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Equine Welfare

Volume 463: debated on Thursday 19 July 2007

6. When he expects to introduce (a) licensing of livery yards and (b) regulations on tethering as provided for by the Animal Welfare Act 2006. (150593)

It is the Government’s intention to introduce secondary legislation on livery yards, and a code of practice will be introduced as soon as possible and in line with resources.

That was not a terribly illuminating response, I am afraid. May I point out to the Minister that as many riding establishments are licensed, it seems correct that livery yards should be licensed in the same way? Does he intend that those approved by the British Horse Society should still require a licence from the local authority? With regard to tethering, is it his intention that the travelling population should comply with the rules that he introduces? Would he be prepared to attend the all-party group on the horse, which I have the honour of chairing, to discuss these matters?

To answer the last question first—yes. Also, we are considering the code for tethering. I take on board the hon. Gentleman’s points about the travelling community. We do not want horses to endure tethering for long periods. As for introducing licensing, he knows that we had to make a decision during the passage of the Animal Welfare Bill, and we chose to deal with circuses and greyhounds. We are committed to introducing legislation for livery yards, but there are always competing demands on time.

When the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee took evidence on the draft Animal Welfare Bill, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals told us that there were several thousand complaints a year about incorrect tethering, illegal grazing and subsequent straying, which has caused significant problems in counties such as mine. Will the Minister consider the RSPCA’s recommendation that the Government work much more closely with local authorities, particularly, as the hon. Member for Tewkesbury (Mr. Robertson) said, in areas where there are significant encampments of the travelling community?