http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200102/cmhansrd/cm021106/debtext/21106-10.htm#21106-10_head1
 
Animal Health Bill

Lords amendments considered.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Sylvia Heal): I must draw the attention of the House to the fact that privilege is involved in Lords amendments Nos. 5, 7, 11, 45, 47 and 49, which are to be considered today. If the House agrees to these Lords amendments, I shall ensure that the appropriate entry is made in the Journal.

Clause 1

Foot-and-Mouth Disease


Lords amendment: No. 1, in page 1, line 3, at end insert—
"( ) In the Animal Health Act 1981 (c.22) (in this Act referred to as the 1981 Act)
before paragraph 3 of Schedule 3 insert—
"(2A) The Secretary of State shall give priority to a "vaccinate to live" policy prior to causing to be slaughtered animals on premises where no infection has been detected.""

4.45 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Mr. Elliot Morley): I beg to move, That this House disagrees with the Lords in the said amendment.

Madam Deputy Speaker: With this we may discuss Government amendment (a) in lieu and sub-amendment (i).

Mr. Morley: The House has discussed the Bill in detail. I said that as a result of pertinent points raised in Committee we would give further consideration to amendments, especially in the other place.

Significant changes have been made to the Bill. We accepted some of them as a result of discussions in the course of the parliamentary process, and I want to pay tribute to my colleague, Lord Whitty, who did a good job in dealing with the Bill in the House of Lords. Other changes result from commitments that we gave in Committee to consider certain aspects in further detail so that we could be more transparent. We also wanted to reassure hon. Members and reflect their reasonable concerns.

Amendment No. 1 deals with vaccination. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State made it clear in her statement that we accept the recommendations of the Anderson and Follett reports that vaccination should have a more prominent role in the decision-tree process of the measures that we would apply to combat any disease outbreak. That commitment has been given. It is also recognised in our revised interim contingency plan, which is being made public today. It is part of a developing contingency plan arising from discussions with the industry.

Although we understand the reason behind the amendment, we cannot accept it. As we made clear in our response to the reports, we will, ideally, want to use a vaccinate-to-live strategy if emergency vaccination

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is used. There may, however, be scenarios in which, following the appropriate veterinary and scientific advice, culling of non-infected premises is deemed more appropriate than vaccination. We do not want that advice to be restricted artificially in terms of the most appropriate disease control methods that could be applied.

It is also important to stress that European Union legislation requires slaughter of livestock on premises that have an epidemiological link to infected premises. For example, in some circumstances slaughter will not be the last resort, and we would want to stamp out an immediate outbreak by culling, as identified in the Royal Society and Anderson reports. The amendment therefore runs contrary to EU law. It is unworkable and we cannot accept it, even though we are not necessarily against the reason behind it.

We have offered a Government amendment in lieu. It has been carefully drafted to address concerns about the role of vaccination in future disease outbreaks. It sets out explicitly on the face of the Bill that the Secretary of State must consider


    "the most appropriate means of preventing the spread of the disease."

In particular, the Secretary of State must consider whether vaccination is more appropriate in the circumstances. It is not entirely dissimilar to the amendment tabled by the Liberal Democrats. I hope they recognise that we understand the reasoning behind their amendment. Although our amendment reflects concerns about restrictions, we are not against the general principle of recognising the changes in the Government's response and our acceptance of the recommendations in the Follett and Anderson reports. We want to emphasise that by putting it on the face of the Bill. Our approach also reflects the inquiry reports and recent European developments, which have underlined the need for vaccination to play a higher profile in future disease outbreaks. The Government response to the inquiry sets out our strategy for taking those recommendations forward.

Mr. Elfyn Llwyd (Meirionnydd Nant Conwy): Will the Minister explain the difference between what he now proposes to put on the face of the Bill and what de facto took place during the foot and mouth debacle? Back Benchers understood that Ministers were considering vaccination at various points.

Mr. Morley : That is true. We were considering vaccination at a number of points. Traditional methods of dealing with an outbreak on that scale, which were based on the inquiry into the 1967 outbreak, were based on mass culling. What is different about our response to the Anderson and Royal Society reports is that vaccination, which was on the periphery of the responses—we had not resolved many of the issues within the food industry or the agricultural, food and livestock sectors—had not been pushed up the order of priority as regards decision making. It was a specialist application, to be used in certain circumstances, and was considered on a number of occasions, as the hon. Gentleman rightly states.

The Anderson and Royal Society reports made it clear that stamping out should be the initial response, but that vaccination should go further up the agenda:

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it should be considered right away, in the appropriate circumstances and the appropriate way, as a tool for controlling disease outbreaks. It is a different response, compared with previous contingency plans. That is reflected in our revised contingency plan and in what I am saying today about accepting the concerns about vaccination by putting it on the face of the Bill, which will allow us to take into account a range of options for what method is applied. Vaccination will, however, be more prominent in the decision-making process.

Paul Flynn (Newport, West): Is it not true that in April 2001 the Government's advisers said that a large number of cattle in the north of England should be vaccinated, but the National Farmers Union, in the shape of Ben Gill, wrecked that decision? He insisted on laying down impossible conditions that could not be met. If the Bill becomes an Act, will it withstand any future wrecking tactics of the NFU?

Mr. Morley : In Cumbria, our scientific advisory group made a unanimous recommendation that vaccination should be used on cattle, more in relation to disposal than as a disease-control measure. Due to the nature and spread of the disease, the advantage of vaccination would have been to reduce the number of cattle killed and, therefore, the need to dispose of them. There is no denying that there was significant disagreement within the farming sector; concerns were also expressed in the food industry. We are trying to look forward rather than back. What is clear to me, as I have said, is that it is difficult to decide the role of vaccination, where to use it and the priority that it should have in disease-control strategies and response in the midst of one of the world's biggest epidemics. It is difficult to get that agreement. It is much better to debate that matter now, have proper contingency arrangements and reflect the change both in the Government's response to the independent inquiries and on the face of the Bill.

Mr. David Drew (Stroud): Does my hon. Friend accept that part of the problem is that there has to be some consensus about the actions that have to be taken? We all know what went wrong last time—there was a great deal of disagreement over policy and actions among farmers. How does he anticipate that we shall be able to reach a stage at which we at least share an understanding of the policy options? As he says, that cannot be done in the midst of an outbreak; it has to be done now, and we have to build that consensus. Is that what the Government are talking about?

Mr. Morley: I do not want to go into great detail about the various strategies, as that would divert attention from the amendments. However, I am happy to answer interventions from hon. Members on that point. There are still many issues in relation to vaccination that need to be resolved. It is not a simple matter. There are issues such as tests and acceptance by the livestock industry and the food and farming industry, but we want to engage all the stakeholders in discussions on the matter. There is a recommendation from the independent reports that vaccination be considered more prominently as a response. We are not being asked to use vaccination as a response in all

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circumstances. One of the problems with amendment No. 1 is that we need some flexibility, but we accept that vaccination must move up the agenda and that we must address and resolve a range of issues.

Mr. David Curry (Skipton and Ripon): Does the hon. Gentleman accept that one of the problems during the epidemic was that there were announcements by the Government, but a long period elapsed before anything happened in the countryside to implement the announcements? There was a great deal of doubt and public agonising by the Government about which course of action to take. Professor Sir Brian Follett said that the contingency plan should outline clearly to all the stakeholders the various options and actions, but should culminate in parliamentary approval of a contingency plan. Would not that be the way of answering the point made by the hon. Member for Newport, West (Paul Flynn), who seems to have disappeared? Farmers should know what the various scenarios are and the responses to them. It is not good enough to put the contingency plan on the website. We need to have sight of it and debate it publicly.

Mr. Morley: I do not disagree with the right hon. Gentleman. Part of our interim contingency plan is a decision tree, as it is called. One can see clearly the various circumstances and the decisions that one might take about whether or not to vaccinate and what sort of vaccination one might use—suppressive, preventive or ring vaccination. A range of issues and applications is clearly laid out in a decision tree.

We are still in the process of engaging stakeholders in the development of interim strategies, so that we can have a proper contingency plan in place, probably early in the new year. We very much welcome the scrutiny of bodies such as the Select Committee in the development of a plan, so that it is open and transparent and people understand the reasoning behind it and the options available.

We are, of course, developing a whole animal health strategy. We are discussing foot and mouth, but the Bill deals with animal health. Inevitably, a great deal of attention will be focused on foot and mouth, but we must think ahead as well. We need adequate contingency plans for a range of exotic diseases, some of which may represent an increased threat because of changes in climate and the spread of insect vectors, for example. The Bill is designed to cope with that and give us the flexibility that we will need in future.

Mrs. Angela Browning (Tiverton and Honiton): I am grateful to the Minister, and apologise for the fact that I was not present when he started speaking. Does he recall that he told us in Committee:


    "I want to make it clear to the Committee that vaccinate and slaughter is not an option that I personally support"—[Official Report, Standing Committee E, 4 December 2001; col. 171.]

and went on to explain how he preferred the option of vaccinating animals so that they could continue to live? Is that still his view, and will it influence the outcome of the consultations to which he referred?

Mr. Morley: The hon. Lady played a prominent part in Committee and she is welcome to intervene. The Secretary of State made it clear in her statement today

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that, generally speaking, if we are going to use emergency vaccination our preference would be a vaccinate-to-live policy. There may be circumstances in which a vaccinate-to-kill-later policy was necessary. That is dealt with in the Bill in relation to compensation, for example, and we accepted some amendments on that. However, I can confirm categorically to the hon. Lady that our preference is for a policy of vaccinate to live.

I have made it clear why we cannot accept the point made in the Liberal Democrat amendments. However, I am sure that we are not very far apart in our reasoning. We have given an important commitment and I hope that the hon. Member for St. Ives will accept that.

5 pm

We accept Lords amendment No. 3, which deals with the use of the word "immaterial". We are happy to accept the clarification that it provides. The provision in question enables the Secretary of State, where it is necessary to do so, to use a power to limit the spread of an outbreak and deal with it quickly. Our aim will be to use that power where we believe that it would reduce the total number—

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order. I remind the Minister that the Lords amendment to which he is speaking is in a separate group. At the moment, we are discussing Lords amendment No. 1, Government motion to disagree thereto and Government amendment (a) in lieu, and sub-amendment (i).

Mr. Morley: Thank you for that guidance, Madam Deputy Speaker. I am used to dealing with amendments together in Committee and on Report. I do have much more to add.

Mr. Eric Martlew (Carlisle): I think that I was the only Labour Back Bencher who spoke in favour of the Bill on Second Reading. One of the reasons why I contributed was that it was vague as to whether the Government had the right compulsorily to vaccinate. Does the Bill before us clear that issue up?

Mr. Morley: The Bill makes the situation clear: the right to vaccinate always existed under the Animal Health Act 1981, but the Bill makes it easier to apply vaccination, as well as culling and serology, more quickly and efficiently.

There has been much concentration on the Bill in terms of culling—we had the same discussion in Committee—but the issues remain the same. The Bill does not focus entirely on culling. It is designed also to give the powers necessary for speedy entry into and application of vaccination and serology. Those powers are equally important in any application of disease control measures. Indeed, the different emphasis might mean that they become more important, which is a very strong argument for the Bill.

Mr. Andrew George (St. Ives): I seek the Minister's advice on the consumption of vaccinated meat. What assessment has his Department and the Food Standards

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Agency made of that issue? Is the Department clear about how much, if any, vaccinated meat is coming into the country?

Mr. Morley: We are certainly aware that some vaccinated meat is coming into the country, but vaccines are used in the livestock industry for all sorts of things. As is made clear in the Government's formal written response to the independent inquiries, we certainly believe that there is no reason why vaccinated meat, in this case in relation to foot and mouth disease, should not be placed on the market. There is no safety reason why that should not happen.

I ask the House to disagree with the amendment, but I hope that it will accept that we have recognised the arguments behind it and tried to give some reassurance by allowing in the Bill for the fact that the issue of vaccination will certainly more prominently be considered in future, along with a range of options, bearing in mind the proper scientific and veterinary advice and the fact that there are still some issues to resolve before we can successfully use it on a large scale.

Mr. James Gray (North Wiltshire): I welcome the fact that the Minister has been ready to listen to all the discussions that occurred in Committee, in the House and during the progress of the Bill in the other place. His tabling of an amendment in lieu of the Lords amendment demonstrates that the Government are ready to listen. I understand the Minister's confusion about speaking to the other groups of amendments, but in those, too, the Government have demonstrated that they are ready to listen to the arguments that have been put forward here, in Committee and, particularly, in the other place, by granting a number of concessions on some of the important matters that were raised.

I understand much of what the Minister said about Lords amendment No. 1. None the less, we shall argue the case in favour of the amendment. The first groups of amendments—including those relating to slaughter, to which the Minister referred a moment ago—bring us to the heart of all that we found wrong with the Bill when it left the House of Commons. Its name is the Animal Health Bill, but as my noble Friend Baroness Byford so memorably said on Second Reading, it would have been better to call it the "Animal Death Bill".

The Bill was originally introduced to allow the Government to kill animals, whether or not there was a real need to do so and whether or not farmers were prepared to allow it to happen, and to give those farmers unfair compensation for the cull once it had happened. The groups of amendments in this first, one-and-a-half hour debate are designed to correct the Bill's asymmetrical imbalance in favour of death, and to create a Bill that is, wherever possible, in favour of life—a true Animal Health Bill. This remains a bad Bill, but, thanks to these amendments and to the others that we shall debate later, it is a slightly less bad Bill than it was when it left here. We therefore welcome the Government's readiness to accept their Lordships' amendments, which, if time allows, we shall debate later.

The amendments in the first group relate to the vaccinate-to-live policy. Rather than accepting them, the Government are seeking to water them down. The

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Minister justified that by suggesting that, under EU law, vaccination on farms that had epidemiological connections with farms that were being culled out could not be allowed. I am certain that that is true, and I would not for a second question the Minister's understanding of EU law; I am sure that he is a great expert on it. However, many of the contiguous culls that took place during the crisis two years ago did not involve farms that were epidemiologically connected with farms being culled out. Rather, those farms simply happened to be next door to them. According to my understanding of the matter—I am ready to be corrected—EU law would allow vaccination on neighbouring farms.

What animal lover could have failed to be affected by the devastating images of the pyres of perfectly healthy animals, just two years ago? Who would not wish to find a way of avoiding that happening again? The unamended Lords amendment offers a means of doing exactly that. The Royal Society's report, which was published in July and to which the Government have rushed out their response today, acknowledges that fact. I remind the House that the report states:


    "It is clear that the long-term solution is to develop a vaccine against FMD (and other diseases such as classical swine fever) that confers lifelong sterile immunity against all strains of the virus. An international research effort is required to develop such a vaccine."

On short-term planning, it states:


    "Given recent advances in vaccine science and improved trading regulations, emergency vaccines should now be considered as part of the control strategy from the start of any outbreak of FMD. This means 'vaccination to live' rather than vaccination to prevent spread and then culling."

The Royal Society is, therefore, perfectly clear on the matter. In the National Farmers' Union's response to that report, its president, Mr. Ben Gill, said:


    "The NFU supports the report's recommendation that emergency vaccination should be considered as an option alongside the slaughter of infected animals and dangerous contacts as part of an overall control strategy during any future FMD outbreak."

The Royal Society, the Follett report and the NFU support the principle of vaccination becoming part of the hierarchy of weapons at the Secretary of State's disposal in the event of another outbreak.

It might be informative to glance at the way in which Uruguay tackled foot and mouth disease in 2001, to see what can be done using vaccination without subsequent slaughter. Uruguay vaccinated 10 million cattle and eradicated the disease within 15 weeks. Only 7,000 animals were slaughtered, compared with the millions that were culled here, and the human impact was therefore absolutely minimal. The Minister might be keen to hear that the total cost to the Uruguay Government—vaccines, disinfection and compensation to farmers—totalled some $13.6 million, which is a tiny amount compared with what we had to spend here. So, there is a huge amount to be said for vaccination.

Of course I accept that scientists have begun to understand some of the questions surrounding the effectiveness of vaccination only in the past few months. For that reason, I pay particular tribute to Cross-Bencher Lord Moran, whose determined efforts ensured that the Bill's over-hasty progress through the other place was delayed so that it could be informed by the Royal Society and other reports as well as by those

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scientific advances. It is curious to think back to the Minister and his colleagues in the other place arguing that the Bill must go through terribly quickly as it was terribly important. Here we are, discussing their response to the Royal Society report on the same day as we consider Lords amendments to the Bill.

Mr. Martlew : Is the hon. Gentleman aware that his party opposed the Royal Society report and wanted a public inquiry, whose results we would not have had for at least three years?

Mr. Gray: The hon. Gentleman is not quite right. We were certainly not opposed to the Royal Society report or the Follett report. We would indeed have welcomed a public inquiry in addition to the Royal Society report, although we understand that the Government did not want that—plainly, it would have been extremely embarrassing for them—and that they used their self-defence mechanism to avoid such an inquiry. However, to suggest that a public inquiry was an alternative to the Royal Society report is quite wrong.

It is curious to think of the Government trying to rush the Bill through the House and the other place, despite the fact that they knew that these two vital reports were due in the summer. The Government wanted the Bill to become law in advance of the reports becoming known.

Mr. Morley rose—

Mr. Gray: The Minister wants to correct me.

Mr. Morley: Hindsight is a wonderful thing. When we introduced the Bill, the epidemic had only recently stopped. In all honesty, many people, including us, thought it likely that there would be further outbreaks, and it was important that we had a range of measures to deal with that. Of course, one can never tell when an outbreak might occur. I am glad that there have been no further outbreaks, but we cannot be complacent. I have to say, however, that the hon. Gentleman sounds very complacent.

Mr. Gray: I am astonished to hear the Minister suggest that my remarks are complacent. I would like to think that his Department had contingency plans in place and that, had there been another small outbreak during that period, it could have dealt with that a great deal more effectively than last time, which was an absolute shambles. Let us hope that the Department has learnt a few lessons without any new legislation. I am also astonished that he thought it very likely that there would be more outbreaks. I heard no public announcement from the Department that further outbreaks were very likely, but the Minister has now said that.

Paul Flynn rose—

Mr. Gray: The hon. Gentleman is keen to intervene.

Paul Flynn: The disease was contained in Uruguay, France, the Netherlands and Ireland, but not here. That was because of the excessive number of animal movements following the first infection. More than 1

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million animals were exposed, as animals travelled to at least six markets. Is it not vital that the Bill is passed as quickly as possible, so that the farming industry is protected not just from another foot and mouth outbreak, but from the possible outbreak of many other diseases such as blue tongue virus, vesicular stomatitis and swine vesicular disease? The limitations on animal movements are crucial.

Mr. Gray: I entirely sympathise with the point about animal movements, and I think that Members on both sides of the House would seek always to restrict animal movements as much as possible, and find ways to use local abattoirs and to sell meat locally, but the truth is that the large buyers of meat buy from across the nation. Of course, a religious cull for certain purposes was the biggest single reason for the movement of elderly ewes that occurred immediately before the main outbreak.

I have heard the hon. Member for Newport, West (Paul Murphy) several times on the issue. Of course we agree—[Interruption.] Halal meat is the answer. Most of the old ewes that were brought down to Devon from the north were used for halal meat in Birmingham. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Drew) is making squeaking noises from a sedentary position, but halal meat was the main reason.

If I may, I shall return to the main point of today's discussion—Lords amendment No. 1, which has the specific purpose of dealing with vaccination. It would not be right for me to allow hon. Members to ramble on about other matters, as it is important to focus on the particular issue. I was making the point that the Government tried to rush the Bill through the House—it was introduced to this place 12 months ago—and that I am glad of the delay, which has allowed us to consider the outcome of the two reports. The science on vaccination is developing all the time.

For example, tests to differentiate between vaccinated animals and those that are infected are now fully available to us. That allowed the OIE—the Office Internationale d'Epizootic—to reduce the time for a return to disease-free status from 12 months to six. It happened very recently, and it allowed the EU temporary committee's draft report in September to advocate emergency vaccination as a tool of first resort.

5.15 pm

I presume that the EU foot and mouth disease directive, due to be published shortly, will also endorse emergency vaccination as the primary means of control, but if there is no similar presumption in favour of vaccination in the United Kingdom we will be at an immediate competitive disadvantage compared with EU countries where vaccination is preferred. Both the EU report and the directive will doubtless recognise the advances and validation of NSP-free vaccines and the differential tests, and make provision to deal with FMD in line with the new OIE ruling. As the Minister has acknowledged, and as was acknowledged in the earlier statement, the Department is also moving towards being broadly in favour of a degree of vaccination. I welcome that.

We all accept that there are potential problems with vaccination. An obvious practical difficulty with mass vaccination is the large number of animals involved. The

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views of the international community, especially on meat exports from a vaccinated country, need further clarification and will doubtless also need further negotiation. At present, vaccination cannot be carried out very easily, which is a great worry. We must ensure that we preserve our disease-free status and the ability to export around the world.

As the Royal Society report notes, the effectiveness and durability of vaccines require much more work. The costs associated with mass vaccination should also be considered, although they are nothing in comparison with the costs of an extensive cull. I accept that there are downsides to vaccination, but at least the amendment offers the Government the opportunity to use it in the event of another outbreak.

The Minister seemed to suggest that the amendment would require the Government to use vaccination. It does not; it merely requires them to make it a priority—to put it at the top of their tree. Of course a contiguous cull would still be allowed. What we are saying is that, whereas in the old days the cull was the presumption, we want vaccination—at the very least, ring-fenced vaccination—to become the presumption.

Problems would be involved in moving to the next stage and making vaccination a more permanent prophylactic, but it should not be beyond the wit of man or the expertise of science to demonstrate to the world that vaccinating to live guarantees a disease-free herd. It is possible to differentiate between animals carrying antibodies as a result of infection and those carrying them as result of vaccination. I personally have been vaccinated against yellow fever, smallpox, measles and, no doubt, a variety of other diseases. That does not make me a global health pariah; on the contrary, it allows me to travel abroad with the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, the Inter-Parliamentary Union and other such useful organisations. Surely the same principle can apply to vaccinated animals.

Moreover, as the Minister mentioned, the meat that we eat today comes from animals that have been vaccinated against all kinds of disease. The notion of vaccination is not necessarily a bad thing. The Food Safety Agency could quite reasonably reach an early conclusion on whether FMD-vaccinated beef is as good as non-vaccinated beef.

We believe that vaccination against FMD, both as a firebreak and potentially, in the longer term, as a more general prophylactic, has real possibilities for the future, although we accept that more work is needed on many aspects. The Lords amendment moves our thinking towards vaccination and away from slaughter in a way that we do not think is achieved by the Government's much weaker amendment to it. We are glad that the Government have move some way in our direction, but we are disappointed that they cannot accept the Lords amendment. We believe that it truly changes an animal death Bill into what we all want it to be, an animal health Bill.

Mr. Martlew : It is a year since I spoke in the Second Reading debate. The hon. Member for North Wiltshire (Mr. Gray) keeps talking about the outbreak being two years ago, but I remind the House that the week before we introduced the Bill a flock of sheep was killed in south Cumbria on suspicion of being infected, and that

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was just over a year ago. We must not forget how devastating the outbreak was—the millions of animals that were killed, the devastation on the farms, the crippling of the tourist industry in many parts of the country and the fact that we spent billions of pounds that could have been spent elsewhere. I am sure that we can all think of how we could have spent the money. To prove how serious it was, we should remember that the general election was postponed because of the outbreak of foot and mouth disease. So the politics of having another outbreak have to be taken into consideration.

In Cumbria, I was right in the middle of the argument about vaccination. The farmers were in favour of vaccination, but the National Farmers Union and the food industry were against it. The milk factory where I worked for 20 years was threatened with closure if we vaccinated. I do not accept the idea that if we have another outbreak and introduce a policy of vaccinate to live, we will not have these arguments again. We will still have a problem with the food industry as it will be frightened that consumers will be turned off a particular product if we have a policy of vaccinate to live.

A policy of vaccinate to kill is absolute nonsense. In December, the Chairman of the Agriculture Committee and I attended a conference in Brussels and listened to the Dutch agriculture Minister, who was still shell-shocked by the anger of the people of Holland having found out that 750,000 pigs there had been vaccinated and then all killed. The idea that we should have a policy of vaccinate to kill is nonsensical. An emergency policy of vaccinate to live still raises great worries, as we will have the same arguments with the farmers and the food industry. The way to go is to introduce routine vaccination that becomes part of the culture of farming, rather than being introduced in a crisis. The consumers will accept it. It must be a Europe-wide policy. In animal welfare terms, the benefits will be tremendous, but the spin off to other industries, including the tourist industries, of knowing that we can never go back to the devastation of last year will also be valuable.

When I intervened on my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State during her statement, she gave me some assurance that the matter was being looked at, but if European Governments do not show real commitment to routine vaccination, industry will not spend billions of pounds on developing a vaccine, particularly if EU politics are not committed to using it.

We need guidance from the Government. I believe that a vaccine is not far away. When the Select Committee questioned members of the Follett Committee, they expressed the same view. I remind the Minister that Britain persuaded the rest of the EU to stop the routine vaccination of animals, so it was done in the past.

I believe that false information has been disseminated about carrying animals. There is no evidence that an animal that has had the disease and recovered passes that disease on to other animals. If we look at the history of foot and mouth disease in this country, some animals who had had the disease must have escaped the cull and survived, but fortunately we have had no more outbreaks this year. I supported the Bill on Second Reading because it gave us the option of vaccination. I was quite impressed by the response from my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, but I would warn the

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Minister that the idea that in a crisis we can introduce a policy of vaccination to live will be fraught with the same dangers that we faced last time.

Mr. Curry : I understand the reasons why the Government introduced a Bill so rapidly after the epidemic, but it had a very punitive air, and its measures were draconian. The pause has helped, and it is now much more balanced. On vaccination, the Government have got the balance about right. The other place has gone too far—it has run a little ahead of the science. We must ensure that the Government retain the flexibility to apply measures appropriate to particular circumstances—probably a range of measures—without necessarily being predisposed towards a particular set of measures.

As far as vaccination is concerned, there are three crucial factors. First, we must have a vaccine that is polyvalent—that can deal with all the strains of foot and mouth disease. Secondly, there should be a field test to distinguish vaccinated animals from those that are genuinely infected. In the circumstances of an outbreak, there is no point in sending samples to laboratories and having to wait three days or so for the results. Finally, there is the requirement that international trade rules should deliver the acceptability of vaccinated product and, indeed, that the various people in the industry should accept it.

5.30 pm

Interestingly, in Holland—the Dutch experience did involve vaccination—all vaccinated animal product was destroyed: none of it went into the food chain. The National Farmers Union may have had concerns about vaccination and the possibility of a two-tier market opening up, but as the Minister said, the food industry also had hesitations about the acceptability of vaccinated product. It is all very well saying that all animals have been vaccinated and various steps have been taken—we know that that is so—but as certain other episodes have shown, consumer reaction does not necessarily follow what we would describe as logic. It is entirely for consumers to decide what they wish to buy.

Mr. Drew : As always, the right hon. Gentleman talks eminent good sense. Does he accept that one problem with having a vaccination policy in the midst of an outbreak is that, in effect, there would not be one policy? One might well choose ring-vaccination, but to ensure the most effective policy—and to ensure that animals were being vaccinated to live—it would almost certainly have to be linked to the prophylactic vaccination of virtually all other stock. What are the right hon. Gentleman's views on mixing policies during an outbreak?

Mr. Curry: There would inevitably be a mix. A great deal depends on how rapidly one gets to an outbreak before significant movement occurs. If such movement does occur, a vaccination strategy becomes difficult to apply because of the sheer problems of tracing. I am very doubtful about prophylactic vaccination. There have been instances right across the uplands of trying to count animals for the purpose of making claims on the support systems. It is very difficult indeed to get hold of

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every single sheep, so the answer is, "First, find your sheep." If it were felt that even just a handful of animals had not been caught by prophylactic vaccination, significant difficulties would arise in terms of regulation and marketing.

Why does not the Minister ask Sir Brian Follett to keep a watching brief on this issue? Why is not Sir Brian asked to make an annual report to the Department, and to Parliament, on where the science has taken us? The Department could then add an annexe, stating the policy implications of where we are in terms of vaccines. Very few Members are scientists, and we need someone to translate the science into sensible terms. Sir Brian did an outstanding job in the report; he has credibility, and he would be a good person to take on that task. That, combined with the policy implications and comments from the Food Standards Agency, would be an example of the joined-up government of which we hear a great deal, but see a good deal less.

The Liberal Democrat amendment adds a little in declamatory terms, but absolutely nothing of substance, and I hope that they will not press it to a vote. The sensible thing is for the House to accept the amendment as formulated by the Government—it strikes a sensible balance according to the current state of our knowledge—provided that they set in motion the machinery to ensure regular updating of knowledge, and that they draw the conclusions publicly, for us all to see.

Andrew George : I suppose that I should move amendment (i) in the name of my right hon. Friends and myself.

Madam Deputy Speaker : Order. The hon. Gentleman may speak to the amendment; it will be moved formally later.

Mr. George : I am grateful to you, Madam Deputy Speaker, for clarifying the issue, and I apologise for being out of order.

I welcome the efforts made by the lordships in amending the Bill. Some significant and comprehensive work was done in Committee and on Report in the House of Lords, and the Bill, as amended, is considerably better than when the Commons sent it to their lordships. I welcome the opportunity for their lordships to demonstrate that they can be an effective revising Chamber.

I welcome the fact that the Government have accepted some of the amendments originally tabled by my noble Friends on the Liberal Democrat Benches in the House of Lords—for example, that on an annual report in respect of meat imports and the related regulations and surveillance. I also welcome the fact that the Government have shifted their position and are prepared to open their eyes to the opportunity of introducing an amendment that would at least allow a vaccination policy to be used if an outbreak occurs in future.

However, perhaps harping back to today's statement, some lessons should be learned, one of which is that the Government should not attempt to rush through such

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Bills and that they must provide themselves with a greater opportunity to request reports, such as the two on which we have just considered the Government response, before introducing legislation.

Mr. Roger Williams (Brecon and Radnorshire): Does my hon. Friend agree that, if ever a Bill would have benefited from pre-legislative scrutiny, this was it?

Andrew George : Absolutely. Although the Select Committee considered aspects of the foot and mouth outbreak and proposals in the Bill, the fact is that a number of important factors were not taken into account. The Bill has benefited from the delay as a result of considering the Anderson and Follett reports, and even the Government could not deny that. Among the lessons that need to be learned generally is the fact the Government need to reflect on the way in which they treat the industry. It is fundamentally important that the Govt recognise that they must build a climate of trust between themselves and the industry in any future legislation or action that they take in relation to any future outbreak. What worries me about several of the Government's proposals is that the Bill is based on a lack of trust and forcing the Government's will on farmers.

I welcome the Minister's statement at the commencement of the debate that he is not against the general principle of our amendment, although he did not go on to argue specifically against the practice of our amendment. Is it a question of priority, or does he accept the principle that a vaccinate-to-live policy should be applied wherever possible and that wholesale farm slaughter should be used as a policy of last resort? If he fundamentally agrees with the principle that that policy should be applied, why will he not agree to its inclusion in the Bill? He did not answer that question.

Mr. Morley rose—

Andrew George : I will happily give way to the Minister—perhaps he will have an answer.

Mr. Morley: First, amendment No. 1 is unnecessary, as the Government have tabled amendments to respond to the problem. Secondly, it states that vaccination should be the option of first resort, but EU law covering infected premises and dangerous contacts places on us an obligation to slaughter. The amendment is therefore technically flawed. It would enable a person to mount a legal challenge against the Government for implementing normal disease control methods.

Andrew George : I am grateful for that clarification. However, the amendment would not undermine the Government's ability to demonstrate that they had looked at a vaccinate-to-live policy properly. Government amendment (a) in lieu states that the Secretary of State


    "must consider whether in relation to the occurrence treating animals with serum or vaccine is more appropriate".

The Secretary of State might consider that problem, but dismiss very quickly employing treatment with serum or vaccine. That decision cannot be challenged at present. The aim of the amendment is to require the

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Government to be more specific. Despite claims to the contrary, it does not commit the Government to a vaccinate-to-live policy. It would require the Government to make every effort to ensure that the option had been considered properly. It would also require them to be able to show that they had considered the matter before another approach was adopted.

Mr. Drew : Who would decide whether the Government had made an appropriate evaluation of a vaccination or serum policy? Would it be the courts, or would an independent agency be established to make that adjudication? I am genuinely confused about how the proposal would work.

Andrew George : The hon. Gentleman makes a good point. If he accepts the principle behind the amendment, his question suggests that he thinks that the Bill should be further amended to clarify the way in which the decision would be made. There are many opportunities for Parliament in that respect. If the Secretary of State had to demonstrate that proper consideration had been given to a vaccinate-to-live policy, it would be possible for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee, for example, to give that decision proper scrutiny. Without that safeguard, the decisions could be made behind closed doors. We know that it is possible that the decision to use a slaughter policy rather than a vaccination policy could be made on the basis of what is convenient for the Department. The reasons for such a decision could be extraneous and not based on principle.

Mr. Martlew: Both of the reports that the House discussed earlier today accuse the Government of having a slow decision-making process, and identified it as a major problem in the most recent foot and mouth outbreak. The amendment would slow that process even further. Why change the Bill in a way that would make sure that that fault is still present when the next outbreak comes along?

Andrew George : I do not believe that the requirement to demonstrate that the Secretary of State has properly considered implementing a vaccinate-to-live policy would slow decision making. The Minister said that he agrees with the proposal in principle, but the hon. Gentleman implies that the Secretary of State should be given a way not to give proper consideration to the policy—he would not have to give full consideration to all the implications of the decision that is eventually made.

I cannot see how it will in practice delay the process, but it may result in better outcomes. Rather than arguing that it may delay a worse outcome, surely it would be better to allow for a proper process that might result in a better outcome with better and quicker control of the disease.

Mr. Curry: Is not the truth that the hon. Gentleman's amendment will not make the blindest bit of difference? There is no way for him to know the nature of the consideration that the Minister has given. In any foreseeable circumstances, it is inconceivable that a Minister would take a decision to slaughter without considering the alternatives, given the sort of public disquiet that that would inevitably raise. I am afraid that

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although the hon. Gentleman's amendment has a jolly political purpose, it has no practical or political substance at all.

Andrew George: The right hon. Gentleman says that it is inconceivable for Ministers to conclude that it would be better to use a slaughter policy rather than vaccinate if they have properly considered the issue, but during the last outbreak it was conceivable. One of the concerns throughout the outbreak and a reason why a lot of the processes were delayed was because many farmers did not feel that they had been properly represented or that the Government were on their side. It became conceivable that decisions were taken for reasons that were not directed towards the best possible outcome. If we want better and quicker outcomes in any future outbreak, we need transparency in the way in which Government processes work and the decision-making process operates.

The hon. Member for Carlisle (Mr. Martlew) rightly spoke about the impact on the retailing of vaccinated meat. No doubt next time that will be a matter for consideration.

This debate has given us an opportunity to bring forward some excellent proposals, such as the one put forward by the hon. Member for Skipton and Ripon (Mr. Curry) for an annual report to be made to Parliament and DEFRA on progress to identify a vaccine. I would be interested in the Under-Secretary's response to that proposal because I hope that we could take it forward.

I do not want to detain the House unnecessarily on this matter; I am sure that I have spoken for far too long and I know that many others wish to speak. However, Liberal Democrat Members believe that it is important to be more explicit in the Bill and to be clear that there is a decision-making stream. If the Under-Secretary agrees with the principle of the amendment, it should feature in the Bill.

Mr. Peter Atkinson (Hexham): May I give some support to my hon. Friend the Member for North Wiltshire (Mr. Gray) in supporting the amendment from the other place? I think that we would all like to support it, because it is the ideal for which we strive. Sadly, however, I have to side with my right hon. Friend the Member for Skipton and Ripon (Mr. Curry) in challenging the practicality of the Lords amendment. The Government's amendment is a reasonable compromise between what we would like and what we can work with in practice. So I hope that my hon. Friend does not push this to a Division. If he does, I might be in a different Lobby from him, and that is rather a dangerous occupation for a Conservative Member of Parliament at present.

I am no great expert on the intricacies of vaccination, but the farming community would face difficulties if a system of prophylactic vaccination were introduced. As we have heard, it is virtually impossible—indeed, it is impossible—to ensure that all stock is collected and vaccinated. It is estimated that there are 30 million sheep in the United Kingdom, with 3 million or 4 million in my constituency. Even in normal circumstances it is virtually impossible to get all the sheep down from the fields for dipping.

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5.45 pm

During the foot and mouth culling, I attended a number of culls, including one on some large open-range farms where several thousand ewes were slaughtered over a couple of days. Not a single ewe or lamb was left on the hills, but the next day another hundred came out of hiding to see where their colleagues had gone. It is sadly impossible to guarantee that all stock is slaughtered.

Mr. Martlew: I understand the hon. Gentleman's train of thought, but if the vast of majority of the flock is immunised we will not have a major outbreak, will we?

Mr. Atkinson: I am advised that that is not the case. I have been told that if a single animal is not vaccinated, it could travel through the firebreak and spread infection. We were talking about the Dutch experience—there were three quarters of a million pigs in one unit, so there was no problem getting to them and vaccinating them. The situation with sheep and hill cattle is very different. Hill cattle are extremely wild and are hard to round up, as we discovered during the foot and mouth cull. Wild deer are common in many parts of the United Kingdom now, and are potential carriers of foot and mouth—the Minister will threaten me if I am wrong—and there is no point having a prophylactic vaccination system if a large section of the animal population is not vaccinated.

Mr. Martlew: The reality is that we did not kill all the wild deer after the last outbreak, but we have not had any further outbreaks.

Mr. Atkinson: I accept that. I do not know the risks of foot and mouth being transmitted to the wild deer population, but in a fail-safe vaccination system we must consider the chance of wild animals moving within a vaccinated animal community. That possibility has not been properly addressed.

I understand the hon. Gentleman's desire to avoid the unpleasant scenes that he and I witnessed at first hand, but that is a distant eventuality. We may one day achieve it, but in the meantime the Government amendment is the most practical compromise.

Mrs. Browning: Another aspect of the problem was touched on in Committee, but we did not get a definitive answer from the Minister. Any vaccination policy must deal with the question of the right to enter premises to enforce vaccination. That power needs to be looked at carefully.

Mr. Morley: It is in the Bill.

Mrs. Browning: I believe that the Minister is trying to help me, as he is usually helpful. However, a policy of prophylactic vaccination raises the question of whether or not the Government will enforce it.

Mr. Atkinson: I agree entirely. How would we ensure that all animals were vaccinated? It would not be practical to test them to see whether a farmer was telling

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the truth. It would be pretty easy, however, for him to claim that all his animals were vaccinated, but not vaccinate them.

Mr. Bill Wiggin (Leominster): I am afraid that my intervention will not be particularly helpful for my hon. Friend, but it is possible to vaccinate with a bolus that can be traced, so there is accountability.

Mr. Atkinson: I am sure that my hon. Friend is correct, but I mentioned that there were 30 million sheep in the UK, so he will recognise the size of the problem. Obviously, if a farmer was suspected of not vaccinating his flock, that could be checked. My hon. Friend surely cannot be considering random tests in a national flock of that size.

Will the Minister consider vaccination for rare breeds and species? There is certainly a case for prophylactic vaccination of herds of wild cattle, such as the Chillingham cattle in Northumberland, as their meat will never enter the food chain.

I have to say, reluctantly, that their lordships' amendments are too ambitious and that the compromise that we have been asked to support is correct.

Mr. Wiggin: I am in a quandary because I hate to disagree with my hon. Friend the hon. Member for Hexham (Mr. Atkinson). I welcome the Lords amendment to a part of the Bill that initially gave the Minister the right to slaughter anything he felt like slaughtering. Indeed, the Minister defended that admirably in Committee, despite our protestations. However, the current emphasis on "vaccinate to live" is the right line to take. Vaccination is right. Unfortunately, the Government's amendment does not seem to put a strong emphasis on vaccination to live. Instead, they revert to previous arguments about what they would do to prevent the spread of disease. I have no objection to the Government wanting to prevent the spread of disease; that is entirely laudable and their right. However, they have missed the point of the Lords amendment: the vaccination policy puts the emphasis on the right to live.

The provision would make a difference because the vaccinate-to-live policy would apply to animals that were not infected or that had not been in contact with infected animals. The Lords amendment is sensible and helpful. The Government's proposals fail to incorporate the laudable parts of the Lords amendment, which is a great shame. Last year, there was an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in the state of Rio Grande du Sol in Brazil and all bovine animals in the region were vaccinated. Thirty days after completion of the programme, the European Commission lifted its previous ban on meat imports from the area.

Vaccination is getting better and better. It is laudable and offers the right way forward. The Government's proposals miss the point of a helpful amendment from the other place. I hope that the Minister will stop living in the nightmare of the past and that he will grasp the potential for more and better vaccination to live.

Mr. Drew : One point that has not yet been made is that one reason for keeping animals alive is to sell them.

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I am worried about whether there would be a market for vaccinated animals. As the right hon. Member for Skipton and Ripon (Mr. Curry) pointed out, if we do not carry out prophylactic vaccination, there will be unvaccinated animals. Might not that problem undermine the proposal?

Mr. Wiggin: That is not a problem. We face problems with vaccination in our own lives every day. I have a one-year-old daughter and I am going through the MMR vaccine dilemma. We all have to live with such things. We are constantly told that the technology is improving. I take the hon. Gentleman's point, but there is no problem because foot and mouth disease would not pass into the food chain through vaccinated animals.

I hope that the Minister will bear my comments in mind and that, if the technology exists, he will implement the positive sentiment that he expressed in his speech and that the Government will not retreat behind a policy of slaughtering to prevent the spread of disease when they could be vaccinating against a threat from abroad, even if there was no threat in this country.

A vaccinate-to-live policy offers huge opportunities, and the Government are failing to grasp that helpful olive branch.

Mr. Morley: I welcome the hon. Members for North Wiltshire (Mr. Gray) and for St. Ives (Mr. George) to their new roles and responsibilities for their respective parties. There have been some useful and thoughtful contributions to the debate. Several Members spoke with some authority. My hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle (Mr. Martlew) was a strong and consistent advocate of vaccination throughout the recent outbreak. Like many Members who spoke, he had firsthand experience of it. He pointed out that the Government's changing response was significant in dealing with some of the problems that arose during the outbreak, especially in Cumbria.

One claim that has come up time and again is that the Bill is all about culling. It is not. My hon. Friend is right to point that out. During the last outbreak, a minority of people objected strongly to the contiguous cull and there were many appeals to the district veterinary manager, many hundreds of which were upheld, according to circumstances.

If we moved to emergency vaccination, however, there would also be a minority of people who would not wave flags when they saw the vaccination teams coming down the road. A minority would vociferously resist vaccination for all sorts of reasons. My hon. Friend is right about that.

Mr. Drew: As I pointed out earlier, I am worried about how far it will be possible or practical to build a consensus. The farming industry is so differentiated that some people will vaccinate come what may, while others do will everything possible to avoid vaccination. What strategy does my hon. Friend anticipate to cope with those different forces?

Mr. Morley: My hon. Friend makes a good point. My hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle (Mr. Martlew) referred to the disagreement about the vaccination strategy. That must be resolved both by addressing

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some of the technical issues that were raised by hon. Members and by engaging the food and livestock industries in the debate. Many of the problems can be resolved, but we must do so at present while we are developing animal health strategies and reviewing our contingency plans. We should deal with the issues in a cool and calculated way rather than in the middle of an epidemic.

Mr. Martlew: Are those negotiations taking place? Are the Government talking to the NFU and the food industry? Have there been any discussions about compensation if the value of meat and milk from vaccinated animals is less than it would be from those that had not been vaccinated?

Mr. Morley: We are talking to industry groups about all the issues: We set up a stakeholder group that was active throughout the epidemic and successfully gave all interested parties in the livestock industry the opportunity to discuss the issues with Ministers, the chief vet and Government scientists. My hon. Friend's last point is difficult for the Government to address, not least because it has been agreed to use vaccination in a range of cases. There is no reason that the vaccinated product should not go into the food chain. That was certainly agreed by the Food Standards Agency during the outbreak.

6 pm

Mr. Flynn : Is not the objection to eating meat that has been subject to vaccination an irrational and unscientific one? The hon. Member for North Wiltshire (Mr. Gray) said that he had had a bumper bundle of vaccines. The difference is that no one is planning to eat him; even in the Conservative party, cannibalism has been ruled out. However, there is a feeling that many shoppers might object. During the foot and mouth epidemic, the result of the virtual collapse of the flow of meat from British farms was that more meat, much of which had already been vaccinated, was sucked in from overseas? Will the Department campaign to ensure that the fear of vaccinated meat is removed?

Mr. Morley: My hon. Friend is right. It is ironic that when vaccination was being considered during the epidemic, some of the product that came into this country to make up the shortfall was vaccinated. Consumers are not concerned about vaccination as long as it has been demonstrated to be safe, and as long as bodies such as the Food Standards Agency have looked into it in some detail.

Mr. Drew: Is my hon. Friend talking to the milk industry about the impact of vaccinating cattle for other diseases, as we may be faced with the same question in relation to bovine TB? Will he say something about that matter, as it will become an issue in addition to whether people eat the meat?

Mr. Morley: My hon. Friend is right. We are trying to develop a vaccine against TB and I hope that we make the breakthrough. We are committing resources to that and it is one of the criteria within the terms of reference of the independent scientific group. He is right that if we

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use vaccination, we must reassure people that its use is safe. That will be part of the vaccine development and I have no doubt that the issue will be addressed.

Mr. Wiggin: At the moment, TB vaccine is about 60 per cent, effective. What target is he looking for before the vaccine is introduced? I believe that £60 million has gone into TB research, of which £1.6 million has gone into bovine TB. What will the target be?

Mr. Morley: The vaccine certainly will need to be a lot more effective but a considerable amount of work is yet to be done. Scientists are confident that it is possible to develop a vaccine for bovine TB. The difficulty is the time scale. However, a vaccine is our avowed objective and we are proceeding with it.

The right hon. Member for Skipton and Ripon (Mr. Curry) said that balance was important in terms of vaccination. That is where amendment No. 1 from the other place and the Liberal Democrat amendment are flawed, as they restrict the Government and are open to arguments of interpretation. The hon. Member for St. Ives (Mr. George) wondered who would interpret and decide on these matters, but his answer was a little vague. That is exactly where one can start to get into difficulties.

I understood the right hon. Member for Skipton and Ripon's point about Sir Brian Follett. We have set up a scientific advisory group chaired by the Department's new chief scientist. That gives us an opportunity to bring in a range of opinions on taking things forward. There should be periodic reports on progress, as we want to be as open and transparent as possible.

The right hon. Member for Skipton and Ripon and the hon. Member for Hexham (Mr. Atkinson) are right that there are still issues to be resolved. The issue of vaccination is not simple and a range of criteria must be taken into account. They referred to hill sheep and the problem of getting them down and vaccinating them. There is also the risk of stress for the animals, which can have all sorts of problems.

Mr. Martlew: I understand my hon. Friend's comment about fell sheep, but is it not Government policy to tag them? Will we not have to keep a record of them? The animals will suffer stress then; I do not understand the difference.

Mr. Morley: I was talking about the practicality of vaccinating those sheep. All these issues can be addressed, but the Government are trying to strike a balance by recognising that there is an increased role for vaccination. We concede that there have been changes in technology that make the situation easier. Also, we recognise that there may be circumstances in which we want to use stamping-out policies as a first-strike response. By law, we have to do that with respect to infected premises and dangerous contacts.

The Liberal Democrat amendment calls for a vaccinate-to-live policy to be taken into account as a first issue. There may be circumstances where, as part of a disease control strategy, we may want to use a

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vaccinate-and-kill policy. For example, there might be an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in an intensive pig unit. In such an outbreak, a considerable plume of virus will be downwind from the unit. There may be another unit, smack bang in that virus plume. That is more than a dangerous contact; it is almost certain that those pigs will develop the virus. That unit may have 10,000 or 20,000 pigs. In relation to disposal and humane culling, we want to control that outbreak. The best of way of doing that is to vaccinate the whole herd and then to cull in a controlled way. The amendment would take away that option.

Mr. Andrew George: The Under-Secretary has perhaps not read the amendment correctly. It does not discount that option. The fact that the amendment does not specifically list all of the options that might be considered does not mean that a vaccinate-to-kill policy cannot be pursued by the Secretary of State. On the question of to whom the evidence for the decision-making can be shown, I would regret any Department not wanting transparency in the decision-making process. Whether the evidence is shown or not, it is still open to legal challenge and the Secretary of State could still be challenged by a lawyer on behalf of a farmer.

Mr. Morley: We are open to legal challenge on a range of subjects at any time; that has cost a lot of people a lot of money in recent months and years. I do not dispute the reasonableness with which the hon. Gentleman has made his case, or that he genuinely recognises that there are circumstances in which we might want to take a different approach. However, once we start writing into legislation measures that we regard as flawed, we may find that there are many people who are not as reasonable or as helpful as he who wants to challenge us.

The right hon. Member for Skipton and Ripon and the hon. Member for Hexham recognised the balance that the Government are trying to strike by recognising that emergency vaccination has a role, but also that there may be a range of options and circumstances in which we take a different approach.

I want to reassure the hon. Member for Hexham on rare breeds, of which Chillingham cattle is one. During the last outbreak, we sought and obtained permission to use vaccination for rare breeds and some rare zoo animals if the circumstances dictated that that should be the case. In relation to our detailed response to the Follett and the Anderson reports, we have made it clear that vaccination remains an option for breeds. If they are under threat, we can consider vaccination. However, use of vaccination in relation to disease control is a different issue.

The hon. Member for Leominster (Mr. Wiggin) made a very strong case for vaccination, as did my hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle (Mr. Martlew). I strongly disagree with him, however, in relation to his comments about Lords amendment No. 1, with which we cannot agree. As I have emphasised, it is not that we do not agree with the principle. The Government are showing that we recognise the change in circumstances and technology and are responding to the recommendations in the two reports on the basis of the amendment that we have tabled. That has been recognised by the hon. Member for Hexham (Mr. Atkinson), who has first-hand experience of the epidemic in his area, and by the

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right hon. Member for Skipton and Ripon (Mr. Curry), who is a former Minister and current Chairman of the Select Committee. I hope that the hon. Member for Leominster gives careful thought to their wise counsel.

In relation to the amendment, we are trying to respond to the debate in Committee. I accept the comments of the hon. Member for St. Ives (Andrew George) that we have moved a long way in relation to the original Bill. That reflects the reasonable points made by Members on both sides of the House, and the commitments that we gave in Committee and on Report that we would address them.

Mr. David Kidney (Stafford): As my hon. Friend appreciates, I have been listening quietly to this debate. The right hon. Member for Skipton and Ripon (Mr. Curry) made the point about involving Sir Brian Follett in the future with follow-up reports. My hon. Friend said that the answer is the science committee that he has set up, and that he is all in favour of transparency. Clearly, however, this matter will develop over time, and there is an issue of public confidence for the future. Will he comment a little on what information we will receive in the guise of transparency, and what information the public will receive?

Mr. Morley: First, on the contingency plans, we are making them public and involving a range of stakeholders in the debate and the formulation of those plans. Secondly, in relation to the scientific group, which, as I mentioned, has been set up, we will want to keep in touch with Sir Brian and with Dr. Anderson on the way in which these issues develop. We are also committed to bringing forward and developing the animal health strategy, on which we are consulting with a range of groups. We want all of the documents to be living documents, as we will come back periodically to review and revise them, and to make sure that they address the relevant points for which they are designed. Some exercises and tests will be necessary in relation to the contingency arrangements, too.

We therefore want to involve a range of experts, some of whom are outside the Department, in terms of their advice and involvement in the development of strategies and future plans. A huge amount of work is going on, and we propose to make public the progress on these issues and the time scales for reporting. That is also part of our commitment to transparency and openness.

Mr. Kidney: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that answer. May I move the discussion on one stage further? One of his objections to the Lords amendment was that it could contravene European law. As we make discoveries, developments, explain matters, and develop policy, what would be the position in Europe? Would we be able to carry Europe with us in making similar changes?

Mr. Morley: I believe so. There has been a change in attitude from the EU and the Office Internationale d'Epizootic. Indeed, the right hon. Member for Skipton and Ripon and my hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle joined me at the conference in Brussels that was co-sponsored by the UK and Holland to look at the whole issue of foot and mouth disease. The experience that we had in the last outbreak has changed the thinking in all

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countries; it has also changed the thinking in relation to the international organisation and the European Union. Incidentally, that change makes the vaccination options easier: it addresses some of the issues and problems that we came across in the course of the last epidemic.

I hope that I have demonstrated that the Government have responded to the thrust of the arguments in terms of the role of vaccination, that the Lords amendment is flawed, and that we cannot accept it. I call on the House to support the Government.

It being one and a half hours after the commencement of proceedings, Mr. Deputy Speaker put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair, pursuant to Order [this day].

The House divided: Ayes 314, Noes 190.

Division No. 355

[6:15 pm


AYES


Abbott, Ms Diane
Adams, Irene (Paisley N)
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Bob (Cov'try NE)
Alexander, Douglas
Allen, Graham
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale & Darwen)
Armstrong, rh Ms Hilary
Atherton, Ms Candy
Austin, John
Bailey, Adrian
Baird, Vera
Barnes, Harry
Barron, rh Kevin
Battle, John
Bayley, Hugh
Beckett, rh Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Benn, Hilary
Bennett, Andrew
Benton, Joe (Bootle)
Berry, Roger
Best, Harold
Betts, Clive
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Bob
Borrow, David
Bradley, rh Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, Andy
Byers, rh Stephen
Cairns, David
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Caplin, Ivor
Caton, Martin
Cawsey, Ian (Brigg)
Challen, Colin
Chaytor, David
Clapham, Michael
Clark, hon. Dr. Lynda (Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, rh Tom (Coatbridge & Chryston)
Clelland, David
Clwyd, Ann (Cynon V)
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Coleman, Iain
Colman, Tony
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Cook, rh Robin (Livingston)
Cooper, Yvette
Cousins, Jim
Cox, Tom (Tooting)
Cranston, hon. Ross
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cummings, John
Cunningham, rh Dr. Jack (Copeland)
Cunningham, Jim (Coventry S)
Cunningham, Tony (Workington)
Curtis-Thomas, Mrs Claire
Darling, rh Alistair
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
David, Wayne
Davidson, Ian
Davies, rh Denzil (Llanelli)
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Dawson, Hilton
Dhanda, Parmjit
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim (Heywood)
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim (Lewisham W)
Drew, David (Stroud)
Drown, Ms Julia
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff (Barnsley E)
Etherington, Bill
Field, rh Frank (Birkenhead)
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul (Newport W)
Follett, Barbara
Foster, rh Derek
Foster, Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings & Rye)
Foulkes, rh George
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gapes, Mike (Ilford S)
Gardiner, Barry
George, rh Bruce (Walsall S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gilroy, Linda
Godsiff, Roger
Goggins, Paul
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grogan, John
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, David (Midlothian)
Hanson, David
Harris, Tom (Glasgow Cathcart)
Havard, Dai (Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney)
Healey, John
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hendrick, Mark
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hermon, Lady
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, rh Ms Patricia
Heyes, David
Hill, Keith (Streatham)
Hinchliffe, David
Hodge, Margaret
Hoey, Kate (Vauxhall)
Hoon, rh Geoffrey
Hope, Phil (Corby)
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, rh Alan (Newport E)
Howells, Dr. Kim
Hughes, Beverley (Stretford & Urmston)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hurst, Alan (Braintree)
Hutton, rh John
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Ingram, rh Adam
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Alan (Hull W)
Johnson, Miss Melanie (Welwyn Hatfield)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Kevan (N Durham)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Joyce, Eric (Falkirk W)
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Alan (Feltham)
Keen, Ann (Brentford)
Kemp, Fraser
Khabra, Piara S.
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby)
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green & Bow)
Knight, Jim (S Dorset)
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lawrence, Mrs Jackie
Laxton, Bob (Derby N)
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom (High Peak)
Liddell, rh Mrs Helen
Linton, Martin
Llwyd, Elfyn
Love, Andrew
Lucas, Ian (Wrexham)
Luke, Iain (Dundee E)
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Stephen
McCafferty, Chris
McCartney, rh Ian
McDonagh, Siobhain
MacDonald, Calum
McDonnell, John
MacDougall, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
McNulty, Tony
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
Mahmood, Khalid
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallaber, Judy
Mandelson, rh Peter
Mann, John (Bassetlaw)
Marris, Rob (Wolverh'ton SW)
Marshall, David (Glasgow Shettleston)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Martlew, Eric
Meacher, rh Michael
Meale, Alan (Mansfield)
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Milburn, rh Alan
Miliband, David
Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Mole, Chris
Morgan, Julie
Morley, Elliot
Mullin, Chris
Munn, Ms Meg
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Murphy, rh Paul (Torfaen)
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
Olner, Bill
Osborne, Sandra (Ayr)
Owen, Albert
Perham, Linda
Picking, Anne
Pickthall, Colin
Pond, Chris (Gravesham)
Pope, Greg (Hyndburn)
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prescott, rh John
Price, Adam (E Carmarthen & Dinefwr)
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Purnell, James
Quin, rh Joyce
Quinn, Lawrie
Rammell, Bill
Rapson, Syd (Portsmouth N)
Raynsford, rh Nick
Reed, Andy (Loughborough)
Reid, rh Dr. John (Hamilton N & Bellshill)
Robertson, John (Glasgow Anniesland)
Robinson, Geoffrey (Coventry NW)
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Roy, Frank (Motherwell)
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Ms Christine (City of Chester)
Ryan, Joan (Enfield N)
Salter, Martin
Sarwar, Mohammad
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Sheerman, Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Shipley, Ms Debra
Simon, Siôn (B'ham Erdington)
Singh, Marsha
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, rh Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Soley, Clive
Spellar, rh John
Squire, Rachel
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stewart, David (Inverness E & Lochaber)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Stringer, Graham
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Tami, Mark (Alyn)
Taylor, rh Ann (Dewsbury)
Taylor, Dari (Stockton S)
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Thomas, Gareth (Harrow W)
Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Tipping, Paddy
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr. Desmond (Brighton Kemptown)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Tynan, Bill (Hamilton S)
Vis, Dr. Rudi
Walley, Ms Joan
Ward, Claire
Watson, Tom (W Bromwich E)
Watts, David
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, rh Alan (Swansea W)
Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Wilson, Brian
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Wood, Mike (Batley)
Woodward, Shaun
Wray, James (Glasgow Baillieston)
Wright, Anthony D. (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, David (Telford)
Wright, Tony (Cannock)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Ayes:


Charlotte Atkins and
Mr. Phil Willis


NOES


Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)
Allan, Richard
Amess, David
Ancram, rh Michael
Arbuthnot, rh James
Bacon, Richard
Baker, Norman
Baldry, Tony
Barker, Gregory
Baron, John (Billericay)
Barrett, John
Beggs, Roy (E Antrim)
Beith, rh A. J.
Bellingham, Henry
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Boswell, Tim
Bottomley, rh Virginia (SW Surrey)
Brady, Graham
Brake, Tom (Carshalton)
Brooke, Mrs Annette L.
Browning, Mrs Angela
Bruce, Malcolm
Burnett, John
Burns, Simon
Burnside, David
Burstow, Paul
Burt, Alistair
Butterfill, John
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Calton, Mrs Patsy
Cameron, David
Campbell, Gregory (E Lond'y)
Carmichael, Alistair
Cash, William
Chapman, Sir Sydney (Chipping Barnet)
Chope, Christopher
Clappison, James
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Collins, Tim
Cotter, Brian
Cran, James (Beverley)
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davies, Quentin (Grantham & Stamford)
Davis, rh David (Haltemprice & Howden)
Djanogly, Jonathan
Dodds, Nigel
Donaldson, Jeffrey M.
Dorrell, rh Stephen
Doughty, Sue
Duncan, Alan (Rutland)
Duncan Smith, rh Iain
Evans, Nigel
Fabricant, Michael
Flook, Adrian
Forth, rh Eric
Foster, Don (Bath)
Fox, Dr. Liam
Gale, Roger (N Thanet)
Garnier, hon. Edward
George, Andrew (St. Ives)
Gibb, Nick (Bognor Regis)
Gidley, Sandra
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Goodman, Paul
Gray, James (N Wilts)
Grayling, Chris
Green, Damian (Ashford)
Green, Matthew (Ludlow)
Greenway, John
Grieve, Dominic
Gummer, rh John
Hancock, Mike
Harris, Dr. Evan (Oxford W & Abingdon)
Harvey, Nick
Hayes, John (S Holland)
Heath, David
Heathcoat-Amory, rh David
Hendry, Charles
Hoban, Mark (Fareham)
Hogg, rh Douglas
Horam, John (Orpington)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Hunter, Andrew
Jack, rh Michael
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Jenkin, Bernard
Johnson, Boris (Henley)
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Keetch, Paul
Kennedy, rh Charles (Ross Skye & Inverness)
Key, Robert (Salisbury)
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Kirkwood, Archy
Knight, rh Greg (E Yorkshire)
Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Lamb, Norman
Lansley, Andrew
Laws, David (Yeovil)
Leigh, Edward
Letwin, rh Oliver
Lewis, Dr. Julian (New Forest E)
Liddell-Grainger, Ian
Lidington, David
Lilley, rh Peter
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter (M-Worcs)
McIntosh, Miss Anne
MacKay, rh Andrew
Maclean, rh David
McLoughlin, Patrick
Malins, Humfrey
Maples, John
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury & Atcham)
Mates, Michael
Maude, rh Francis
Mawhinney, rh Sir Brian
May, Mrs Theresa
Mercer, Patrick
Mitchell, Andrew (Sutton Coldfield)
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Norman, Archie
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Oaten, Mark (Winchester)
Öpik, Lembit
Osborne, George (Tatton)
Ottaway, Richard
Page, Richard
Paice, James
Paterson, Owen
Portillo, rh Michael
Prisk, Mark (Hertford)
Pugh, Dr. John
Randall, John
Reid, Alan (Argyll & Bute)
Rendel, David
Robathan, Andrew
Robertson, Hugh (Faversham & M-Kent)
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Robinson, Mrs Iris (Strangford)
Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Roe, Mrs Marion
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Sanders, Adrian
Sayeed, Jonathan
Selous, Andrew
Shephard, rh Mrs Gillian
Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, Keith (M-Norfolk)
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns & Kincardine)
Soames, Nicholas
Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob (Castle Point)
Spring, Richard
Stanley, rh Sir John
Steen, Anthony
Streeter, Gary
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Desmond
Swire, Hugo (E Devon)
Syms, Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, John (Solihull)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Taylor, Dr. Richard (Wyre F)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Thurso, John
Tonge, Dr. Jenny
Tredinnick, David
Trend, Michael
Trimble, rh David
Turner, Andrew (Isle of Wight)
Tyler, Paul (N Cornwall)
Tyrie, Andrew
Viggers, Peter
Walter, Robert
Waterson, Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Webb, Steve (Northavon)
Wiggin, Bill
Wilkinson, John
Willetts, David
Williams, Roger (Brecon)
Willis, Phil
Winterton, Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Sir Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Yeo, Tim (S Suffolk)
Young, rh Sir George
Younger-Ross, Richard

Tellers for the Noes:


Mr. David Wilshire and
Mr. Mark Francois

Question accordingly agreed to.

6 Nov 2002 : Column 333

Lords amendment disagreed to.

Government amendment (a) in lieu of Lords amendment No. 1 agreed to.

Lords amendments Nos. 2 to 12 agreed to.

6 Nov 2002 : Column 334

New Clause

Lords amendment: No. 13, after clause 4, to insert the following new clause—20-day livestock movement restriction rule—


    "In the 1981 Act the following subsection is inserted after section 8(1) (movement generally)—


    "(1A)In making an order under subsection (1) restricting the movement of animals in connection with an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, any restriction of 20 days or more shall lapse at the end of a period of 8 weeks following the last confirmed case.""

Mr. Morley: I beg to move, That this House disagrees with the Lords in the said amendment.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Michael Lord): With this it will be convenient to take Lords amendment No. 45 and Government amendments (a) and (b) thereto.

Mr. Morley: The Bill is important. It deals with crucial animal health issues. In light of that, I am sorry that the Lords made the amendment. No one disputes the fact that there are serious problems of movement control and stock movement. However, I emphasise that the 20-day standstill rules are supported by firm scientific and veterinary advice and represent the Government's current best view of an appropriate precautionary peacetime control. The main purpose of the Lords amendment is to protect against future outbreaks, rather than deal with the aftermath of past ones. That is one of a number of reasons why we strongly disagree with the amendment, which seems to imply that movement controls should be applied only in the course of an epidemic. That is not the way that the Government see it and it is not the way that the independent reports see it. Furthermore, it is not the way that the majority of those in the livestock industry see it—they recognise that there is a sound argument for movement controls.

There is a legitimate debate about the extent of the controls and how they should be applied. In my experience, however, the vast majority of people in the livestock industry accept that there is a case for such controls as a routine measure to reduce the risk of disease.

Mr. Simon Thomas (Ceredigion): I agree that the Lords amendment is flawed in that respect, but there is a principle behind it. The Minister mentioned the need for movement controls and, in principle, I agree. Does he accept, however, that the present 20-day rule is a restriction, not just a control? It is an overhang from the previous foot and mouth outbreak. Will he take this opportunity to give advance notice to the farming industry of how he sees that control system working? We cannot have a restriction that is so deadly, in particular to stock rearing and to the sheep industry?

Mr. Morley : I sat down with industry representatives during the summer to talk about the implications of the

6 Nov 2002 : Column 335

20-day rule. The hon. Gentleman is right to the extent that that rule was strictly applied during the epidemic as a disease-control measure. However, the way in which it is being applied at present reflects changes that I agreed with the industry—a range of relaxations have been put in place and we have tried to strike a balance between my recognition of the industry's concerns and the detrimental impact that the rule can have on them, which I and the Department try to take into account, and the need to reduce the risk of disease spreading.

A large percentage of the livestock industry can work within the rules that we have amended. Some sections of the industry may find it difficult to do so. We take those issues seriously. We want to examine them and we will do so in the light of the independent risk assessments, which will be published towards the end of the month. That will allow us to consider movement controls in time for the spring movement regime and to put whatever recommendations are made in place.

Mr. David Curry (Skipton and Ripon): Does the hon. Gentleman accept that one of the problems with the controls and the way in which farmers see them is that, in practice, they seem leaky and contradictory? For example, I can buy sheep and put them in a field next to my neighbour's sheep, separated by a bit of wire fence, and I am stuck with them for 20 days, but he can sell his sheep on. Farmer Morley and Farmer Curry can take sheep to market and can be adjacent pens talking to each other. I can take Farmer Morley's sheep home but, because I have put them in quarantine, they are not caught by the 20-day rule. I cannot take my own sheep home without being caught by the rule. Those are the contradictions that bring the measure into disrepute. Those are the problems that the Minister has to solve if he is to get farmers to consent willingly to accept a measure that we all agree is necessary.

Mr. Morley: As always, the right hon. Gentleman makes a fair point, although there is supposed to be a separation distance between the fields as part of the isolation conditions. I accept that there are anomalies that need to be addressed. It is a case of balancing the risk and of taking measures to reduce risk. Whatever the regime that is put in place, there are likely to be a few anomalies. We have to try to square those anomalies while achieving an adequate balance. The independent risk assessment from the Veterinary Laboratories Agency will help us to deal with that issue.

Paul Flynn: The report makes it clear that if a 20-day movement rule had been in place when foot and mouth came to this country, the disease would have been confined to a tiny area. There were only a few cases of airborne infection; the rest resulted from animal movements. There are about half a dozen deadly diseases that could come into the country at any moment. It would be too late to impose a movement ban once they had done so; we must have the ban in place now.

Mr. Morley : My hon. Friend is right. If we had had the 20-day rule in place when the incident took place in Heddon-on-the-Wall—the outbreak in the pigs there

6 Nov 2002 : Column 336

and the fact that it was not reported—the disease still would have spread, because of the two-week delay, but the consequences would not have been anywhere near as bad as they were as a result of the huge movement of sheep that took place. It is a question of trying to reduce the chances of that happening.

There has to be some sort of movement control. The principle is not hugely controversial. A minority will always want to return to the situation before FMD. I have made clear that that is not an option. We are not going back to the situation before FMD. Many of the measures in the Bill—vaccination, compensation and a range of other issues—are a recognition that, after FMD, the situation has changed for ever and that we must try to minimise the impact of dreadful epidemics. I am not talking only about foot and mouth: we must be on our guard against other exotic diseases. The control of animal movements is one of the tools in our armoury. We must accept that.

Mr. Simon Thomas: The Minister is elaborating on the thoughts behind the present movement restrictions. Does he accept, nevertheless, that the millions of animal movements that took place prior to the outbreak were perfectly legal and reflected the market livestock at the time. There may be flaws in that market. Many of us want a market that is much closer to home—that will minimise the transport of meat, whether live or on the hoof. Nevertheless, that market was legal. If it is his view and that of the Curry report that we have to open up markets for farmers—if farmers are going to have to be more commercial, to sell their produce more directly—that must be squared with the right of farmers to move their livestock and get the best value out of it.

Mr. Morley: I do not disagree with the hon. Gentleman—the vast majority of those movements were legal and no criticism should be made of the people who were moving livestock because it was their legal right and they were not breaking any laws. On the periphery, there were concerns about traceability and out-of-ring sales—wider issues that need to be tackled. I am glad to say that we were successful in obtaining funding, in our bid in the 2002 spending review, to develop more sophisticated traceability and sheep-tagging systems. We want to move to electronic tagging and to develop that in conjunction with the industry. There is much support in the industry for that as well as for improving traceability. Those are all issues to which we must apply ourselves. That does not get us away from the fact, however, that the lessons learned inquiry recommended that the 20-day standstill should be retained while a wide-ranging cost-benefit analysis and a risk assessment was carried out, and that is what we are doing.

I find it puzzling that the other place suspended progress on this Bill to allow consideration of the independent reports. Having done so, however, it ignored one of the key recommendations in the reports—the stop on movement. I emphasise that we are applying the 20-day standstill with variations and exceptions to recognise the needs of the industry, as an interim measure until we have the risk assessment and the cost benefit analysis. When we have those, we will reconsider the issue and decide what is most appropriate in terms of risk of disease, taking into account the impact on the industry. We must presuppose, however, that there will still be a standstill period.

6 Nov 2002 : Column 337

Mr. Curry: Will the Minister spell out the timetables for the assessment and the possible responses? As he said, people understand that it is important to make sure there is no recurrence of the disease, and that it is important to deal with the conditions that may have contributed to the spread of the disease. However, the hon. Gentleman will equally appreciate that the movement of livestock is an integral part, especially of upland farming and breeding. If people feel that there is a programme of evaluation followed by policy responses, I am sure that they will accept circumstances more willingly than if they think they are just knocking their head against a back wall, while the sheep are sucking the pebbles dry.

Mr. Morley: I understand that point. I can give an assurance that we expect the risk assessment and the evaluations towards the end of this month. We will then hold public consultation on that, and consultation on any potential changes or recommendations that flow from that. I can also give an assurance that, whatever regime is put in place, the intention is to have it agreed in time for the spring movements in early spring next year. That is a clear timetable, which takes account of the needs of the livestock industry.

As I said, I am surprised that Members in the other place have pre-empted the studies that are still going on and have gone against veterinary advice about the minimum proportionate movement restrictions. They have passed primary legislation which requires that a 20-day standstill would have to lapse eight weeks after the last confirmed case of an outbreak. Even if I thought that the measure was serious and proportionate—I appreciate that it gives an opportunity for a debate on the 20-day rule, and I understand why people may want to discuss that—the eight-week period does not make much sense to me. Eight weeks is not very long after the last known outbreak of a major epidemic. There could well be further risks, which could last beyond eight weeks. It is an arbitrary cut-off point, which we cannot accept.

I accept on behalf of the Government that there need to be strict controls on movements during the outbreak, and that those will be different afterwards. I accept the reasoning behind that, and it is what we have done through the range of exceptions from the 20-day rule that have been progressively introduced during the year, which have relaxed the controls. Some veterinary advisers feel strongly that we have gone too far. Again, it is a question of balance, recognising and responding to the legitimate concerns and needs of the livestock industry, while following the best veterinary advice and minimising risk. We are reviewing the rules.

I agree with the hon. Member for Ceredigion (Mr. Thomas) that the amendment is not serious and does not belong to the Bill. It is certainly a vehicle for discussing the 20-day rule and we have no objection to debating the issues, because they are serious. However, the amendment is flawed and I ask the House to reject it.

Mr. John Hayes (South Holland and The Deepings): I start by acknowledging that the Minister has made it clear that sensible people believe that in the case of a crisis such as the one that we endured during the foot and mouth epidemic, movement must be restricted.

6 Nov 2002 : Column 338

He is right to say that, with the exception of a very few people, the entire House and the whole industry would acknowledge that. The issue is for how long movement should be restricted.

The 20-day rule was imposed to deal with what the Secretary of State described during her statement as the horror and tragedy of foot and mouth and with the problems that movement would have caused by exacerbating that crisis. The logic was that by preventing livestock from leaving a holding for 20 days after new animals had arrived on it, the disease would be confined to an individual farm, so the rule became part of the interim foot and mouth arrangements.

Some 10 months after the last confirmed case, the industry recognises that the need for the rule must be debated again. We should not underestimate the effect that it is having on the livestock industry. Hon. Members in all parts of the House will have heard from farmers in their constituencies who are suffering because of the continuing imposition of the 20-day rule. The Minister said—revealingly, I thought—that had the 20-day rule been in place before the outbreak, its spread would not have been so great. That is a self-evident truth, but from that we surely cannot make the judgment that we should have as an on-going precaution for all time a 20-day rule, just in case there is an outbreak of foot and mouth or any of the other diseases to which it might apply.

A restriction on movement cannot be a permanent precaution; it can only be a reaction to a problem that may arise when we hear about a confirmed case or outbreak of a significant disease. I would be very worried if the Minister were considering the imposition of such a rule as a permanent precaution against possible outbreaks. Perhaps he will intervene to reassure me.

6.45 pm

Mr. Morley: I make it very clear that we are indeed considering permanent movement restrictions. Such restrictions are designed to deal not just with an epidemic, but with future animal disease risk. I do not think that the majority of the agriculture industry is against the idea of movement restrictions. People want to discuss measures that they consider to be proportionate and effective, and which take account of the other points that have been raised. I must make it clear to the hon. Gentleman that the Bill is about reducing risk for the future and protecting our livestock industry, following advice from our chief veterinary officer, our chief scientist and two independent inquiries. Is the hon. Gentleman saying, on behalf of the Conservative party, that he would ignore the advice from those bodies?

Mr. Hayes: What I am saying on behalf of the Conservative party is that if the 20-day rule in its current form was allowed to continue in perpetuity—

Mr. Morley: I am not saying that.

Mr. Hayes: I am glad that the Minister is not saying that. If the rule were allowed to continue in that form, the British livestock industry would be decimated.

6 Nov 2002 : Column 339

That is the simple fact of the matter. If the Minister does not believe me, perhaps he will listen to the National Farmers Union.

Paul Flynn: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Hayes: I shall quote from the NFU. I am sure that that will inform and inspire the hon. Gentleman's intervention and make it even more incisive and cogent than his interventions usually are.

The NFU states—I am sure that this reflects the views of farmers with whom I have dealt around the country, and I am sure that it reflects the opinions expressed in the Minister's communications with farmers:


    "The 20-day rule, which in nearly all cases restricts the movements of any of the animals on a farm once some animals have been brought on to the farm, is causing considerable practical difficulties for many farmers. Particular problems in the production of sheep are being experienced, given their natural breeding cycle. The unnecessary complexities of the restrictions and the adverse effects they are having on the running of farm businesses are profound."

As I said at the outset, I do not pretend that we do not have to consider movement restrictions. We need a sensible balance. The Secretary of State said earlier that there must be a proportionate level of control and a balance between costs on industry and necessary precautions. Most of us would accept that.

Paul Flynn: The NFU is, not unexpectedly, as conservative as ever and refuses to accept change where change is essential. If the 20-day rule becomes permanent, why does not the hon. Gentleman encourage non-contact ways of marketing animals, which worked successfully during the foot and mouth epidemic? I refer to marketing through direct sales, video links and the internet, which not only reduces the risk of infection but reduces the suffering of animals by reducing the number of journeys.

Mr. Hayes: That is a good point, but it would require massive change in the livestock industry. The hon. Gentleman is right that some change is taking place. There are new and more innovative ways of trading, but the idea that that could be switched on like a tap, and that suddenly the livestock industry can change the habits not just of a lifetime but of generations, many of which are embedded in local culture and local business practice, is fanciful. He is right to suggest that we should aim at such additional means of selling products. However, it will not happen tomorrow, and unless we do something quickly to ease the burden that the 20-day rule is placing on the industry, there will be much less of an industry to regulate. He would not want that to happen any more than I would; I know that he is a generous and intelligent man who shares many of my perspectives on these issues. He is right that we need to consider more innovative ways of dealing with these matters, but they cannot be used immediately, although we are faced now with a significant problem in the livestock industry, as is reflected in the comments of the NFU.

Mr. Peter Atkinson (Hexham): I am grateful to my hon. Friend for giving way. Perhaps he can defend the

6 Nov 2002 : Column 340

NFU from the brickbats that have been travelling in its direction from Newport. I remind him of what the NFU said about the movement scheme:


    "We have urged the development and introduction of a new permanent control regime to be introduced as early as possible."

That is the NFU's view.

Mr. Hayes: I am grateful to my hon. Friend. As I said, there is widespread consensus about the need to be moderate and practical in these matters, but that consensus must strike the very balance that the Secretary of State identified in her statement between sensible precaution and the costs and burdens imposed on the industry. My suggestion to the House, which is reflected in the Lords amendments, is that that burden is currently falling too heavily on the industry.

We have heard once again from the Minister that a detailed cost-benefit and risk-assessment analysis will be considered. We are aware of that, although it is not likely to be implemented until February. I understand from him and the Secretary of State that we are likely to know more about that later this month. That is good and healthy, but it will not please the industry or impress those who are currently struggling to maintain businesses, many of which are on the very edge commercially. We should not view this matter outside the context of the overall problems that farmers face. I do not need to remind the Minister or the House of how profound those difficulties are, especially in the less-favoured areas and among sheep farmers and some of the people represented by the hon. Members who are present in the Chamber. Those people will not receive well a conclusion to the deliberations that does not recognise that the existing regime is too punitive, costly, regulatory and burdensome for them.

I should like to refer to a matter that has not been aired in detail so far this evening, although it may be as we continue. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Skipton and Ripon (Mr. Curry) said, in many cases the rigidity of the 20-day rule is encouraging abuse. Farmers face an unpalatable choice between breaking the 20-day rule and going out of business. That is not an acceptable choice for us as responsible Members of this House to impose on the industry.

Mr. Drew : I concur with the hon. Gentleman. In answer to a written question, I was told that trading standards authorities have identified almost 2,000 cases of abuse. Of course, those involved in trading standards are themselves under pressure, so I suspect that there are more such cases. The crux of the matter is the need to separate the work of farmers from that of dealers. I have asked for that to happen throughout; if only it could be done. I know that some farmers are dealers, but not all dealers are farmers. Let us deal with the real problem. That is where the industry is at fault: it has failed to realise that the fault lay with those dealers who drove animals around the system spreading the disease and would do the same again, unless we do something about it. What does he have to say about that problem?

Mr. Hayes: I am reminded of the comments made by Countess Mar in the other place, where she made a similar suggestion to that of the hon. Gentleman. I think that she used the phrase "wheeler dealers" in referring to people with small pockets of land all over the place,

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whose regard for biosecurity is at best limited. He is right that we must recognise that, as well as the vast majority of dealers and farmers who are responsible, straightforward and honourable business men, there are always people who will try to get around the law and breach it to their advantage. We need to be mindful of that, as any responsible Government would be.

When I speak of breaking the 20-day rule, however, I am speaking not especially about that minority, but about the perfectly reasonable and sensible farmers who are now obliged against their instincts and judgment to face up to either going out of business or breaking that rule. That is a matter of profound concern. Countess Mar—I remind the House that she is a Cross Bencher and not a Conservative peer—also said:


    "There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that the 20-day standstill rule is being flouted, simply because it is unreasonable, unworkable and unenforceable."—[Official Report, House of Lords, 22 October 2002; Vol. 639, c. 1223.]

I say to the Minister that, when that proper, independent study on cost benefit and risk assessment has been published, the resulting Government action must be based on those three factors; it must be reasonable, workable and enforceable. It must be bought by the industry.

It is perhaps worth saying at this juncture that this whole debate has to be founded on the basis of a partnership between the industry and the Government. If we do not have such partnership when something as catastrophic as foot and mouth disease occurs, our job in controlling, containing and dealing with it will be all the more difficult. The Americans formed a national strategy—we will debate this matter later, so I will not test your patience too much, Mr. Deputy Speaker—to deal with such problems that is very much rooted in the sort of partnership-based and collaborative approach to which I referred. In a sense, the 20-day rule is relevant to those matters, as it is emblematic of the tensions that they involve.

The Minister always speaks with authority, knowledge and conviction about these matters, but I disagree with him that we are examining an aspect of the Lords' consideration that is somehow exceptional. The 20-day rule is intrinsically linked to biosecurity, which we will debate in due course. However, I think that the separation of the 20-day rule and movement from biosecurity is rather artificial. I shall put it no more strongly than that. The issue needs to be seen as part of an integrated strategy to deal with the problems. If we had had a more cohesive and integrated strategy, it may well be that we could have handled foot and mouth more effectively. While Anderson certainly makes the point to which the Minister drew attention in respect of the 20-day rule, he also rightly expresses significant concern about the cohesiveness, coherence and integration of the strategy. Ministers should now acknowledge those concerns and I hope that they will bear them in mind in developing their national strategy.

For me, that issue is at the very heart of the tension that I believe underlies the matters before us. The Lords have got it right in wanting to be more flexible in respect of the 20-day rule. In that respect, I draw the attention of the House to the situation in Scotland. Hon. Members will know that, as my right hon. Friend the

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Member for Skipton and Ripon pointed out about a week ago when we debated agricultural matters, the 20-day rule is applied much more flexibly in Scotland.

Mr. Morley: It is the same.

Mr. Hayes: The process by which one can obtain an exception in Scotland is more flexible. Incidentally, the Minister will be aware of the worry that, when we draw up a national contingency plan, there may be some need to make the Scottish experience rather less flexible in order to deliver a degree of consistency. Clearly, cross-border trade has to be taken into account in that regard. The border does not necessarily prevent animals from being moved across from England to Scotland, so there are issues of consistency involved in the traffic of livestock.

7 pm

The important thing is that the Scottish experience shows that exceptions can be implemented without significant risk. There is not much evidence that those risks have caused problems. The question must therefore be asked: if that can be done in Scotland, why can it not be done in England? Lord Plumb made that point when these matters were debated in the other place.

Mr. Ian Liddell-Grainger (Bridgwater): My family farms in the borders of Scotland, and all our cattle go over the border to Berwick-upon-Tweed. We now find that much more difficult to arrange because of the difference between the two countries. We are only four miles over an open border. In fact, our land runs up to the border, so if the cattle get through the fence, they go into England. The whole position is, therefore, ambiguous, because if we want to get them back, we have to go through another system. Does that help my hon. Friend?

Mr. Hayes: My hon. Friend speaks with the perspicacity and incisiveness for which he has become well known in the time that he has been here. He makes precisely the point that I was making about the need for a consistent policy across the two countries, given that normal business practice means that livestock will be transported between the two.

It is worth saying a bit about the Scottish experience, because it is relevant to the amendments. Subject to the agreement of the Scottish Environment and Rural Affairs Department, farmers can get a separation authorisation for any animal. Their premises are not checked when the licence is issued, but there are spot checks, which represent a significant deterrent to those who might not be following the rules as carefully as they should be. The separation authorisation means that when brought-on animals are held separately from other animals on the farm, the 20-day standstill will apply only to those animals and not to any others. Additionally, when a farmer identifies animals to be moved off his farm and holds them separately from animals that have been brought on and mixed with other animals, those animals to be moved off will not be subject to the 20-day standstill.

Those are important differences between Scotland and England, because they afford the flexibility that allows trading and dealing. Although I acknowledge the

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point made by the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Drew) that not all dealers are farmers, many farmers are dealers. I was in conversation with one such person in Nottinghamshire last week, who did precisely what my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgwater (Mr. Liddell-Grainger) does, in moving animals between Scotland and England. He emphasised the difficulties that the inconsistency and the inflexibility of the 20-day rule caused for his business.

It is important for us to learn from that experience. The Minister will know that, in England, it is possible to get such an exception only for individually identified breeding rams and bulls bought at market, or sale bulls and rams returning unsold from a market or sale, which are isolated. There is room for manoeuvre here by the Government. The House of Lords has identified that fact, in looking studiously and carefully at the matter. Some flexibility in the application of the quite proper restrictions on movement that the Minister has identified—the need for which responsible Members will acknowledge in the light of the crisis—needs to be taken into consideration. For that reason, I am sympathetic with the Lords, and—I know that this will come as a great blow to him—less sympathetic with the Minister.

Mr. Drew: I do not want to speak for long on this matter, but this is the crux of how we proceed with the Bill. As someone who suffered, along with others, on the Bill when it was going through the Commons, I wonder whether I am experiencing déjà-vu, given that we started a year ago. Never let it be said that legislation is rapid in this place. Sometimes it is helpful to have the benefit of hindsight, and we now have the benefit of the hindsight of the Follett and Anderson reports. It needs to be put on record that those reports were, to a large extent, supportive of much of what the Government were trying to do.

I think that there is room for compromise here, although my hon. Friend the Minister has said that, until we get the results of the cost-benefit analysis, the 20-day rule will remain in place. Inevitably, that will need to be reconsidered regularly. We can look at the causes of the foot and mouth outbreak and at who was to blame, but what made it such a major outbreak was that the animal movements had an effect similar to pouring petrol on a fire. They completely took away any ability to control the disease.

My worry is that, unless we acknowledge two fundamental features of what went wrong and do something about them, that could happen again. As my hon. Friend the Member for Newport, West (Mr. Flynn) said, it might not be foot and mouth next time; it could be blue tongue. Questions have also been asked about bovine tuberculosis. We face an epidemic of that in my part of the world, and I want to make a connection between those diseases, because the issues are not completely separate.

There are two matters to which I want to draw the attention of the House. First, there were people who were either acting illegally or, at best, recklessly—as they had been doing day in, day out—because of the way in which the process encouraged them to perform their duties. I referred to dealers earlier. I used that as a fairly pejorative term, but I would not insult everyone by

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using it. What went wrong in relation to animal movements was that the dealers were driving the process rather than responding to it. I am not talking about a person who deals with 20 or 30 animals; I am talking about people who deal with thousands of animals.

Mr. Simon Thomas: The hon. Gentleman spoke of the dealers driving the process. I know what he is trying to say, but it is surely the supermarkets that are driving it. On the whole, the dealers are responding to a supermarket-set agenda when it comes to beef and sheep meat.

Mr. Drew: I do not disagree with the hon. Gentleman, in that we have to acknowledge that the operation of the food chain is too centralised. I have long argued that we need to re-localise it, but people say that that option has now gone away from us and that we have to be realistic and realise that the chain is now fundamentally different.

Mr. Flynn: Does my hon. Friend think it false of the Opposition to blame the Government and the supermarkets for all the problems of the farming industry? Is it not true, as my hon. Friend the Member for Preseli Pembrokeshire (Mrs. Lawrence) said, that one group of animals bought by a farmer just before the foot and mouth epidemic was discovered, to his horror, to have been on 11 different holdings in the previous three months? That was all about fraud, and about maximising the number of payments made for those animals. That practice for sheep—bed and breakfasting, as it is called—was rife in the industry, and the 20-day rule is the answer to the problem.

Mr. Drew: I cannot speak with the same knowledge as my hon. Friend, although I have made allegations about my own area. Farmers there have been very clear with me about where some of the blame—we are talking about a minority of people—needs to be laid in relation to the dreadful legacy of foot and mouth.

My second point relates to that matter. We have created a monster that has now come back to haunt us, in that the subsidy regime encourages the movement of animals in a foolhardy way. At the moment, we have not dealt with that. We have to deal with the fact that people make money by operating this process—whether at the behest of the supermarkets or because of what the industry has become—and that they are being encouraged to do so by the subsidy regime, through bed and breakfasting or through the way in which the common agricultural policy encourages animal movements.

Mr. Wiggin: I am listening to the hon. Gentleman's argument. He has described farmers as reckless for moving sheep—those are his words—but now he suggests that the blame lies not with the farmers, but with the subsidy-driven system and the rules under which farming is governed, which contain loopholes that encourage people to benefit from sheep movements. Unfortunately, he cannot have it both ways. Not for one second do I believe that people who are moving sheep around the country are reckless; they are living with

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market forces. Does he really think that the Government cannot control how subsidies are paid, except through this Bill?

Mr. Drew: I am not saying that at all, and the hon. Gentleman is doing my argument a disservice. In the main, I would call the people involved dealers, although some farmers are dealers, and the recklessness relates to the number of times that the animals are moved. I am also arguing that people are encouraged to do this by the subsidy regime that has been put in place. I would remove that subsidy regime tomorrow, but, unfortunately, that would have to go through European negotiations. Clearly, other parts of Europe undertake such movements more successfully in that they have not encountered the same number of breakdowns as us. However, they should learn from our mistakes, which is why, in essence, we need restrictions until we have dealt with that problem.

What is wrong with the amendment from the other place? I could understand the point of it if it provided some discretion, but it would allow a time scale of only eight weeks, come what may. To me, that would be the most unrestrictive restriction possible.

Mr. Peter Atkinson : I am puzzling over the allegation that, somehow, the subsidy system prompts movements; I am having difficulty following it. I realise that hill farmers and sheep farmers receive an area payment and that there is a sheep annual premium payment, but I do not understand how that encourages them to move animals about.

Mr. Drew: It depends on how the animals are counted and who counts them. We know that in certain parts of Europe—between the Republic and Northern Ireland, for example—sheep are moved to derive the benefits of subsidy. The figures may be exaggerated, but anyone who knows anything about that part of the world knows that it is notorious for such exploitation. The figures for the mainland may also be exaggerated, but the people I talk to lead me to believe that they are not. Some people make a living in this way, although I would much prefer that not to be the case. That is why I say that, until we can deal with the problem, we must be able to put restrictions in place.

I speak rather a lot about bovine TB, because it is an ever-present worry in my constituency. The linkage occurs, I am led to believe, inasmuch as some work that the expert group is undertaking is considering cattle-to-cattle transfer, which also depends entirely on how regularly cattle are moved, who buys them and which parts of the country they go to. Unless we acknowledge that we must have some restrictions in place, the worry will be not just foot and mouth, but other diseases that we must also face up to. There is room for compromise here. We need a more realistic figure, as eight weeks is unrealistic.

7.15 pm

Adam Price (East Carmarthen and Dinefwr): The hon. Gentleman is very generous in giving way. I tend to agree about the eight weeks and the drafting of the Lords amendment is unfortunate, but should not the Government introduce a compromise solution? I am

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sure he agrees that continuing a 20-day rule long into the future will render livestock farming in upland areas virtually unviable.

Mr. Drew: I agree. If I read what the Minister said correctly and given that the Government are trying to base their response on science, they are taking particular account of the Follett report, although they have also taken account of the Anderson report, which considered the practicalities. The Minister will no doubt come back on the point, but clearly he will consider the cost-benefit analysis, which will be principally a scientific evaluation. If and when it is possible to change the 20-day rule, let us change it, because it is causing my farmers some grief, although not to the extent of that faced by farmers in upland areas, even though such grief is part and parcel of how they earn their living.

I reiterate that we must keep learning from what went wrong until we can deal with the adverse consequences and we must have those protections in place. It may not be foot and mouth next time, but it could be something else. We must protect the people whom we want to keep in farming. They understand all that, even though they are finding it very hard in the short run.

Mr. Roger Williams : First, I draw the House's attention to my entries in the Register of Members' Interests involving livestock farming. It is a great pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Drew), who was a fellow sufferer on the Standing Committee a long, long time ago, as well as a thoughtful and open-minded person about agriculture.

The Minister said that it is a great pity that the amendment was passed by the other place, but he will accept that it represents recognition of the despair and despondency in the livestock industry resulting from the continuing imposition of the 20-day rule. It is more than a year since the last confirmed case of foot and mouth and nearly a year since Britain was declared free of the disease, so farmers are concerned that we still have one of the most rigorous forms of control that they have ever experienced. They are concerned not just because such control causes them difficulty in running their businesses, but because the evidence on which the rule was imposed has never been made clear to them.

The Minister referred to evidence from the chief veterinary officer and other scientific advisers, but farmers always complain to me that there is no logic or rationale behind the 20-day rule, except, of course—we all understand this—that reducing the number of animal movements reduces the chance of disease being spread. Everybody accepts that and the fact that we cannot return to pre-foot and mouth times. There will be regulations and some form of control. As has been said, the NFU also accepts that.

Such is the absolute despair of farmers, particularly in the area that I represent, that 200 of them met one night last week in Brecon market and decided to travel down to the National Assembly the next day for a symbolic burning of licence forms and applications. Quite honestly, those farmers have plenty to do, so that is an example of the exasperation that they feel over the controls. They believe that there is a disproportionate burden on the livestock industry, because the risk lies not in the industry—this is foot and mouth-clear

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country—but at the point of entry at ports and airports.–[Interruption.] The Minister disagrees, although I am grateful for today's announcement by the Secretary of State that the Government will reconsider how responsibility is exercised by Customs and Excise. One authority would certainly achieve greater co-operation over intelligence to be used at such points of entry. Farmers still believe that the controls are disproportionate. That, for them, is the crux of the issue.

The hon. Member for Stroud talked about dealers. It seems to me that the main burden of such regulation is falling on farmers. Dealers often run large and sophisticated businesses. They operate from a number of locations and sites, and they also have a number of holding areas, so they can circumvent the 20-day rule without breaking it. The rule has little effect on their operation, although it has great effect on the family farmer. I shall give examples of how family farmers have found it difficult to operate.

Last weekend, I was approached by two constituents. J.W. Hammond and Sons is a farming business in my constituency, run by a man with his two sons and their families. They operate from a number of farms, but they have a well-integrated and sustainable method of production: they produce hardy ewes on one farm, and the lambs and breeding ewes are passed to other farms. DEFRA has told them that they must have only one holding, which means that when they buy stock for a farm that is 15 miles away from another they cannot move that stock. Because they have accepted DEFRA's advice, it is impossible for them to continue a well-thought-out and efficient operation that produces good stock. Unless the 20-day rule is changed, they will be unable to continue.

I was approached by another young farmer who had just taken on a tenancy. We want to encourage people like him to join an industry in which I think the average age is well into the fifties. He told me that because he had been unable to move 20 cattle, he would lose an extensification premium that was a key part of his cash flow and the profitability of his farm.

Mr. Simon Thomas : I, too, could give examples from my constituency illustrating the problem of the 20-day rule, but there is a further confusion in Wales. It has been announced today that there will be a review in February, but the hon. Gentleman's colleague Mike German announced that it would take place in Wales in January. Does that suggest that Mr. German does not have a grip on the situation, or that he needs more time to fill in his credit card slips?

Mr. Williams: I do not accept either suggestion, but I thank the hon. Gentleman for leading me to my next point.

Farmers are fed up because it is going to take so long to complete the risk assessment and the cost-benefit analysis. We are told that the preliminary results will be produced in November, and that there may be some relaxation and modification of the restriction in February. It appears that the full results will not be known until June. Many vets have suggested to me that the process could be accelerated. Does the Minister

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think there is any way of putting the results in the public domain more quickly, allowing us to conduct a thorough study?

I took a number of farmers on a delegation to meet Lord Whitty, but I also took the head of animal movements from Powys county council's trading standards department. He told Lord Whitty that any restriction of movements must be one with which farmers could comply, otherwise the whole arrangement would be brought into disrepute. We have been told that a number of people have directly abused the system. Many farmers have told me, almost in confessional mode, that they believe they have broken the regulations, but because those regulations are so complex they do not understand what is required of them. I ask the Minister to speed up the process and produce clear guidelines allowing farmers to continue their business.

Paul Flynn: What unites us is a desire to avoid the dreadful human and animal suffering that took place during the foot and mouth epidemic, but the Government must stand firm. The recommendation of the best scientists, of the Royal Society and the Anderson report, was not for a 20-day but for a 28-day standstill, because that represents the incubation period of the disease. The Government have already been conciliatory. They have made a compromise in that instance, and in a number of others.

Let us look at the risks. No one dreamt up the threat of blue tongue virus; it is spread by vectors, but it is a deadly disease that could destroy a third of our livestock, as it has elsewhere.

Mr. Roger Williams: I know that the hon. Gentleman is an expert on blue tongue disease, but has it not been absent from Wales since 1997, when Wales last had a Conservative Member of Parliament?

Paul Flynn: The disease is certainly alien to our shores. Conservative Members are similarly alien to Wales, and long may that last. But we are now being warned that because of climatic and other changes, blue tongue virus is a serious threat. There are other diseases too, such as vesicular stomatitis, which is similar to foot and mouth, and there is the possibility of vesicular swine fever. The threat is real, and is not being exaggerated.

Nevertheless, the farming industry should know that we are looking at the reality of the spread of foot and mouth. I know that the Opposition parties are wedded to the idea that it was all the Government's fault, but they should look at the map showing movements all over the country before the disease was detected. We can see the spread from the far north to Devon, and from the east to Wales. That is why we had a problem that was not experienced in Uruguay, in the Netherlands, in Ireland or in France. In fact, the outbreak in Ireland was caused by the illegal import of an animal to Northern Ireland.

It cannot be ignored that all sorts of people—people in the farming industry, for instance, and civil servants—turned a blind eye to illegal movements by those wishing to increase the number of claims for subsidies.

Mr. Simon Thomas: What the hon. Gentleman is describing constitutes fraud. If it was fraud, it should be investigated by the police. The 20-day rule does not help when people are behaving illegally.

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Will the hon. Gentleman at least accept that the disease was able to spread so quickly because it had been introduced into the country in the first place? Will he accept that our primary responsibility must be to prevent it from coming in, and to adopt bio-preventive measures to ensure that the spread is contained if it does ever come in?

Paul Flynn: It was fraud, but both Governments turned a blind eye on the pretext that it had happened elsewhere in Europe and they could see no reason why there should not be a multiplication of subsidies here. As for stopping the disease at source, I am afraid that that is another myth. It came here because one farmer did not pre-heat the swill he was using; if he had followed proper advice, he would not have used the swill anyway.

It is also absurd to think that we can build a wall around the country and keep out any contraband. Despite the heroic efforts of Customs and Excise, billions of cigarettes and thousands of gallons of alcohol are smuggled in, as well as a huge amount of illegal drugs. There is no way of ensuring that the country can remain free of illegal or bad meat.

Mr. Richard Bacon (South Norfolk): I spent several hours with Customs and Excise in Dover yesterday. In fact, it has reduced illegal tobacco imports from £1.7 billion to £400 million worth in the last few months. Moreover, the hon. Gentleman has identified a contrast that no one else is seriously identifying. The Minister tried to do the same. I do not think that any Member on either side of the House has suggested an open-door policy enabling anyone to bring in anything at any time, or a hermetically sealed country. We are certainly not suggesting either. We are saying that a higher profile can change the mindset of most of the people who are engaging in such action, many of whom are doing so innocently. That can be seen in Australia and the United States.

7.30 pm

Paul Flynn: That was an extremely helpful intervention as it makes the point that whatever we do we cannot stop imports coming in and bringing diseases into the country. So what should we do? The farming industry is reluctant to do as it is set in its ways. Farmers want to do their job in the same way as their parents and grandparents, but they must understand that this rule must stay. There is an easy, simple, cheaper alternative that has already been used. That is to use the methods that were used during the foot-and-mouth epidemic whereby animals were sold directly or through simple technology such as video links and the internet. That method avoids the expense of taking animals to market and the journeys and the animals can pass from farm to farm or to the slaughterhouse or where ever else they are going without contact with other animals. That is what we should all be encouraging.

Mr. Wiggin: Does the hon. Gentleman not agree that even with the 20-day rule, disease can be transmitted through illegal acts, so that although the more rules the Government make, the more likely it is in theory that disease will be prevented, what really happens is that law-abiding farmers go out of business, and farmers who break the law continue to spread disease.

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The weakness in the 20-day rule, which has value directly after an outbreak, is that it will put law-abiding farmers and livestock markets out of business and affect the infrastructure on which all farmers depend to earn a living. Does the hon. Gentleman not see that even if the Government insist on it, the bad guys will continue to break the law?

Mr. Flynn: I am following the best advice of the two bodies that I mentioned. No one made any suggestion that they were wrong in suggesting this essential deterrent.

I represent farmers and there were three outbreaks of foot and mouth in my constituency, but my constituents are overwhelmingly industrial workers who work mainly in the steel and aluminium industry. They have suffered terribly in the past two years and more than half their jobs have disappeared. All those families contributed £5 per week last year to pay for foot and mouth, in addition to the £10 per week they pay the farming industry in subsidies. If another disease comes along, is it reasonable that taxpayers—including the steel and aluminium workers in my constituency—should pick up the bill? If the farming industry is not prepared to take these sensible, modest precautions, why on earth should taxpayers pick up the bill for the next epidemic?

Mr. Peter Atkinson : I am not sure whether or not it is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Newport, West (Mr. Flynn), who has clearly missed his vocation. He should have been a 19th-century non-conformist Welsh preacher predicting Armageddon—[Hon. Members: "He is."] Perhaps he is. He reminds me of a character from a Dylan Thomas poem. I think it was Organ Morgan, but hon. Members will correct me if I am wrong. I should stress to the hon. Gentleman that Opposition Members are not against having some form of movement restriction—we are simply opposed to the particular restriction.

Let me begin by doing a Conservative thing and defending the dealers. We have had a lot of mud slung at the dealers in the course of the debate so far. Dealers are perfectly respectable people; they are simply using the market. The way that the livestock market has developed in the United Kingdom has encouraged the intervention of dealers. The reason is that we have very large number of centralised meatpacking firms or abattoirs that require large numbers of animals on a regular basis. They get them from dealers who collect them from different parts of the country. Dealers make a turn on the price while fulfilling the needs of the abattoirs for a regular supply of animals. For better or worse, that is where we are with the market.

Mr. David Heath (Somerton and Frome): I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. I am sure that he will agree with me that it is one of the structural problems of the industry that we have a concentration of livestock and a concentration of kill within abattoirs purely at the behest of the large supermarkets and their demands on the industry. We have to address that at some stage.

Mr. Atkinson: I agree with the hon. Gentleman that it has to do with the structure of the industry, but I am not sure whether we can change it. What the

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hon. Gentleman is saying is the equivalent of suggesting that we ought to scrap large car plants and that all motor cars should be built in small back-street garages as they were in past centuries. The meat processing business is hugely capital intensive, requiring people working 365 days a year in two shifts. That is the way it is. A meat-packing plant in the hon. Gentleman's part of the country will eventually have to source lamb from my constituency in the north of England. That is a feature of the industry. Whether or not it is desirable, it is not easy to change. The dealers are providing for modern economics.

The Minister was critical of the amendment and I do not believe it is a particular good one, but it provides us with an opportunity to debate a serious matter that is affecting farmers in my constituency very badly. It gives us the opportunity of expressing our concerns, hopefully in a vote. The Minister said that a large proportion of the livestock industry can cope with these regulations, but many farmers cannot. We have heard tonight that upland farmers in particular will find it extremely difficult. Certainly in the north of England, in the Pennines, the livestock buying and selling year is contracted into September and October. It has a very tight span. Farmers who breed sheep and suckler cows need to move breeding replacements on to the farm and to sell lambs and ewes at the autumn sales. If animal movements are restricted, those farmers have to hold stock on their farms which means extra expense and if the weather is particularly bad—fortunately it was not too bad this autumn—it would cause welfare problems. These are enormous costs to farmers who are already struggling. At the risk of being slightly out of order, farmers are facing not only the economic problems caused by the 20-day rule but the economic problems caused by the slowness of the rural payments agency to pay up and the muddle caused by so many mistakes at the British Cattle Movement Service in Workington which means that cattle which are going into the over-30-months scheme are now being disqualified because of administrative errors that are not their fault. Perhaps the Minister will look at that in due course.

As I said, we accept the need for a traceability scheme and that would be the final answer. We also accept the need for some form of movement restriction, but it has to be very much more relaxed than it is currently. Farmers have suffered this autumn; they do not want to suffer next autumn. It is absolutely imperative that whatever scheme the Minister introduces, it must be properly in place early in the year so that the spring movement of livestock from winter quarters to summer quarters can begin. In particular it must be up and working at the end of next back-end season.

Other suggestions have been made which the Minister did not consider for long enough. The simple scheme produced by auctioneers whereby farmers have three dyes and dye sheep with one colour one week, the next colour the following week and another for the third week, which means that no animal can be sold or brought to market until it has reached the three-week period. That is an incredibly simple system which would have carried us over until a proper system was put in place.

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Let me reiterate that the real cost of this 20-day movement restriction on a particularly vulnerable group of farmers. While they all appreciate that some form of movement is needed, they need a more liberal regime, which will allow them at least to hang on to their lives and their work for a few more years.

Mr. Curry: Perhaps we can first get one or two historical facts in place. The movement of livestock is not some sort of modern aberration; it is at the absolute heart of the agricultural economy throughout Europe. Transhumance is one of the oldest practices of the human race. I refer the House to one of the great books—Ferdinand Braudel's "The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Phillip II". Although not particularly imaginative, Phillip II was an assiduous and meticulous monarch who ruled a very large empire. The culture of the Mediterranean world is based on the principle of transhumance, so let us get away from the idea that a bunch of wicked dealers have intruded on a pastoral scene characterised by William Cobbett, and brought it kicking and screaming into a bizarre modern world.

Let us also be clear that the consequences of the foot and mouth epidemic highlighted the importance of such movements, which are traditional, rather than bizarre movements designed to rig the system. When foot and mouth struck in my constituency, animals that had been sent to the lowlands to over-winter should have been coming back up to the hill. In fact, they could not be moved—they were caught in fields full of mud. In Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire, where some farmers specialise in looking after animals over the winter, the resulting welfare conditions were serious. Of course, the sale of breeding stock off the hills forms part of the backbone of the uplands economy, and it is also one of the major sources of livestock for the lowlands. Those are traditional movements that are intrinsic to agriculture, and we have to find a way in which to accommodate them.

I should point out to the hon. Member for Newport, West (Paul Flynn) that I realise that, in many ways, auction marts must appear to be some sort of Dickensian throwback—part of the world of "One Man and His Dog", or a television series about vets. However, in the light of his concerns and comments, he should not underestimate the role of the auction mart in combating the social exclusion experienced by those who live remote lives. They do not often meet their fellow human beings, and they derive benefit from meeting in the fug of the fish and chip shop or the pie shop.

Paul Flynn: During the recess, I visited Llanrwst market, which is outside my constituency, and spoke to the farmers assembled there. The strongest argument that they made in favour of the continuation of the mart was that it was the day on which families came to Llanrwst for social reasons. One understands that entirely, but there must be some way to improve their social life and reduce their isolation other than by getting animals together in a traditional but very dangerous way.

Mr. Curry: The hon. Gentleman and I may not be very far apart. In practice, we will see a more integrated

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food chain, farmers contracting to retailers, and the pre-selection of animals, which go straight to the abattoirs. In fact, some auction marts are acting as intermediaries in order to organise that trade. So the role of the auction mart is changing.

Mr. John Gummer (Suffolk, Coastal): Is it not true that, when we get to that stage, many of the Members who complained about dealers will be complaining that we do not have dealers any longer, and saying how much better things were in those days? One cannot ever get it right.

Mr. Curry: That is certainly true, and they will also complain that they have received planning application for the building of 93 desirable houses on the site of the auction mart, including a complement of social housing, which will doubtless occasion concern for other parts of the village. I speak from some experience, but I shall not go further down that route.

We should also admit that there were dreadful examples of negligence during the foot and mouth outbreak. In North Yorkshire, many farmers have several scattered holdings. Indeed, the Department found it difficult to come to terms with the fact that many farmers owned plots of land that were quite close together, but not contiguous. Some of those farmers moved stock from one farm to the other without any semblance of precaution. That was clearly criminal in spirit, if not in practice. The miracle of the foot and mouth outbreak was that the disease never reached the pig herds in Humberside. Had it done so, we would have got into vaccination to slaughter. The sheer volume of slaughter could have been coped with and brought under order only by the introduction of vaccination.

7.45 pm

I make those preliminary points because I want to ensure that the Minister, for whom I have a lot of respect, understands the issue. I know his brief, and I also know how difficult it is under the 20-day rule to operate normal farming practice on a mixed beef and sheep farm in the uplands. People have to move animals around—to market, to pasture—and the high hills will not sustain them throughout the year. There are also practical problems. The Minister has said that there has to be a form of cordon sanitaire around a holding, but one cannot establish an isolation unit with a 50 m boundary for 300 sheep on a hill farm. In practice, it is very difficult to deliver that and then service the sheep with the tup.

As I pointed out to the Minister, under the problematic anomalies of the 20-day rule, I could buy 300 sheep and put them in a field next to sheep owned by my neighbour. If we are lucky, there are dry-stone walls and the sheep will not mingle. However, it is just as likely that the sheep will be separated by a few strands of wire, so they will mingle and converse, as it were. My neighbour, who is not caught by any restriction, could immediately sell off sheep that had been in contact with restricted sheep. Equally, in some cases the rule has the perverse impact of promoting the use of dealers. Let us consider the example of a farmer in Cumbria or North Yorkshire, who used to be able to buy young calves in the autumn from various local farms in a 40 mile radius.

6 Nov 2002 : Column 354

All those farms are now caught by the same restrictions as he is, so the way to get round that is to buy the animals from a dealer who is shipping them from 250 miles away. In other words, the farmer is actually forced into an alternative pattern of procurement. According to the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Drew), that increases exposure to the transmission of illness.

In making my final point, I shall use the example, if I may, of my right hon. Friend the Member for Suffolk, Coastal (Mr. Gummer). Farmer Gummer and I can both send our sheep to market, and the sheep can sit in adjacent pens in the auction mart. As we know, they are mere tubular structures, and communication can take place between pens. Let us say that I decide to buy Farmer Gummer's sheep, and I take them home. As long as I put them in an isolation unit, I will not be caught by the restriction. However, if I do not sell my sheep and I want to take them home, they will be caught by the 20-day rule—even though they have been in contact only with Farmer Gummer's sheep—and I will be unable to sell them on.

I appreciate that there are bound to be such anomalies; it is very difficult to establish schemes without them. However, in talking about trying to get the farming community to accept the necessity of restrictions, it is important to ensure that farmers cannot say, "Hang on, has anybody who has devised the restrictions thought about how we practise in reality—how we live and get through the working day?" As my hon. Friend the Member for North Wiltshire (Mr. Gray) pointed out, the scheme in Scotland operates somewhat differently. I accept that those differences are in the detail, but the regime is slightly more liberal in respect of, for example, applications for licences. There is spot-checking, as opposed to the prior approvals that have to be obtained in England. In Scotland, any animal can be put into segregation without triggering the provision; in England, however, only breeding animals can qualify under that criterion.

As a result of devolution, practices are diverging. Premium payments are now different on the two sides of the border, because the British Government—on behalf of England and Wales—decided to retain an element of the payment for a general kitty. That decision was not taken in Scotland, however. I imagine that that rule could be modified for Scotland under the powers of devolution, so that it becomes more different from that which applies in England. The argument would then arise of level playing fields within these shores, rather than simply between these shores and elsewhere.

I agree that the Lords amendment is not particularly well thought out, but it has served its purpose by enabling us to bring to the Minister's attention the practical problems experienced by farmers who want to make the system work, who are not out to dodge the system, and who have been through a tremendously rough time.

In my constituency, the second worst category of farmer was those whose animals got foot and mouth disease; the worst category was those whose animals did not because they could not move their cattle or earn a living, and the sheep were sucking the stones dry on the hills. Those farmers are now entering a further period of severe restrictions.

6 Nov 2002 : Column 355

The Minister should spell out the programme and the scenarios that he hopes to be able to apply and acknowledge that he may want to retain some form of permanent restrictions, but ones that go with the grain of farming practices. He should show that he is seeking, as is inevitable across the field of such activities, to find the balance between the necessary precaution and enabling the industry that he is seeking to preserve to be able to continue to earn a living so that it can help to preserve itself.

Mr. Simon Thomas: It is a pleasure to follow the right hon. Member for Skipton and Ripon (Mr. Curry), who has just given some very good examples that are particularly pertinent to upland Wales, which experiences the anomalies and some of the perverse incentives in the present system that work against what many Labour Members have talked about tonight.

On behalf of Plaid Cymru, I want to make it clear at the outset that we find the amendment to be particularly awful in its drafting. Nevertheless, it has given us a useful opportunity to debate this vital issue and the way in which it is affecting farmers, particularly those in Wales and England, but not so much those in Scotland. It gives us an opportunity to raise a very basic principle about how we will cope in the future not only with the spread of foot and mouth, but its introduction into the United Kingdom.

Plaid Cymru strongly supports the principle of movement control. We must know what is happening to the movement of agricultural animals in this country. We must know where the animal is, where it has been and its intervening journey. However, there has been much talk in the debate about movement restrictions, and I should like to draw a distinction.

The term "restrictions" suggests a predetermination of the cost-benefit analysis that will be done on the 20-day rule. It suggests that people already accept that farming must be restricted in that way. An alternative should be considered and certainly thoroughly analysed whereby animal movements are controlled using the detailed information that we have on those animals. The case has been made powerfully that, certainly after the foot and mouth outbreak in the north of England, it was not just the movement of animals that created difficulties, but the fact that people did not know where those animals had been, how they had been kept and the way that biosecurity measures had been applied to them.

I accept that things must be very different in future, but we have to go with the grain of farming practice, as the right hon. Member for Skipton and Ripon said. There has been a lot of talk this evening and outside the House about movements and restrictions that simply do not go with the grain of farming practice and therefore will not work because people will not want to follow them, or because they will go out of business if they do follow them.

We must remember that the two inquiry reports that have been much mentioned in the debate said that the 20-day rule should apply until the cost-benefit analysis has been carried out. In response to a question that I asked during today's statement, the Secretary of State

6 Nov 2002 : Column 356

made it clear that that cost-benefit analysis would include alternatives to the 20-day rule. I welcome that, and I hope that that will be clear.

What are the principles in applying any sort of movement control? First, we must prevent disease in the first place. Secondly, we must deal with the spread of disease if it were ever to occur. The main priority for preventing disease is, of course, stopping it coming into the country in the first place. We have heard some messages of doom and gloom and been told that we cannot stop disease or illegal imports, but the fact is that the Government have not been doing enough on illegal meat imports. Only now is there a realisation of the need to take co-ordinated action. That must be the main priority.

Of course if disease comes into the country, we must consider how to stop or at least limit its spread. Plainly, we must therefore consider not only the 20-day rule, but the whole question of biosecurity. That is the key. Good biosecurity being practised on all farms at all times will limit the spread of any disease, whatever it is. Some diseases are more virulent than others. The problem in the west Wales dairy industry at the moment is TB, not blue tongue or foot and mouth.

Any restriction, control or measure that we place on farming has to be proportionate to its ability to meet it practically and financially. The income of each upland farmer in Wales was about £4,200 last year, so they do not have much scope to invest in any system or to bear its costs.

The hon. Member for Newport, West (Paul Flynn) is very keen to remind everyone of the massive subsidy—£10 a week—that every family pays to each farmer, but that money does not go into farmers' pockets. Their pockets were not stuffed full of those tenners in Llanrwst, and he knows it. The money goes into the wasteful, awful common agricultural policy. Farmers do not want to be part of that any more than we do, but that is the price that we pay for cheap food—the second or third cheapest food in the developed world.

The fact is that the consumer does not really pay the price of their food; they pay in a round about way. Not only do they pay when they go into the supermarket or shop and pay 40p, 37p, or whatever, for a pint of milk; they pay subsidy as well. So we in this country pay for our food twice if not three times over. If we want a better relationship between farmers and consumers and to make this aspect of the Bill work better, the price of biosecurity on food has to be included at the consumer end. It is not just the farmers who bear the weight; the consumer has to face the real cost of food production as well.

Paul Flynn : Has the hon. Gentleman seen the report by the Consumers Association stating that a basket of food was bought in the United Kingdom and in New Zealand and that it was discovered that the price in New Zealand was half the price here? Farmers in New Zealand have not had any subsidy for the past 16 years.

Mr. Simon Thomas : If there is so much waste in the CAP, food prices will decline, but I was making the point—the hon. Gentleman has to accept this—that the

6 Nov 2002 : Column 357

consumer does not just pay for food when he or she goes into a supermarket; they pay through their taxes for the CAP as well, and reforming the CAP is the key.

Mr. Peter Atkinson : The hon. Member for Newport, West (Paul Flynn) mentions New Zealand, but I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will know that in New Zealand the grass grows 12 months a year, so cattle can stay out all year and do not need to be fed inside. Of course that makes New Zealand products much cheaper.

Mr. Thomas : I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for mentioning that aspect of farming, which the right hon. Member for Skipton and Ripon also mentioned.

If we are to encourage farmers to go more directly to market, which is part of the answer to dealing with foot and mouth, by cutting away all the wasteful journey times, we have to ensure that farmers are able to market more directly by moving livestock. We cannot take livestock movements out of the market. Some of the dealers may be slightly less than above board, but they generally meet the requirements of the market.

The largest abattoir just outside my constituency—it is in that of my hon. Friend the Member for East Carmarthen and Dinefwr (Adam Price)—Oriel Jones in Llanybydder, meets the demands of the supermarkets. The input into that abattoir is more than the local market can bear, so dealers must feed that abattoir. That is part of a wider question, but it is wrong to place on farmers the whole pressure of biosecurity under the 20-day rules. My concern is that farmers may bear all that pressure, but we should consider the wider context of how to ensure that the whole of the farming industry is safe, clean and free from disease.

Mr. Wiggin : Does the hon. Gentleman agree that not only are farmers expected to bear the costs, but, given the implications of some of the comments made by Labour Members, they are to blame for the entire foot and mouth outbreak? It simply cannot be the case that the disease was imported by the farming community in the first place.

Mr. Thomas : I certainly reject any suggestion that farming was to blame for the disease entering the country in the first place, but legitimate farming practices, approved by the Government and previous Governments for many years, may have exacerbated the disease. There is a lesson to be learned, but nevertheless they were legitimate practices.

I well remember the astonishment when the Government announced that X million journeys were made by animals during two or three weeks and everyone took a breath as they thought that that practice was illegal and that a scandal had been found. Did they not know that that happened all the time and that it was a natural part of farming practice? As the right hon. Member for Skipton and Ripon said, farmers in Wales have moved livestock around not just for years, decades or centuries, but for millennia. In Wales, the drovers' roads, some of which we still travel on to get to the House, follow the path taken from my constituency to London. Cattle, geese, pigs and sheep were moved around the country. That is nothing new, and it is a vital part of farming. As the hon. Member for Hexham (Mr. Atkinson) said, the environment and climate in Wales are not suitable for year-round farming.

6 Nov 2002 : Column 358

8 pm

I hope that the Minister will accept that some movement of animals is part of sustainable farming practice. If we want to ensure that artificial fertilisers, pesticides and feed are not used—and we must remember the feedstocks that are used in America, the other place where food is cheapest—we must support sustainable farming. An element of animal movement is part of that.

Paul Flynn : Animal movements take place in Uruguay, the Netherlands, France and Ireland, but the disease did not spread in those countries as it did here. Will the hon. Gentleman accept that excessive and unnecessary animal movements take place in this country, and that only the 20-day rule will eliminate them?

Mr. Simon Thomas : I hope that the hon. Gentleman will join me in asking for the reopening of local slaughterhouses. They have been going down like nine pins in my constituency. I agree with the central point, but in his comments this evening the hon. Gentleman has put the responsibility for the outbreak directly on farmers. The problem is much more complex. There is a whole industry, driven by the retail side, which affects what happens.

Adam Price: We are discussing a Bill about animal health, and there is an animal welfare aspect to the problems caused by the delay. Of necessity, upland farmers need to trade stored animals. Any delay could cause animal welfare problems because of the lack of food and shelter. That has a knock-on effect in terms of the availability of food for breeding stock.

Mr. Thomas: I agree. My constituency was not directly affected by foot and mouth, but some areas were restricted. I had an awful case involving a farmer who could not move stock because of restrictions, even though the RSPCA was investigating what was going on.

Mr. Gummer: Does the hon. Gentleman agree that he was far too kind to the hon. Member for Newport (Mr. Flynn)? Although the movements of animals in this country may be rather longer than they would be in an ideal world, there could be no fewer movements if we returned to the system that the hon. Member for Newport describes. Movement is part of the normal way of dealing with animals. It is only the ignorance of people locked up in towns that causes them not to understand that.

Mr. Thomas : I shall not reiterate the points that the right hon. Gentleman has made. There is a saying in Wales that we knock the gatepost for the gate to hear: I hope that the hon. Member for Newport heard what the right hon. Gentleman said.

I shall conclude by enumerating the basics that should underpin the debate. First, we need to prevent disease coming to the country in the first place. That is primarily a matter of dealing with illegal meat imports and production. There have been of cases of meat being produced illegally for the smokies trade in west Wales and London. That is a real concern of mine.

6 Nov 2002 : Column 359

Secondly, if disease breaks out again, we must ensure that it does not spread. That is a matter of biosecurity in the farming industry, which must be constant, rather than a one-off response to disease. We must identify the animals that have been moved around, and where they have been moved to, which means that we must have a proper animal movement identification system. If disease is present, we must deal with the animals involved, and contiguous animals. We debated earlier whether the best way to do that was by culling or vaccination. I support movement control, but it can be achieved only in co-operation with the industry and farmers, and only if it does not destroy or undermine the livestock industry. After all, we do not want the countryside to be free of disease if that means that we have to import all our meat, do we?

Mr. Morley: With the leave of the House, I should like to respond to the debate.

Lords amendment No. 45 is important. It is inevitable that the House will want to concentrate on it, given the interest in the 20-day animal movement limit. The Government accept the main thrust of the amendment. We want to make some small technical changes, which I shall explain in a moment.

The hon. Members for South Holland and The Deepings (Mr. Hayes), for Brecon and Radnorshire (Mr. Williams), for Hexham (Mr. Atkinson), for Ceredigion (Mr. Thomas) and the right hon. Member for Skipton and Ripon (Mr. Curry), and my hon. Friends the Members for Stroud (Mr. Drew) and for Newport, West (Paul Flynn) all made fair points about the impact of animal movements on the industry. They accepted the need for movements, which the Government recognise, but all speakers conceded that some movements have to be stopped as one of a range of a disease control measures.

The question is where that stop should fall, which is why an independent assessment is being conducted. The House of Lords asked for time to consider the independent reports, so I am surprised that their lordships have ignored their recommendations. That is why I am asking the House to reject this amendment. It has been useful as a platform for debate, but it does not really add to the Bill. It is inappropriate, and we should wait for the proper assessment as we continue the debate with industry.

The Government do not disagree with the arguments advanced in the other place that biosecurity must apply to everyone in the livestock industry. It must include the Department's staff, contractors, hauliers and everyone who goes on to farms. However, we have two small differences of opinion when it comes to the amendment.

First, it is unnecessary to make specific provision that the Secretary of State must send final guidance on biosecurity to those persons and organisations listed in the amendment's compliance provisions, which are very specific. It is a standard requirement for the Department that written consultations are sent out to such persons or organisations as the Secretary of State considers to be representative. The provision is worded in broad terms in the Government's proposal, so that the Secretary of State is not unnecessarily restricted. For example, the

6 Nov 2002 : Column 360

Secretary of State might want to seek the views of vets or scientists. They do not fall within the very strictly defined categories in proposed new subsection 6B(5).

Secondly, proposed new subsection 6B(1) deals with the distribution of guidance to all those listed in proposed new section 6A(3). It is significant, because it would mean that the exercise by the Government of functions under this legislation would be unlawful if the Government, for whatever reason, did not distribute guidance to all those listed, regardless of whether the guidance was relevant or applicable to them.

Clearly, it would not be acceptable for the Government to have their power to act removed in that way for failing to distribute guidance to everyone on the list. There is always someone who might claim that they did not receive the guidance. The list is so specific and narrowly defined that it would leave the Government open to all sorts of difficulties.

That is not to say that the Government are against distributing information and guidance. We are committed to openness and transparency, and to communicating relevant information about all policies and about the proportionate action that we would take to prevent the spread of animal disease.

That is why we have ensured that the requirement already in the Bill to publish the biosecurity guidance will ensure that it is available to all the people, organisations, and stakeholder representatives who need to know about it. We want to make sure that people get the information, but the amendment is unduly restrictive.

I hope that the House will accept the minor amendment that the Government propose.

Mr. Hayes: With the leave of the House, I shall say a word about biosecurity. As the Minister said, we did not debate it at the start of the discussion of this group of amendments. However, it seems to be linked intrinsically with the 20-day rule, as I said earlier. In many ways, preventing animals from spreading foot and mouth has to go hand in hand with the dispersal of information among everyone who might have contact with livestock during a disease crisis.

That was the subject of consideration in the other place. The Lords was determined to ensure that the information was comprehensible, coherent, and distributed as widely as possible. If people are going to make lots of movements in and out of infected areas require them to be informed about risk as fully and well as possible. That is part of risk management, as the Minister acknowledged in his brief remarks. However, the Lords would like a specific list of organisations that the Secretary of State is obliged to contact on biosecurity measures. The Minister said that that is standard practice, that it is done all the time, and that he was sure that the Secretary of State would use her judgment. That is fine and good, but I think that the Lords are right in saying that distributing and publishing such information and sending out draft material needs to be specified clearly in the Bill. To that end, we support the Lords amendment.

6 Nov 2002 : Column 361

Question put, That this House disagrees with the Lords in the said amendment:—

The House divided: Ayes 283, Noes 178.

Division No. 356

[8:10 pm


AYES


Abbott, Ms Diane
Adams, Irene (Paisley N)
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Bob (Cov'try NE)
Alexander, Douglas
Allen, Graham
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale & Darwen)
Armstrong, rh Ms Hilary
Atherton, Ms Candy
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, John
Bailey, Adrian
Baird, Vera
Barnes, Harry
Battle, John
Bayley, Hugh
Beckett, rh Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Bell, Stuart
Benn, Hilary
Bennett, Andrew
Benton, Joe (Bootle)
Berry, Roger
Best, Harold
Betts, Clive
Blears, Ms Hazel
Borrow, David
Bradley, rh Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Byers, rh Stephen
Cairns, David
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Casale, Roger
Caton, Martin
Cawsey, Ian (Brigg)
Challen, Colin
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, rh Tom (Coatbridge & Chryston)
Clelland, David
Clwyd, Ann (Cynon V)
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Coleman, Iain
Colman, Tony
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Cook, rh Robin (Livingston)
Cooper, Yvette
Cousins, Jim
Cox, Tom (Tooting)
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cummings, John
Cunningham, rh Dr. Jack (Copeland)
Cunningham, Jim (Coventry S)
Cunningham, Tony (Workington)
Curtis-Thomas, Mrs Claire
Darling, rh Alistair
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
David, Wayne
Davidson, Ian
Davies, rh Denzil (Llanelli)
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Dawson, Hilton
Dhanda, Parmjit
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim (Heywood)
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim (Lewisham W)
Drew, David (Stroud)
Drown, Ms Julia
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff (Barnsley E)
Etherington, Bill
Field, rh Frank (Birkenhead)
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul (Newport W)
Follett, Barbara
Foster, rh Derek
Foster, Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings & Rye)
Foulkes, rh George
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gapes, Mike (Ilford S)
Gardiner, Barry
George, rh Bruce (Walsall S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gilroy, Linda
Godsiff, Roger
Goggins, Paul
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, David (Midlothian)
Hanson, David
Harris, Tom (Glasgow Cathcart)
Havard, Dai (Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney)
Healey, John
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hendrick, Mark
Heppell, John
Hesford, Stephen
Heyes, David
Hill, Keith (Streatham)
Hinchliffe, David
Hodge, Margaret
Hoey, Kate (Vauxhall)
Hoon, rh Geoffrey
Hope, Phil (Corby)
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, George (Knowsley N & Sefton E)
Hughes, Beverley (Stretford & Urmston)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hurst, Alan (Braintree)
Hutton, rh John
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Alan (Hull W)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Kevan (N Durham)
Jones, Lynne (Selly Oak)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Joyce, Eric (Falkirk W)
Keen, Alan (Feltham)
Keen, Ann (Brentford)
Kemp, Fraser
Khabra, Piara S.
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby)
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green & Bow)
Knight, Jim (S Dorset)
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lawrence, Mrs Jackie
Laxton, Bob (Derby N)
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom (High Peak)
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Liddell, rh Mrs Helen
Love, Andrew
Lucas, Ian (Wrexham)
Luke, Iain (Dundee E)
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Stephen
McCafferty, Chris
McDonagh, Siobhain
MacDonald, Calum
McDonnell, John
MacDougall, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
McNamara, Kevin
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
Mahmood, Khalid
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallaber, Judy
Mandelson, rh Peter
Mann, John (Bassetlaw)
Marris, Rob (Wolverh'ton SW)
Marshall, David (Glasgow Shettleston)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Martlew, Eric
Meale, Alan (Mansfield)
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Mole, Chris
Morgan, Julie
Morley, Elliot
Mullin, Chris
Munn, Ms Meg
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, rh Paul (Torfaen)
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
O'Hara, Edward
Olner, Bill
O'Neill, Martin
Owen, Albert
Perham, Linda
Picking, Anne
Pickthall, Colin
Pond, Chris (Gravesham)
Pope, Greg (Hyndburn)
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prescott, rh John
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Quin, rh Joyce
Quinn, Lawrie
Rammell, Bill
Rapson, Syd (Portsmouth N)
Raynsford, rh Nick
Reed, Andy (Loughborough)
Robertson, John (Glasgow Anniesland)
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Roy, Frank (Motherwell)
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Ms Christine (City of Chester)
Ryan, Joan (Enfield N)
Salter, Martin
Sarwar, Mohammad
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Sheerman, Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Shipley, Ms Debra
Simon, Siôn (B'ham Erdington)
Singh, Marsha
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, rh Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Soley, Clive
Spellar, rh John
Squire, Rachel
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stewart, David (Inverness E & Lochaber)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Tami, Mark (Alyn)
Taylor, Dari (Stockton S)
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Thomas, Gareth (Harrow W)
Tipping, Paddy
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr. Desmond (Brighton Kemptown)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Tynan, Bill (Hamilton S)
Vaz, Keith (Leicester E)
Vis, Dr. Rudi
Walley, Ms Joan
Ward, Claire
Watson, Tom (W Bromwich E)
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, rh Alan (Swansea W)
Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Wilson, Brian
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Wood, Mike (Batley)
Woodward, Shaun
Woolas, Phil
Wray, James (Glasgow Baillieston)
Wright, Anthony D. (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, David (Telford)
Wright, Tony (Cannock)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Ayes:


Mr. Ivor Caplin and
Derek Twigg


NOES


Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)
Allan, Richard
Amess, David
Arbuthnot, rh James
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Bacon, Richard
Baker, Norman
Baldry, Tony
Barker, Gregory
Baron, John (Billericay)
Barrett, John
Beith, rh A. J.
Bellingham, Henry
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Bottomley, rh Virginia (SW Surrey)
Brady, Graham
Brake, Tom (Carshalton)
Brooke, Mrs Annette L.
Browning, Mrs Angela
Burnett, John
Burns, Simon
Burnside, David
Burstow, Paul
Burt, Alistair
Butterfill, John
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Calton, Mrs Patsy
Cameron, David
Campbell, Gregory (E Lond'y)
Carmichael, Alistair
Cash, William
Chapman, Sir Sydney (Chipping Barnet)
Chope, Christopher
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Collins, Tim
Cotter, Brian
Cran, James (Beverley)
Curry, rh David
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davies, Quentin (Grantham & Stamford)
Davis, rh David (Haltemprice & Howden)
Djanogly, Jonathan
Dorrell, rh Stephen
Doughty, Sue
Duncan, Alan (Rutland)
Evans, Nigel
Fabricant, Michael
Field, Mark (Cities of London & Westminster)
Flook, Adrian
Forth, rh Eric
Foster, Don (Bath)
Fox, Dr. Liam
Gale, Roger (N Thanet)
George, Andrew (St. Ives)
Gibb, Nick (Bognor Regis)
Gidley, Sandra
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Goodman, Paul
Gray, James (N Wilts)
Green, Damian (Ashford)
Green, Matthew (Ludlow)
Greenway, John
Grieve, Dominic
Gummer, rh John
Hammond, Philip
Hancock, Mike
Hayes, John (S Holland)
Heath, David
Heathcoat-Amory, rh David
Hendry, Charles
Hermon, Lady
Hoban, Mark (Fareham)
Hogg, rh Douglas
Horam, John (Orpington)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Jack, rh Michael
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Jenkin, Bernard
Johnson, Boris (Henley)
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Keetch, Paul
Kennedy, rh Charles (Ross Skye & Inverness)
Key, Robert (Salisbury)
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Kirkwood, Archy
Knight, rh Greg (E Yorkshire)
Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Lamb, Norman
Lansley, Andrew
Laws, David (Yeovil)
Leigh, Edward
Letwin, rh Oliver
Lewis, Dr. Julian (New Forest E)
Liddell-Grainger, Ian
Lilley, rh Peter
Llwyd, Elfyn
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter (M-Worcs)
McIntosh, Miss Anne
MacKay, rh Andrew
Maclean, rh David
McLoughlin, Patrick
Malins, Humfrey
Maples, John
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury & Atcham)
Maude, rh Francis
Mawhinney, rh Sir Brian
May, Mrs Theresa
Mercer, Patrick
Mitchell, Andrew (Sutton Coldfield)
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Norman, Archie
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Oaten, Mark (Winchester)
Öpik, Lembit
Osborne, George (Tatton)
Ottaway, Richard
Paice, James
Paterson, Owen
Portillo, rh Michael
Price, Adam (E Carmarthen & Dinefwr)
Prisk, Mark (Hertford)
Pugh, Dr. John
Randall, John
Redwood, rh John
Reid, Alan (Argyll & Bute)
Rendel, David
Robathan, Andrew
Robertson, Hugh (Faversham & M-Kent)
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Robinson, Mrs Iris (Strangford)
Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Sanders, Adrian
Sayeed, Jonathan
Selous, Andrew
Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, Keith (M-Norfolk)
Soames, Nicholas
Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob (Castle Point)
Spring, Richard
Stanley, rh Sir John
Streeter, Gary
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Desmond
Swire, Hugo (E Devon)
Syms, Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, John (Solihull)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Taylor, Dr. Richard (Wyre F)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Thurso, John
Tonge, Dr. Jenny
Trend, Michael
Trimble, rh David
Turner, Andrew (Isle of Wight)
Tyler, Paul (N Cornwall)
Tyrie, Andrew
Viggers, Peter
Walter, Robert
Waterson, Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Webb, Steve (Northavon)
Widdecombe, rh Miss Ann
Wiggin, Bill
Wilkinson, John
Willetts, David
Williams, Roger (Brecon)
Willis, Phil
Wilshire, David
Yeo, Tim (S Suffolk)
Young, rh Sir George
Younger-Ross, Richard

Tellers for the Noes:


Chris Grayling and
Mr. Mark Francois

Question accordingly agreed to.

6 Nov 2002 : Column 364

Amendments proposed to the Lords amendment: (a) and (b)..

Question put, That this House agrees with the Lords in the said amendments.

The House divided: Ayes 292, Noes 174.

Division No. 357

[8:23 pm


AYES


Abbott, Ms Diane
Adams, Irene (Paisley N)
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Bob (Cov'try NE)
Alexander, Douglas
Allen, Graham
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale & Darwen)
Armstrong, rh Ms Hilary
Atherton, Ms Candy
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, John
Bailey, Adrian
Baird, Vera
Barnes, Harry
Battle, John
Bayley, Hugh
Beckett, rh Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Bell, Stuart
Benn, Hilary
Bennett, Andrew
Benton, Joe (Bootle)
Berry, Roger
Best, Harold
Betts, Clive
Blears, Ms Hazel
Borrow, David
Bradley, rh Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, Andy
Byers, rh Stephen
Cairns, David
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Casale, Roger
Caton, Martin
Cawsey, Ian (Brigg)
Challen, Colin
Chaytor, David
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, rh Tom (Coatbridge & Chryston)
Clelland, David
Clwyd, Ann (Cynon V)
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Coleman, Iain
Colman, Tony
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Cook, rh Robin (Livingston)
Cooper, Yvette
Cousins, Jim
Cox, Tom (Tooting)
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cummings, John
Cunningham, rh Dr. Jack (Copeland)
Cunningham, Jim (Coventry S)
Cunningham, Tony (Workington)
Curtis-Thomas, Mrs Claire
Darling, rh Alistair
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
David, Wayne
Davidson, Ian
Davies, rh Denzil (Llanelli)
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Dawson, Hilton
Dhanda, Parmjit
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim (Heywood)
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim (Lewisham W)
Drew, David (Stroud)
Drown, Ms Julia
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff (Barnsley E)
Etherington, Bill
Field, rh Frank (Birkenhead)
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul (Newport W)
Follett, Barbara
Foster, rh Derek
Foster, Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings & Rye)
Foulkes, rh George
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gapes, Mike (Ilford S)
Gardiner, Barry
George, rh Bruce (Walsall S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gilroy, Linda
Godsiff, Roger
Goggins, Paul
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, David (Midlothian)
Hanson, David
Harris, Tom (Glasgow Cathcart)
Havard, Dai (Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney)
Healey, John
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hendrick, Mark
Heppell, John
Hesford, Stephen
Heyes, David
Hill, Keith (Streatham)
Hinchliffe, David
Hodge, Margaret
Hoey, Kate (Vauxhall)
Hoon, rh Geoffrey
Hope, Phil (Corby)
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, George (Knowsley N & Sefton E)
Hughes, Beverley (Stretford & Urmston)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hurst, Alan (Braintree)
Hutton, rh John
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Ingram, rh Adam
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Alan (Hull W)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Kevan (N Durham)
Jones, Lynne (Selly Oak)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Joyce, Eric (Falkirk W)
Keen, Alan (Feltham)
Keen, Ann (Brentford)
Kemp, Fraser
Khabra, Piara S.
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby)
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green & Bow)
Knight, Jim (S Dorset)
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lawrence, Mrs Jackie
Laxton, Bob (Derby N)
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom (High Peak)
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Liddell, rh Mrs Helen
Love, Andrew
Lucas, Ian (Wrexham)
Luke, Iain (Dundee E)
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Stephen
McCafferty, Chris
McCartney, rh Ian
McDonagh, Siobhain
MacDonald, Calum
McDonnell, John
MacDougall, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
McNamara, Kevin
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
Mahmood, Khalid
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallaber, Judy
Mandelson, rh Peter
Mann, John (Bassetlaw)
Marris, Rob (Wolverh'ton SW)
Marshall, David (Glasgow Shettleston)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Martlew, Eric
Meale, Alan (Mansfield)
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Milburn, rh Alan
Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Mole, Chris
Morgan, Julie
Morley, Elliot
Mullin, Chris
Munn, Ms Meg
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, rh Paul (Torfaen)
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
O'Hara, Edward
Olner, Bill
O'Neill, Martin
Owen, Albert
Perham, Linda
Picking, Anne
Pickthall, Colin
Pond, Chris (Gravesham)
Pope, Greg (Hyndburn)
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prescott, rh John
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Quin, rh Joyce
Quinn, Lawrie
Rammell, Bill
Rapson, Syd (Portsmouth N)
Raynsford, rh Nick
Reed, Andy (Loughborough)
Robertson, John (Glasgow Anniesland)
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Roy, Frank (Motherwell)
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Ms Christine (City of Chester)
Ryan, Joan (Enfield N)
Salter, Martin
Sarwar, Mohammad
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Sheerman, Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Shipley, Ms Debra
Simon, Siôn (B'ham Erdington)
Singh, Marsha
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, rh Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, rh Chris (Islington S & Finsbury)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Soley, Clive
Spellar, rh John
Squire, Rachel
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stewart, David (Inverness E & Lochaber)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Tami, Mark (Alyn)
Taylor, Dari (Stockton S)
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Thomas, Gareth (Harrow W)
Tipping, Paddy
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr. Desmond (Brighton Kemptown)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Tynan, Bill (Hamilton S)
Vaz, Keith (Leicester E)
Vis, Dr. Rudi
Walley, Ms Joan
Ward, Claire
Watson, Tom (W Bromwich E)
Watts, David
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, rh Alan (Swansea W)
Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Wilson, Brian
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Wood, Mike (Batley)
Woodward, Shaun
Woolas, Phil
Wray, James (Glasgow Baillieston)
Wright, Anthony D. (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, David (Telford)
Wright, Tony (Cannock)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Ayes:


Mr. Ivor Caplin and
Derek Twigg


NOES


Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)
Allan, Richard
Amess, David
Arbuthnot, rh James
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Bacon, Richard
Baker, Norman
Baldry, Tony
Barker, Gregory
Baron, John (Billericay)
Barrett, John
Beith, rh A. J.
Bellingham, Henry
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Bottomley, rh Virginia (SW Surrey)
Brady, Graham
Brake, Tom (Carshalton)
Brooke, Mrs Annette L.
Browning, Mrs Angela
Burnett, John
Burns, Simon
Burnside, David
Burstow, Paul
Burt, Alistair
Butterfill, John
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Calton, Mrs Patsy
Cameron, David
Campbell, Gregory (E Lond'y)
Carmichael, Alistair
Cash, William
Chapman, Sir Sydney (Chipping Barnet)
Chope, Christopher
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Collins, Tim
Cotter, Brian
Cran, James (Beverley)
Curry, rh David
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davies, Quentin (Grantham & Stamford)
Davis, rh David (Haltemprice & Howden)
Djanogly, Jonathan
Dorrell, rh Stephen
Doughty, Sue
Duncan, Alan (Rutland)
Evans, Nigel
Fabricant, Michael
Field, Mark (Cities of London & Westminster)
Flook, Adrian
Forth, rh Eric
Foster, Don (Bath)
Fox, Dr. Liam
Gale, Roger (N Thanet)
George, Andrew (St. Ives)
Gibb, Nick (Bognor Regis)
Gidley, Sandra
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Goodman, Paul
Gray, James (N Wilts)
Green, Damian (Ashford)
Green, Matthew (Ludlow)
Grieve, Dominic
Gummer, rh John
Hammond, Philip
Hancock, Mike
Hayes, John (S Holland)
Heath, David
Heathcoat-Amory, rh David
Hendry, Charles
Hermon, Lady
Hoban, Mark (Fareham)
Hogg, rh Douglas
Horam, John (Orpington)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Jack, rh Michael
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Jenkin, Bernard
Johnson, Boris (Henley)
Keetch, Paul
Kennedy, rh Charles (Ross Skye & Inverness)
Key, Robert (Salisbury)
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Kirkwood, Archy
Knight, rh Greg (E Yorkshire)
Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Lamb, Norman
Lansley, Andrew
Laws, David (Yeovil)
Leigh, Edward
Lewis, Dr. Julian (New Forest E)
Liddell-Grainger, Ian
Lilley, rh Peter
Llwyd, Elfyn
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter (M-Worcs)
McIntosh, Miss Anne
MacKay, rh Andrew
Maclean, rh David
McLoughlin, Patrick
Malins, Humfrey
Maples, John
Maude, rh Francis
Mawhinney, rh Sir Brian
May, Mrs Theresa
Mercer, Patrick
Mitchell, Andrew (Sutton Coldfield)
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Norman, Archie
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Oaten, Mark (Winchester)
Öpik, Lembit
Osborne, George (Tatton)
Ottaway, Richard
Paice, James
Paterson, Owen
Portillo, rh Michael
Price, Adam (E Carmarthen & Dinefwr)
Prisk, Mark (Hertford)
Pugh, Dr. John
Randall, John
Redwood, rh John
Reid, Alan (Argyll & Bute)
Rendel, David
Robathan, Andrew
Robertson, Hugh (Faversham & M-Kent)
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Robinson, Mrs Iris (Strangford)
Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Sanders, Adrian
Sayeed, Jonathan
Selous, Andrew
Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, Keith (M-Norfolk)
Soames, Nicholas
Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob (Castle Point)
Spring, Richard
Stanley, rh Sir John
Streeter, Gary
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Desmond
Swire, Hugo (E Devon)
Syms, Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, John (Solihull)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Taylor, Dr. Richard (Wyre F)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Thurso, John
Tonge, Dr. Jenny
Trend, Michael
Trimble, rh David
Turner, Andrew (Isle of Wight)
Tyler, Paul (N Cornwall)
Tyrie, Andrew
Viggers, Peter
Walter, Robert
Waterson, Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Webb, Steve (Northavon)
Widdecombe, rh Miss Ann
Wiggin, Bill
Wilkinson, John
Willetts, David
Williams, Roger (Brecon)
Willis, Phil
Wilshire, David
Yeo, Tim (S Suffolk)
Young, rh Sir George
Younger-Ross, Richard

Tellers for the Noes:


Chris Grayling and
Mr. Mark Francois

Question accordingly agreed to.

6 Nov 2002 : Column 367

Lords amendment No. 45, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 6

Treatment: Power Of Entry


Lords amendment: No. 14.

Mr. Morley: I beg to move amendment (a) to the Lords amendment.

6 Nov 2002 : Column 368

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Alan Haselhurst): With this it will be convenient to consider Lords amendments Nos. 15 to 21, 22 and Government amendment (a) thereto, Lords amendments Nos. 23 to 29, 35 and Government amendment (a) thereto, Lords amendments Nos. 36 to 42, 65 and Government amendment (a) thereto and Lords amendments Nos. 66 to 72.

Mr. Morley: The amendments deal with warrant provisions. In the other place, the Government accepted a series of changes to warrant provisions that reflect the concerns expressed about powers of entry under the measure.

We understand that the issue is sensitive and we would not use powers of entry unless there was justification for doing so. The main justification is the need to take swift and rapid action in order to prevent the spread of disease. The provisions were recommended in the independent reports to ensure that the Government can take speedy and effective action on disease control. These provisions cover entry to farms for the purposes of vaccination, slaughter, testing and sampling, and the scrapie provisions of the Bill.

The Government listened carefully to the arguments about the warrant conditions that were made in Committee, on Report and in another place. The Government amendments tabled in another place introduce further safeguards to substantially reinforce the conditions that must be satisfied before any warrant can be granted. Again, that is because we recognise the importance of the issue. Taken as a whole, the changes satisfy the need to ensure that the powers are subject to a rigorous and transparent test of reasonableness and that the overall balance of public interest takes proper account of the private interests and rights of farmers and landowners.

However, the Opposition amendments provide for representations to a magistrate; that would be legally unprecedented and unwelcome, in the sense that it would be difficult to make such a system work. The previous system also led to delays in some circumstances. There are no precedents in legislation for providing a right to make representations during the warrant-issuing process. I want to emphasise that.

If we were to allow representations to the magistrate, there would have to be a reasonable period in which to make them and the opportunity to seek legal advice before making them. That condition would have to be applied. The risk is that we would have further delays if the court then required additional or expert evidence, or if there were an application for legal aid. We cannot delay disease control by several hours, or even days in some cases, while this goes on. That would undermine one of the principles of the Bill. If we are to deal with disease control—whether by culling, vaccination or serology—we must get on with it as quickly and effectively as possible. We will not do that by overriding people's rights, because the occupier does have the right to make representations to the divisional veterinary manager, as we discussed in Committee.

It may be worth noting that the final figures from the 2001 outbreak show that there were a total of 584 appeals against slaughter, of which all but four were dealt with by the local DVM. Of the 584 cases where

6 Nov 2002 : Column 369

animal owners challenged decisions to slaughter livestock, 534 were appealing against contiguous culls. In total, 376 of those appeals were upheld, 336 of which were appeals against contiguous culls.

I mention the figures because there has been a tendency for one or two people to say that appealing to the DVM will not get anyone far, as the DVM is part of the machinery of the process. However, the figures demonstrate that, during the 2001 outbreak, hundreds of people made appeals that were upheld. The request to review a decision to slaughter is an effective mechanism by which farmers are able to challenge such decisions. I recognise that it is not a formal appeal process, but it can lead to people making representations and to the decision being reconsidered. There are hundreds of examples of where that has been the case. I should emphasise, as I did in Committee, that the subsequent right to seek judicial review also remains.

Mr. Heath : The Under-Secretary is just coming to the important point of judicial review. Is not it also correct to say that a farmer could seek an injunction from the High Court for a stay of the operation until such time as the judicial review was held, which could create a much greater delay than the one the hon. Gentleman is trying to avoid by the process that he is describing?

Mr. Morley: That is a possibility, and I shall come to it in a moment. However, the processes are different, and it would be rather extreme to seek injunctions in such cases. It has been argued that the speed of the judicial review process might mean animals being vaccinated, blood-tested or culled. That is true; nevertheless the Department is still subject to that judicial review. That is a serious issue and one that the Department must take into account. We must make sure that whatever we do is proportionate and applied properly. Those legal rights remain. The hon. Gentleman is right in the sense that the Bill does not take away a farmer's right to seek a High Court injunction blocking the warrant. The warrant procedure also has fundamental safeguards built in, and the magistrate must always be satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for an inspector to enter the premises. That issue, too, was discussed in Committee. One cannot just ask for a warrant and expect to get it automatically: one must have a reasonable case to present to the magistrate to be granted that warrant.

Mr. Bacon : It is a relief to hear that the Government are not proposing to abolish judicial review of administrative action. The Under-Secretary described that as rather extreme, and it would be extreme if a farmer had to go to the High Court to get an injunction to stop the action before it had occurred. Is not the whole point of the amendment that simply being able to go before a JP and argue the toss at the time would obviate what he calls extreme?

Mr. Morley: The hon. Gentleman, who knows a thing or two about law, knows well that such duplication of the legal process does not currently exist. It would be unique in law to have such a procedure in front of a JP when seeking a warrant. There is no precedent for that, and it would have implications for the whole question of

6 Nov 2002 : Column 370

issuing warrants. That cannot be conceded, and he will recognise the reasons for that, too. In amending this part of the Bill, we are trying to reassure people that whatever measures are applied in the Bill, it is not just about culling, which people focus on because it is an emotional and important issue; it is about serology, taking samples and vaccination. I am absolutely certain that when applying some of these measures in future disease epidemics, a warrant will have to be sought in some cases to enter people's property to vaccinate and blood-test. I repeat to Members the example of one individual who delayed the lifting of restrictions in a whole region because he would not allow the Department to take blood samples from his goats on the grounds that it would upset them. That had far-reaching detrimental effects on the whole area. We therefore need measures for a range of techniques in terms of disease control, and culling is only one of them.

Andrew George: In that case, surely the Under-Secretary would want to avoid a situation in which a farmer might seek to use a much more lengthy legal process to delay the matter further. Given that he says that a reasonable case would need to be made to a magistrate, does he accept that the point of the original Lords amendment was that that reasonable case need not be one-sided, and that the facts about the farm from the farmer's perspective should be put to the magistrate, too?

Mr. Morley: The hon. Gentleman has returned to the problem that, if there is to be such a process, the Department may want its lawyers and vets to make a case, but the farmer may want to make his case, take legal advice, consult on his legal advice, and apply for legal aid. The delays would therefore go on and on. We need to avoid that while taking into account the issue of people's rights. That is what we are trying to do with the measure, as we have made significant changes during the passage of the Bill to take into account the concerns that people have raised. I appreciate that going for a High Court injunction could also cause a delay, but that is a much bigger step than going to the High Court, and I doubt whether many people would want to do that. It does not take away people's rights, however, which we cannot do in relation to seeking such an injunction—that right is not removed. We are trying to give people the right to appeal to DVMs, who know the local area and the local circumstances, and who, as I demonstrated, upheld the cases of hundreds of people who made representations to them during the last outbreak, all around the country. The system acknowledges that when a case needs to be taken into account and investigated, the DVM is prepared to do that.

8.45 pm

I also emphasise that the Joint Committee on Human Rights reported that the procedure for making representations to the DVM and with regard to existing legal rights is fair and does not contravene human rights. It stated that


    "the provisions of the Bill are in principle unlikely to be incompatible with either the right in national law under ECHR Article 6(1) to a fair hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal in the determination of civil rights and obligations, or the

6 Nov 2002 : Column 371

    right in international law to an effective remedy before a national authority for violations of Convention rights under ECHR Article 13."

That is unequivocal guidance. It is clear that the measures are considered fair and proportionate.

The provision for farmers to make representations to magistrates as part of the warrant process would be unprecedented. Hon. Members might recall that that was raised in Committee. I was not sure whether the procedure could be supported. However, after receiving proper legal advice and consulting other Departments, it is clear that the process would be unprecedented and make a fundamental change to the nature of warrant provisions.

Andrew George: On a technical matter, can the Minister clarify how the new procedure will work if the Government amendment is accepted? Will the farmer have a right to appeal to the DVM after a warrant has been granted?

Mr. Morley: That is an interesting point. It might be a bit late to appeal to a DVM after a warrant is issued. We want to ensure that farmers are aware of the provision and understand how to make representations to the DVM. That is dealt with in the slaughter protocol. I promised that we would include clear guidance on the procedures to be followed when culling policies are applied so that farmers are aware of their right to make representations to the DVM, so I can reassure the hon. Gentleman on that.

Mrs. Browning : The Minister will recall that in Committee I raised the legal basis on which he was introducing the Bill and suggested that it might be subject to legal challenge. I hear what he said about having taken legal advice. He will know that such things are ultimately challenged in the court, which ends up the determinant in such matters. However, I am glad that he took further legal advice and hope he understands the underlying concern—the gravity—with which people view the powers that he is taking to himself.

Mr. Morley: I understand that, but the way in which the powers will be exercised has been exaggerated. People have ignored the fact that a Minister will have to apply a power proportionately and responsibly. It is not possible simply to go and ask for a warrant; it is necessary to make the case and demonstrate why a warrant to go on someone's property is needed. The Department would not take the decision to apply for a warrant lightly and I am sure no magistrate would take the decision to grant a warrant lightly.

Mr. Heath: I am grateful to the Minister for giving way; he is being patient with us as we try to understand the process. Having heard representations from a farmer, would the DVM be required to provide that information to the magistrate when seeking a warrant and proving the correctness or otherwise of an application? That would allow the magistrate to be in possession of information from people on both sides of the case when he makes an assessment. A response to that would help enormously in ascertaining whether the process is satisfactory.

Mr. Morley: On the detailed questions, the hon. Gentleman will appreciate that I am not a lawyer and I

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am careful not to offend lawyers—it can be an expensive business. People will have the right to make representations to the DVM. It would not be unreasonable for the magistrate to ask whether the farmer's representations had been taken into account. The magistrate would have the right to ask that. Of course, we are making sure that people are aware of their rights. It is entirely up to individuals whether they avail themselves of the right to appeal to the DVM, but it is a provision. As I outlined to the House, many hundreds of farmers did so and the DVM recognised and conceded the cases of many hundreds of farmers, which demonstrates that the system works and that, if people have a reasonable case, the DVM will take note of it and respond—the evidence is there for all to see.

Mrs. Browning: May I put to the Minister a case that was common during the foot and mouth outbreak? It concerns farms that were in a contiguous area and were due to be culled out, but the cull did not take place immediately. He kindly saw me about two farms in my constituency. In those cases, we had reached day 19 before they received notification that they were going to be culled out. Surely, it must be obvious to the DVM that that is unreasonable. As it happens, the four farms in my patch that fell into that category are still alive and doing well. However, when that sort of thing happens, unless a Member of Parliament or some other such person intervenes, orders can be executed in an unreasonable time frame.

Mr. Morley: That is not an unreasonable point. However, we are talking retrospectively about something that happened at the height of an epidemic, when there was a real need to get to grips with the situation and people were under enormous pressure. We have learnt a lot of lessons from the epidemic. It would be very irresponsible of us had we not learnt them and had we not recognised that there were things that we could do better. That is why the protocols that have been agreed give clear guidance, for example, to the DVM on dealing with contiguous culls and on how the guidance should be applied.

Indeed, there is an argument for taking local conditions into account and for more flexibility. Those are some of the issues that people have put to us and we are not unsympathetic to them.I believe that we have responded in the Bill and, in particular, in putting in place the protocols, which are also published. People can see the sort of guidelines and procedures that our DVMs and vets have to follow.

Ms Joan Walley (Stoke-on-Trent, North): In view of what my hon. Friend the Minister has just said about the protocols that are now in place and the lessons that the Government are learning, is he convinced that the Government now have the balance right? The introduction of SI 843, Animal Health, England, which applied to BSE, caused some alarm because of provisions on forced entry—indeed, my constituent Mrs. Jones shared that concern. Does he think that there are now safeguards and that people need not be concerned about that power of entry in view of the raft of measures that we are introducing?

Mr. Morley: Absolutely. My hon. Friend is referring to the statutory instrument dealing with the TSE

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regulations, which we debated in Committee and which was carried with no opposition. I made it clear to the Committee that there had been an enormous amount of disinformation as regards that regulation, which has somehow got tied up with the measures in the Bill. The TSE regulations deal with BSE and TSE. There are no entry powers within that regulation. It deals with BSE and cohort cases—if a cow goes down with BSE, the cohort is slaughtered to safeguard public health.

One of the more incredible allegations was that the TSE order had been sneaked in by the back door, despite the fact that we consulted nearly 1,000 organisations about it, none of which expressed any concern. That shows that even well-meaning people can sometimes get carried away with the wrong interpretation of the Government's actions and intentions. I hope that I can reassure my hon. Friend and that she can reassure her constituent. I have answered one or two letters on the matter, and have made it clear that people have been misled. I am sure that that is true in the case of my hon. Friend's constituent.

Mr. Bacon: Will the Minister confirm that the amendment requiring warrants to be executed only at a reasonable hour unless the inspector thinks that the case is urgent is the result of an amendment tabled by the Government? If so, does the Minister accept that no one would expect such a condition to apply to a warrant for a drugs bust, when one would not want to give advance notice to drug dealers? His earlier argument that the amendment fundamentally undermines the nature of warrant issue is therefore flawed.

Mr. Morley: The hon. Gentleman's example is very different from the warrants under discussion. We are not dealing with criminals. We are trying to deal reasonably with people. The amendment was a Government amendment, tabled in the light of representations that we received in Committee and in the other place. It is a genuine attempt to allay people's concerns. We understand that if we are taking powers to go on to someone's property in order to carry out disease control measures, whatever they are—not necessarily culling—people need to be reassured that they would be used only if it were absolutely necessary, and that they would be applied in a proportionate and reasonable way. That is what we are trying to do.

Mr. Bacon: Of course I realise that we are not dealing with criminals; that was precisely my point. The Minister, if I understood him correctly, was arguing that we could not accept the amendment because it would set a precedent and would have far-reaching implications for the issue of warrants. I was arguing that it was surely possible to distinguish between different kinds of warrants issued for different reasons, so there is no reason not to accept the amendment.

Mr. Morley: I repeat that I am not a legal expert, but from my knowledge of warrants I know that they are issued in different ways for different circumstances. What is proposed in this case is a fundamental difference—an unprecedented change in the way in which warrants are issued. It suggests that the farmer and DEFRA officials can stand in front of a magistrate

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and almost have a mini court scene. If there is to be such a facility, people must be given reasonable time to prepare, to make applications for legal aid, and all the various aspects of representation, which is unprecedented—[Interruption.]

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.

Mr. Morley: That can be done by a High Court judge, but it is a completely separate matter from the issue of a warrant by a magistrate. The hon. Gentleman, who is familiar with legal procedures, knows that to be true. If the positions were reversed, I do not believe that he would want to change fundamentally the precedents and the entire procedure for the issue of magistrates warrants. That is why we must reverse the amendments.

There are amendments with which we do not disagree. Amendments Nos. 15,25, 38 and 68 expressly permit an inspector to take on to premises equipment that he or she requires. It may be presumed that an inspector will carry relevant equipment, but there is in theory the potential for disputes over whether an inspector may take equipment on to premises. The amendments are required to avoid any doubt.

We support amendments Nos. 16, 18, 26, 28, 39, 41, 69 and 71. They deal with the requirement to give assistance to officials carrying out functions under the vaccination, slaughter and serology entry provisions, and with the issue of those from whom assistance can be requested. They again reflect concerns expressed by hon. Members. We do not want to make demands in respect of assisting officials that would be unreasonable or go beyond what an individual could be expected to provide. An inspector could not, therefore, make unreasonable demands on people who were not qualified to help, such as children or elderly people.

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We are, however, sympathetic to the suggestion that, for the sake of clarity, the powers should be limited to the occupier of the premises, the keeper of the animals or persons under the control of people in those two categories. In Committee, concerns were expressed about visiting friends or relatives, or people who merely happen to be on the premises and might be dragooned into providing assistance.

We do not have that intention. We are prepared to amend the Bill to make that very clear and to remove the perceived risk of any bystanders or even children being requested or required to assist. Such an amendment also responds to the recommendation of the Joint Committee on Human Rights that, for the sake of clarity, the powers should be explicitly limited to the protection afforded by convention rights and in keeping with it.

Lords amendments Nos. 17, 27, 40 and 70 deal with the requirement to give assistance to officials carrying out functions under the vaccination, slaughter and serology provisions. They are also designed to allay concerns that the requests for reasonable assistance would not involve unreasonable legal demands on people who are not qualified to help.

The purpose of Lords amendments Nos. 19, 29, 42 and 72 is to ensure that, in the event of a warrant being granted, an inspector will serve a copy on the owner of

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the premises or, in their absence, leave a copy in a conspicuous place. That ensures that people are aware that the warrant has been issued. Given the weight of argument about the warrant conditions, we tabled the amendments to introduce more safeguards to ensure that the powers are subject to a rigorous and transparent test of reasonableness and that the overall balance of public interest takes proper account of the private interests and rights of the farmer.

That last comment sums up the Government's approach to dealing with warrants and access. We firmly believe that the disease control measures are necessary. Let me emphasise again that we are not talking only about culling, but about vaccination and serology. The need for speed and very clear measures was recognised in the independent reports, and we are responding to that in the Bill. We are trying to reassure people that the powers would be applied only in a reasonable and proportionate way.

I think that the House will agree that we have moved a long way in the amendments to reflect people's concerns. While we are trying to be as reasonable as we can to ensure the appropriate checks and balances and to be open and transparent, we cannot concede on setting down unprecedented legal changes in relation to the issuing of warrants by magistrates, although we have conceded a number of significant changes to reflect hon. Members' concerns.

Mr. Hayes: The Minister is right to say that the Government have accepted a number of the suggestions made in the other place. They have done so in line with the suggestions made by the Joint Committee on Human Rights. It might be useful for the House to hear what the Committee said:


    "legislation which confers apparently wide powers or imposes apparently wide liabilities should make clear the limitations which are imposed by Convention rights. This is desirable in the interests of legal certainty and the notion of the rule of law, ideas which are central to effective guarantees of human rights."

The Minister has acknowledged that some of the proposals that were made in the Lords amendments were necessary to comply with those demands. Having said that, there is still disagreement between the two Houses over the balance between the rights of the individual, to which the Minister rightly paid attention, and the need to effect the speedy delivery of measures to deal with a crisis such as the one from which we suffered recently.

I will return in a moment to the point made by the hon. Member for Somerton and Frome (Mr. Heath) about the presentation of information to a justice of the peace. Before I do so, I emphasise that, when examining this group of amendments, we must bear it in mind that we are dealing with animals likely to be slaughtered as part of a ring-fenced cull—not with animals already infected in their own right—in circumstances in which a firebreak policy has been adopted around an infected area to protect the health of the wider national animal stock. As Lord Greaves pointed out in the other place, the issues involved in these amendments are pertinent to that point.

The Minister and the whole House will be aware that the tactics relating to such culling caused immense controversy during the foot and mouth epidemic. Much

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of the bitterness that ensued is still felt in many rural communities, and many hon. Members will have farmers in their constituencies who still feel the effects very deeply. Given that, and given that the strategy for dealing with these outbreaks should be based on a partnership approach and on collaboration between the industry and the Government, the issue of warrants seems to be a particularly sensitive one. After all, we are talking about going on to someone's property and slaughtering healthy animals, albeit—arguably—for the necessary purpose of preventing the spread of disease.

The National Farmers Union has commented on this issue. I do not want to become the lackey of the NFU, but it is important that we consider what it has to say. It states that it regrets


    "that the Government has decided to overturn the amendments . . . which provide for farmers to be informed of the reasons for the authorities applying for a warrant to a JP and to have an opportunity to make representations to a JP including the presentation of sworn information."

That point was raised by the hon. Member for Somerton and Frome when he questioned the Minister on the ability of a farmer to make such a representation directly to a justice of the peace. It is a matter of grave concern that a JP could issue a warrant on the basis of information from the Ministry that could not be challenged. If I were the Minister, I would want checks and balances here, because we are all fallible. Those checks and balances are important in regard to the hearing of the cases of people directly affected by the events that I am describing. The amendment would afford protection for individual farmers; but—more subtly, perhaps—it would give some protection to Ministers from their own powers.

Mr. Heath: If a farmer had made representations to the district veterinary manager before a warrant was applied for, there would be a duty on the DVM to share that relevant information with a magistrate—not, as the Minister said, as a result of a request from the magistrate, but as part of his duty to the court. It would be a matter of disclosure.

Mr. Hayes: In respect of the information being provided, that is the nub of the issue. The difference between us and the Government is that we believe that the farmer affected should have a right to present that information in sworn form to a magistrate. The Minister, however, while trying to be helpful, was suggesting that that would probably take place—that local circumstances would probably mean that the magistrate was aware of the information—without guaranteeing a firm and comprehensive right for a farmer to make that information available. Perhaps the Minister will deal with that matter later.

Mrs. Angela Browning (Tiverton and Honiton): There is another aspect. Farmers remain on-farm in the throes of a foot and mouth outbreak, so their ability to make personal representations is limited. They need a third party—either a lawyer or an NFU representative—so the right for information to be put before a magistrate is important, as it would be very unusual for farmers to come off-farm to deliver it in person.

Mr. Hayes: That is right. Farmers, in addition to being physically isolated, would be intimidated,

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bewildered and frightened by such circumstances. Frankly, people who are running a business that is under threat, especially those who live on site, as farmers frequently do, might not be in a position to argue their case as comprehensively or persuasively as they otherwise might. All those considerations reinforce the spirit of partnership that I have recommended in the debate as the prerequisite to an effective national strategy.

That is the core of the issue, which was addressed in the other place by a number of Members, not least my noble Friend Baroness Byford.

Mr. Morley: Before the hon. Gentleman refers to his quote, may I deal with the point made by the hon. Member for Tiverton and Honiton (Mrs. Browning), which, again, is not unreasonable? Sometimes, it is important that people who are worried or under stress or who perhaps feel that they are too shy to make representations have someone to speak on their behalf, but there is no reason why NFU officials, or even a solicitor, could not make a case to the DVM on behalf of a particular farmer. There is nothing to prevent them from doing that, nor would we want to prevent them from doing it. Indeed, we want to encourage the NFU and other farming organisations to have the information to make such cases on behalf of their members if they so choose.

Mr. Hayes: Once again, the Minister is helpful and co-operative, but he has not gone as far as the Lords would ask him to travel. In that respect, the Lords probably have it right and it may be useful to hear some of what they said. In particular, I shall quote the Minister's noble Friend Baroness Mallalieu, who speaks not only with legal training and expertise, but with a keen interest in and knowledge of countryside matters. Before I do so, I want to refer to the remarks of my noble Friend Baroness Byford.

It is perhaps worth adding that my noble Friend has played an essential role in improving the Bill. The Minister, with his usual grace, will want to acknowledge that a bad Bill has been made better by the work done in the Lords, particularly by Conservative and, though it pains me to say it, Liberal Democrat Members of that House. In the words of Baroness Byford, they have made a bad Bill a better bad Bill. In a number of respects, she played a crucial role in that process. She said that it is surely reasonable that the magistrate should be satisfied that, in the first place, no one is challenging the interpretation that has been put to him by the Ministry, adding:


    "How can he balance the inspector's view against that of the owner of the premises that the inspector requires access if he has not heard the other side?"—[Official Report, House of Lords, 4 November 2002; Vol. 640, c. 499-500.]

That is a fair point, which was reinforced by a number of speakers in the Lords, not least Baroness Mallalieu. I hope that I may beg the House's indulgence and quote her at length, as she summed up the whole matter:


    "One of the lasting legacies of the foot and mouth outbreak, which has led to continuing resentment, was the sense of powerlessness in the face of the authorities on the part of those faced with people attempting to get into their premises to slaughter their stock.


    I accept that a balance has to be struck between the need to control disease urgently and the rights of the owners of animals—the landowners and farmers. I appreciate that the paramount

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    consideration in the Minister's mind—stung as he and his colleagues were by criticisms of their department—is that they should have the powers to act as swiftly as possible.

We are not talking about diseased animals, however. We are talking about healthy animals that would be part of a ring-fence, firebreak approach to try to stop the spread of disease.

9.15 pm

Lady Mallalieu said that once the application had been made, the farmer should be given a chance to be heard. She summarised her argument thus:


    "But surely, if you are going to destroy someone's healthy stock, which is the proposal here, you must give that person the opportunity to be heard at an early stage of the warrant." —[Official Report, House of Lords, 22 October 2002; Vol. 639, c. 1304.]

We have heard from the Minister that there is the option of judicial review, and that of course exists; but, as a number of their lordships pointed out, the stock would be dead. The satisfaction of knowing that the due legal process had been followed would be of little use to those wanting to salvage their livelihoods or to deal with the immediate problem of someone going on to their land. I feel that immediacy is important in terms of access to a fair hearing and the due process of law.

I mentioned the United States national animal health emergency system, the US equivalent of our emerging national contingency plan. As I said, it is based on the collaborative approach that I believe is essential if we are to achieve the objectives that are shared by the two Houses and the two sides of this Chamber. The action guidelines at the heart of the US plan include strengthening partnerships and networks, reinforcing federal, state and industry co-ordination, expanding training, education and public awareness and a strong emphasis on co-operation between industry and every level of government. That is why the issue of warrants is so salient. They are not just important in themselves; they are important because they symbolise an attitude and a balance.

The real differences exist between a Government who, understandably, want legislation that delivers immediacy, effectiveness and a degree of predictability and control and an Opposition who, I suspect, want more flexibility. Flexibility is important. If we have learned anything from the dreadful business of 2001, we have learned that the disease strikes unexpectedly, progresses in a way that is hard to predict, changes its form and is dynamic; and that a new outbreak of this disease—or another disease entirely—would be just as unpredictable. Of course the contingency plan must take account of some factors of which we can be reasonably certain, but it must be flexible enough to allow Ministers, officials and all the proper agencies to react in a way that is appropriate to local conditions and circumstances that are particular to a disease at a certain point.

Another difference between us relates to the balance between the rights and responsibilities of farmers and owners and the power of Government to deal with the disease. There must, of course, be a balance between those two imperatives, but the Opposition believe that rights are of paramount importance in the context of reassuring the industry about the need to adopt many of

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the necessary measures that are in the Bill and will be included in the national plan. Unless we have the necessary confidence and raise the morale of the industry, we will not have an easy passage in adopting and implementing some of the necessary changes on which I think we mostly agree.

Those are the two salient differences between what was said in the other place and what the Minister is now saying and between what the Opposition believe and what the Government advocate. Warrants are at the very heart of that difference. For those reasons, it will be necessary for Opposition Members to oppose the Government's position and support that adopted by the other place.

Andrew George: I agree with the hon. Member for South Holland and The Deepings (Mr. Hayes) that it is regrettable that the Government have taken this view. I shall concentrate on the Government amendments that seek to delete those essential lines from the warrant amendments. Since the hon. Gentleman referred to co-operation between constructive Opposition parties, it is worth noting that the amendments were tabled by my noble Friends in another place. They provide for farmers to be informed of the reasons for the authorities applying to a magistrate for a warrant to enter premises and to have the opportunity to make representations to that magistrate, including the presentation of sworn information. The provisions are relatively straightforward.

Part of the Minister's attempted justification for deleting those essential lines was, predictably, that the provision would produce unwanted delays in a process that requires speed. I shall return to that in a moment. His other main argument against it was that these measures, if they were allowed to remain in the Bill, would be unprecedented in the warrant-making process. The Minister needs to understand that this is not just about entry to premises; it is also about the destruction of the content of those premises.

The hon. Member for South Norfolk (Mr. Bacon) made some rather telling legal points. I do not have a legal mind, but it is clear to me that not all new law has a precedent. Many new initiatives would never happen if we said that we could not do something because it had never been done before. One example is the Government handing over to the Bank of England the power to set interest rates. They did not refrain from doing that because it was unprecedented. The argument that anything that is unprecedented must not be done is fallacious and does not stand up to scrutiny.

The Minister was aware of the amendment and had the opportunity to look at it in one of two ways. If he were genuinely concerned about the delay rather than the macho concern about the Bill being changed too much, he could have taken the view that it should be amended by the addition of two further clauses to clarify the time limits within which representations should be made, for example, rather than attempting to delete the essential provisions that give farmers a justifiable right to make representations in order to ensure that the magistrate hears both sides of the argument. Fundamentally it is all about ensuring that the magistrate, having been presented with the arguments,

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understands all the factors that pertain in the case of a particular holding. We believe that the principle is very important, and that the amendment should have been accepted.

The Minister made the predictable point that the provision would result in delay, but much of the evidence shows that, had it been available at the time of the outbreak, the process might have been speeded up. Opposition to entry for initial testing is far less likely, and even less so if vaccination to live were the Government's preferred policy. Farmers would certainly be reassured. Delays in dealing with the crisis last year had far less to do with farm owners appealing against decisions, and more to do with operational incompetence.

Evidence presented by the National Audit Office in its June 2002 report makes no reference to farmers holding up the system. The report states:


    "The three main factors contributing to delays in slaughter were: shortages of resources: vets, valuemen, slaughtermen and equipment . . . Inspection and diagnosis protocols: Occasional delays may have occurred when laboratory results for the initial antigen test were inconclusive. There was also initially a requirement that during a report visit the Department's vet should check all livestock before carrying out a detailed clinical examination of the affected animal(s). In addition, at the beginning of the outbreak, vets were not permitted to undertake another visit within five days of visiting an infected premises. This constraint was addressed on 10 March 2001."

There were also logistical factors:


    "the time needed to round up large flocks of sheep and inefficient early arrangements to ensure the co-ordinated arrival of valuers, slaughtermen and disposal teams."

Those were the factors—not farmers making clear objections to entry on to their farms.

Farmers were prepared to work with the Government, rather than refuse permission to enter their farms. The report continues:


    "Some farmers challenged the contiguous cull: This took the form, on occasions, of refusing access to premises, which sometimes forced the Department to take out a High Court injunction. More commonly, farmers formally requested the Department to reconsider its decision to cull while there were also some challenges in court."

The Minister does not properly understand the point that was well made by the hon. Member for South Holland and the Deepings: one lesson that we must learn from the last outbreak is the need properly to re-establish trust between the Government and the industry. Page 37 of the Anderson report states:


    "Contingency planning is not just producing a written document. Rather, it is about putting in place the systems, processes and culture to respond effectively to crises. Above all, it about a shared sense of ownership and purpose across the relevant stakeholder community."

It is important that that principle be carried through by ensuring that, in cases where a warrant is secured, farmers have a right to respond.

Fundamentally, given that the Minister agreed in Committee that entry to premises to slaughter animals was different from other situations where the power to enter was sought and that, ideally, farmers should have the kind of rights contained in the amendments tabled by the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords, I urge him to reconsider his position and accept that the change that we propose, even if unprecedented, is an acceptable and progressive measure, which the House should support.

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9.30 pm

Mr. Bacon: I particularly agreed with the hon. Member for St. Ives (Andrew George) about one of the first points he made—the suggestion that nothing should be done because doing something would create a precedent. Of course it is true that everything is unprecedented until it is done for the first time. That seemed a curious argument to come from a new Labour Minister. The hon. Gentleman speculated that I did not want to effect such a fundamental change, but I have news for him: I came into the House precisely to effect fundamental change, and one day Conservative Members will have the opportunity to do precisely that. I shall remind him that I said that; I am very assiduous in keeping quotes, as he knows.

To understand this business about warrants and entry, it is important to go back to the fundamental basis of the Bill. I was rudely interrupted by the rules of the House on this point when I was the last hon. Member to speak on Third Reading and had to confine my remarks to the remaining one minute and 45 seconds. We have to reflect on the fact that the Government introduced the Bill because, during the foot and mouth crisis, they killed millions of healthy animals that they had no legal right to kill and no scientific basis for killing.

Paragraph 3(1) of schedule 3 to the Animal Health Act 1981—the relevant provision that refers to the Minister's powers to kill animals—states:


    "The Minister may, if he thinks fits, in any case cause to be slaughtered . . . any animals affected with foot-and-mouth disease, or suspected of being so affected; and . . . any animals which are or have been in the same field, shed, or other place, or in the same herd or flock, or other in contact with animals affected with foot-and-mouth disease, or which appear to the Minister to have been in any way exposed to the infection of foot-and-mouth disease."

In other words, the Minister had to have some grounds for thinking that the animals were infected before he could kill them. He had no basis in statute law for exercising the slaughter. We have to ask, therefore, whether any basis had developed in case law to undertake the cull. The answer is that, no, there was not.

I commend to the House an excellent speech made by Lord— Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. The question that the hon. Gentleman should ask himself is about the warrant conditions. His remarks so far indicate that he is going wider than the ambit of Lords Amendment No. 14.

Mr. Bacon: I respect what you say, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but if you will bear with me very briefly, I hope to show that these matters are intimately related because they go back to the non-existent trust between farmers and the Government. That lack of trust causes the power of entry that the Minister seeks to cause so much suspicion among farmers.

The fact is that there was no statutory basis for the cull; neither was there a basis in case law. Lord Willoughby de Broke referred to three relevant cases. The Government won the first two—that of Westerhall Farms v. Scottish Ministers and MAFF v. Winslade—but, crucially, not all the required scientific information was available to the courts. However, the Government lost the first case based on correct science—MAFF v. Upton—in which all the scientific information available to the Department was available to the court.

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In his speech, Lord Willoughby de Broke said that, if the Minister was looking for a bedrock case for or against the continuous cull, he could find it in the Upton case. In that case, Dr. Donaldson's scientific evidence was produced by the defending solicitors and won the day for the defendants.

Mr. Hayes: Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Bacon: Of course.

Mr. Hayes: I am grateful to my hon. Friend. I imagine that he is making the case—and he is doing it very well—that there is an intimate relationship between the lack of trust that farmers feel for the action taken by the Government in culling healthy animals and the Government's proposals for warrants and entry conditions. My hon. Friend suggests that farmers will mistrust the warrants in the form that the Government propose. The Lords tried to amend the warrants, but the Government clearly do not want to accept those amendments.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. I am sure that the hon. Member for South Holland and The Deepings (Mr. Hayes) has provided an escape route, and I hope that the hon. Member for South Norfolk (Mr. Bacon) will take it. He has to be concise when he puts his argument, or he will be ignoring the ruling that I gave earlier.

Mr. Bacon: I am utterly serious when I say that I am not looking for an escape route, as my hon. Friend the Member for South Holland and The Deepings (Mr. Hayes) has precisely enunciated the argument that I wanted to make. The Government forfeited farmers' trust because MAFF officials went to farms and slaughtered healthy animals even though their actions had no basis in statute, case law or science.

Various hon. Members have noted the importance of farmers being represented in a warrant hearing, and one might be able to give the Minister's case more credence were it not for the experience of what happened. Farmers generally have no trust in the Minister's proposals because of the way in the which the Government acted during the crisis. That was precisely the point that I was in the process of making. In his speech, Lord Willoughby de Broke asked why the Ministry never fought a case for an injunction to enable a contiguous cull to proceed after the decision in the Upton case was given. The reason was that the Ministry knew that it had been proceeding on a wholly inadequate basis.

That is the context for our consideration of the proposal that there should be no right in advance of slaughter for a farmer to go before a justice of the peace and contest a warrant.

Mr. Wiggin: Earlier, the Minister commented on the number of cases that the DVM upheld. That gave me cause for concern, as farmers are worried about whether warrants will arrive before or after animals are culled. I hope that the Minister, when he closes the debate, will say whether the cases to which he did not draw attention were also relevant. Does my hon. Friend think that

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farmers' human rights may be infringed by the proposal? Farmers who go to court must have a reason for doing so, and it is not fair to proceed without them.

Mr. Bacon: My hon. Friend makes a good point. The Government have had the grace to admit that they cannot abolish judicial review for administrative action, but their proposals seem to mean that big-ticket farmers with deep wallets and access to big lawyers can go straight to the High Court to secure an injunction. The Minister will be able to do nothing about that, as people have a legal right to obtain injunctions. Hundreds of people got satisfaction from the DVM, but that does not alter the fact that MAFF, as the Department then was, exceeded its powers and acted in excess of what a court would have considered reasonable. They may have been a minority, but many people were involved in such cases, which have been the subject of much comment and which have caused a great deal of mistrust.

Our courts are too full already, and we do not want them to become any more clogged up, but farmers should not have to have deep wallets so that they can take out a High Court injunction. Farmers should be able, in a simple and short procedure, to go before the magistrate when the warrant is being applied for and make their case. As I said to the Minister earlier, one could believe this to be a heinous alteration to the way in which warrants were issued if one were talking about big criminals. We would not want to give drugs dealers the right to contest a warrant—[Interruption]—well, the law could be changed. We do not want to give big drugs dealers the right to contest the warrant before a judge. If they knew that there was about to be a drugs bust, they would be long gone. As the Minister said, we are not talking about big criminals.

Mr. Wiggin: One of the problems throughout the debate is that it seems as though the Government are always blaming the farmers for the entire foot and mouth crisis. My hon. Friend's point emphasises once again that it is difficult, when discussing this, to distinguish between proper criminals who deal in drugs and people who are desperately trying to eke out a living farming livestock without having their stock slaughtered.

Mr. Bacon: Whether they meant it or not—and I am willing to accept that that at the highest levels of MAFF they did not mean it—the Government's actions made many law-abiding people feel criminal, when they were struggling to keep themselves afloat and seeing their farm income dropping through the floor.

In conclusion, the Government's basis for the slaughter was illegal and scientifically flawed. The basis of the Bill is to repair that deficit but in the context of the lack of trust created by the Government through their own actions, it is entirely reasonable to expect a farmer to be able to contest a warrant.

Mr. Morley: With the leave of the House, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I should like to say a few words about some of the points that have been made.

I recognise that this is an important aspect of the Bill. I repeat that the Government are trying to be reasonable and proportionate. We want to reassure people and

6 Nov 2002 : Column 384

ensure that these measures are used only when necessary. We want to ensure that there is a right of representation to the DVM and that farmers are aware of that right. Indeed, we have no objection to people making representations on their behalf. We have accepted other changes, such as retaining warrants for 12 months. Hon. Members have referred to the dating on the warrants and how they would be applied. That is in reflection of legitimate cases.

I am very aware of the United States system to which the hon. Member for South Holland and The Deepings (Mr. Hayes) referred. Indeed, aspects of that system are being built into some of our responsibilities. The hon. Gentleman and I seem to be talking different languages, but I agree with him about the need for maximum flexibility. The whole point of the Bill is to give our veterinary scientists and divisional managers maximum flexibility in dealing with any future outbreak.

Let me say to the hon. Member for St. Ives (Andrew George)—and I stress again that I am not a legal expert—that I have a distinct feeling that it would be difficult to set time limits for representations if there was a right for individuals to make representations against the issuing of a warrant. I am pretty sure that if the time scale is too short it will be challenged by lawyers who will say that they do not have enough time to make their case. That is inevitable. If the time available is too long, people will simply utilise the maximum time leading to delays and restricting flexibility.

There was a range of reasons for delays during the last epidemic, which we understand. We are trying to address that and we are willing, as I have always been, to consider a range of options in this case. However, I am convinced, because of the advice that I have received from the highest level, that this proposal would set a precedent that we cannot concede in relation to the changes in the issuing of warrants.

Mr. Hayes rose—

Mr. Morley: I cannot give way, I am afraid, because I am about to conclude.

The hon. Member for South Norfolk (Mr. Bacon) seems to have an obsession with claims and conspiracy theories about healthy animals being culled. Many of the animals that were culled were developing the disease. There may well be a case for fire break culls in the future, although it is not my preferred option—I would much rather use vaccination. However, there must be flexibility. We recognise the points about people's trust and concerns. That is why we have made these changes to the Bill, which I hope that right hon. and hon. Members recognise. I hope that they also recognise that although we understand the reasons for the Lords amendments, they go too far in setting an unwelcome precedent that we cannot ignore and cannot accept.

Mr Speaker, pursuant to Order [this day], proceeded to put forthwith the remaining Questions necessary to dispose of the proceedings to be concluded at that hour.

Government amendment (a) to Lords amendment No. 14 agreed to.

Lords amendment No. 14, as amended, agreed to.

6 Nov 2002 : Column 385

Clause 7

Slaughter: Power of Entry


Lords amendment: No. 22, in Page 4, line 33, leave out from beginning to end of line 1 on page 5 and insert—
"(3) The second condition is that each of the following applies to the occupier of the premises —
(a) he has been informed of the decision to seek entry to the premises and of the reasons for that decision;
(b) he has failed to allow entry to the premises on being requested to do so by an inspector;
(c) he has been informed of the decision to apply for the warrant and of the reasons for that decision including a copy of the sworn information;
(d) he has been provided with an opportunity to make representations to the justice of the peace about whether the warrant should be issued;
(e) he has been provided with the opportunity to present sworn information in person or in writing to the justice of the peace who is to consider the application for a warrant."
(4) The third condition is that—
(a) the premises are unoccupied or the occupier is absent and (in either case) notice of intention to apply for the warrant has been left in a conspicuous place on the premises, or
(b) an application for admission to the premises or the giving of notice of intention to apply for the warrant would defeat the object of entering the premises."

Motion made, and Question put, That this House disagrees with the Lords in the said amendment—[Mr. Morley]

The House divided: Ayes 297, Noes 172.

Division No. 358

[9:46 pm


AYES


Abbott, Ms Diane
Adams, Irene (Paisley N)
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Bob (Cov'try NE)
Alexander, Douglas
Allen, Graham
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale & Darwen)
Armstrong, rh Ms Hilary
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, John
Bailey, Adrian
Baird, Vera
Barnes, Harry
Barron, rh Kevin
Battle, John
Bayley, Hugh
Beckett, rh Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Bell, Stuart
Benn, Hilary
Bennett, Andrew
Benton, Joe (Bootle)
Berry, Roger
Best, Harold
Betts, Clive
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Bob
Borrow, David
Bradley, rh Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, Andy
Byers, rh Stephen
Cairns, David
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Caplin, Ivor
Casale, Roger
Caton, Martin
Cawsey, Ian (Brigg)
Challen, Colin
Chaytor, David
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, rh Charles (Norwich S)
Clarke, rh Tom (Coatbridge & Chryston)
Clelland, David
Clwyd, Ann (Cynon V)
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Cohen, Harry
Coleman, Iain
Colman, Tony
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Cook, rh Robin (Livingston)
Cousins, Jim
Cox, Tom (Tooting)
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cummings, John
Cunningham, rh Dr. Jack (Copeland)
Cunningham, Jim (Coventry S)
Cunningham, Tony (Workington)
Curtis-Thomas, Mrs Claire
Darling, rh Alistair
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
David, Wayne
Davidson, Ian
Davies, rh Denzil (Llanelli)
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Dawson, Hilton
Dhanda, Parmjit
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim (Heywood)
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim (Lewisham W)
Drew, David (Stroud)
Drown, Ms Julia
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff (Barnsley E)
Etherington, Bill
Field, rh Frank (Birkenhead)
Fisher, Mark
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul (Newport W)
Follett, Barbara
Foster, rh Derek
Foster, Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings & Rye)
Foulkes, rh George
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gapes, Mike (Ilford S)
Gardiner, Barry
George, rh Bruce (Walsall S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gilroy, Linda
Goggins, Paul
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grogan, John
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, David (Midlothian)
Hanson, David
Harris, Tom (Glasgow Cathcart)
Havard, Dai (Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney)
Healey, John
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hendrick, Mark
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hesford, Stephen
Heyes, David
Hill, Keith (Streatham)
Hinchliffe, David
Hoey, Kate (Vauxhall)
Hoon, rh Geoffrey
Hope, Phil (Corby)
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, rh Alan (Newport E)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N & Sefton E)
Hughes, Beverley (Stretford & Urmston)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hurst, Alan (Braintree)
Hutton, rh John
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Ingram, rh Adam
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Alan (Hull W)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Kevan (N Durham)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Joyce, Eric (Falkirk W)
Keen, Alan (Feltham)
Keen, Ann (Brentford)
Kemp, Fraser
Khabra, Piara S.
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby)
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green & Bow)
Knight, Jim (S Dorset)
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lawrence, Mrs Jackie
Laxton, Bob (Derby N)
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom (High Peak)
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Liddell, rh Mrs Helen
Linton, Martin
Love, Andrew
Lucas, Ian (Wrexham)
Luke, Iain (Dundee E)
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Stephen
McCafferty, Chris
McCartney, rh Ian
McDonagh, Siobhain
MacDonald, Calum
McDonnell, John
MacDougall, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
McNamara, Kevin
McNulty, Tony
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
Mahmood, Khalid
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallaber, Judy
Mandelson, rh Peter
Mann, John (Bassetlaw)
Marris, Rob (Wolverh'ton SW)
Marshall, David (Glasgow Shettleston)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Martlew, Eric
Meale, Alan (Mansfield)
Michael, rh Alun
Milburn, rh Alan
Mole, Chris
Morgan, Julie
Morley, Elliot
Mullin, Chris
Munn, Ms Meg
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Murphy, rh Paul (Torfaen)
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
O'Hara, Edward
Olner, Bill
O'Neill, Martin
Owen, Albert
Perham, Linda
Picking, Anne
Pickthall, Colin
Plaskitt, James
Pond, Chris (Gravesham)
Pope, Greg (Hyndburn)
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prescott, rh John
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Quin, rh Joyce
Quinn, Lawrie
Rammell, Bill
Rapson, Syd (Portsmouth N)
Raynsford, rh Nick
Reed, Andy (Loughborough)
Robertson, John (Glasgow Anniesland)
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Roy, Frank (Motherwell)
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Ms Christine (City of Chester)
Ryan, Joan (Enfield N)
Salter, Martin
Sarwar, Mohammad
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Sheerman, Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Simon, Siôn (B'ham Erdington)
Singh, Marsha
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, rh Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, rh Chris (Islington S & Finsbury)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Soley, Clive
Spellar, rh John
Squire, Rachel
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stewart, David (Inverness E & Lochaber)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Tami, Mark (Alyn)
Taylor, rh Ann (Dewsbury)
Taylor, Dari (Stockton S)
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Thomas, Gareth (Harrow W)
Timms, Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr. Desmond (Brighton Kemptown)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Tynan, Bill (Hamilton S)
Vaz, Keith (Leicester E)
Vis, Dr. Rudi
Walley, Ms Joan
Ward, Claire
Watson, Tom (W Bromwich E)
Watts, David
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, rh Alan (Swansea W)
Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Wood, Mike (Batley)
Woodward, Shaun
Woolas, Phil
Wray, James (Glasgow Baillieston)
Wright, Anthony D. (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, David (Telford)
Wright, Tony (Cannock)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Ayes:


Jim Fitzpatrick and
Gillian Merron


NOES


Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)
Allan, Richard
Amess, David
Arbuthnot, rh James
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Bacon, Richard
Baker, Norman
Baldry, Tony
Barker, Gregory
Baron, John (Billericay)
Barrett, John
Beith, rh A. J.
Bellingham, Henry
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Bottomley, rh Virginia (SW Surrey)
Brady, Graham
Brake, Tom (Carshalton)
Brooke, Mrs Annette L.
Browning, Mrs Angela
Bruce, Malcolm
Burnett, John
Burns, Simon
Burnside, David
Burstow, Paul
Burt, Alistair
Butterfill, John
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Calton, Mrs Patsy
Cameron, David
Campbell, Gregory (E Lond'y)
Carmichael, Alistair
Cash, William
Chapman, Sir Sydney (Chipping Barnet)
Chope, Christopher
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Collins, Tim
Cotter, Brian
Cran, James (Beverley)
Curry, rh David
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davies, Quentin (Grantham & Stamford)
Davis, rh David (Haltemprice & Howden)
Djanogly, Jonathan
Dodds, Nigel
Dorrell, rh Stephen
Doughty, Sue
Duncan, Alan (Rutland)
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Michael
Field, Mark (Cities of London & Westminster)
Flook, Adrian
Forth, rh Eric
Foster, Don (Bath)
Fox, Dr. Liam
Gale, Roger (N Thanet)
George, Andrew (St. Ives)
Gibb, Nick (Bognor Regis)
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Goodman, Paul
Green, Damian (Ashford)
Green, Matthew (Ludlow)
Greenway, John
Grieve, Dominic
Gummer, rh John
Hammond, Philip
Hancock, Mike
Harris, Dr. Evan (Oxford W & Abingdon)
Harvey, Nick
Hayes, John (S Holland)
Heath, David
Heathcoat-Amory, rh David
Hendry, Charles
Hermon, Lady
Hoban, Mark (Fareham)
Hogg, rh Douglas
Horam, John (Orpington)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Jack, rh Michael
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Jenkin, Bernard
Johnson, Boris (Henley)
Keetch, Paul
Kennedy, rh Charles (Ross Skye & Inverness)
Key, Robert (Salisbury)
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Kirkwood, Archy
Knight, rh Greg (E Yorkshire)
Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Lamb, Norman
Lansley, Andrew
Laws, David (Yeovil)
Lewis, Dr. Julian (New Forest E)
Liddell-Grainger, Ian
Lidington, David
Lilley, rh Peter
Llwyd, Elfyn
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter (M-Worcs)
McIntosh, Miss Anne
MacKay, rh Andrew
Maclean, rh David
McLoughlin, Patrick
Maples, John
Maude, rh Francis
Mawhinney, rh Sir Brian
May, Mrs Theresa
Mercer, Patrick
Mitchell, Andrew (Sutton Coldfield)
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Norman, Archie
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Öpik, Lembit
Osborne, George (Tatton)
Ottaway, Richard
Paice, James
Paterson, Owen
Portillo, rh Michael
Price, Adam (E Carmarthen & Dinefwr)
Prisk, Mark (Hertford)
Pugh, Dr. John
Randall, John
Redwood, rh John
Reid, Alan (Argyll & Bute)
Rendel, David
Robathan, Andrew
Robertson, Hugh (Faversham & M-Kent)
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Robinson, Mrs Iris (Strangford)
Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Sanders, Adrian
Sayeed, Jonathan
Selous, Andrew
Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, Keith (M-Norfolk)
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns & Kincardine)
Soames, Nicholas
Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob (Castle Point)
Spring, Richard
Stanley, rh Sir John
Streeter, Gary
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Desmond
Swire, Hugo (E Devon)
Syms, Robert
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Taylor, Dr. Richard (Wyre F)
Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Thurso, John
Tonge, Dr. Jenny
Trend, Michael
Turner, Andrew (Isle of Wight)
Tyler, Paul (N Cornwall)
Tyrie, Andrew
Viggers, Peter
Walter, Robert
Waterson, Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Webb, Steve (Northavon)
Widdecombe, rh Miss Ann
Wiggin, Bill
Wilkinson, John
Willetts, David
Williams, Roger (Brecon)
Willis, Phil
Wilshire, David
Yeo, Tim (S Suffolk)
Young, rh Sir George
Younger-Ross, Richard

Tellers for the Noes:


Chris Grayling and
Mr. Mark Francois

Question accordingly agreed to.

6 Nov 2002 : Column 388

Lords amendment disagreed to.

Government amendment (a) to the words so restored made.

Lords amendment No. 35 and Govt amendment (a) thereto agreed to.

6 Nov 2002 : Column 389

Lords amendments Nos. 15 to 21, 23 to 34 and 36 to 44 agreed to.

Lords amendment: No. 46.

Mr. Morley: I beg to move, That this House agrees with the Lords in the said amendment.

The Government agree that we must take action to minimise the risk of importing animal diseases that have the potential to do serious damage. That is why we are taking action to tackle the problem of illegal imports of meat and meat products, and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State spelt out in some detail the kind of measures that we are taking. The illegal imports action plan covers a wide range of measures. It is expected that future action to combat illegal imports will be informed by the outcome of the assessment of disease risk and a review of how import controls can be better arranged.

In the course of the debate, we have recognised that in relation to reducing disease risk we need to take action on a number of fronts, which we have been discussing in detail, and we recognise that points of entry is one of them. That is why we take the matter seriously and are introducing these measures. In that respect, we agree with the Lords amendment.

Mr. Hayes: I shall speak briefly on this matter, as we wish to move on to others.

The Government have generously and wisely conceded to the demands of the House of Lords in this respect. That is important, as illegal meat imports are a massive problem in this country, which is widely acknowledged in the House and was mentioned earlier when we debated the response to the Anderson inquiry. Indeed, according to the Environment Food and Rural Affairs Committee report published in March 2002, the trade in unfit and illegal meat is the third most lucrative illegal enterprise in this country, netting more than £1 billion worth of trade per year. The primary reason for that is lack of implementation and the wrangling that takes place between a variety of agencies. We were pleased to hear earlier that that will be dealt with by drawing all of these matters under the auspices of Her Majesty's Customs and Excise.

In conclusion, import controls must be an integral part of any disease control strategy. At the moment, it appears to many farmers that the 20-day rule adversely affects their ability to do their business properly and fruitfully. While they are being strangled, however, airports and other points of entry do not have effective checks in place. It is therefore vitally important that we turn our attention to meat imports in a meaningful, properly resourced way.

Mr. Wiggin: We are debating animal health, but I am sure my hon. Friend agrees that we could expose ourselves to diseases such as Ebola if the promises on Customs and Excise are not fulfilled.

Mr. Hayes: My hon. Friend, with his usual perspicacity, makes the point effectively. It is important to realise that it is not simply a case of illegality; there is also the great danger of a public health risk. The Minister and the Secretary of State have acknowledged that. The relevant authorities are going to be brought together to address the problem. We hope that that will

6 Nov 2002 : Column 390

be properly resourced and proper information will be provided. We also hope that the conversion engenders public confidence and the confidence of the industry because such matters need to be taken more seriously, as the Lords made clear.

Andrew George: I, too, congratulate the Government on accepting the amendment tabled by my noble Friend Lord Livsey. They have been receptive to strong arguments. Perhaps there is a lesson to be learned: had the Government pushed the Bill through at the speed they intended, such an important amendment might not have been made. I also congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Brecon and Radnorshire (Mr. Williams) on his ten-minute Bill of a few months ago which would have established the same measure. I congratulate the Government on listening to the arguments and considering the seriousness of the problem. For the reasons set out by hon. Members and in the expansive debate in another place, it is essential that more stringent controlled surveillance and monitoring is put in place.

I have just one point to add. Although I welcome the announcement by the Secretary of State that the measures will come under the overall control of Her Majesty's Customs and Excise, the fact is that the most recent surveys by independent bodies, such as the National Farmers Union survey this summer, show that there is tremendous leakage through airports and ports. It is an extremely serious matter. I hope that the Minister's Department will not wash its hands of the problem and leave it to the Treasury and Her Majesty's Customs and Excise to sort out. The Department needs to be directly engaged to ensure that proper controls are followed through and that every effort is made to stop the illegal trade, which represents a significant bio-security risk.

Mr. Drew: Lest there be no misunderstanding, my hon. Friend the Member for Forest of Dean (Diana Organ) and I tabled the original amendment on imports. I am glad that my hon. Friend has seen the wisdom of agreeing to the measure, albeit a year later. The subject is important. Since the amendment appeared in its original incarnation, the Select Committee report has been published highlighting the need for action.

I have a simple point to make. On bearing down on illegal meat imports and other imports that could damage our food chain, we must remember that it is not the person who brings in such products on a casual basis that causes most concern. Those people who are into the serious trade should worry us most. They might not even use the main points of entry. We need to ensure that policies are in place to deal with them.

I am pleased that the provision has been accepted. I know that discussions took place behind the scenes. I am glad that my hon. Friend has seen fit to do the decent thing and make it clear that the Government are going to deal with such issues. We need to tackle the hard edge of the problem. Those people on the soft edge act more in error than anything else. We can do more at the ports, but we need to get hold of the people who are importing such products as part of a serious and growing trade because they threaten our food trade now and in the future.

6 Nov 2002 : Column 391

Mrs. Browning: The hon. Members for Stroud (Mr. Drew) and for Forest of Dean (Diana Organ) will recall that my colleagues and I voted for the hon. Gentleman's amendment in Committee, by which time he had withdrawn it, or voted against it. Indeed, the Minister dismissed all attempts in Committee at amendments to improve and strengthen important controls. In fact, I am not sure that the hon. Gentleman accepted any amendments to the Bill in this place.

I remind Ministers that my hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Lidington) pointed out to them in recent weeks some of the plans and preparations that have been put in place by some of our European partners since the outbreak of foot and mouth in the United Kingdom last year. I am a little disappointed, therefore, despite the welcome announcement by the Secretary of State today of the ban on personal meat imports and the hon. Gentleman's promise to review annually the way in which controls are being put into place. This is not rocket science—I suspect that much of it has to do with the political will to get the resources from the Treasury to put in place effective import controls.

If the Minister travels to Dublin, as my hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury and I did during the summer recess, he will find that Dublin airport has put in place amnesty bins since the outbreak, and the Irish had only one case of foot and mouth at the same time as us. I tabled a written question to the Minister on amnesty bins only last week. Today, I received the reply that he and his hon. Friends are "consulting". An amnesty bin is not rocket science and it does not need masses of consultation. If the Irish Government have managed to put them in place, why have we not managed to do it?

Mr. Morley: Will the hon. Lady give way?

Mrs. Browning: I will finish my questions, as the Minister may wish to deal with them together.

When one gets off the plane in Dublin, one is immediately struck by the bold notices—not some little thing around the carousel—that invite people who have recently been on a farm to go to a centre where they can decontaminate their shoes and so forth. The Irish Government have set up their own office in Dublin airport since foot and mouth last year, so that they have veterinary officials on site to deal with any problems.

The tardiness of our Government when other countries have clearly had the will to put measures in place, does not commend the measures that the Minister has announced, on which he says that he will report annually. He should get those measures in place. That is the priority. We will look forward to the annual reports, but this Government have a track record of producing reports on just about everything, full of spin, and it is the substance that we want—it is the beef. I will give way to the hon. Gentleman now, if he still wishes to intervene.

Mr. Morley indicated dissent.

Mrs. Browning: I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman is going to pass on that offer.

6 Nov 2002 : Column 392

The Government have an important part to play. They have chided the farming community and legislated to ensure that it plays its part. We now want to see some substance, not just reports.

Adam Price : I, too, congratulate the Government on accepting the amendment. As the hon. Member for Tiverton and Honiton (Mrs. Browning) said, the issue is vitally important. At the very least, the report will maintain a focus on the issue.

The Government have shown some complacency and laxity on the subject of illegal meat imports, which contrasts with their initiatives on controls on domestic farmers. We welcome the action plan, but a few posters and two trained sniffer dogs at Heathrow airport will not be enough to get to grips with this vitally important problem. Let us contrast that with the actions of the Irish Government and with other Governments throughout the world, for example, Canada, Australia and the United States, where the issue has been on the agenda for many decades.

We know to our cost the consequences of complacency on this issue.

10.15 pm

In evidence presented to the European Parliament inquiry on foot and mouth, Clive Lawrence, the chief executive of the Heathrow-based freight company Ciel Logistics, said that he notified the Government in a letter to the then Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food of the dangers posed by illegal meat imports to animal and human health, including the risk of foot and mouth. The letter was dated 10 May 2000, more than six months before the foot and mouth outbreak. We cannot afford such complacency from this Government or any other again. Clearly, there are issues of resources and lessons that can be drawn right across the world. At least the report will allow us, we hope, to assess the effectiveness of the measures that the Government have put in place already, and to develop a new policy dynamic whereby we can address the issues.

As has been said, meat smuggling is an extremely lucrative trade, with almost zero risk, compared with other forms of smuggling, and with a very high return. Some of the measures suggested, such as on-the-spot fines, will not get to grips with highly organised criminal gangs. Of course, couriers often have no money. We need the report, which it will allow us to probe the effectiveness of the Government's plans. The UK remains heavily exposed to imports from regions where animal diseases, including foot and mouth, are endemic. I hope that the Government's acceptance of the amendment is a signal that, for the first time, they intend to take the matter of illegal meat imports seriously, so that we can have some confidence about food security and the future of farming in this country.

Mr. Bacon: I welcome the fact that the Government have accepted the amendment, but I hope that the Minister will acknowledge that, as my hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton and Honiton (Mrs. Browning) said, the preparation of an annual report is not the whole story, and that just as we were right last year about the need for a report, we are also correct about the need for tougher action.

6 Nov 2002 : Column 393

I spent several hours yesterday with Customs and Excise at Dover. I wish that the Minister would go there and see for himself, spend a little time at the nation's airports, and understand that we are not making these arguments trivially or lightly. We all welcome the steps that have been taken and the publicity campaign, but more needs to be done.

I shall make one other point, concerning the nature of open government. The Government's decision to accept the amendment and allow a report to Parliament once a year is indicative of a wider spread of information, which we must welcome. The Drummond report was not published, but was available to the Ministry in January 1999, and set out in brutal detail the Government's unpreparedness. A presentation to the state veterinary service national management meeting on 5 December 2000, dealing with the control of pigs, stated:


    "Never look on the bright side in a notifiable disease emergency! Always assume that the worst will happen and then you are pleasantly surprised if it doesn't."

If those warnings had been available not just to departmental civil servants, but publicly, it is difficult to believe that the Government would not have been better prepared when foot and mouth hit in February last year. More information is essential.

Mr. Morley: I welcome the fact that most hon. Members who have spoken recognise that the Government have accepted the amendment, which follows on from a commitment that I gave in Committee, after representations from my hon. Friends the Members for Stroud (Mr. Drew) and for Forest of Dean (Diana Organ), that the matter was certainly worth further consideration , and that we would return to it. That commitment has been honoured.

I understand the points made by the hon. Members for South Holland and The Deepings (Mr. Hayes), for Tiverton and Honiton (Mrs. Browning), and for St. Ives (Andrew George), my hon. Friend the Member for Stroud, and the hon. Members for East Carmarthen and Dinefwr (Adam Price) and for South Norfolk (Mr. Bacon). I can tell the hon. Member for South Norfolk that I spend a great deal of time hanging around airports, sometimes longer than I would like, and of course I look at what we are doing in this country and what is being done in other countries.

Hon. Members should understand that there are issues of risk assessment involved. We could spend a large amount of resources and study what other countries are doing, but sometimes it is more a matter of image and perception—I do not underestimate the importance of the message that we give people—than of being effective. Resources can sometimes be allocated in ways that do not achieve maximum effectiveness, which is why we have commissioned an independent study by the Veterinary Laboratories Agency to identify the biggest risks. It may well be that the biggest risks are in large-scale illegal meat smuggling. We have seized shipments and imprisoned people involved in meat smuggling. I think that that is the first time that people have been imprisoned for such an offence. We take firm action in enforcing the law.

Furthermore, a lot of the work that we are doing and which the Secretary of State mentioned is not properly seen by people in our country. We assess where risk is

6 Nov 2002 : Column 394

located. For example, when people in high-risk countries apply for visas to visit our country, they receive a leaflet explaining the risks and the UK measures and regulations by which they must abide. That has been backed up by videos provided by air companies with our co-operation, as well as information leaflets and posters and a range of work, and not least the increased powers for enforcement and inspection and the streamlining of the inspection through Customs and Excise so as to involve one point of contact. I appreciate the broad welcome that those announcements have received in the House.

We take these issues seriously and I welcome the annual assessment, as it is important that we consider the progress that is made. Hon. Members should understand, however, that we also have to put risks in perspective. Border entry posts are important, but they are but one of a range of issues relating to minimising disease risks. However, we take all the issues seriously and we will take action where it is needed.

Lords amendment agreed to.

Lords amendment: No. 47.

Mr. Morley: I beg to move Government amendment (a) to the Lords amendment, leave out lines 12 to 29.

We are not disagreeing with the argument that there is a need for effective contingency planning. We have no argument with that. Indeed, the 2001 epidemic demonstrated very early on that the contingency plans that we had in place were clearly inadequate for dealing with an epidemic of that scale and type. We freely acknowledge that. Our experience in that epidemic has resulted in the rewriting of contingency plans by every country, as it is recognised that a complete rethink is required in organisational terms and in the way in which the matter is addressed.

The main purpose of the provision as it was originally drafted was to provide an assurance that the Government are serious about being prepared for any possible future outbreak of FMD. We recognise that various inquiry reports have highlighted that good contingency planning and better preparedness are crucial at the outset of any future disease outbreak. That is why we have taken immediate action to update our interim contingency arrangements for FMD and why we have updated them again in the light of the Government's response to the two independent reports. We want to develop the arrangements further in consultation with the industry, stakeholders and interested parties to address the wide range of issues thrown up in 2001.

As policies develop, the plans will be reviewed and amended accordingly. We do not want the documents merely to assume that once we have put in place a contingency plan, it will be permanent and will cover all the points raised. Even if people have signed up to such a plan, we do not accept that that is enough, and we recognise that any contingency plan will have to be periodically reviewed to ensure that it is up to date. We must accept and develop proposals concerning, for example, the administration of vaccination, which we discussed earlier. That would ensure that issues such as vaccination could be integrated into an overall plan that relates to all aspects of disease control policy.

6 Nov 2002 : Column 395

That provision has also been built into the contingency plan, again reflecting the recommendations made in the independent reports.

Contingency planning needs to cover the control of diseases using a range of measures, including culling and/or emergency vaccination as appropriate, and to take account of the context of relevant EU legislation. I anticipate that, when we have had extensive consultation, the completed contingency plan will be laid before Parliament for the first time in the spring.

The incidence of diseases worldwide and their possible occurrence in the UK will also contribute to establishing the priority to be given to extending the provisions of the contingency plan from foot and mouth disease to cover other exotic diseases. A number of hon. Members have spoken of the risk posed by a range of diseases. We take that risk extremely seriously. We are therefore putting in place a risk-based approach, and our aim is to target our resources based on what we know about the risk posed by different exotic diseases. The most effective way to make the best use of the available resources is to identify exactly where the risks are, and to determine where to apply the resources so as to deal with those risks.

The requirements that have been added to the original Bill by proposed new sections 14A(2) and 14A(3) do not relate to the purpose of the clause, which is to define a requirement for a contingency plan to deal with occurrences of disease. On that, we have no disagreement. The proposed new sections would not allow us to target our resources appropriately. Proposed new section 14A(2) would require us to expend a great deal of resources in relation to all the diseases in schedule 2A, which is included in the Bill to deal, more than anything else, with issues of deliberate infection, rather than to distinguish between the diseases in terms of an assessment of the risk occurrences in the UK.

We need to carry out significant worldwide surveillance for exotic disease, and this already takes place. The relevant information is available from international sources such as the OIE. The risk to the UK comes not from countries that report honestly to the OIE, but from those that do not report their disease situation or that have no effective mechanism for diagnosing or reporting disease, and in which, by definition, a three-yearly review would be completely valueless because there is no available information. That is not to say, however, that the concerns expressed in the other place are not being addressed. We take them very seriously. However, the additional provisions—proposed new sections 14A(2) and 14A(3)—are more relevant to other activities of government, such as the prevention of disease.

The Government announced earlier this afternoon their response to the FMD inquiry reports, and it is in that response that we have set out how we will take forward work on the recommendations that have been made. That is where the broader issues of strategy have properly been addressed. I do not, therefore, consider the proposed new sections 14A(2) and 14A(3) appropriate in the context of the contingency plan provisions. That is why I am seeking to remove them from the Bill. I am doing so not because we have any objection to a public commitment to proper

6 Nov 2002 : Column 396

contingency planning—or to ensuring that those contingency plans are properly consulted on and that people have every opportunity to participate in that consultation—but because the provisions are unnecessary. They do not sit well in the Bill. There is no major disagreement on this, but, if we are to have proper legislation, it should be just that. In that regard, the proposals are unnecessary and I invite the House to reject them.


Mr. Hayes: The Minister says that he is committed to a national contingency plan, but, without being ungenerous, I must point out that there would not have been a provision for a national contingency plan, or an import clause or a biosecurity clause, in the Bill, were it not for the amendments tabled by Conservative—in particular—and Liberal Democrat peers during the course of the Bill through the other place and in Committee. If the Minister looks sceptical about that, I shall remind him that it was my noble Friend Baroness Byford who tabled a strategy amendment in Committee, thus facilitating those elements.

It is also important to point out, when considering the contingency plan, the nature of the plan that was in place when we endured the catastrophe of the 2001 foot and mouth outbreak. That plan had gaps, and it had not been shared or rehearsed outside the state veterinary service. Neither had it been tested. It was described by the Government's own report on the issue as follows:


    "The first responses to the early cases were not fast enough or effectively coordinated".

Yet the Government's memo to the inquiry stated that


    "comprehensive contingency plans were in place".

The inquiry, however,


    "did not find this to be so".

It found the plans to be limited in scope, out of date and not integrated into a national programme of rehearsal and testing. It also stated:


    "Better preparation . . . would have done much to limit the scale of the crisis."

Brigadier Alex Birtwistle, who led the Army's handling of last year's outbreak, said that


    "there was a startling level of incompetence at every level...we're one of the 10 richest nations, we're a legitimate nuclear power and we can't get a few trucks into Cumbria."

That is what the soldier who led the exercise said, so it is right and proper that the Government have concluded, albeit belatedly, that we need a properly co-ordinated, cohesive national plan to deal with such outbreaks.

10.30 pm

The contingency plan for last year's outbreak was inadequate, but such planning is surely essential to limit the scale of animal disease outbreaks. The Lords are merely emphasising that and aiming for an extension in scope. That scope needs to be broad because, as the Minister has acknowledged, disease can be introduced to this country from other places.

Many diseases are rife. For example, we know that blue tongue disease is well established in the United States and other diseases are well established in parts of Europe. We need to be aware of them, as they could be introduced to this country. We certainly need a European and worldwide perspective on the incidence

6 Nov 2002 : Column 397

of those diseases; the likelihood of this country being affected by them; and how we would respond. The Lords simply ask for a three-yearly review of the worldwide incidence of each disease referred to in the measure, which I think the whole House would acknowledge is appropriate, and that that review be debated.

Members might argue that the review should be undertaken more frequently than every three years; I would certainly not want it to occur less frequently. Neither would I want, as the Minister suggested, to rely on existing practice rather than support what the Lords are trying to achieve, which is a more holistic perspective than that which the Government seem willing to adopt.

That is particularly important given what we have said about the volume and nature of illegal meat imports, which, in themselves, are potential sources of disease, and because more people are travelling. There is enormous growth in the number of visitors to this country and there are all sorts of increased risks of disease being introduced. The Anderson report says that we should be producing


    "not just a written document."

Rather, we should put


    "in place the systems, processes and a culture to respond effectively to crises."

That comment, which was referred to by the hon. Member for St. Ives (Andrew George), lies at the heart of the need to draw up, implement and test an effective contingency plan.

Mr. Wiggin: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for giving way, especially as I am sure he agrees that one problem when the foot and mouth outbreak hit was that so many people did not know what to do. One advantage to the Lords amendment is that the plan would have to be circulated to all the parties that could possibly help. That means that many more people would know exactly what to do, which would make the Government's job a lot easier.

Mr. Hayes: Part of such a national plan must be the dissemination of information in an easily accessible and comprehensible form. My hon. Friend is absolutely right that such information needs to be spread not just to those directly affected—people in the industry—but to all those who may have contact with livestock during their work or leisure activities. The more knowledge we can spread on risk and its avoidance, the more likely we are to avoid a catastrophe of the proportions that we unfortunately suffered in 2001.

It seems to me, however, that we need to go further even than my hon. Friend suggests. We need to expand training, education and public awareness. We certainly need to support research and animal disease diagnostics. We need to reinforce the links between the Government, local government, other agencies and the industry to deliver a co-ordinated response. We need to strengthen that network to deliver a co-ordinated approach and we need to develop and, perhaps most importantly, test emergency preparation and disaster recovery plans.

Part of the problem from which we suffered while enduring that disease and that epidemic was the inadequate testing of the plans that were in place. A disaster recovery plan needs to be not only tested, but

6 Nov 2002 : Column 398

dynamic and flexible enough to be changed and applied in ways appropriate to the local conditions, the particular nature of the disease and its progress.

The Government seem to have belatedly concluded that we need a contingency plan. They seem to have taken on board a number of suggestions made in Committee and in the other place. But they have yet to grasp fully the need for a wide-ranging contingency plan that will take full account of all the diseases that may affect our farmers and their livestock.

I believe that, in respect of both the international dimension and the dissemination of information, the Lords amendments are useful and helpful additions to the plan. I hope that my colleagues will join me in supporting them and rejecting the Minister's objections to them.

Mr. Morley: The part of Lords amendment No. 47 that we want to delete has been dealt with by our commitment in the Bill—approved by the House—in relation to vaccination.

We accept, and I have conceded, that our existing contingency plan was not adequate in the circumstances, but it is not true that it was not tested. One of the many myths that were circulated was that the Government were aware of the disease before it was reported. It started because one of our divisional officers was ringing around checking the prices of such things as timber, as part of a contingency exercise. Moreover, the plan was reviewed as recently as 2000 in connection with the European Union review. We accept, however, that all those reviews and tests were not adequate. We are therefore approaching the matter in a much more sophisticated way.

We also accept that all contingency planning must be made public. Some Conservative Members were very critical of the Government when we made public our contingency plan for BSE in sheep. One or two of them said that it was a disgrace that we had put our plans into the public domain, because it might affect sheepmeat sales and upset the industry and consumers. [Interruption.] I have a long memory, and I assure Conservative Members that there was a great deal of criticism when we made the plan public. That is, however, the right thing to do. We also recently made public our contingency plan for blue tongue virus, so that people could comment, and we are committed to doing the same in regard to such issues in future.

Mr. Drew: Obviously, a national contingency plan is only as good as what can be done within the nation. I know that the point of such plans is the need to consider what is happening abroad, and I know about the OIE process of recognising diseases that are prevalent elsewhere, but this is all to do with intelligence, and I wonder about the extent to which we would share that openly. We must have some certainty that we can act before people do things that we would not want them to do.

Mr. Morley: I entirely agree. That is another aspect of the Lords' amendments to which I object. To be fair, the hon. Member for South Holland and The Deepings (Mr. Hayes) recognised that a three-yearly review might not be appropriate—that the period might be too long.

6 Nov 2002 : Column 399

In fact, I have made it clear that in many cases it would be irrelevant. Legislation should not contain elements that, although well-meaning, are irrelevant and already covered by our responses—our response in the Bill, our commitment to making contingency plans public for consultation and our detailed response to independent inquiries, which we have also made public and made available to the House. In that respect, we accept the thrust of the arguments. We do not disagree with the comments that the hon. Member for South Holland and The Deepings (Mr. Hayes) made in relation to contingency planning and contingency arrangements, but they contradict his earlier point that contingency plans must be dynamic documents. We need to be able to respond and update them. In that sense, it is not appropriate to write contingency arrangements into the Bill as that makes it difficult to update and modernise them. When making primary legislation, it is important to be clear about its objectives, functions and role. Proper detailed contingency plans and arrangements can be made without writing them into the Bill because of the need for updating and flexibility, for involving people and for ensuring that there is proper contribution and comment.

For those reasons, I do not think that there is a great deal of disagreement among hon. Members. We all agree on the need for proper, detailed contingency planning. That commitment will be clear in the Bill, which has been amended during its passage through the House. I ask the House not to include in the Bill irrelevant, unworkable measures that cannot react to changing circumstances. That is not good legislation, nor was it the intention of the movers of the amendment, who I am sure were well-motivated. I therefore urge the House to reject it and to support the Government amendment.

Question put, That the amendment to the Lords amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 286, Noes 164.

Division No. 359

[10:41 pm


AYES


Abbott, Ms Diane
Adams, Irene (Paisley N)
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Bob (Cov'try NE)
Alexander, Douglas
Allen, Graham
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale & Darwen)
Armstrong, rh Ms Hilary
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, John
Bailey, Adrian
Baird, Vera
Barnes, Harry
Barron, rh Kevin
Battle, John
Bayley, Hugh
Beckett, rh Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Benn, Hilary
Benton, Joe (Bootle)
Berry, Roger
Best, Harold
Betts, Clive
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Bob
Borrow, David
Bradley, rh Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, Andy
Byers, rh Stephen
Cairns, David
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Caplin, Ivor
Casale, Roger
Caton, Martin
Cawsey, Ian (Brigg)
Challen, Colin
Chaytor, David
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, rh Charles (Norwich S)
Clarke, rh Tom (Coatbridge & Chryston)
Clelland, David
Clwyd, Ann (Cynon V)
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Cohen, Harry
Coleman, Iain
Colman, Tony
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Cook, rh Robin (Livingston)
Cousins, Jim
Cox, Tom (Tooting)
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Jim (Coventry S)
Cunningham, Tony (Workington)
Curtis-Thomas, Mrs Claire
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
David, Wayne
Davidson, Ian
Davies, rh Denzil (Llanelli)
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Dawson, Hilton
Dhanda, Parmjit
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim (Heywood)
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim (Lewisham W)
Drew, David (Stroud)
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff (Barnsley E)
Etherington, Bill
Field, rh Frank (Birkenhead)
Fisher, Mark
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul (Newport W)
Follett, Barbara
Foster, rh Derek
Foster, Michael (Worcester)
Foulkes, rh George
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gapes, Mike (Ilford S)
Gardiner, Barry
George, rh Bruce (Walsall S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gilroy, Linda
Goggins, Paul
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grogan, John
Hain, rh Peter
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, David (Midlothian)
Hanson, David
Harris, Tom (Glasgow Cathcart)
Havard, Dai (Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney)
Healey, John
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hendrick, Mark
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hesford, Stephen
Heyes, David
Hill, Keith (Streatham)
Hinchliffe, David
Hoey, Kate (Vauxhall)
Hope, Phil (Corby)
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, rh Alan (Newport E)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N & Sefton E)
Hughes, Beverley (Stretford & Urmston)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hurst, Alan (Braintree)
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Ingram, rh Adam
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Alan (Hull W)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Kevan (N Durham)
Jones, Lynne (Selly Oak)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Joyce, Eric (Falkirk W)
Keen, Alan (Feltham)
Keen, Ann (Brentford)
Kemp, Fraser
Khabra, Piara S.
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green & Bow)
Knight, Jim (S Dorset)
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lawrence, Mrs Jackie
Laxton, Bob (Derby N)
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom (High Peak)
Liddell, rh Mrs Helen
Linton, Martin
Love, Andrew
Lucas, Ian (Wrexham)
Luke, Iain (Dundee E)
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Stephen
McCafferty, Chris
McCartney, rh Ian
McDonagh, Siobhain
MacDonald, Calum
McDonnell, John
MacDougall, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
McNamara, Kevin
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
Mahmood, Khalid
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallaber, Judy
Mandelson, rh Peter
Mann, John (Bassetlaw)
Marris, Rob (Wolverh'ton SW)
Marshall, David (Glasgow Shettleston)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Martlew, Eric
Meale, Alan (Mansfield)
Michael, rh Alun
Milburn, rh Alan
Mole, Chris
Morgan, Julie
Morley, Elliot
Morris, rh Estelle
Mullin, Chris
Munn, Ms Meg
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Murphy, rh Paul (Torfaen)
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Hara, Edward
Olner, Bill
O'Neill, Martin
Owen, Albert
Perham, Linda
Picking, Anne
Pickthall, Colin
Pond, Chris (Gravesham)
Pope, Greg (Hyndburn)
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prescott, rh John
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Quin, rh Joyce
Quinn, Lawrie
Rammell, Bill
Rapson, Syd (Portsmouth N)
Raynsford, rh Nick
Reed, Andy (Loughborough)
Robertson, John (Glasgow Anniesland)
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Roy, Frank (Motherwell)
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Ms Christine (City of Chester)
Ryan, Joan (Enfield N)
Salter, Martin
Sarwar, Mohammad
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Sheerman, Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Simon, Siôn (B'ham Erdington)
Singh, Marsha
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, rh Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, rh Chris (Islington S & Finsbury)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Soley, Clive
Spellar, rh John
Squire, Rachel
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stewart, David (Inverness E & Lochaber)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Tami, Mark (Alyn)
Taylor, Dari (Stockton S)
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Thomas, Gareth (Harrow W)
Timms, Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr. Desmond (Brighton Kemptown)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Tynan, Bill (Hamilton S)
Vaz, Keith (Leicester E)
Vis, Dr. Rudi
Walley, Ms Joan
Ward, Claire
Watson, Tom (W Bromwich E)
Watts, David
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, rh Alan (Swansea W)
Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Wilson, Brian
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Wood, Mike (Batley)
Woodward, Shaun
Woolas, Phil
Wray, James (Glasgow Baillieston)
Wright, Anthony D. (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, David (Telford)
Wright, Tony (Cannock)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Ayes:


Jim Fitzpatrick and
Gillian Merron


NOES


Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)
Allan, Richard
Amess, David
Arbuthnot, rh James
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Bacon, Richard
Barker, Gregory
Baron, John (Billericay)
Barrett, John
Beggs, Roy (E Antrim)
Bellingham, Henry
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Boswell, Tim
Bottomley, rh Virginia (SW Surrey)
Brady, Graham
Brooke, Mrs Annette L.
Browning, Mrs Angela
Bruce, Malcolm
Burns, Simon
Burnside, David
Burt, Alistair
Butterfill, John
Calton, Mrs Patsy
Cameron, David
Campbell, Gregory (E Lond'y)
Carmichael, Alistair
Cash, William
Chope, Christopher
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Collins, Tim
Cotter, Brian
Curry, rh David
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davies, Quentin (Grantham & Stamford)
Davis, rh David (Haltemprice & Howden)
Djanogly, Jonathan
Dodds, Nigel
Dorrell, rh Stephen
Doughty, Sue
Duncan, Alan (Rutland)
Duncan Smith, rh Iain
Evans, Nigel
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Michael
Field, Mark (Cities of London & Westminster)
Flook, Adrian
Forth, rh Eric
Fox, Dr. Liam
Gale, Roger (N Thanet)
George, Andrew (St. Ives)
Gibb, Nick (Bognor Regis)
Gidley, Sandra
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Goodman, Paul
Grayling, Chris
Green, Damian (Ashford)
Green, Matthew (Ludlow)
Greenway, John
Grieve, Dominic
Gummer, rh John
Hammond, Philip
Harris, Dr. Evan (Oxford W & Abingdon)
Harvey, Nick
Hayes, John (S Holland)
Heath, David
Hendry, Charles
Hermon, Lady
Hoban, Mark (Fareham)
Hogg, rh Douglas
Horam, John (Orpington)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Jack, rh Michael
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Jenkin, Bernard
Johnson, Boris (Henley)
Keetch, Paul
Key, Robert (Salisbury)
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Knight, rh Greg (E Yorkshire)
Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Lamb, Norman
Lansley, Andrew
Lewis, Dr. Julian (New Forest E)
Liddell-Grainger, Ian
Lidington, David
Lilley, rh Peter
Llwyd, Elfyn
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter (M-Worcs)
McIntosh, Miss Anne
MacKay, rh Andrew
Maclean, rh David
McLoughlin, Patrick
Maples, John
Maude, rh Francis
Mawhinney, rh Sir Brian
May, Mrs Theresa
Mercer, Patrick
Mitchell, Andrew (Sutton Coldfield)
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Norman, Archie
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Öpik, Lembit
Osborne, George (Tatton)
Ottaway, Richard
Page, Richard
Paice, James
Paterson, Owen
Portillo, rh Michael
Price, Adam (E Carmarthen & Dinefwr)
Prisk, Mark (Hertford)
Pugh, Dr. John
Randall, John
Redwood, rh John
Reid, Alan (Argyll & Bute)
Rendel, David
Robathan, Andrew
Robertson, Hugh (Faversham & M-Kent)
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Robinson, Mrs Iris (Strangford)
Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Sanders, Adrian
Sayeed, Jonathan
Selous, Andrew
Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, Keith (M-Norfolk)
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns & Kincardine)
Soames, Nicholas
Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob (Castle Point)
Spring, Richard
Stanley, rh Sir John
Streeter, Gary
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Desmond
Swire, Hugo (E Devon)
Syms, Robert
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Taylor, Dr. Richard (Wyre F)
Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Thurso, John
Trend, Michael
Turner, Andrew (Isle of Wight)
Tyler, Paul (N Cornwall)
Tyrie, Andrew
Viggers, Peter
Walter, Robert
Waterson, Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Webb, Steve (Northavon)
Widdecombe, rh Miss Ann
Wiggin, Bill
Wilkinson, John
Willetts, David
Williams, Roger (Brecon)
Willis, Phil
Winterton, Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Sir Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Yeo, Tim (S Suffolk)
Young, rh Sir George
Younger-Ross, Richard

Tellers for the Noes:


Mr. Mark Francois and
Mr. David Wilshire

Question accordingly agreed to.

6 Nov 2002 : Column 402

Lords amendment, as amended, agreed to.

Lords Amendment No.65 and Government amendment (a) thereto agreed to.

6 Nov 2002 : Column 403

It being more than six hours after the commencement of business, Mr. Speaker put the remaining Questions required to be put at that hour, pursuant to Order [this day].

Remaining Lords amendments agreed to.

Committee appointed to draw up Reasons to be assigned to the Lords for disagreeing to their amendment No. 13: Mr. Nick Ainger, Andrew George, Mr. John Hayes, Mr. Elliot Morley and Mr. Andy Reed; Mr. Elliot Morley to be the Chairman of the Committee; Three to be the quorum of the Committee.—[Mr. Woolas.]

To withdraw immediately.

Reasons for disagreeing to Lords amendment No. 13 reported, and agreed to; to be communicated to the Lords.