30 November 2001
Vets join farmers against animal Bill

By Isabel Davies

VETS have joined farmers opposing government plans to introduce powers of slaughter in the event of another foot-and-mouth outbreak.

Roger Windsor, council member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, said he would have nothing to do with the Animal Health Bill.

The proposed legislation is designed to give minister more power to order the slaughter of livestock in the event of an outbreak.

The government will also gain powers to slaughter, castrate or sterilise sheep which do not have scrapie-resistant genes.

Mr Windsor said he was not opposed to a slaughter policy to control the disease, but it had to be a controlled slaughter policy.

“I think [the government] is looking for a new law to hide further mistakes in a sea of blood,” he said.

“If this Bill is passed I will do everything in my power to stop the veterinary profession co-operating with it.”

Mr Windsors addressed a meeting in the House of Commons organised by the website warmwell.com on Thursday (29 November).

He was backed by Roger Green, RCVS president, who it would give vets ethical problems because they could be asked to slaughter healthy animals.

Claims from ministers that the Bill only applied to animals susceptible to foot-and-mouth were not enough in his view, he added.

“The scope of slaughter powers are unclear and any species could be involved for any disease, I believe.”

Opening the meeting shadow Defra secretary of state Peter Ainsworth described the Bill as unjust and disproportionate.

“It confers more powers on the very people who have been found wanting.”

The meeting followed a demonstration outside the Houses of Parliament where about 30 people voiced objections to the governments plans.

Organiser Mary Critchley said the event showed that even ordinary members of the public were aware of the dangers of the Bill.

“Its based on bad science, bad law and is taking away the right everyone has fought for. It is and absolute disgrace.”

Farmer Lawrence, Wright who had travelled from Devon with his wife Karen for the occasion, said the Bill threatened his very livelihood.

“The basis of our farm is sheep and this Bill gives the minister the power to kill all of our sheep,” he said.