Baroness Vere of Norbiton
I completely accept the noble Lord’s point. He is right, and I did not mean to denigrate their contribution. Certainly we have been in communication with the industry—we communicated in August 2018 and then with other groups more broadly in January 2019—so there has been time to think about this. We believe that, as was raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Jones, a number of people are offering to pay the £225. It is important to understand that these individuals would still be able to work under supervision anyway. If they are within that sort of environment, they would be okay. It seems that the training and accreditation is not measured in years; it is much shorter than that.
I turn to the questions asked by the noble Baroness, Lady Bakewell. The point about the banning of live exports was also raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Jones. I know, having been in your Lordships’ House for a little while now, how important this issue is, because it comes up frequently. Our manifesto commitment made it absolutely clear that we would take early steps to control the export of live animals for slaughter once we leave the EU. Last year, as noble Lords will know, we sought evidence on how we could achieve that, including through a possible ban. A number of noble Lords mentioned that we are awaiting advice from the Farm Animal Welfare Committee on this issue, as well as advice on how we can more generally improve welfare for all animals in transport, which I believe will address some of the issues raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Jones.
I cannot confirm that the report will be published this week. I very much hope that it is, but I have a note saying that it will be published by the end of March. I hope that is acceptable to the noble Baroness. We will consider all the options, in line with the commitment that we made in our manifesto, and we will ensure that any measures introduced are consistent with the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.
I confess that the issue of economic activity was something that confused me, too, and I am grateful to the noble Baroness for asking her question. I will try to be helpful here, but I am not sure that I will be very helpful. The regulation states:
“Transport for commercial purposes is not limited to transport where an immediate exchange of money, goods or services takes place. Transport for commercial purposes includes, in particular, transport which directly or indirectly involves or aims at a financial gain”.
So I think the €2.5 million-odd at the Arc de Triomphe would fall within that. Indeed, the note says that it includes transporting horses to race abroad.
Noble Lords touched on the issue of the Irish border and movement over it. We have been clear that there will be no physical infrastructure or related checks and controls at the border. It will be a key part of our ongoing relationship with the EU and with our friends and neighbours in the Republic of Ireland. If we leave the EU without a deal, we will be treated as a third country. At this time, there is no reciprocity being offered by the EU, but one might imagine that it might at least be open some conversations if the worst comes to the worst—certainly from my perspective—and we leave with no deal.
The question of donkeys is one that I asked myself. I reassure the noble Baroness that, although we do not have figures for how many exports may involve donkeys, mules or hinnies, no equines were exported for slaughter. That is pretty much all I can do with that one, I am afraid. I think it is a minority sport, so to speak; I do not think that there are donkeys heading anywhere to be killed for meat.
Noble Lords mentioned sheep farming. It is an incredibly important issue. I answered a Question, I think from the noble Lord, Lord Wigley, about sheep farming in Wales. We all feel that this is a very important issue. I think it is something that we will be discussing as the Brexit process happens. I certainly hope that we have a deal. However, if we are in a situation where we leave with no deal, the Government will look to do whatever they can to intervene in the event that there is significant market movement in the price of lamb. We do not consider—as was suggested in the Sunday Times, I believe, this weekend—that a mass cull is an option. It is not an option, and we would certainly work very closely with the sheep farming communities on what we can do.
The noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Whitchurch, talked about border delays, and she was right. In planning for leaving the EU, we have three objectives: to maintain the current high levels of UK biosecurity; to maintain the flow of goods at the border; and to minimise the impact on businesses. Animals and animal products originating in the EU will continue to enter the UK without needing to be checked at a UK border inspection post. We will continue to have risk-based border import checks for live animals, germinal products and some animal by-products, as are carried out now. The only additional inspections will apply to live animals, animal products and high-risk food and feed not of animal origin that originate from a third country and have travelled through the EU. We believe that we have the resources in place, and we are confident that there will not be significant delays at the border resulting from any changed arrangements as we leave the EU.
The noble Baroness spotted the “at least initially” in the Explanatory Memorandum. I would like to reassure her—because it does look quite suspicious—that we have no intention of lowering any of our current welfare standards after we leave the EU. In fact, we will look to raise standards substantially over time as new research and evidence emerge. So there may well be divergence in future, but we do not expect it to be to the detriment of the welfare of animals in our country.
Another issue that often arises when we discuss animal welfare is the small abattoirs sector. The Government acknowledge the role that small abattoirs play in local economies and in reducing the distance that animals have to travel for slaughter. The decline in the number of small abattoirs is the result of a combination of different factors, including consolidation in the retail sector and greater efficiency, so much of the slaughter is now taking place in larger, more efficient abattoirs. However, officials from Defra and the FSA are working with the Sustainable Food Trust to understand the issues facing small abattoirs and what scope there may be to reduce regulatory burdens that may not be appropriate in those very small settings. The Government will not reduce animal welfare standards, but there may be other things that we can do. We are also aware that the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare has just announced a review of the small abattoir sector and we look forward to seeing that report.
The issue of forms was mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Whitchurch. This is extremely important because the forms contain the information and data that go into ensuring that we are able to meet the regulations, et cetera. That is the issue which underpins all of this. We do not envisage that the type of data in the forms will change in the future. However, if it needs to do so, it will be only in order to meet the regulations. Therefore, it is not the case that you could suddenly knock off half the data, because then you would not have the information to prove that you were complying with the regulations. We do not envisage any significant change and we will continue to use the current EU forms after exit day. Over a period of time it may be that we will introduce our own forms, but there is unlikely to be a significant change and the industry is very used to providing this information.
I turn to the issue of transport enforcement. This is indeed critical, and it is the case that we have had to strike a balance. We will not have the powers to suspend or revoke certificates of competence for individual transporters. However, we will be able to make a formal notification to the issuing member state to address issues of non-compliance, and the local authority will have powers to take action against the EU transporter if it commits an offence in the UK under the Welfare of Animals (Transport) (England) Order 2006 or the Animal Welfare Act 2006. We are clear that this is for an interim period. The purpose here is again about balance. It is to make sure that as little as possible changes, particularly in the very short term. However, over the longer term as the future relationship settles down, particularly in a no-deal situation, we will be looking at the system again to ensure that enforcement is possible. It also could be that a relationship with the EU may develop over time. But we cannot say how it will be affected at this stage, especially on transportation, because the options are so many and varied. Also, there is movement in the area of haulage in general, which I do not think is quite within the scope of this SI.
Almost finally, I turn to consultation, an issue that frequently comes up. I hope that I can reassure noble Lords that we have done our best to provide guidance to all of the affected stakeholders. As I mentioned earlier, we did this in August 2018 and in January 2019.
I shall say a little more about transporter costs and numbers. The cost of acquiring EU 27 authorisation will vary across the different member states. Our understanding is that the direct and administration costs are on average around £300. This could have an impact on around 500 transporters, although some will have the option of using EU-authorised transporters to mitigate some of the impact—as I alluded to earlier.
I believe that I have covered nearly all of the questions put to me by noble Lords, particularly those relating directly to this SI. I beg to move.