24 May 2002

Opinion split on disguised TSE regulation

FARM unions are still split on the implications of a new regulation on BSE-style diseases which critics claim is a disguised version of the Animal Health Bill.

Lady Mar, a crossbench peer, failed in her attempt to have Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies Regulations (England) 2002 annulled last Wednesday (May 15).

The regulation will now almost certainly remain on the books. Equivalent legislation for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland is planned for later this month.

Barney Holbeche, NFU head of parliamentary affairs, said the union believed the outcome was the right one. It would have been a disaster if the regulation had been annulled as it would have meant that there were no BSE controls in place at all, he said.

Except for three minor additions the regulation was a consolidation of existing law, he said.

"If peers had voted against it there would have been no BSE regulations in place and that would not have been particularly clever. I think the right decision was made."

But Sion Aron, policy officer for the Farmers Union of Wales, said the union had not been persuaded by the arguments and that it continued to be worried about the regulation.

"We continue to be concerned that government appears to be implementing some aspects of the Animal Health Bill through a Statutory Instrument," he said. "We argue EU regulations do not need separate British regulations unlike EU directives. We will continue to make representations about how this is implemented in Wales." &#42