ROGER GREEN, House of Commons meeting, 29 Nov 2001

Roger Green , B.Vet Med, MRCVS, President, Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, believes the legislation inherent in the Bill could be extended to any disease in any species.

Mary Critchley: Roger Green is the new president of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. He does wish to make it clear that, because of the haste of the bill, he cannot yet speak entirely on behalf of the RCVS. But he will be making his statements, with his own personal comment. Mr Green:

Roger Green: Thank you. For those of you who don't know, The Royal College is a veterinary and statutory regulator of the profession. It is responsible for, and also looks after, the college thereof; and it's concerned with ethics of action applicable by veterinary surgeons who control disease.

Firstly, I would think, what's good about the bill? Well, I think the good thing about the bill is to have the disease control powers clarified and exposed to parliamentary debate; and the sort of general debate that we are having today. That's what I hope will get us somewhere, and what's wrong?

It has already been said, most of it, and I am sorry to repeat it, but I think the lack of consultation is unforgivable. I understand the drafting started in July, in the midst of the epidemic outbreak, but then the bill wasn't published, so the 2nd reading was on the 12th of November. That is terribly quick.

It's unnecessary, it's a panic. The outbreak is hopefully nearing its end. The last restrictions were removed at midnight last night. I can understand because I also suspected, perhaps, there was a hole in the law; the Government's had time to get round it now.

The scope of the slaughter powers are basically unclear, I think in the bill. Certainly I think any species could be involved and any disease. I know that the secretary of state stated in a parliamentary answer recently that it was just concerned with the foot and mouth disease. But I believe that, by a positive decision, it could be extended to any disease in any species.

And if that includes all the OID list A diseases, it is quite possible. Those are the diseases which cause epidemics and are very serious. There are many which could incorporate horses very easily into this, and what about cats and dogs? I just leave you with a thought.

There should be much more specification of what really this is supposed to apply to, and not so much generalisation. And I would echo; the draconian power inherent in the slaughter of any animals the minister thinks fit.

What worries me from an ethical point of view of veterinary surgeons, is that those that work for DEFRA either as full-time employees or as temporary veterinary inspectors are going to have an ethical problem. In the last outbreak up to 2,000 vets were taken on as temporary veterinary inspectors in this length of time, they're going to have an ethical problem.

Roger Windsor alluded to this: If they are told to kill animals without medical or scientific justification, they are going to have to do as they are told, or resign, and we don't want to have a war out there in the middle of an epidemic. And certainly there will be obviously justification for complaining, if the spread is encouraged, or helped, shall we say by what's happened.

But nevertheless, there must be proper justification for the slaughter at all times.

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