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Animal Welfare: Transport of Horses

Volume 701: debated on Thursday 15 May 2008

asked Her Majesty’s Government what negotiations they are having with the European Commission and Governments of member states regarding the transporting over long distances of live horses intended for slaughter.

The noble Lord said: For some four or five years, I have sought by way of parliamentary Question, both Written and Oral, to urge the Government to do something to stop the appalling trade in the transport of animals over long distances prior to being slaughtered.

I very much welcome this relatively new procedure which enables one to go into rather more detail than was previously the case. It is timely to raise the matter at this stage because although the existing European Council Regulation 1/2005 has been in operation for only a comparatively short time, and is not expected to be reviewed by the European Commission until 2011, I understand that the Commission has decided to bring the review forward to 2009 and that preparation is being made for that in 2008. Therefore, it is timely to suggest to the Government that they should make strong representations in order to, if not stop this trade—which would be the ideal situation—at least regulate it far more effectively. I gather that it involves about 100,000 horses a year, of which about 84 per cent are shipped to Italy from Poland, Spain, eastern Europe and elsewhere. I hope that the Government will try to improve the regulation of the trade. My noble friend Lady Trumpington has rightly described it as disgusting and I think that the British electorate as a whole would agree with that.

Various charities are concerned about this, particularly the International League for the Protection of Horses, which was recently rebranded as World Horse Welfare, although it has retained its slogan seeking to promote a world where horses are used but never abused. That charity has made a large number of representations and is very active in this field. The RSPCA has also made representations to me, although on the more general question of transport of animals by road as opposed specifically to horses. Without being sentimental about this, there is a difference between animals generally and horses in this context. Whether a horse is used for work, recreation or to enter competitions, there is generally a relationship between it and the person involved with it. This is recognised in the regulation, which distinguishes between animals generally and equines. The Government have not been unsympathetic on this matter.

Given the confusion on previous Questions, I stress that I am not concerned about the export of these animals from the UK. I understand from the Government that that is not a problem; it is a question of the transport of these animals within the European Union. The enlargement of the Union has given us rather more facility to seek to do something about this trade. That is a considerable advantage and why I hope the Government will negotiate very strongly on this issue.

There are basically two points on which one hopes the Government will negotiate both with the Commission and the member states that are most involved. The first is enforcement. Although EC Regulation 1/2005, with one or two notable exceptions, is not too bad a document at all, the reality, which has come out very clearly from the investigations carried out by various charitable organisations, is that it is not being enforced and that the conditions remain very dangerous indeed.

In particular, the recent review by the campaign which I have just mentioned suggests that on its visit to the various eastern European countries and to Italy, none of the lorries that it witnessed during the trip was adhering to the European regulations. It consistently observed infringements, such as no partitions, which the document to which I have just referred requires, as well as mixed animals travelling together in conflict with the regulation, which says that small and large animals should not be herded together and that stallions and mares should not be placed together. Nor is the requirement that vets should check on part of the journey being met. The documentation is also faulty. Action clearly needs to be taken if we are to ameliorate this suffering, which, as I said, is on a considerable scale.

There is no limit on the journey time. Lorries can go all the way from Spain, France or Poland right the way down to the heel of Italy without a proper break. There is a requirement that they should take a break every 24 hours. Again, this is supposed to be checked at control points, but the evidence on how these control points are being operated shows that there is grave cause for concern. Something needs to be done, so I ask the Government whether one should rely on charitable organisations to carry out this kind of investigation. What are the Government doing to see whether it is possible to investigate this matter at an official level? In particular, will they urge the Governments concerned to carry out the investigations properly?

If I understand this document correctly, enforcement of the regulation is the responsibility of the local authorities. That is clearly inappropriate. This is clearly an international trade, so it is more appropriate that the whole thing should be done nationally with a degree of supervision and under international—in other words, European Union—inspection. That is not being done. There is no point having the regulation if the European Union, having produced it, is failing to enforce it. The end of the journey is of particular concern, given that so much of the trade is to Italy, and it is apparent that checks at some of the staging posts after the horse has been travelling for many, many hours are still not being carried out correctly.

The second main issue is the need to negotiate on the revised regulation. A series of issues needs attention. First, it is extraordinary that there is no limit on the absolute length of the journey. I understand that an attempt was made to impose such a limit but was rejected by those responsible for drafting the regulation. Will the Government give a clear undertaking that they will press for an absolute limit on the length of journeys? Secondly, although the requirement is that there should be a stop every 24 hours, given the conditions of heat, crowding and so on, that period is far too long before the horses are taken off the truck and rested. We should also insist that inspections should not operate just at a local level.

One may well ask: why is this trade happening at all? As far as one can establish, it is because, if the animal is slaughtered in Italy, it is said to have its origin in Italy. If nothing else, this is a fraud on the Italian consumer of horse meat. It is always difficult to negotiate something sensible on places of origin, but, none the less, if there were proper labelling, the incentive to ship the poor horses across Europe before they were killed would be significantly diminished and the pressure would be for a carcass trade, instead of the trade that we have at the present time.

One is grateful for being provided with an hour’s debate on this, but one is time-limited and I have come to the end of my limit. Finally, the penalties in the current regulation—a £5,000 fine or six months’ imprisonment—are totally inadequate. How many of these penalties have been imposed, or are they simply in the regulation as a face-saving device and not operated in practice? I look forward to the reply of the Minister, which I hope will do something to improve the present situation which, as I said earlier, is disgusting.

In the absence of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Southwark, perhaps I may say that I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Higgins for raising this issue, with which I have been concerned for some considerable time. As he has said, more than 100,000 horses are transported for slaughter into and within the European Union. The majority are destined for slaughterhouses for human food in Italy. A smaller number of horses from Spain go to Italy. As my noble friend said, the conditions of transport are quite appalling. The animals are often old and broken down. They are mixed together with other species; they are crowded together; some collapse, never to get up; and some die on the way. The situation is appalling.

European Union regulations on the welfare of animals in transport, including horses, ponies and donkeys, came into effect in January 2007. But they do not contain any journey times and the member states of the EU have been unable to agree on journey limits. This means that animals can be transported across the whole of the European Union in one journey—for example, from eastern Europe to Italy.

The regulations would, if they were enforced, require that after 24 hours on the road, horses must be unloaded and rested, with food and water provided during a 24-hour rest period. It is also a requirement that animals may not resume their journey until they have been inspected by a veterinary surgeon and have been found fit to travel. World Horse Welfare, formerly the International League for the Protection of Horses, has well documented and filmed evidence of regulations being ignored regarding horses transported from eastern Europe.

The European Commission has stated that EC Regulation 1/2005 will be reviewed in 2009 rather than 2011, and that issues such as stocking density, journey times and so on will be addressed. Studies of horse transport published last week in the Veterinary Record reported cortisone mediated stress and significant reductions in immunological parameters in horses undergoing the 24-hour journey by road. The inclusion of a 12-hour stopover for rest and feeding interrupted this immunological decline. Anyone who has seen video footage of horse transport from eastern Europe cannot but be appalled at the inhumane treatment of these animals. By far the most humane way of shipping horsemeat to Italy is on the hook and not on the hoof.

Other countries are responding to this issue, and I am grateful for information provided by the ILPH which shows that Poland, for example, is responding to this. In 2001, Poland exported 40,000 horses to Italy, but by 2005 the figure had reduced to 31,000. Clearly, Poland is interested in exporting on the hook rather than on the hoof. It may be that other countries could follow Poland, but obviously there is still a long way to go.

The two organisations that are principally concerned with this traffic have been mentioned by my noble friend. They are World Horse Welfare, previously the International League for the Protection of Horses, in which I must declare a past interest as a former member of the council and a trustee, and the Donkey Sanctuary in Sidmouth, Devon. These organisations collaborate closely. World Horse Welfare is largely concerned with the traffic from eastern European states to Italy, while the Donkey Sanctuary is concerned with donkeys being exported not only from eastern European countries such as Romania to Italy for human consumption, but also, I am informed, the trade in donkeys from Bulgaria via Belgium to Northern Ireland. The port authorities in Northern Ireland have stated that in 2006 some 600 donkeys entered Northern Ireland, and that 400 entered in 2007. No data are yet available for the current year. Where they go on to from Northern Ireland is unclear. Some go to Scotland, while some are slaughtered and the meat re-exported to Europe. It is well known that in France and Switzerland, horsemeat is a delicacy. According to Donkey Sanctuary personnel, the conditions under which these animals are transported from Bulgaria to, eventually, Northern Ireland are very poor, so the same problems arise there as we see in horses being moved to Italy.

It is highly likely that much more needs to be uncovered about the transport of horses, donkeys and ponies for meat, including abuses and that there is much we do not know about. We should be grateful to my noble friend Lord Higgins for bringing this situation to the attention of the House, and for his request for action on the part of the Government.

I apologise to all Members of the Committee, for my name did not appear on the list, so technically I am speaking in the gap, but I crave the indulgence of the Committee and, as the right revered Prelate was unable to speak, perhaps I may be allowed to take a couple of minutes longer than the normal two. I hope that that will be in order.

I first declare an interest. I have been and still am a small donor to the ILPH, the charity about which my noble friend Lord Higgins spoke. As a child, I was brought up with horses; my mother was previously a riding instructor. I reflect the comments that my colleagues have made and add my abhorrence for this trade. I understand that we no longer export horses for human consumption on the Continent; I should like that clarified when the Minister responds.

On enforcement, we are talking about 100,000 horses each year. My noble friend suggested that there were not many prosecutions; I should like to know how many there were. I should also like to know how many inspectors there are across Europe to cover the trade. To follow up my noble friend's suggestion that it is a local authority responsibility, are the inspectors there at a national level or are they a local authority responsibility and therefore a local authority appointment? What is the highest penalty allowed to be imposed?

I have concerns about transporting these horses for miles. Clearly, transporting any animal and then having it killed affects the quality of the meat itself. The stress to the animal before it is killed is something that most of us who have worked with livestock are very well aware of. Nowadays, we have modern refrigeration units in virtually all countries. It seems illogical when reviewing the statutory instrument not to consider whether it is now time that we stopped the practice of transporting these animals miles before they are killed. Has that suggestion been put forward? If not, it should be.

I am delighted to see my noble friend Lady Trumpington in her place. We were talking yesterday about the fact that there used to be a practice of bringing horses across the sea from Argentina all the way to Italy. Does that practice still go on and, if so, what is being done about it? Do other horses get shipped across the continent before they then start on their long journeys?

Finally—I am sorry to be so brief, but I do not want to abuse the Committee's time—although I am sure that the lorry drivers are qualified as lorry drivers, I am concerned that they may not be good stockmen. If you are taking animals on and off, even if it is only at the end of 24 hours, surely there should be some requirement of stock ability in addition to being able to drive the animals. My understanding is that when Europe originally legislated for a 24-hour journey, it provided for eight hours of travelling, six hours on a vehicle stationary and a further eight hours of travel before a 24-hour lay over, but I understand that that was still on board. Can the Minister confirm that the animals are definitely off board—unloaded—and for how long they are unloaded before they begin that cycle again? What is the time lapse after they are unloaded before they can continue on their journey?

I am hugely grateful to my noble friend Lord Higgins for bringing this important short debate to us this afternoon. I think that all of us in this country find this trade abhorrent, but on the Continent it is quite a well-known practice. That does not mean that we should not try to influence colleagues abroad to ensure that, if it has to continue—I hope that it does not—the welfare of animals is the highest priority and legal enforcement is carried out correctly.

I thank the noble Lord, Lord Higgins, for initiating this debate. He and I have responded to the Minister on occasion about this subject on the Floor of the House. This subject goes back a very long way for me. At the age of eight, I used to sit on our garden wall and watch a horse sale every two weeks. Very often, unbroken ponies were brought straight off the Black Mountains in Talgarth, Wales, where I was brought up. There were teenagers blocking the roads at both ends, catching unbroken horses and demonstrating on them. It was a bit like the Wild West; in fact, it was the Wild West in those days. Horse dealers were there, deals were done on the spot, hands were knocked off to clinch deals, and transport was often by train. I graduated at the age of 10 to the official status of drover in the local market with sheep and cattle. It was part of the university of life as far as I was concerned; I learnt a lot.

The transportation of horses in particular for slaughter has occupied my mind. We have been very much enlightened by the description by other contributors to the debate of EC Regulation 1/2005 on the protection of animals during transport. As has been said, that has been updated and a review has been brought forward to 2009. I hope that we will see a great improvement in the way in which that regulation is policed. The United Kingdom has quite a good record in this respect. For example, we have regulations that enable longer journeys to take place across distances within the United Kingdom, such as from the Highlands to further south. We have the eight-hour maximum time for cattle and sheep.

As has been said, enforcement is important. The regulation is much more binding that a directive as far as the European Union is concerned, and the enforcement of regulations is clearly lacking in many EU states. That particularly applies to eastern Europe and Italy, and to some other countries such as Greece. The fact that it is subject to documentation and inspection of vehicles is very good, and that should be done by the European Commission Food and Veterinary Office. It is not clear that that is done very often, and that is a serious loophole as far as the welfare of the animals is concerned. Journey times and space allowance still remain huge problems. As far as I can ascertain from the only information that I can glean about the UK, horses are not exported for slaughter, but approximately 500 horses are exported annually from the UK for breeding purposes. No information on numbers for slaughter is available, and I sometimes wonder, when ponies are worth between £10 and £20, and the passport costs £22, what happens to some of those poor specimens that are sold every autumn.

In 1998, the Polish audit commission criticised irregularities in the transport of animals and insufficient veterinary controls on the export of horses for slaughter to Italy. Comments were made up to 2005. My statistics are not as recent, but apparently Polish exports went down from 80,000 to 40,000 by 2003. It was said earlier that the figure is now down to about 31,000. Of course, it is far more desirable that the meat is exported and not the live animals; that is a far better solution. There is still a problem of increasing live horse exports from Spain to Italy. One problem for the EU to sort out is that animals slaughtered there are recorded as not of Italian origin, but as of the origin of the country from which they come.

Finally, World Horse Welfare reports as of now that there are more than 100,000 horses transported for slaughter into and within the EU, but we should take note of the fact that 84 per cent of those go to Italy. That is a massive majority going there.

There is also the whole issue of EU regulations which state that after travelling for 24 hours, horses going for slaughter must be unloaded and rested. I can only agree with others who have said that 24 hours is far too long a period anyway. World Horse Welfare is of course lobbying for shorter journey limits and slaughtering as close as possible to the premises of origin, preferably in the same country. The RSPCA is conducting campaigns on the same lines. As has already been said, future enforcement should ensure that the regulations are adhered to, and in particular we hope that the amended regulations which should be in place by 2009 will be enforced properly. We hope also that record keeping and the condition of transporters will be regularly inspected to ensure that everything is in order, which clearly is not the case at the present time.

I am sure that all noble Lords are grateful to my noble friend Lord Higgins for tabling the Question and enabling this debate to take place on an interest in which he has a reputation for having been and continuing to be a passionate advocate. I agree with my noble friend that these Thursday afternoon debates in the Moses Room are a good idea because they allow noble Lords to discuss important issues such as this at greater length than would be the case in an ordinary Parliamentary Question.

This is a passionate issue. World Horse Welfare, as we must get used to saying, tells us that around 100,000 horses from countries such as Poland—I was interested in what my noble friend Lord Soulsby had to say about the situation in that country—Romania, Spain, Lithuania and Belarus are packed into lorries and trucked thousands of miles in appalling conditions to the abattoirs of Italy where they are slaughtered for meat. It appears that Italy is the principal destination of this trade, but overall some 140,000 horses are imported into the European Union each year. If we have any information, it would be useful to know where these animals come from. My noble friend Lady Byford mentioned Argentina. Are horses coming in from outside the EU, although obviously Belarus is a non-EU country?

Legislation is in place Europe-wide, but horses still suffer as it is not enforced, and in many cases it is clearly ignored. What representations have Her Majesty’s Government made to Italy, which after all is the principal consumer and therefore may be in a position to do something about this trade? In the UK, we have a horses transport order and a licensing system in place. Sport, competition and breeding are all legitimate reasons for transporting live horses. But from the UK, horse movements are monitored and tabulated. In fact, contrary to what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Livsey, I have before me statistics to show the number of horses that have been exported for breeding, riding or competition work over the past few years. In the UK, we can be assured that we have considerable control over this. Indeed, we also have a passport system. What is the Minister’s view on continuing with the horse passport laws now that we have further regulation in place? If he is confident that that is being enforced, is there still a need for horse passports? It may be that there is.

The problem is not a question of diet. Distasteful as the eating of horsemeat may be to many of us, we have to accept that different countries have different traditions in these matters. What we eat in this country is abhorrent in others, so that is not the issue. But the welfare of animals in transit is an issue that should concern us. Moreover, there is a difference between farm animals and the particular vulnerability of equines in transit. My noble friend Lord Higgins mentioned the mixing of stallions and mares, and small ponies and large draft horses, which can result in injuries during travel. Perhaps I can add edge to the argument if I quote from a report from Trieste on a research trip carried out by the international league last August. It stated:

“Three loads of horses were at this staging post; one from Poland and two from Romania (one of which arrived during our visit). The staging post was in poor repair. The horses were separated into mixed groups of up to eight—fights broke out regularly due to a generally stressed environment. The Romanian load comprised 26 horses that had travelled for around 18 hours. They were separated into groups of up to eight—some with halters, some without (the majority of those without halters had halters put on for unloading). The horses showed signs of extreme dehydration (concertinaed skin), exhaustion (heads low), fear (some reluctant to unload), bruising (kick and bite marks). There was also a suspected heavily pregnant mare. One particular mare (who was in a compartment with six large working type horses) had collapsed on the lorry due to exhaustion, which was evident when they tried to unload her—it took her 20 minutes to get her to her feet and when she did she was extremely unsteady.

Injuries were also obvious on the animals that were in situ when we arrived, including: bite and kick marks; severe dehydration … facial injuries. Stallions were showing severe signs of stress as they were tethered next to mares. Fights were breaking out regularly”.

This is not acceptable to us these days.

If the current legislative protection is not enough, we must seek fresh ways of tackling and enforcing action against this abuse on a European-wide basis. All noble Lords have said that modern refrigeration makes live transport unnecessary. The way that many horses are treated is unacceptable.

I am extremely grateful, particularly to the noble Lord, Lord Higgins, for introducing this debate. I agree with him that this is an excellent format for exploring an issue like this. This is the first time that I have spoken within this framework and I realise how much I appreciate the opportunities that this form of debate provides. When one or two of my colleagues asked whether I would need buttressing in this debate by supporting me with their presence, I said that this would be one of the occasions on which I was likely to be in almost complete concord with speeches from the Opposition—Conservative or Liberal Democrat. I am pleased to say that that is exactly how I feel, having heard the speeches.

There is no doubt that what has been expressed today is that great British affinity with and love of horses and the fact that we look upon them as animals to be cherished; but we are aware that different values obtain elsewhere. As the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, indicated in his thoughtful contribution, it is not for us to dictate the mores of other countries and their patterns of consumption, but it is for us to be concerned about animal welfare. That is how all noble Lords have addressed this issue with regard to the problems that arise.

I have difficulty in responding to the mention by the noble Lord, Lord Soulsby, of trafficking to Northern Ireland, because I do not have a detailed note. That was the only reference to this issue in relation to the United Kingdom because, as the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, properly said, we have a rigorous system in this country regarding the transport of horses.

It is true that inspection is carried out by local authorities, but noble Lords will recognise that it is for each member state to abide by the regulation and to bring its practice into consort with the regulation. But inspection is for those members states. I can see the enormous anxiety about how effective local inspection might be in some countries. On the other hand, we must recognise that some countries have extensive land masses, and it may be better that there is some national supervision. Suffice it to say that we are not in a position to say much about that; we are in a position to make all our representations on the effectiveness of the regulation. We are not in much of a position to say how countries enforce them; save that our concern is how effectively they are enforced.

I am not in any way, shape or form seeking to detract from the pressure that is represented by all noble Lords who have spoken so eloquently in this debate about their views, which I entirely share. We are reflecting the fact that other countries approach horses and their transport differently. First, on the extent to which they go for slaughter, Italy is an important destination. It is also the case that such countries look on horse meat as being part of an attractive diet. I remember the first time I went to France, as a hitch-hiking student. We gaily ordered steak at what looked to be an extraordinary bargain price, and it was not until we chewed somewhat ineffectively for 20 minutes on a small slice of the steak that we realised that there was a difference between the definitions of meat in France and in the United Kingdom. One learns from those harsh experiences. I am going back rather a long time when I recall my student days. Horses go for slaughter to Italy because there is a great demand for them to be turned into horse meat.

What can we do about it? The noble Lord, Lord Higgins, is right. We want to see an improvement in the regulation. It is good that Europe has brought forward the review of the position to 2009, because it reflects the anxieties that are held not just by us but by many other states, which have the same perspective. I am not suggesting for a moment that we are without friends in these representations. I am indicating what every noble Lord recognises; that we are up against formidable perspectives in some countries about these issues and on the definition of cruelty to animals, particularly horses.

I have nothing to say to the noble Baroness, Lady Byford—who used the gap as we would expect, to speak with great effectiveness—about the Italy/Argentina link. I have no doubt that there is an important supply of horses to Italy. She will recognise that the regulation seems to have a marginal impact on the horses that come in by sea. Even my geography indicates to me that Argentina is some way outside the European Community, so it is not in the framework of the regulation. I bear in mind the point that she made, which is illustrative of the nature of the problem.

The Government’s position is straightforward. We do not think that horses should be transported for slaughter at all. We want to see that stopped. It is better that they are slaughtered relatively near to where they have come from than that they are transported in this iniquitous way. We must recognise that it is an extensive trade. There is no doubt that the enlargement of the Community has extended the trade. We take the view of the welfare organisations that we should, as best as possible, seek to make effective the regulation. Let us be fair to the member states; the regulation has only existed since 2005, so we have only three years of experience. As with any regulation, I do not need to talk too extensively to Members of this Committee about the differential implementation of European regulations across Europe. The British Government scrupulously observe the regulation, and I do not think that there has been any criticism in this debate about what happens in the UK. The task of influencing others is much more difficult. We agree with noble Lords about the weaknesses of the 2005 position, such as the length of time for which horses are in these vehicles without any relief or release from confinement during the journey.

There is an issue about the qualification of drivers—again, we license and therefore have strict controls over this—and the question of the crews who drive these great lorries over vast distances. Indeed, we will make representations to this effect. I emphasise the crews because on the whole in the UK we are used to lorries doing 400 or 500 miles at the very most. One recognises when talking about a trade such as this, however, that the trucks can go for well over a 1,000 miles quite comfortably—or rather very uncomfortably, given the length of time. The qualification, however, is about lorry-driver competence rather than animal welfare and concern. That is a difficult nut for us to crack.

Noble Lords—I am looking particularly at the noble Lord, Lord MacGregor—will recognise that when it comes to transport, we are all too well aware of the difficulties of transport regulation and driver competence. What is being sought here is additional competence in relation to the welfare of animals. We agree with that. We are looking at 2009 and the revision as an opportunity to answer exactly the points that have been emphasised so well here today. We do think that we should have maximum limits on the length of time that horses are kept in vehicles when they travel. We are concerned that the standards in Europe should improve and match our own, so we are concerned about the mix of animals to which the noble Lord, Lord Higgins, referred. It is important that there is effective segregation. The space allowance in the vehicle is crucial to the animal’s comfort.

We are looking to make progress on those matters, but I confess to the Committee this obvious point; nothing has been expressed today about the intent of Her Majesty’s Government, who do nothing else but subscribe entirely. We recognise the representations on welfare, and we also know the obvious interest of the noble Lord, Lord Higgins, in this matter. He mentioned five years, but I have no doubt that his interest in this issue goes back further than that, and he has taken this excellent opportunity today to put the Government under pressure. We do not need pressure in terms of our intent. The challenge for us is building up effective alliances to get effective change to the regulation.

As I say, we make due allowance for the fact that the regulation has existed for only three years. Nevertheless, the levels of abuse that have been identified so accurately in all the speeches that have been made today are such that we can substantiate our case for the necessary improvement of the regulation. I give the Committee the obvious assurance that we will make all the representations that we can for change in 2009, but I return to the fundamental point that was generously recognised by such knowledgeable Members on all sides; in talking about the transport of horses, we are also up against a perspective on the value of horses, which in some parts of Europe is somewhat different from the United Kingdom. That is one of the great challenges that we must overcome.

Before the noble Lord sits down—I understand that one does not have a right of reply on these occasions— perhaps I may thank him for his response. Will he be kind enough to check whether the penalties are actually being imposed in any country, or whether they are totally ineffective? I realise that he will not have the answer now, but it would be really interesting in negotiations, if the penalties have not been imposed at all, to stop this charade.

I can give a categorical answer, and should have done so in my contribution. I apologise for that. The maximum figure is £5,000. I do not have information on the extent to which that is imposed, but I will look into the matter. The noble Lord is right that it is part of the Government’s case as regards speculation on enforcement. However, as I mentioned earlier, we are conscious of the limited time for scrutiny of the subject today, and I will take that point very much on board.

[The Sitting was adjourned from 2.50 to 3 pm.]