Coveney, Simon

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Select Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine Debate

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

I will read a general speaking note on all the amendments first. There is a general thrust that has some validity and I wish to propose a compromise that members might consider favourably.
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We should be using the pool of resources that is already there to try to add to the existing pool of authorised officers that I have at my disposal. However, there is a distinction to be made when...More Button

Can I respond individually to Deputies?More Button

Let us not get involved in such a process. I was asked by the Chairman to respond to the group of amendments tabled. I did so. That is not to suggest I am proposing we somehow shorten the debate...More Button

Let us not be overly precious about it.More Button

On the procedural issue, just because things were done one way in the past does not necessarily mean it is the way we should always do them. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív was a Minister for a long time and ...More Button

I would prefer not take a lecture, if that is all right.More Button

I do not need to be told how to respond.More Button

I am trying to be non-party political on the legislation. That was the approach in the Seanad, where I took on board amendments, and I intend to take on board amendments on Committee Stage where a...More Button

On the issue of a separate definition of what vets do versus what authorised officers do, clearly there is a different function for vets in a whole range of ways in terms of veterinary legislatio...More Button

This is not a cost-saving measure. Vets may be concerned that under the legislation a number of vets who are authorised officers will be replaced by cheaper substitutes. That is not the intenti...More Button

There is a distinction in the Bill between farm animals and other animals because, in dealing with compensation cases, farm animals are part of a commercial operation. More Button

I am seeking the flexibility for a Minister to appoint appropriate people as authorised officers. What I said before Deputies had an opportunity to make the case for their individual amendments ...More Button

I want to deal with the issue of cost savings. This legislation has been in preparation for a number of years. To the credit of the previous Government, it happened under its watch initially. ...More Button

Deputy Ó Cuív asked who decides when an animal should be put down or destroyed. Essentially, there are two issues. We need to ensure that anybody who is putting an animal down because it is in ...More Button

In the vast majority of circumstances, this will involve input from a veterinary practitioner, either by telephone or on site. I am trying to provide for authorised officers to make decisions in e...More Button

On the legal point Deputy McNamara raised, we are looking into property rights. If a farmer owns a bull worth a couple of hundred thousand euros and it has suffered a fracture, contracted a dise...More Button

Ultimately, this brings us back to the amendments on which Deputy Ó Cuív spoke. He spoke about whether there should be a requirement to get a veterinary opinion before that decision is taken. I...More Button

I think I have answered most of the questions on the amendments. If members want to reply on any of them, I will happily try to deal with them.More Button

I am not responsible for doctors.More Button

There is something in there being an onus on a person to seek advice. My fear is about what would happen if a cattle truck were involved in a crash and a decision to put down animals had to be mad...More Button

I do not want for it to be said in a couple of years that animals could not be put down because a vet could not be contacted for a half hour or more. The provision does not intend to downgrade the...More Button

The Deputy is right that it would happen like that in 99 cases out of 100.More Button

Which they can do. They do not have to be an authorised officer. There is a clear distinction between an authorised officer and a vet, not necessarily in this legislation but in the Veterinary Pr...More Button

In practically all the cases that I can envisage where an animal needs to be put down, the Deputies are right that a vet will reach the scene as quickly as someone from a knackery yard. We must ...More Button

Yes.More Button

Yes.More Button

I will examine it. I want to leave the option open in case one cannot get a vet on the end of telephone line. What if a problem arose at 2 a.m.?More Button

At that time one is not going to text images of an animal and wait for an assessment. One must make a decision in a pretty messy and difficult situation.More Button

Yes.More Button

Is the Deputy referring to amendment No. 72?More Button

This refers to where there is a risk of disease or a disease agent that may be present on land or premises. The amendment requires that: "The power conferred on an authorised officer under More Button

The amendment is linked to the Deputy's previous amendment that an inspector of the Minister would be a vet. Is that correct?More Button

In most instances this concern will arise where there is an inspection on a farm regarding cross-compliance or single farm payment or whatever. Where the authorised officer who is inspecting sees ...More Button

I shall give another example, namely, an agricultural inspector that does not, lest we forget, have training on farming, farm practices and all of the basics of animal husbandry. If he or she, d...More Button

Yes.More Button

That is correct.More Button

They can do more than that and it is important to clarify that. A large element of the legislation is about preventing the spread of disease, which is in everybody's interest, particularly the agr...More Button

Amendment No. 72 states, "The power conferred on an authorised officer under subsection (4)(a)and (b)" which refers to the reasonable grounds for believing that there is a risk of disease-----More Button

Amendment No. 72 continues. "....may only be exercised by an inspector of the Minister" which the Deputies propose to be a vet. I can understand why the Deputies have tabled the amendment but it w...More Button

We could examine adding a subsection to indicate that veterinary advice must be sought in the case of a disease outbreak. I will formulate the correct wording for that.More Button

Will I speak to amendment No. 6 at this point?More Button

It is not a big issue in any event.More Button

Amendment No. 2 not moved.More Button

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-----More Button

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 i...More Button

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...More Button

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 ...More Button

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 e...More Button

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

For example, amendment No. 92, in the name of Deputy Pringle, concerns the requirement for the gathering and collection of data and making data available to the public. He is seeking to add to tha...More Button

It is important for me to be upfront. Amendment No. 26 seeks to ban hare coursing and the use of animals in sporting events which may result in physical suffering. I believe that is included in...More Button

I would like to move on to a vaccination programme when I get advice that it makes sense to do it. Ultimately, there are broader issues around TB that need to be dealt with. Likewise, in regard...More Button

I am not accepting amendment No. 26. Many of the other amendments are linked to amendment No. 26, amendment No. 92 concerns a different issue and, perhaps, one or two of the others are different...More Button

That is as upfront as I can be at this stage.More Button

My understanding is that the only stag hunt in the country has not got a licence renewal, therefore, it is not happening. That is different from outlawing it. So far as I am aware there is no int...More Button

Yes. That might be useful. I can provide a briefing note to members of the committee on the various areas in order that we can have a discussion on the issue the next day. I do not want to raise...More Button

That would be very useful and it will be done before the next meeting.More Button

We will put the report on the Department's website in the next couple of days.More Button

People will be able to see the full report and the recommendations on fur farming. It is just a report. I am not required to take all the recommendations on board, but I would like people to see ...More Button

Business of Select Committee

I would say we will need a long session the next day.More Button

It would be great if we could try to get this completed before the end of the session.More Button

I am in the committee's hands.More Button

The select committee adjourned at 11.25 a.m. until 11.30 a.m. on Thursday, 22 November 2012.More Button