HL Deb 07 August 1972 vol 334 cc841-2

[References are to Bill 54 as first printed for the Commons]

[No. 1]

Leave out Clause 1.


My Lords, I beg to move that this House doth agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 1. It may be something of a surprise to noble Lords to know that the other place should have deleted Clause 1—a clause which dealt with brucellosis and which was generally welcomed on all sides. As the House will recall, the original compensation terms for the compulsory eradication of brucellosis included the payment of replacement grants on slaughtered reactors, as well as incentives on beef and milk from the time of the first test until the year after accreditation. The authority for this scheme was given in Clause 1 and although these terms were not to be applied compulsorily until November of this year they were in the meantime offered on a voluntary basis to owners in the first eradication areas. We agreed with the farmers' union in March 1971 that the operation of the scheme during this "voluntary year" would be reviewed in 1972. We carried out a review in the spring of this year, when it became clear that the existing compulsory terms needed revision and that owners of some heavily infected herds had suffered significant losses.

The terms also tended to operate unfairly as between owners of herds of different types and breeds. We therefore decided, after consultation with the unions, to replace the existing terms by a new scheme which my right honourable friend announced on May 19. This scheme provides for the payment of compensation for reactors at full market value during the pre-accreditation period, subject to a limit of £240 per animal. Under these new arrangements—and this is the important point—the powers which Ministers would have been given under Clause 1 of the Bill are no longer necessary. Instead, we shall simply act in future under the existing slaughter and compensation powers which are contained in Sections 17 and 19 of the Diseases of Animals Act. Therefore rather than introduce legislation which is no longer required we decided to delete Clause 1.

I should make it abundantly clear that what at first sight may appear to be a revolutionary Amendment in fact is not so disastrous as it may seem; it in no way affects the pace of our eradication programme or our determination to rid the country of brucellosis as quickly as possible. I beg to move.

Moved, That this House doth agree with the Commons in the said Amendment.—(Earl Ferrers.)


My Lords, I just want to say that this Amendment was unanimously agreed in another place and indeed, for the reasons given by the noble Earl, I am certain that your Lordships will agree with the step that has been taken. During the passage of the Bill it was pointed out that it is very easy sometimes for people to say that brucellosis has occurred and that slaughter ought to take place, without finding out where the replacements will come from or, indeed, the cost of the replacements. This is indeed an improvement, and I am glad to give it support from this side of the House.