animals to be slaughtered should be exercised and doing anything in pursuance of the exercise of that power. (pretty much carte blanche then to force an entry into our houses under the very slightest of pretexts. As they already have done - clearly now illegally - in cases such as that of Carolyn Hoffe and her pet sheep. This is Britain, is it, in 2001?)
In the 1981 Act, the terms 'animals' and 'disease' are clearly defined, and unless the context otherwise requires, 'animals' means cattle, sheep, goats, and also all other ruminants and swine. Within the Act powers already exist to extend the definition of 'animals' to include any kind of mammal except man, and just about any other kind of creature. In the Act, the meaning of 'disease' is also clearly defined, and this definition can, by order, be extended to cover any other disease of animals.
In common with the Act, provisions under the Bill to extend the power to slaughter, in cases of specified diseases, does not and will not apply to non-susceptible and non-clinical carrier species (that is animals that can neither get nor transmit the specified disease in a clinical sense). Further, the Bill makes new offence of 'deliberately infecting an animal with a certain disease or intending to do so'. The specified diseases to which this new offence relates are listed in Schedule 2A of the Bill.
Further, horse owners should not be concerned about African Horse Sickness, listed in Schedule 2A. Whilst the disease is endemic in tropical regions of Africa, only a few cases have been reported outside Africa, such as the Near and Middle East (1959-63), in Spain (1966, 1987-90) and in Portugal (1989). This disease is not directly contagious; it can only be passed from one horse to another by a biological vector such as infected mosquitoes.
The UK and Europe already have strict import (and export) controls vital to disease control and surveillance.
BHS Press Office
British Horse Society
Stoneleigh Deer Park
Warwickshire CV8 2XZ
Direct line: 08701 20 88 80
Members of the BHS might like to query this statement: N.Gregory@bhs.org.uk You will receive the one line reply "I am passing your comments on to our head of Welfare." but it is still worth letting them know politely that they may be rather underestimating the powers in this bill - not to mention the fact that it tacitly admits that the powers DEFRA used so insensitively for eight long months were illegal. Many farmers were not prepared to exchange their healthy animals for inflated compensation but, not having access to lawyers, were cajoled or intimidated or forced to give them up for slaughter. DEFRA were acting illegally. This bill would make such bullying legal - and, retrospectively, justify the past cruel treatment of farmers and their animals.