HL Deb 13 May 1998 vol 589 cc1150-2

7.42 p.m.

Read a third time.

Baroness Nicol

My Lords, I beg to move that the Bill do now pass. In moving this Motion, I should like to thank all those who have taken part in the proceedings on the Bill and who have, without exception, supported it. I refer in particular to the noble Lord, Lord Luke, for the Opposition, the noble Baroness, Lady Wharton, the noble Lords, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, Lord Soulsby and Lord Waddington, and the noble Earl, Lord Liverpool.

I am particularly grateful to all those who said at Second Reading that they would like to see the Bill strengthened but who, in the interests of allowing the Bill to progress, have not pressed amendments. My noble friend on the Front Bench has also been supportive and encouraging and I hope, therefore, that he can give us an assurance that it is not the Government's intention simply to reissue the present code in the form of regulations. We hope that the opportunity will be taken to examine the code and to strengthen it where necessary. For example, we wish to press the point that animals in quarantine should be examined by a vet approved by the owner, if he or she wishes it.

Other points were raised at Second Reading. I hope my noble friend can assure us that full attention will be paid to that debate when the new regulations are being considered. I beg to move.

Moved, That the Bill do now pass.—(Baroness Nicol.)

Lord Beaumont of Whitley

My Lords, we all owe an enormous debt to the noble Baroness, Lady Nicol, for bringing forward the Bill and to those in another place who took it through its stages there. Some criticism has been levelled at the habit of taking Bills off-the-shelf from ministries and passing them through as Private Members' Bills. However, I think there is justification for it in this case. It is true that we would like to have seen many changes to the Bill. We would like to have seen it considerably strengthened. If noble Lords saw the recent television programme about conditions in quarantine, they would want to have seen the Bill strengthened in various ways, including, as the noble Baroness said, by allowing owners to have vets of their own choosing to see their animals.

With those reservations, and in the hope, which the noble Baroness has expressed, that the Government when they produce the regulations will make them considerably tougher than the present ones, we very much support the Bill and welcome the work that has been put into it.

Lord Luke

My Lords, on these Benches we have no hesitation in supporting the Bill. It will do a good job. I congratulate the noble Baroness and thank her for bringing the Bill forward to this House.

Lord Hoyle

My Lords, I thank my noble friend Lady Nicol for introducing the Bill and for the way she has argued her case. At the moment, Ministers have no clear legal basis for laying down legal standards for animals kept in quarantine premises. The Channel 4 programme "Undercover Britain" of 5th May illustrated again the need for legislation to cover this area. I can assure my noble friends that I have noted all the points made. The Government will seize the opportunity presented by the Bill to make meaningful and effective secondary legislation.

I was asked about independent veterinary surgeons visiting the premises. The issue was raised a number of times during the proceedings on the Bill in your Lordships' House and when it was considered in another place. Whether independent vets should have access to the premises in question is a matter that Ministers will consider when drafting the terms implementing the legislation.

We support the Bill and we believe that its net effects will be totally beneficial. All the points made will be noted and the Government will seize the opportunity to strengthen the order when it comes about.

Baroness Nicol

My Lords, I thank noble Lords for their kind remarks.

On Question, Bill passed.