Will the Animal Health Bill make it through Parliament?

NFU senior advisor Matt Ware takes a look at the Animal Health Bill’s chances of making it through Parliament in the face of an upcoming general election.

This long-awaited draft Bill represents a new era in Animal Health policy in the UK. But its publication, before Westminster locks down into pre-election mode (‘purdah’), represents an unrealistic aspiration of the government to see the Bill pass through parliament before the General Election.

The likely election date is 6 May which means Parliament would go into purdah on 12 April, giving a very limited period of pre-legislative scrutiny. With dissolution of Parliament for a General Election there is an effective ‘clearing the decks’ of unresolved business but, by publishing the draft Bill now, the government is putting down a marker over future legislative direction.

In a status quo, Labour majority government, the Bill could be picked up in the new session and take effect as soon as April 2012. A Conservative government is likely to share many policy aspirations of this draft Bill, but may give it a different approach and priority which will determine if, and in what form, the legislation will ultimately appear.