Animal Health and Welfare Bill 2012: Committee Stage (Continued)

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Select Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine Debate
Vol. 1 No. 9

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Chairman: Information on Andrew Doyle Zoom on Andrew Doyle I think we have dealt with all of the amendments discussed with amendment No. 1.

Amendment put and declared lost.

Chairman: Information on Andrew Doyle Zoom on Andrew Doyle As Deputy Michael McNamara is not in attendance, amendment No. 2 cannot be moved. It had been intended to discuss it with amendment No. 6, in the name of the Minister, but that is not now possible.

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Will I speak to amendment No. 6 at this point?

Chairman: Information on Andrew Doyle Zoom on Andrew Doyle We will discuss that amendment when we reach it.

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney It is not a big issue in any event.

Amendment No. 2 not moved.

Chairman: Information on Andrew Doyle Zoom on Andrew Doyle As amendments Nos. 3, 13, 25, 26, 57, 67, 73, 92, 98, 101 and 102 are related, they may be discussed together.

Deputy Thomas Pringle: Information on Thomas Pringle Zoom on Thomas Pringle I move amendment No. 3:

In page 9, subsection (1), between lines 8 and 9, to insert the following:
" "fur" means animal skin including its hair cover;
"fur farming" means the act of keeping, breeding, selling or slaughter of animals solely or primarily for the value of their fur;
"fur product" means a product made of, or containing, fur used as a garment, fashion accessory, toy, decoration or any other use;".

As I have to step outside the room for one moment, Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan will make the case for this amendment on my behalf.

Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan: Information on Maureen O'Sullivan Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan There are 11 amendments in this group. While some of them have a direct relationship with each other, they are diverse. As such, I do not think they should all be discussed together. As amendment No. 26 is the central amendment in this context, I suggest it be discussed on its own. We can decide after that discussion whether the other amendments need to be discussed separately. Amendment No. 93, which has been ruled out of order because it supposedly involves a potential charge on the Exchequer, proposes that the Irish Greyhound Board, rather than the Irish Coursing Club, should deal with the registration of greyhounds. I do not know how that can be said to involve a charge on the Exchequer.

Chairman: Information on Andrew Doyle Zoom on Andrew Doyle We are on amendment No. 3.

Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan: Information on Maureen O'Sullivan Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan I am making this point now because I will be unable to do so when we reach the amendment. Can the matter be checked?

Chairman: Information on Andrew Doyle Zoom on Andrew Doyle We will do so when we reach the amendment.

Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan: Information on Maureen O'Sullivan Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan Okay. I will return to amendment No. 26.

Chairman: Information on Andrew Doyle Zoom on Andrew Doyle We are discussing amendment No. 3

Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan: Information on Maureen O'Sullivan Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan Will we have a chance to make a point about the amendments that have been ruled out of order at a later stage?

Chairman: Information on Andrew Doyle Zoom on Andrew Doyle When we get to them, I will read the explanatory note. I do not imagine that we will reach them today. Does the Deputy have anything further to say on amendment No. 3?

Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan: Information on Maureen O'Sullivan Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan I would like the Chair to respond to my suggestion amendment No. 26 should be discussed first. Many of the other amendments in this group hinge on that amendment. If we consider it first, it might make the discussion move more easily.

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Perhaps the Deputy should focus on amendment No. 26 in her comments on this group of amendments. I have no input into how they are grouped together. I have no problem taking-----

Deputy Clare Daly: Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly It is a practical question. If the Minister were to accept amendment No. 26 which I know is highly unlikely, we would not have to make the case for some of our fall-back amendments as they would no longer be necessary.

Chairman: Information on Andrew Doyle Zoom on Andrew Doyle I remind the Deputies that amendments are grouped by the Bills Office. All of the amendments, including amendment No. 26 in the name of Deputy Thomas Pringle, can be discussed together.

Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan: Information on Maureen O'Sullivan Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan They are too diverse.

Chairman: Information on Andrew Doyle Zoom on Andrew Doyle They are not. They are all related. The Deputies can discuss amendment No. 26 during the committee's consideration of amendment No. 3.

Deputy Clare Daly: Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly I would like to be helpful. The point we are making is that amendment No. 26 proposes the prohibition of many activities, whereas many of the other amendments in this group relate to how these activities might be controlled. Amendment No. 26 would prohibit fur farming, whereas one of the others suggests how it might be controlled. It is obvious that if amendment No. 26 were to be accepted, we would not need to make the case for some of the other amendments. Everything else hinges on that amendment.

Chairman: Information on Andrew Doyle Zoom on Andrew Doyle If the Deputies want to make some general points about the knock-on effects of amendment No. 26, as outlined by Deputy Clare Daly, the Minister can respond to their arguments when he speaks about the amendments in this group. Are the Deputies suggesting amendment No. 3 and other amendments will be irrelevant if amendment No. 26 is accepted?

Deputy Clare Daly: Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly Basically, yes.

Chairman: Information on Andrew Doyle Zoom on Andrew Doyle Do they want the Minister to respond at this stage to their point that amendment No. 3 and other amendments hinge on amendment No. 26?

Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan: Information on Maureen O'Sullivan Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan I would like to hear what the Minister has to say.

Chairman: Information on Andrew Doyle Zoom on Andrew Doyle I was criticised earlier for asking the Minister to speak first.

Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan: Information on Maureen O'Sullivan Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan I would be interested to hear what he has to say on this matter at this stage.

Chairman: Information on Andrew Doyle Zoom on Andrew Doyle I am under pressure to allow the Minister to speak. I will take it that the official contribution by the-----

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I will speak in a spirit of trying to address the Deputies' concerns. It will not be a huge surprise to them that I am not likely to accept amendment No. 26, as there are technical problems with it. In addition, I do not agree with what is being proposed. The Deputies are proposing to amend the section of the Bill governing performances involving animals. Clearly, the section in question is not technically the right place in which to provide for a ban on fur farming. I would like to address the bigger question of whether a series of practices, including hare coursing, badger baiting and fur farming, should be outlawed, but the problem is that we do not have enough time for a substantial debate on the matter in the time remaining in this morning's session. I will deal with one aspect of the matter and we can move on to deal with some of the others the next day.

Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan: Information on Maureen O'Sullivan Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan Okay. If we are going to take each of them as they come along, that is fair enough. We will go with that.

Chairman: Information on Andrew Doyle Zoom on Andrew Doyle No. The reason they are grouped is the exact point the Deputy has made. They are collectively related. One can speak about one or all of them. Deputy Éamn Ó Cuív spoke separately about all the amendments grouped with amendment No. 1 and the Minister responded. I do not want to run down the clock. If a Deputy decides at the end of the discussion to press amendment No. 3, there will be a vote. All of the other amendments will have been discussed.

Deputy Clare Daly: Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly If amendment No. 26 is passed, the others will fall automatically because they will no longer be relevant. We should deal with that amendment first.

Chairman: Information on Andrew Doyle Zoom on Andrew Doyle The Deputies are dealing with it and getting a clear response. I do not think the discussion on amendment No. 3 and all related amendments will conclude by 11.15 a.m. We will have to postpone our decision until 22 November.

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I have proposed a way to deal with this, but I am in the hands of the committee. Unfortunately, we got off to the wrong start. I said I would deal with the essence of what was sought in amendment No. 26, the outlawing of a series of practices that the Deputies consider unacceptable. I was going to explain that I did not agree with such an approach and set out my reasons. For example, I was going to speak about the circumstances in which the snaring of badgers was legal and the circumstances in which it was illegal, with reference to its role in the eradication of TB. I was going to point out that I hoped to move to a badger vaccination programme, rather than a badger culling programme, in the not too distant future. I wanted to indicate the reason the badger culling programme had been such a significant factor in the reduction of the incidence of TB in Ireland.

In the case of fur farming, about which some people are concerned because they think it is cruel, I wanted to remind the committee that I had asked officials in my Department to compile a report on the issue. I was going to read some of the recommendations made in the report in order that the Deputies would understand where I was coming from.

In the case of hare coursing, I had planned to set out a series of reassurances. I appreciate that no reassurances are acceptable to the Deputies who think it should be banned. While they are entitled to their view, the committee is entitled to hear the details of the Government's approach to hare coursing and the other issues raised in the amendments, but we will not have a chance to do all of that now.

I have some sympathy for one or two of the amendments on the list.


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