HC Deb 25 February 2004 vol 418 cc431-2W
Mr. Swayne

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what assessment she has made of the impact of the proposal that veterinary surgeons complete silhouettes for equine passports on the practice of commoning in the New Forest; and if she will make a statement; [155267]

(2) which organisations were consulted on proposals that veterinary surgeons complete silhouettes for equine passports; and for what reasons the New Forest Commoners Defence Association was not included in the consultation. [155268]

Alun Michael

We have never said that only veterinary surgeons can complete and sign the silhouette in horse passports. The passport must be signed either by a vet or the competent authority—which is the passport-issuing organisation—in accordance with European rules.

When concerns were expressed to Defra that in some cases the person completing some silhouettes on behalf of the competent authority had no proven competency and that there was no independent verification of the details, I agreed to provide further guidance to all passport-issuing organisations. I explained this to a meting of all passport issuing organisations on 4 November 2003. The New Forest Verderers have informed Defra officials how they intend to meet the requirements in respect of silhouettes for animals in the New Forest, and officials have confirmed that these are within the guidelines issued.

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