HL Deb 31 January 1984 vol 447 cc554-65

2.59 p.m.

The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Belstead)

My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Belstead.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The LORD ABERDARE in the Chair.]

Clause 1 [Seizure and disposal of things likely to spread disease]:

Lord John-Mackie moved Amendment No. 1:

Page 2, line 24, at end insert— ("( ) If finance is provided by the industry for an eradication programme then full consultation shall be carried out with the funding body before an addition is made to the list of materials the Minister is empowered to seize.")

The noble Lord said: Before dealing with the amendment I must declare my interest as a farmer. I keep stock of various kinds—for example, poultry and cattle. Indeed, it is becoming rather boring continually admitting one's interest. I put down this amendment because there are now at least two areas where the industry provides the finance for controlling particular diseases—Aujeszky's disease in pigs and Newcastle disease in poultry. If the Government continue this, what I would call, "privatisation", it may move to foot and mouth disease and a number of other diseases.

There is a case for more consultation with the funding body when power is given to remove carcases and so on if disease is present. This is simply to protect people who may not agree completely that a whole series of animals have to be removed and who may take the view that some carcases are perfectly safe because they may be kept in a different place, and that poultry kept in different parts of the farm need not be disturbed and so on. This is simply an amendment to prevent that from happening and to have consultation with the funding body before the Minister puts down any new materials that might be seized. I beg to move.

Lord Belstead

The amendment tabled by the noble Lord would introduce the requirement which the noble Lord has explained. The noble Lord, Lord John-Mackie, has made it quite clear that what he is after is full consultation taking place with a funding organisation before any item is added to the list of materials which the Minister is empowered to seize under subordinate legislation. I entirely take the point which the noble Lord made as regards the current examples of funding taking place from the industry in the case of Aujeszky's disease and Newcastle disease.

Having said that, I hope that the noble Lord will be content with the assurance which I am very ready to give him, because I do not think that the amendment would be appropriate in the Bill and I hope that the noble Lord would agree with me that it would not be necessary. There is only one other consultation provision in the Animal Health Act 1981 so far as seizure in disease situations is concerned, and that is the one which refers to wildlife and the concerns of the Nature Conservancy Council; it has nothing to do with financing.

The assurance that I would like to give is that it is axiomatic that, in the situation referred to by the noble Lord, Lord John-Mackie, there must be a close and continuing consultation between the funding body and the Government. I can therefore certainly give an assurance that in the circumstances described there would be full consultation particularly in relation to the financial implications.

Lord John-Mackie

If there is one person I am glad to accept assurances from it is the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, and because of that I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

On Question, Whether Clause 1 shall stand part of the Bill?

Lord Houghton of Sowerby

I wish to raise a matter on Clause I which is linked with Clause 2 and it is a matter of which I have given the Minister notice. I recently received a letter from the Cotswolds Wildlife Preservation Society expressing fears that Clause 1, with the powers of entry prescribed in Clause 2, was an additional threat to badgers, giving additional powers to go in search of and to seize live badgers. I have not construed these clauses as doing that. I have taken advice on the matter from other sources and my own fears, if there were any, have been removed. However, if the Minister would be so kind as to make the position quite clear it would probably remove any misunderstanding. I only raise the matter on behalf of a society of this kind because their letter was closely argued, although I think it was mistaken in the conclusions that it reached.

As I see it, Clause 1 is an extension of the range of diseases for which a search can be made for products, materials or carcases which may be an additional risk to animals. Clause 2 provides powers of entry for that purpose. I do not think that I need explain the case that has been put to me by the association because to dispose of their fears—which I am sure the Minister will be able to do—will be quite enough.

Lord Belstead

The noble Lord, Lord Houghton, did indeed give me notice that he would raise this point and I am very grateful to the noble Lord. If the noble Lord had not given me notice he might not have found that the explanation which I hope will now come from me made quite such good sense as I hope the noble Lord will think that it does.

My explanation is as follows. First, I can give an assurance to the noble Lord and, indeed, to those who expressed concern to him, that the powers in Clauses 1 and 2 do not affect badgers. The main disease concern in relation to badgers is of course tuberculosis and powers already exist for dealing with that disease. Moreover, the appropriate provisions for dealing with disease in wildlife are contained in Sections 21 and 22 of the Animal Health Act 1981.

However, the noble Lord asks me specifically about Clause 1. If one looks at the clause it specifically states that the clause: does not authorise provision for the seizure of any animal". Hence, all animals, including badgers, are outside the scope of this provision. Section 28 of the Act enables orders to be made for the seizure of live animals, that is true, but the definition of "animals" in Section 87 does not include badgers. Therefore, the powers in Section 28 of the 1981 Act could only be exercised in relation to badgers if an order in the form of a statutory instrument under Section 87 were to be made. I would like to take the opportunity to say that there is no intention of doing that.

So far as Clause 2 is concerned, which provides for additional powers of entry to ascertain whether disease exists—which we have not quite reached—there an order would have to be made under Section 88 of the 1981 Act before the powers could be used in relation to tuberculosis. Indeed, under Clause 2 of the Bill the powers to enter land may only be exercised if animals are, or have been, kept on the land and it could not be argued that badgers which simply happen to be on the land are kept there. I hope that the assurances about those two clauses satisfy the noble Lord.

Lord Houghton of Sowerby

I am very much obliged to the noble Lord.

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clauses 2 and 3 agreed to.

Clause 4 [Extension of scope of 1967 Act]:

3.9 p.m.

Lord Houghton of Sowerby moved Amendment No. 2:

Page 3, line 22, after ("with") insert ("the Farm Animal Welfare Council and").

The noble Lord said: This is a small point, but it is important. The Farm Animal Welfare Council was reconstituted in 1980 and it was given pretty wide terms of reference. It is a body of substance whose work and advice must be greatly valued by the Government, as it is by many bodies outside. If we look at Clause 4 we find that in subsection (2B) provision is made for the Minister to consult because at line 22 it says: The Ministers may, after consultation with such persons or bodies as seem to them representative of the interests concerned"— and so on.

Nowhere in the Bill is the existence of the Farm Animal Welfare Council mentioned. It seems to me that, if the Government have a council of this standing—and this is important from the point of view of advice given—it is not unsuitable for some reference to be made to its existence when provision is made for consultations. If the advice given by the Farm Animal Welfare Council was given to the Government in private, that, of course, would constitute part of the machinery for advice to the Government in formulating their own policies. But when the reports of a body of this kind are published—as they are—it seems to me that the consultations which are to take place should include a reference to them.

I know that it can be argued that the Farm Animal Welfare Council is helping the Government to make up their mind, and that when the Government listen to the council and make up their mind, that is the point when consultation should take place with the interests concerned. That is to say, the consultation is in two stages: first, the advice that is given to the Government; and, secondly, the Government, having considered that advice and having some idea of what they want to do, then going to the various interests concerned and listening to what they have to say. I think that that is plausible enough. However, as the consultative process cannot be entirely separated in stages like this, it is desirable for this council to be mentioned.

In conclusion, bodies which are appointed by governments in an advisory capacity—for example, committees and commissions—carry out a great deal of work in the public interest, much of it very unpleasant indeed. Who wants to go round slaughter houses to the extent that the Farm Animal Welfare Council has in the course of its investigation into conditions of slaughter, and whose report on that matter is expected before very long? But in connection with the contents of this Bill and the clause dealing with poultry, the council had to go round the establishments where poultry is brought in for slaughter, slaughtered and sent out again, and had to inspect very squalid conditions under which poultry was kept before it was despatched, and so forth. All that work is done for nothing, apart from a limited allowance for expenses. It is work done in the public interest. The least one can do to reward members of the council for what they undertake is to recognise what they are doing, even if one does not accept the recommendations which the council makes.

Speaking from personal experience, I cannot help but be deeply resentful that I have been so ill-rewarded by successive governments for all the time I have spent carrying out investigations as a member of various committees and commissions. I shall not make a deeper accusation in this connection, which would be similar to the one I would make if we were talking about a Royal Commission. That, I think, is a real con job; there is no doubt at all about that.

A council of this kind is a continuing and advisory body. Therefore, I hope that the fervour with which I advocate the mentioning of the Farm Animal Welfare Council will be taken to represent my own feelings on the situation. Therefore, I move the amendment with the hope that the Minister will not start a fairly long session on a fairly lengthy sequence of amendments in my name by turning down this amendment. I beg to move.

Lord John-Mackie

I should like to support my noble friend. The fervour with which he advanced his argument does not require anything further from me. From looking at the Bill, I do not think that the amendment would do any harm at all. In fact, it might do much good.

Lord Belstead

Clause 4 enables the Government to approve by statutory instrument special methods of slaughter for day-old chicks, but after consultation with representative interests. First, I would say to the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, that, given its terms of reference, clearly the Farm Animal Welfare Council should be consulted, must be consulted and would have to be consulted. Indeed, I should have thought that Ministers would be in default of their statutory obligation to consult representative interests if the council were to be omitted.

I would add that, as I think was recognised in the debate on Second Reading by many noble Lords, many of the provisions in this Bill stem directly from the recommendations made by the council. Indeed, there is a very substantial amendment, which I think comes at the end of the noble Lord's list of amendments, which stems absolutely from the Welfare of Poultry Awaiting Slaughter Report, which was brought forward by the Farm Animal Welfare Council. It would be unthinkable to omit the council from any such consultation procedures, and I can assure the Committee that we would not do so.

However, I must add that, if we specifically mention the Farm Animal Welfare Council, I think it would be very difficult logically not to include mention of other welfare organisations which have an interest. Of course, I recognise that the Farm Animal Welfare Council does important work as the Government's adviser on farm animal welfare. I recognise the view of the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, that the council might appropriately be mentioned in this statute. But for the reason which I have just given, from a drafting point of view I do not think that this amendment will quite do.

The noble Lord is not only very experienced in these matters, but I think he is also an experienced and ingenious parliamentarian. If he could bring back an amendment suitable from a drafting point of view, I know that the Government would try to look at it sympathetically. But I repeat, if one makes specific mention of the council in this respect, despite the fact that the council has a special place in the life of farm animal welfare, it would be very difficult not to include specifically the other very important bodies which will have to be consulted under Clause 4.

Lord Houghton of Sowerby

I suppose that anybody on these Benches has difficulty over Clause 4! However, that is a very disappointing reply; nor is it a convincing one. What are these other bodies which would have to be mentioned? The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the British Poultry Federation, and others of that kind?

Lord Somers

If I may interrupt the noble Lord, there is the Council of Justice to Animals and the Humane Slaughter Association, of which I am the president.

Lord Houghton of Sowerby

Of course, one can go to the directory and read them all out, but they are not relevant to the point that I am about to make. This is a Government-appointed council; it is not a welfare body in the sense that other bodies may claim to be welfare bodies; it is not a prevention of cruelty body or a safeguarding the interests of particular species body. Nor is the Farm Animal Welfare Council representative of a trade interest. There are plenty of trade interests around that will have to be consulted—will they not? They will have plenty of time to consider where their interests lie in anything that the Government may do. I am not talking of them. They are "the interests" and are referred to: as seem to them representative of the interests concerned". They can be any interests concerned—all of them. But I am dealing with the Government's own appointed advisory council. Cannot the Government give the council some standing, some mention or some acknowledgment? This is what I am complaining about. Let us look at the list of members of the Farm Animal Welfare Council. They are a distinguished body of people, many of them highly professional, all of them having a busy life, and yet they meet together to pore over the scandals and the squalid conditions to which the committee referred in its report and with which this Bill is attempting, in some measure, to deal.

The noble Lord cannot get away with a suggestion that so much of the report of the Farm Animal Welfare Council is reflected in this Bill that the Bill itself is their monument, their vote of thanks, their testimonial. Only two recommendations out of 37 are included in this Bill. All the others are left for further research, or for regulations, or for codes of practice—all the amorphous array of attempts to surround problems of this kind with suitable guidelines and disciplines. This is not good enough. I am surprised that the Minister has started off with such a disappointing and weak defence.

I do not know what he is suggesting that I should do. There is nothing I can think of which is going to satisfy the purpose of this amendment unless the Farm Animal Welfare Council is mentioned. I do not think that an amendment which says, "The Government shall consult with such bodies as they may think fit, including you know who", will do. Either the name is mentioned or the whole point of it is lost. That is my attitude towards this. I sincerely hope that the noble Lord can consider this matter again, otherwise we are going to make slow progress this afternoon. I sincerely hope that we can get on with points of greater substance.

I am not the self-appointed representative of the Farm Animal Welfare Council. I have not been asked to do this by anybody. I just think it is rightful to do it, and I think it should he done. I hope that the noble Lord can think again.

Lord John-Mackie

The noble Lord, Lord Belstead, must agree that my noble friend has a real point here. I cannot understand why he thinks there is any drafting difficulty. All we have to do is to insert the name of the body and then just, "and such other persons and bodies". That is simple. It is a Government-appointed body. If the rest protest that they are not mentioned, they can be told, "You are not Government-appointed bodies, and we had to state our body which we asked to advise us." I cannot see that there is any difficulty with the drafting at all.

Lord Belstead

Perhaps I should underline the difficulty without going all over the ground I have gone over before. As I have said twice, although the Farm Animal Welfare Council has a special place in the business of farm animal welfare, being the Government's adviser on these matters, the council is not a statutory body. For that reason, I think that the Government would find difficulty in picking out special mention in this way in this particular place in this statute for the Farm Animal Welfare Council, and not mentioning bodies representing the poultry industry, the farmers' unions, other welfare bodies, the veterinary profession and religious organisations, just to list some organisations. Indeed, one specific one in which the noble Lord has an interest as president was mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Somers.

That is the difficulty from a drafting point of view. In no way am I belittling on behalf of the Government the work which the Farm Animal Welfare Council does, but I say that it would be inappropriate specifically to mention it while not mentioning any of the other bodies, when what we are talking about and are concerned with here is that there should be wide consultation. I am sure that that is what we all want. This would be questioned if we drafted in the way that the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, is inviting me to draft. Therefore, although I gave the noble Lord an invitation to be as ingenious as possible and to try to come back with an alternative, I am afraid that I am not going to come back with an alternative.

Lord Houghton of Sowerby

The noble Lord is making it worse. He now says it is not a statutory body, so he begins to run it down. The fact that it is not a statutory body is immaterial. It is the advisory body on the welfare of farm animals appointed by the Government, and the only one of its kind in relation to this Bill. Surely that gives it a status which is not enjoyed by any voluntary body or other pressure group that may be consulted, and properly consulted, when matters are under consideration. This is the primary advisory body of the Government so constituted, and strengthened by this Government to make it a stronger force in the chain of consultation and formulation of policy than the old committee. Therefore, surely it has a place in a Bill of this kind.

The Advisory Committee on Animal Experiments appointed by the Home Secretary is not a statutory committee. But is the Minister trying to tell us—he has been at the Home Office—that, when we update the Cruelty to Animals Act 1876, we shall get a whole new Bill without any reference to the Advisory Committee on Animal Experiments? Again it is a committee of similar status to the Farm Animal Welfare Council which has the right to publish its own reports and has the claim to be consulted by the Minister on matters within its terms of reference. Indeed, in any updating legislation in that context, it will be essential to refer to the advisory committee because it will have a part in the administration of the Act. Therefore, it will have to be referred to.

The Minister is just playing about with this. The Government have enough real difficulties about the reforms that this Bill is attempting to make without making unnecessary trouble for themselves over the recognition of their own self-appointed, strengthened, reorientated Farm Animal Welfare Council. This is what is wrong with this Government. They take big and silly decisions in other contexts, but apparently they cannot come to a conclusion on something which is quite harmless but has a degree of gratitude in it for a committee they appointed to do a job of work.

I would not serve on the Farm Animal Welfare Council after listening to the Minister's suggestion that they have no more right to be consulted, and no more right to he mentioned in the Act, than "chickens' lib". I cannot take it. I hope that we are not going to reach deadlock on a matter of this kind, because it will come up again shortly in another amendment. Are we going over it all again?

Lord Belstead

I think we shall go over it all again because I think I shall give the same reply to the noble Lord as I have given now.

On Question, amendment negatived.

3.29 p.m.

On Question, Whether Clause 4 shall stand part of the Bill?

Lord Houghton of Sowerby

Clause 4 removes from the 1967 Act in Section 1(1) the words, for purposes of preparation for sale for human consumption"; so that the present Bill applies to the slaughter of birds whether or not for the purposes of sale for human consumption. Then, for the sake of clarity, there are certain exemptions which are mentioned. But the principal Act is still the 1967 Act which refers to "commercial purposes". Schedule 1, paragraph 7(3) on page 17 appears to confirm that the Bill applies only to birds slaughtered for commercial purposes, because it defines the meaning of those words, in the course or furtherance of a business or for reward". Then it defines what a commercial enterprise is.

What I do not understand is the relevance in the circumstances to the exemptions in Clause 4(2)(a), (b) and (c). The exemptions are that the section shall not apply to the slaughter of any bird, in pursuance of powers conferred by, or by any instrument made or having effect as if made under, the Animal Health Act 1981". We understand what that is. It is where slaughter takes place in an emergency, such as with foot and mouth disease or other highly contagious or infectious diseases, where slaughter has to take place straightaway. I should not have thought that such slaughter came under this category at all.

The next exemption is: in the course of an experiment". Under the Cruelty to Animals Act 1876 animals are not slaughtered for a commercial purpose; they are destroyed following experiments authorised by licence under the Act of 1876.

Thirdly, an exemption is given to, a person registered in the register of veterinary surgeons", who may be destroying an animal in the course of the exercise of his profession. There is nothing mischievous either about the exemptions or about what I am saying. All I wonder is why these exemptions were put in Clause 4 when they seem to be quite irrelevant to the purposes of the Bill. Perhaps the Minister could throw some light on that.

As that finishes that point, I do not know whether to go on. I have several points to raise on clause stand part. It may help if I deal with them one at a time. All I want to ask on this is, what is the relevance of lines 10 to 21 on page 3? They are all exemptions, yet none of them appears to be concerned with the purposes of Clause 4?

Lord Belstead

These exemptions are being put on the face of the statute for the first time, but they relate, as the noble Lord has explained to the Committee, to provisions which already exist under, or by virtue of, the provisions of the Animal Health Act 1981; that is to say, slaughter for the purposes of disease control which takes place under the supervision of a Ministry of Agriculture veterinary officer. That is the first of the exemptions which the noble Lord read. This type of slaughter generally takes place on farms where the birds are protected by Part I of the Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1968, which prohibits the cause of unnecessary pain or distress to livestock on agricultural land. For that reason it seemed right to us to put in the first of these exemptions.

The second one the noble Lord dealt with, and he knows the whole scene so much better than myself that I would simply say in brief that in the course of experiments—subject to the restrictions under the 1876 Cruelty to Animals Act, and provided the restrictions are complied with—there should, as we see it, be the exemption written into paragraph (b). The third exemption is where a qualified veterinary surgeon or veterinary practitioner in the exercise of his profession or an assistant working under his direction, would consider the destruction of a bird or birds necessary—including the destruction of pet birds or a flock in circumstances where the owner could no longer exercise proper care over them. That would be a situation for which we believe there should be an exemption written in. That is the reason for paragraph (c).

The Earl of Selkirk

What does the word "Ministers" mean exactly? Does it include Secretaries of State? What Ministers in particular, one or two Ministers, or which Ministers does it refer to?

Lord Belstead

My first reaction to the noble Earl was that it was the plural of "Minister", but that gives me the opportunity to look at page 16 of the Bill. If my noble friend would care to look at line 3 on page 16 there is the definition of "Ministers" as having, the same meaning as in that Act. I am looking for the Act. I believe it is the Slaughter of Poultry Act 1967. If I am wrong about that I shall put myself right before we go much further. I think we are about to have a Statement, but before we break for the Statement may I repeat that, for once, I think I am quite right.

The Earl of Selkirk

I take it that that means the Secretary of State for Scotland?

Lord Belstead

I was rather afraid that the noble Earl might ask that question. I must be absolutely honest; I do not know whether the 1967 Act relates to Scotland. That question I should like to answer for my noble friend after we have broken for the Statement. Will my noble friend forgive me?

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Aberdare)

The Question is, that Clause 4 stand part of the Bill.

Lord Houghton of Sowerby

No, I thought we were about to have a Statement?

Lord Skelmersdale

If the Committee would forgive me, it is normal practice not to break into discussions of this nature until an appropriate moment when the subject has been cleared up, which, quite self-evidently, has not yet occurred. Thus, we will not be breaking for the Statement until after we resolve whether or not the clause stand part.

Lord Houghton of Sowerby

I am very much obliged. I am sorry to delay the Statement but I still have quite a lot on Clause 4 yet. I accept the Minister's explanation of why the exemptions were included in the Bill. They are there, as I understand, as the longest of long stops against any dubiety arising in certain extreme, remote or almost impossible circumstances, so that it is just a waste of print and it does not really matter. In those circumstances there is no point in spending further time on it.

I wish to come to a more material point which is in lines 25 and 26. Although I alluded in speaking on Second Reading to what is commonly referred to as "ritual slaughter", I have no intention of pursuing that general issue in further stages of this Bill. As the noble Lord himself pointed out in reply on Second Reading, the Farm Animal Welfare Council are reaching the end of their study of methods of slaughter and slaughterhouse conditions, and we are likely to receive two reports from the Farm Animal Welfare Council within the next few months—one on slaughter generally and the other, a little later, on so-called ritual slaughter. While those reports are pending, I shall not waste the time of the Committee in pursuing any matter related to that subject, but the Bill deals specifically in subsection (2B) halfway down page 3 with a method of slaughter of poultry chicks.

The Farm Animal Welfare Council referred in their report to this matter. They said in paragraph 4 of their report: We have not included in our inquiry the sale of day-old chicks. We intend to examine this aspect of the slaughter of poultry at a later date. Whether that will be included in the further report they still have to make, I do not know, but subsection (2B) gives the Ministers, after consultation with all and sundry, the power to approve a method of slaughter as a method suitable for the slaughter of poultry chicks". I do not know who the method is suitable for, but it is a suitable method of slaughter. It is to ensure that they are slaughtered without the infliction of unnecessary suffering by any methods so approved. It seems to me that the deepest consideration should be given to this matter. What I hear about the methods employed at the present time is pretty horrifying.

I referred in my speech on Second Reading to the fact that day-old chicks are disposed of as if they were mashed potatoes. That is known as the "crushing system". How they are crushed, with what and what mess they are in at the end of it, I would not know. However, where they go then is known. They go, when they are so crushed, to mink and fox farms. They are then food for animals kept in captivity for their fur; and I shall have something to say later on about the destination of the crushed chicks.

As to the other methods, I believe that gassing has been used; but possibly gassing makes the ensuing carcases unsuitable for disposal in the way I have described. I think therefore it is going to be of considerable importance as to what methods the Ministers come forward with. I hope and believe that the opportunity to discuss what they recommend will be given to us because they will be by regulation.

I will now go on to the question of small slaughterers. I believe this is the subject of an amendment by my noble friend Lord John-Mackie. The interest I have in this is what was referred to in the report of the Farm Animal Welfare Council and to which, again, I referred on Second Reading: that is the squalid conditions that they found which are referred to in paragraph 56 of their report. They say: At businesses we visited where slaughter was carried out by the Moslem method for the food of Moslems the birds were kept on the premises and slaughtered in the most squalid conditions. Nothing can apparently be done about it by the authorities and the birds are sold to the customer live and slaughtered for him immediately afterwards. The Minister said on Second Reading, without reference to the method of slaughter, that the conditions under which the birds are kept prior to slaughter, albeit by the Moslem method, will be subject to the regulations and conditions laid down under this Bill. That I hope can be firmly understood: that quite apart from the methods of slaughter the conditions under which they are kept prior to slaughter will come within the conditions and regulations of this Bill. That is all I need to trouble the Minister with at the moment, and I hope to get his reply on those two points.

Lord Belstead

First of all, in his absence, I apologise to my noble friend Lord Selkirk for not having been able to say earlier that the word "Ministers" in this Bill does indeed relate to the Secretary of State for Scotland and also the Secretary of State for Wales.

In answer to the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, on the question of day-old chicks, as the noble Lord implied, the Farm Animal Welfare Council are studying this matter and have not yet reached final conclusions. We shall, of course, take account of anything which the council may say before approving slaughter methods for chicks. That is why we have been unable to include chicks in the Bill now in that way, but have had to make provision for orders later on after the Farm Animal Welfare Council have given their advice.

The noble Lord finally referred to the question of birds kept for ritual slaughter. He was good enough to refer to what I said on Second Reading, and indeed I would repeat that the amendment in Clause 4 will enable us to make regulations on birds sold live and then slaughtered. To this extent the Bill will therefore apply to ritual slaughter.

Clause 4 agreed to.

Lord Skelmersdale

I hope the Committee will now agree that this is an appropriate moment to go on to the Statement. I beg to move that the House do now resume.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

House resumed.