HL Deb 14 December 1987 vol 491 cc518-20

7.38 p.m.

Baroness Trumpington rose to move, That the draft order laid before the House on 25th November be approved [8th Report from the Joint Committee].

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, this draft instrument is necessary so that workers in feed mills and on farms are not exposed to risk from products containing carbadox and olaquindox which have not been licensed and, therefore, do not carry appropriate risk warnings. The marketing and use of medicinal products used as growth promoters in animal feedingstuffs are controlled by an EC Directive, 70/524/EEC. It lays down very detailed conditions about such matters as species, dose rates, ages of treated animals, withdrawal periods, etc.

There are two medicinal feed additives used for growth promotion where the United Kingdom feels that there is some element of risk for workers in feed mills and on farms who may handle the product over a period of time. Our anxieties have been the subject of protracted debate at expert level in the Community. Our EC partners feel that our anxieties are not justified in practice.

For a long period member states have had discretion whether or not they should authorise products containing these two additives, carbadox and olaquindox. At the end of last year, the relevant provisions of European legislation lapsed. But, as a result of an action in the European Court of Justice by a pharmaceutical company, the European Commission had to bring these two substances back into the legislative framework and did so in a form which made it mandatory for member states to license products containing them.

Happily, other member states recognised that our concerns on safety must be acknowledged and the European legislation now contains provisions which enable us to take account of worker safety when we license products containing carbadox and olaquindox by requiring appropriate warnings to be put on the products. There were already corresponding provisions for consumer safety in the previous legislation. We are currently carrying through these labelling requirements to licensed products in full consultation with the Department of Health and Social Security and the Health and Safety Executive.

But Section 9 of the Medicines Act allows a veterinary surgeon to manufacture, sell or supply an unlicensed medicinal product provided it is to be administered to an animal under his care. Clearly it would he possible for unlicensed carbadox and olaquindox products to escape the strict licensing controls and hence the requirement to put the appropriate safety warnings on the labels. Clearly, that route must not be left open. 1 beg to move.

Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 25th November be approved.—[8th Report from the Joint Committee.]—(Baroness Trumpington.)

Lord John-Mackie

My Lords, again I thank the noble Baroness for so clearly putting forward why this order is before us. However the noble Baroness disappointed me slightly. I was hoping that she would read out all the names in paragraph 2. I shall not attempt to do that, but it would have been interesting to have heard the noble Baroness read out those 20 or 30 names.

I consulted the BVA and it was agreeable that no risks could be taken on this. I also consulted a chemical company who agreed that the measure was necessary. However, it did point out that there is always the argument that people will not be able to read the label. I think that nowadays our workers are well enough educated to be able to read the label although there may have been a time when they were not. Anyway it is the duty of the overseer, the manager or the foreman or whoever is carrying out operations to make sure that the label is read properly. Without further ado, I agree with the order.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Lord Hesketh

My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now adjourn during pleasure until eight o'clock.

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

[The Sitting was suspended from 7.43 to 8 p.m.]