Ministers play down animal Bill fears

7 December 2001

Ministers play down animal Bill fears

By FWi staff

MINISTERS are trying to allay fears about the planned Animal Health Bill.

They have agreed to consult before deciding how and when new slaughter powers will be used.

Junior Defra minister Elliot Morley told the standing committee examining the legislation: he wanted to reassure people.

“I am seeking to reassure people, to take their views into account, to make public the criteria and how they would be applied, and to give people a chance to comment on and influence matters.”

The Bill has its third and final reading in the House of Commons next Thursday (13 December).

It is designed to give ministers more power to order the slaughter of stock in the event of a foot-and-mouth outbreak.

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

But opposition remains strong.

Campaigners staged a demonstration in Parliament Square last Thursday (29 November).

Vets and lawyers joined farmers in condemning the legislation.

Roger Windsor, council member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, said as a vet he would have nothing to do with the bill if it were passed.

But NFU head of parliamentary affairs Barney Holbeche said the political reality was that the bill would go through.

The government had conceded very little.

The Union will be looking for a number of amendments as the Bill goes through the Lords, he said.

It is hoped this will be possible because of the “farming expertise” there is in the Upper House.

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