Local News
South Norfolk
  Animal Health Bill, 3rd reading

This speech was given in the chamber of the House of Commons as part of the debate on the Animal Health Bill, on 13 December 2001

Mr. Bacon: The powers in the Bill have been discussed a great deal. Every time the Minister hears something reasonable from the Opposition, he shakes his head. All we have to do is look at what section 32 of the Animal Health Act 1981 says about the animals that can be killed, and what section 87 says about the ways in which those animals can be defined and those powers can be extended. The Minister talks about the fact that that would require an order - big deal! That requires a rubber stamp and takes 90 minutes. The combination of sections 32 and 87 of the 1981 Act and this Bill will mean that the Minister can kill whatever he wants, whenever he wants, without giving any reason for doing so.

Mr. Wiggin: Without paying for it.

Mr. Bacon: The second problem with the Bill, as my hon. Friend the Member for Leominster (Mr. Wiggin) says, is the question of compensation. The people in the farming community in this country are burning, and they are bleeding. Total income from farming has gone down from 5 billion five years ago to less than 2 billion. The income of the average farmer is 5,000 or less, and it is a disgrace that the Government are making farmers pay penalties, in many cases for the mistakes of the Department.

The third problem is human rights. The front page of the Bill says that the

"provisions of the Animal Health Bill are compatible with the Convention"

on human rights. What a ludicrous statement! The Bill is plainly incompatible with article 6, which provides for the right to a fair trial, and with article 8, which provides for the right to respect for private and family life.

The fourth problem is illegal imports. The Minister said that he was minded to listen to us, but he would not accept our reasonable new clause, which required no more of him than simply to return to the House once a year to report what has been going on. He took absolutely no notice.

The problem is that the Bill's real agenda is to make legal what was done that was illegal, namely killing 5 million animals of which 4 million were healthy.

It being Seven o'clock, Mr. Deputy Speaker put the Question already proposed from the Chair, pursuant to Order [4 November].

The House divided: Ayes 331, Noes 189.