HC Deb 29 March 1960 vol 620 cc1250-2

9.5 p.m.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. J. B. Godber)

I beg to move, That the Fatstock (Protection of Guarantees) (Amendment) Order, 1960 (S.I., 1960, No. 293), dated 22nd February, 1960, a copy of which was laid before this House on 25th February, be approved. This is a straightforward Order which re-enacts, with certain amendments, Article 6 of the Fatstock (Protection of Guarantees) Order, 1958. That Article related to records, and its replacement has become necessary because of the making of the Movement of Animals (Records) Order, 1960.

The House may recall that when I introduced the original Fatstock (Protection of Guarantees) Order on 25th June, 1958, I said that some inspection of records was essential for the proper safeguarding of the guarantees; that the disbursements of large sums of public money imposed some obligations on the recipients; but that at the same time we did not expect to impose any onerous burden of additional work. Those remarks still apply today. People engaged in the livestock industry are required to keep records of the movement of animals for the necessary purpose of safeguarding animal health. These records of movement can prove most useful as a means of substantiating the transfer of livestock from one person to another, and in the original Order we secured the right to inspect these records, if need be, for the purposes of the fatstock guarantees.

At the time the original Order was made, the animal health movement records were required under the Movement of Animals (Records) Order of 1925. From 1st March this Order was replaced by the Movement of Animals (Records) Order, 1960. I think I explained the reasons for that at the time. We are re-enacting the provision in the Fatstock Order with a similar reference to the new movement Order. At the same time we are making two small extensions.

First, similar provision is made to obtain the right to inspect registers kept under the Swine Fever Order, 1938. This is needed because movements of pigs entered in these registers do not have to be recorded under the movement Order. We are also providing for the right to inspect in Northern Ireland very similar movement records which have to be kept under a Northern Ireland Government Order—the Transit of Animals (Amendment) (Northern Ireland) Order, 1941.

I commend this Order to the House. It provides a valuable supporting measure for the safeguard of public money paid out in fatstock guarantees, and I am pleased to say that it does this without imposing any extra work of record keeping on anyone.

9.9 p.m.

Mr. Frederick Willey (Sunderland, North)

We accept this Order. We accept the reason for it. It might seem that the extension of it to the Swine Fever Order, 1938, would be an implicit reflection upon past administrations of different political colour, but the Joint Parliamentary Secretary does not seem to be unduly disturbed about that. Therefore, we accept the reasons he has given for the extension of the Order to cover that as well.

9.10 p.m.

Sir James Duncan (South Angus)

How long do the records have to be kept? It is not clear from the Order —though it may be in one of the others —how long they have to be kept. Secondly, in what form do they have to be kept? Under the movement orders, we always kept a pink form, and I had always thought that those forms had to be kept for a year. It is not clear from the Order what exactly has to be kept. If it is to be a stock book and not a pink order, then I cannot understand it, because every farm has a stock book and keeps in it the records of the animals there, the animals brought in, the dates of sale, and so on.

My third question, which is allied to that, is whether in future we have to have a movement order in respect of animals going to slaughter. In the stock book that would be recorded, but up to now it has not been necessary to have a pink form, a movement order, for animals going to slaughter.

9.12 p.m.

Mr. Godber

I am grateful to the hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) for the reception he gave to this Order. I am glad to know that the Opposition is with us in this matter—at least in spirit if not in person.

The first question asked by my hon. Friend the Member for South Angus (Sir J. Duncan) was about the period of time for which these records have to be kept. The answer is that it is three years for cattle but one year for other stock.

This Order merely deals with the right to inspect. An Order we dealt with previously dealt with the other provisions. All we are doing here is to give ourselves the right to inspect records which were laid down as being necessary for other purposes. All we are doing is taking the right to go and inspect them.

We are not changing in any way the existing form. It is the stock book to which we shall usually refer in regard to these matters. These are the records which are kept for the purposes I have enumerated. All we are doing is saying we have a right to go and inspect them.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved, That the Fatstock (Protection of Guarantees) (Amendment) Order, 1960 (S.I., 1960, No. 293), dated 22nd February, 1960, a copy of which was laid before this House on 25th February, be approved.