Lord Trees debates involving the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office during the 2019-2024 Parliament

Climate and Nature

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Wednesday 22nd November 2023

(8 months ago)

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Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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The noble Lord is correct and I can assure him, from our experience of the Covid pandemic, that we are working in collaboration with India on global health generally but specifically on malaria. We welcome India in tackling global health threats and the whole issue of malaria is something we are looking at specifically, based on our research, in terms of collaboration with India on manufacturing. Indeed, two of the main vaccines currently being developed for malaria are actually UK research based.

Lord Trees Portrait Lord Trees (CB)
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My Lords, with regard to global health and climate change—I am sorry it is health again —the latter is having a huge impact on insect-borne diseases of both humans and animals. Malaria has been mentioned, but another very specific threat is that of dengue viral disease in humans, which is no longer confined to the tropics. Indeed, there was an endemic outbreak in people in the Paris region only two to three months ago. So I ask the Minister, although it may be a bit outside his brief, what preparations His Majesty’s Government are making to prepare for, detect and hopefully prevent incursions of similar insect-borne infections into the UK.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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My Lords, it is not just my brief, it is my department. I agree with the noble Lord. When we look not just at malaria but at the spread of dengue fever, I know this for myself because a member of my own family sadly and tragically was infected and then died from dengue fever. We are working in this respect. The noble Lord is correct. We have seen those infections, those transported diseases, very much in evidence now in the UK. The rare and imported pathogens laboratory at Porton Down has accredited, reliable tests for dengue and other infections and we are working with partners and local authorities. We had a question just now about heat as well, and it is notable that, even at a local level in southern England, we have found invasive mosquito vectors appearing on six occasions. That reflects how global transmission is very much a reality, but we do have laboratories very much at the front end of our research to address these issues.

Trade (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership) Bill [HL]

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Lord Trees Portrait Lord Trees (CB)
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My Lords, I too welcome the noble Lord, Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton, to the Chamber. We shall have to get used to using territorial designations, because these Benches have had a noble Lord, Lord Cameron, here for a number of years.

I also welcome the chance to debate this trade Bill but, as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Goldsmith, alluded to earlier, we are considering the cart before the horse. The Trade and Agriculture Commission report is “due to be completed” by 30 November, so we have no sight of that yet. The Section 42 report required under the Agriculture Act 2020 will be available after that, and formal parliamentary scrutiny under CRaG will follow. So we are being asked to comment on the Bill without the benefit of those important reports and that of the International Agreements Committee.

I am left considering the benefits and costs of this agreement. I acknowledge, as has been ably and eloquently detailed by previous speakers, the benefits of agreements of this type over and above the financial. But the financial benefits are extremely modest: I find the Government’s estimate of £2 billion additional GDP by 2040 rather underwhelming.

So I am left considering the downsides or costs and concerns. Noble Lords are aware of my interest as a veterinary surgeon, and my concerns concentrate on our animal health and welfare, public health, the health of our farming industry, and animal health and welfare in the countries that will be supplying us with animal products more freely under this agreement.

We and His Majesty’s Government are rightly proud of our high animal welfare standards. Ministers regularly assure us that we will not lower our standards in negotiating free trade agreements. With respect, that is the right answer to the wrong question. We should ask whether countries exporting to the UK will raise their standards to our level. The answer in this case is that they have no obligations so to do.

The organisation World Animal Protection, formerly the World Society for the Protection of Animals, a global charity for animal welfare based in London, produced a ranking of 50 countries based on its consideration of 10 indicators covering the most important aspects of animal protection. In its latest, 2020 ranking, all the countries within the CPTPP agreement are lower than the UK. Only New Zealand, arguably, comes close to our overall standards.

In our quest for free trade agreements we have yet to set minimum standards for food imports, with the exception of hormone-treated beef, chlorine-washed chicken and ractopamine in pigs. Ongoing tariff negotiations with Canada and Mexico raise concerns about the potential vulnerability of UK farmers, particularly with regard to eggs, pigs, pigmeat and beef meat products produced at standards that are illegal in the UK. Several CPTPP countries still allow practices such as conventional battery cages—banned in the UK since 2012. Similar concerns arise with pigmeat imports from CPTPP members that employ sow stalls—banned in the UK since 1999.

Of particular concern, nationally and globally, for both animal and public health, is the excessive use of antibiotics in several CPTPP countries, with the attendant risks of importing and spreading antibiotic-resistant bacteria in animal products. I know this will be a matter of concern to the noble Lord, Lord Cameron, who, to his great credit, raised the whole issue of antimicrobial resistance to the top of the political agenda and commissioned the O’Neill commission to report its important findings in 2016 on reducing our use of antimicrobials to prevent the severe downsides of antimicrobial resistance.

At a time when food security is rightly a concern, we should be extremally careful not to handicap, undercut or potentially destroy our own food production capability by importing products produced to lower welfare standards. At a time when climate change is such a dominant political issue, we should guard against exporting greenhouse gas emissions by importing products produced less efficiently than we do. A relevant example concerns beef, a kilogram of which we can produce in the UK with less than half the global average of associated greenhouse gas emissions. We should aim to not import beef from any country unless its carbon footprint is lower than ours.

In joining the CPTPP, we note that the Government’s own environmental impact assessment suggests that an increase in global greenhouse gas emissions will occur, but that it will be slight and negligible. But this does not take into account emissions due to transport, nor the potentially high starting point of the carbon footprint in the countries of origin.

In conclusion, we need to safeguard the UK’s indigenous, high-quality, high-welfare and sustainable food production capabilities. That does not mean that we require self-sufficiency—not at all—but we should ensure that we safeguard the core of essential food production capability.

So, finally, I ask the Minister: when will Parliament see the TAC report? Secondly, in his letter of 8 November to noble Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Johnson of Lainston, stated that

“the Government has ensured that joining will not compromise our high animal and plant health, food safety, or animal welfare standards”.

In view of the fact that we cannot influence current standards in member countries of CPTPP, how will this be achieved?

UN Sustainable Development Goals

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Thursday 13th October 2022

(1 year, 9 months ago)

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Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Portrait Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park (Con)
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I have already made comments about the issue of 0.5% and 0.7%. I will not repeat them, other than to say that, like everyone in this House and the other place, we look forward to being able to return to 0.7% very soon. On the specific point that the noble Lord made about the Global Fund, it is true that we have not yet committed to a number, but that is not the same as saying that we are delivering nothing to the Global Fund. We are committed to the Global Fund. I cannot announce the financial commitment that that represents, but it is not true to say that we are withdrawing our support; far from it: we will be making a substantial commitment in due course.

Lord Trees Portrait Lord Trees (CB)
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My Lords, disease causes poverty and poverty causes disease in a vicious circle. Does the noble Lord agree that health underpins all development: social, educational and economic? Does he further agree that, within ODA and our ODA commitment, our support for health should be prioritised?

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Portrait Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park (Con)
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The noble Lord is obviously right. Health remains one of the top four priorities as set out in the integrated review and the international development strategy, neither of which has changed or been forced to be changed as a consequence of recent activities, not least Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine. Health remains a top priority and will continue to do so.

Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases

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Thursday 7th July 2022

(2 years ago)

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Asked by
Lord Trees Portrait Lord Trees
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To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Kigali Summit on Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases on 23 June, what assessment they have made of the effect of current reductions in Official Development Assistance on the global control of (1) malaria, and (2) neglected tropical diseases.

Lord Trees Portrait Lord Trees (CB)
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My Lords, I draw attention to my interests in the register and thank those who have committed to speak today. I am very grateful. The Kigali Summit on Malaria and NTDs on 23 June, running alongside the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Rwanda, reaffirmed international commitment to control and eliminate malaria and neglected tropical diseases in the Kigali Declaration, to which I will return later.

The fact that these diseases were singled out emphasises their importance to the health of the populations in Commonwealth countries and globally. Malaria, as many will know, is a protozoal infection transmitted by mosquitoes and is of huge importance in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, but it is controllable. I can travel and work in malaria-endemic countries safely, as I have done many times, provided I have access to certain safeguards, namely prophylactic drugs, bed nets and, if necessary, curative treatment. However, millions of people in endemic countries do not have such access, so malaria has been, and still is, one of the globe’s biggest killer diseases. International efforts have reduced mortality from nearly 1 million per year before 2000 to about 500,000 by 2015, but that welcome reduction in mortality has stalled since 2015, and I note that was before the Covid epidemic.

This is profoundly worrying because malaria and NTDs are endemic infections which, without interventions, cause morbidity and mortality year after year. It is imperative, if we are to avoid 500,000 deaths a year from malaria in future—some 80% of which are of children under the age of five—that we redouble our efforts to mend damaged health systems and to continue to deliver malaria interventions.

Turning to NTDs, they are a group of 20 health challenges affecting the most disadvantaged and impoverished communities in the world. In a vicious circle, they are a cause of poverty but also caused by poverty. Individually neglected, a brilliant initiative was to bring these disparate conditions together under the title of neglected tropical diseases, which thereby highlighted their huge collective impact. They share many features. In most cases they cause chronic, disabling and stigmatising illnesses such as leprosy; elephantiasis—otherwise called lymphatic filariasis—which causes swollen limbs and genitals; major facial and other disfigurement caused by leishmaniasis; female genital disease and predisposition to HIV as a result of schistosomiasis; and blindness through river blindness and trachoma, to name but a few. Collectively, the NTDs place a huge health burden on the societies affected, while reducing the ability of the afflicted to contribute fully to their societies. Some NTDs, such as rabies and snake bite, kill.

NTDs are a key barrier to the attainment of the sustainable development goals, not only SDG 3 on health but those on poverty eradication, hunger, education, gender equality, work and economic growth, and reducing inequalities. Yet we already have the means to prevent or control many of these horrific diseases, partly with drugs—in many cases donated free by the pharmaceutical industry or recently developed by product development partnerships—or, for rabies, by vaccination of dogs, which are the major cause, through bites, of nearly 60,000 estimated deaths per year from rabies, of which nearly half are in children. What is needed is to deliver these interventions, which may cost as little as 50 cents per treatment.

A major positive, historic initiative was the London declaration of 2012, which identified 10 NTDs for which mass drug administration provided a practical and effective intervention. Substantial progress has been made since 2012: 12 billion treatments have since been donated to prevent or treat NTDs; 600 million people now do not require interventions, which they did in 2010; 43 countries have eliminated at least one NTD; 10 countries have now eliminated lymphatic filariasis as a public health problem; five countries have eliminated trachoma; river blindness has been eliminated in nearly all the Americas; Guinea worm disease is now on the brink of eradication; and there has been a 96% reduction in sleeping sickness cases since 2000.

I reel off these figures to emphasise the great progress made quite recently in controlling diseases that have plagued the endemic populations for centuries. NTDs, however, continue to affect more than 1 billion people worldwide. We must keep the foot on the pedal to sustain these gains. The UK has been a leading supporter of NTD control and research but the recent gains, for which we can take much credit, have been imperilled by the official development assistance cuts. It is difficult to ascertain exactly how much of the £4 billion reduction in the total ODA budget announced in November 2020 fell on health sector support, but the savings are small in comparison with total UK public expenditure, which in 2020-21 was £1,000 billion pounds.

We do know that cuts for NTD control have been disproportionately huge in their effect. The UK’s flagship Ascend programme, essentially our entire operational contribution to NTD control, had its £220 million original budget slashed. These cuts were immediately applied to ongoing programmes. The result was that millions of already donated medicines have been unused, and millions of at-risk people have been left exposed to horrible preventable diseases. Moreover, support for health system strengthening and capacity-building within the NTD programmes was lost. In its two years, however, Ascend consistently scored “exceeds expectations” in evaluations.

We know that the control of NTDs is one of the most cost-effective health interventions, with an average economic benefit of at least $25 dollars for every $1 spent. The Government themselves, in their recent international development strategy, have emphasised that success for that strategy means

“unleashing the potential of people in low- and middle-income countries to improve their lives”,

and that they want women and children to have

“the freedom they need to succeed”.

Yet malaria and NTDs disproportionately affect the health, well-being and life chances of women and children, who bear the brunt of morbidity, mortality, and the stigmatising effects of these diseases. Moreover, tackling these diseases can improve and strengthen health systems, surveillance systems and healthcare delivery methods that align totally with the Government’s priorities for ODA and pandemic preparedness, as well as with the sustainable development goals.

The Kigali Declaration on NTDs seeks to galvanise further commitments to end NTDs by reducing by 90% the number of people requiring interventions for NTDs by 2030. It was backed by high-level participants, including the Minister, the noble Lord, Lord Ahmad, who, on behalf of Her Majesty’s Government, endorsed the agreement.

Returning to malaria, the UK has made major contributions to its control, mainly through the Global Fund, for which the UK was a founding member and has been the second-biggest donor. The fund can command huge economies of scale and has been A-rated by quality assessments. Most importantly, the seventh replenishment goal of $18 billion dollars—to be discussed in September—has already received a pledge from US President Biden for $6 billion dollars but is conditional on the balance of $12 billion dollars being raised from other sources. Failure to reach the target will reduce the US commitment, so potentially every $2 the UK commits will help ensure $1 from the US.

In conclusion, health underpins every attempt to improve social, educational and economic development, which we espouse to support. Without health, endemic communities are handicapped in their ability to help themselves. We need to emphasise that support for health—closely integrated in partnership with endemic communities and Governments—not only is an altruistic and humanitarian good thing to do but is in our own interest.

A huge challenge facing the affluent global North is migration—yes, much of it is driven by conflict, but also by the desire for a better life. With relatively modest investment, returning to our legal commitment to devote 0.7% of our GNI to ODA, and by prioritising health, we can improve the life chances of disadvantaged communities, and through health create wealth: stabilising those communities, promoting social and educational equality, enabling economic development and aiding detection and control of potential pandemics at source, all of which will benefit us in the UK.

Finally, I ask the Minister: how will the UK Government deliver their commitment in the Kigali Declaration to support NTD elimination programmes? Secondly, will Her Majesty’s Government support malaria control by increasing their commitment to the Global Fund at the next replenishment in line with the US Government’s increased commitment?

Queen’s Speech

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Wednesday 18th May 2022

(2 years, 2 months ago)

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Lord Trees Portrait Lord Trees (CB)
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My Lords, I want to make some points about defence, international trade and international development. The defence I shall speak about is the defence against pathogens and the challenges to biosecurity inherent in international trade and globalisation. Biosecurity is something we have too often taken for granted, probably because of our island status, but no man is an island in the age of globalisation, nor, indeed, is any animal or plant, and it is animal and plant health security I shall refer to particularly.

The latest and most potent challenge to our livestock health is African swine fever, which has killed millions of pigs in China, is spreading remorselessly west through continental Europe and now commonly occurs in Romania and Poland. Yet, very recently, Her Majesty’s Government have for the fourth time delayed introducing important border checks on animal products from the EU after Brexit, checks which strengthen our biosecurity safeguards against diseases such as African swine fever. Will the Minister confirm when such checks will be introduced?

What about plants and trees? Although I am a vet, your Lordships may not be surprised to learn that I am also interested in the health of trees. We have huge targets for tree planting to mitigate climate change. The Climate Change Committee advocates planting 90 million to 120 million trees a year until 2050. That is an excellent but very challenging aspiration; but where, I ask, are the saplings coming from? Over the past 30 years, more than 20 imported tree pathogens and pests have devastated the UK’s native woodland, particularly our ash and oak trees. It is estimated that Ash dieback alone will cost the UK £15 billion in consequential effects.

All our efforts to reforest could fail in the face of disease unless we can completely avoid the import of tree pathogens. The best way to do that, I suggest, is to grow our own saplings. The Minister may not be able to answer this, but do we have the nursery capacity in the UK to provide all the saplings we need, and what are the Government doing to ensure that? Biosecurity is like insurance: it has a recurrent cost, and the benefits are not immediately noticeable until a catastrophic event occurs. Let us be wise before the event, not after it.

On trade and animal welfare, we must guard against importing products produced to lower animal welfare standards. That is not simply protectionism against what would be an unfair playing field but is about maintaining and applying our ethical standards globally. We will have time, I hope, to consider that elsewhere when we debate the Australia deal under CRaG. Suffice it to say that there are some concerns with the Australia deal, particularly if it is a template for many other subsequent deals.

Concern about welfare also extends to environmental standards. As your Lordships will be aware, the metric of net zero does not include emissions from imported products. It would be easy for us to try to meet net zero by exporting emissions. Take beef, for example. In the UK, we produce it on largely grass-based systems, on land ill-suited for crops, yet our greenhouse gas emissions per kilogram of beef are half the global average. However, we risk destroying that industry at a time when, whether you like it or not, global demand for meat is set to rise.

The Government’s recently published international development strategy has considerable implications for the control of tropical diseases. Time forbids me discussing this further, but I note that the Government remain committed to a return to spending 0.7% of GNI on official development assistance. When will the Government next review this situation? The UK has a proud history of research into and collaborative support for the control of tropical diseases. Apart from the fact that supporting health improvement in the most disadvantaged countries in the world is a humane thing to do, data show that it is one of the most cost-effective forms of aid. At a time when mass migration and global pandemics are two of the most serious global challenges, it is surely in our own interests to address global health inequalities, which are a major impediment to social and economic development in low and middle-income countries.

Smuggling: Kittens and Puppies

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Tuesday 7th December 2021

(2 years, 7 months ago)

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Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Portrait Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park (Con)
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My Lords, the proposal that we have put forward involves banning the import of heavily pregnant dogs for welfare reasons. We do not think that that needs to extend to pregnant dogs as a whole.

Lord Trees Portrait Lord Trees (CB)
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My Lords, the smuggling from abroad is driven by the high demand for puppies unmet by conventional breeding establishments in the UK. While I support the Government’s efforts to clamp down on illicit importations, should we not be addressing the root cause of this problem and, recognising that dogs are social animals, encourage large-scale, high-health, high-welfare dog breeding in the UK? This would end the serious animal welfare and biosecurity problems caused by criminal smuggling.

Lord Trees Portrait Lord Trees (CB) [V]
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My Lords, I very much welcome the Bill. I welcome the introduction of an office for environmental protection; the efforts to tackle waste and simplify recycling; to tackle littering, which is a national disgrace; the measures to improve and enhance nature, biodiversity and conservation; and many other aspects of the Bill. Others more qualified than I am will doubtless comment on these at great length—some already have.

I would like to discuss three issues. The first concerns antimicrobial resistance and the environment. The current pandemic has emphasised the catastrophic consequences of emerging infectious diseases, but globally we face another major health challenge, that of antimicrobial resistance, so ably championed by the former Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davies, and the subject of a major report led by my noble friend Lord O’Neill. As a result, this issue is now included in the UK national risk register.

This challenge is of course posed by existing known infections which can develop or have developed resistance to currently available drugs. In response to this major global threat, the Government have published a UK five-year national action plan on AMR for 2019-24. This plan includes a substantial section involving the environment: for example, to better understand how AMR spreads between and among humans, animals and the environment. The plan emphasises the need to minimise the spread of AMR through the environment, deepen our understanding about AMR in the environment and minimise antimicrobial contamination of the environment. Given such a fundamental threat to human and animal health which involves the environment, it is surprising that this extensive Bill, in all its 249 pages, does not mention AMR once.

One appreciates that the Bill has to cover a wide range of issues but perhaps this is a missed opportunity to highlight the importance this Government place on the threats posed by AMR. This has been highlighted by the APPG on Antibiotics in a letter to the Secretary of State for Defra from its chair, Julian Sturdy MP. I declare here an interest as an officer of that APPG. We are very grateful for a detailed response to that letter from Rebecca Pow MP, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State. However, it appears that currently there is no mandatory routine surveillance required for antimicrobials in the aquatic environment, nor is there routine surveillance for antibiotic resistance among bacteria in that environment. These seem to be essential data-collection functions which would help enable the national action plan to deliver its objectives. Moreover, it is not clear who will be responsible for setting environmental quality standards for antimicrobial environmental contamination. I appreciate that the Bill leaves much detail to secondary legislation but, given the importance of AMR for environmental, human and animal health, will the Minister consider making specific reference in the Bill to actions to monitor and mitigate AMR?

There are two other issues I would like to raise. The first concerns Clause 133 and the amendment of REACH legislation, which concerns the safety of chemicals. In previous debates on Brexit and REACH, I and others were concerned that data derived from animal testing for the toxicity of chemicals should be shared between European and other competent authorities to minimise the use of animals in such toxicity experiments. Animal welfare is an important priority for this Government; avoiding the need to replicate animal experiments in different jurisdictions while protecting consumer safety would be an obvious way to demonstrate this commitment. Can the Minister assure the House that in any amendment to REACH legislation, this will be a significant consideration?

The last point I wish to raise is connected with Clause 109 on “forest risk commodities”, the principle of which I wholeheartedly welcome. I raise it in connection with food, especially the potential of livestock imports reared on areas recently deforested, or on soya bean or other feed crops grown on cut-down forest. The explanatory notes to Schedule 16 state that among forest risk commodities, beef is

“likely to be considered for inclusion”.

This I would welcome, but it is not explicit in the Bill. Moreover, the Bill currently refers only to illegal deforestation, but we know that in some jurisdictions deforestation is not illegal. Will Her Majesty’s Government consider extending this to encompass legal deforestation, as argued by many environmental NGOs and mentioned already by several noble Lords?

I would point out that according to the recently published Rangeland Atlas from the International Livestock Research Institute, 54% of the world’s land area is natural grassland. Consequently, there is no global excuse for destroying forest to create artificial grassland. The Bill requires suppliers of forest risk commodities to carry out due diligence on such commodities. My final questions to the Minister are: will he assure the House that beef will be included as a forest risk commodity, and who will ensure that due diligence is exercised by importers of beef? I welcome this Bill and look forward to the Minister responding to my questions, if need be by letter.

Lord Trees Portrait Lord Trees (CB) [V]
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My Lords, I very much welcome the Bill, which brings UK sentencing in line with current law in Scotland and Northern Ireland and other comparable countries, better reflects the nature of welfare offences in comparison with other offences and, because there is a strong link between violence against animals and violence against people, may help reduce human abuse as well as animal abuse.

Apart from strongly supporting the Bill, the main point I want to make is to emphasise that legislation is but part of improving standards and enforcement is an important second part. We have a whole raft of excellent animal welfare legislation in the UK but, sadly, there is a marked deficiency in the enforcement of that legislation, as the noble Lord, Lord Oates, mentioned.

The most serious deficit is the fact that no one state organisation has statutory responsibility for animal welfare. Local authorities have the power to appoint inspectors, but this is discretionary and not a legal duty. I urge the Government to consider making the enforcement of animal welfare legislation the statutory responsibility of local authorities and to provide appropriate resources for that purpose.

One of the costs of enforcing the Animal Welfare Act is that dogs seized under the Act must be kept at local authorities’ expense. An unwelcome consequence of the current Bill might be that offences come to court even more slowly than currently. This would have negative welfare and financial consequences, as the noble Baroness, Lady Parminter, mentioned. Can the Minister say what consideration has been given to this issue?

The inadequacies of current enforcement are allowing, among other things, the gross abuse of the pet travel scheme and the shortage of UK-sourced puppies has encouraged major criminal involvement in large-scale puppy and dog smuggling, with attendant welfare consequences. Another aspect of dog smuggling is that, if illegal importation is detected but no offence under the Animal Welfare Act can be proved, I understand that the maximum sentence is likely to be no more than 12 months under the rabies importation order; thus the increased sentence that the Bill would allow, and which we all welcome, would not apply in those cases. Is this anomaly being addressed?

A final concern with regard to livestock is in the light of the fact that, following Brexit and with the phasing out of the basic payment scheme, APHA farm inspections to ensure cross-compliance will cease. Such inspections were an opportunity for inspectors to review the welfare of livestock on inspected premises. What plans are there to ensure that, in future, there are appropriate inspections to check welfare standards on farms?

That said, in summary, I very much welcome the Bill and wish it a speedy passage.

Domestic Animals

Lord Trees Excerpts
Thursday 15th April 2021

(3 years, 3 months ago)

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Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Portrait Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park (Con) [V]
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I am not aware of the research cited by my noble friend, but I will certainly look out for it. The difficulty for the Government is that our job in a sense is to ensure that the minimum standard is acceptable and that owners are not able easily to sink beneath acceptable standards. It is therefore really a baseline that we set. But my noble friend is absolutely right that this is a country of animal lovers and most owners are inspired to look after their pets with great care, and we should of course be doing everything we can to raise standards across the board and encourage everyone to apply the same level of attention, care and love to the pets that they own.

Lord Trees Portrait Lord Trees (CB) [V]
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My Lords, disease and ill health are a major cause of poor welfare in both companion animals and livestock. I congratulate Her Majesty’s Government on recognising this with respect to livestock in the Agriculture Act by providing the possibility of financial incentives to improve health and welfare. How do the Government intend to assess and measure livestock welfare to achieve that objective?

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Portrait Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park (Con) [V]
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The Government’s planned animal health and welfare pathway will support livestock farmers financially by using public funds to deliver public goods and pay for health and welfare enhancements that are valued by the public but not currently delivered by the market or through existing regulatory standards. We are working closely with animal welfare scientists and stakeholders to determine which animal welfare enhancements to pursue and the most effective welfare metrics to use as a basis for those future payments.