Cookies: We use cookies to give you the best possible experience on our site. By continuing to use the site you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more
House of Lords Hansard
x
Equine (Records, Identification and Movement) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019
20 February 2019
Volume 795

Considered in Grand Committee

Moved by

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

That the Grand Committee do consider the Equine (Records, Identification and Movement) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

My Lords, it is probably appropriate that I declare an interest as a member of the British Horse Society, although, sadly, at the moment I do not own any horses.

The purpose of this statutory instrument is to ensure that EU law regarding equine identification, which will be retained following withdrawal, has the necessary technical amendments made to it so that equine legislation remains operable. This will ensure that the human food chain can continue to be protected and that equines can continue to be traded and moved into and through the EU, while maintaining robust standards of equine health. The current system of equine identification is set out in EU legislation, primarily by Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2015/262 —the equine passport regulation.

The regulations before us do not make any changes to current policy or enforcement already in force, but I would like to set out the principal changes that they make. Part 2 sets out the technical amendments to the text of the retained EU equine passport regulation to ensure continued operability. Part 3 makes similar technical amendments to certain directly retained Commission decisions relating to equines—namely, on the collection of data for competitions, the recognition of stud books and the co-ordination of information exchange between those stud books. Part 4 makes amendments to the EEA agreement, as retained in UK law under the EU withdrawal Act.

These necessary technical amendments to ensure operability involve changing references to the Union in the current EU regulation to refer, instead, to the UK or, where the admission of equines with appropriate ID documents from the EU is concerned, to equines from both the EU and the UK. References to authorities in member states are amended to refer to the appropriate authorities in the UK, which in relation to England will be the Secretary of State, in relation to Scotland will be Scottish Ministers, in relation to Wales will be Welsh Ministers, and in relation to Northern Ireland will be the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.

In Parts 2 and 3 of the regulations, certain articles of the Commission regulation and Commission decisions are omitted by this legislation. For clarification, this is because they contain provisions that will no longer have relevance once Section 2(2) of the European Communities Act is repealed. The omitted articles will therefore become redundant. For example, a requirement to provide for enforcement, or an ability to derogate from the legislation, can no longer be given effect because there will be no legislative power to do so once Section 2(2) is repealed. However, where relevant, necessary provisions have already been given effect by domestic legislation and they will be preserved and continue to have effect by virtue of the EU withdrawal Act.

I draw your Lordships’ attention to one addition that the regulations make, which is the insertion of a new article 15A. This is because, in the event of a no-deal exit, it will be necessary to have the facility to generate a supplementary travel document to accompany some equine movements. Such a document is a standard requirement for certain types of movement originating from a third country. Equine IDs issued by passport-issuing organisations in the UK will not be sufficient for this purpose because the ID must be issued by the competent authority.

This travel document will be necessary only for unregistered equines. These are equines that are not registered on an EU approved stud book or by an international organisation that manages the competition or racing of horses, including ponies. The Animal and Plant Health Agency has drawn up a simple single-page document which will satisfy the requirements of the legislation. It can be printed off and signed by the vet at the same time as other travel documentation is issued. The Animal and Plant Health Agency has taken on additional staff and undertaken training to ensure day-one readiness. In Northern Ireland, the role will be performed by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, which has similarly indicated appropriate readiness.

The House of Lords sifting committee raised the cost of blood tests for equines moving into or through the European Union. To be clear, European rules require that third countries must be assigned a disease risk status. There are seven possible categories which are based on the geographic region of the third country and the level of associated equine health risk. Blood testing is a mandatory requirement for all equines from third countries. The number of tests required reflects the disease risk category assigned to the third country. Given the UK’s high health status and high welfare standards, of which we should be rightly proud, we would expect to be assessed as low risk and therefore subject to the minimum of such tests, which should limit the cost implications on the sector.

The UK has already submitted an application to the EU for the third-country listing of equines as a contingency, as part of a wider application covering other live animals and animal products. The Commission has since indicated its desire to list the UK “swiftly”, if necessary. I should stress that these testing requirements, as with the need for a supplementary travel document, are not in any way due to this legislation. Both requirements are a consequence of the UK becoming a third country; thus we would be subject to existing laws set down for third countries. The equine sector is very familiar with blood tests and it is already the industry norm for current UK to third-country movements.

For the avoidance of doubt, while all equines will require blood tests prior to movement, the supplementary travel document will be necessary, as I have said, only with respect to the movement of “unregistered” equines into the EU. My department has been working closely with key members of the equine industry to ensure that the new processes are as simple as possible. We are communicating the detail of the necessary changes to equine owners and all involved in horse movement. The extent of these regulations is the UK. All the devolved Administrations have been consulted and involved in the preparation of this legislation; indeed, they have consented to it coming into force. I beg to move.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

My Lords, I thank my noble friend for introducing this statutory instrument. I have one or two observations, but I am grateful to him for explaining why the Lords sifting committee has recommended that it should be an affirmative instrument. Clearly, the blood testing will be new for some people who are going to be exporting. I am also glad that the single lifetime document will continue as it is.

I want to ask my noble friend about an aspect that has always worried me and continues to do so: the export of ponies or horses, which on the whole are supposed to be going for riding or other purposes but often go into the human health chain. I am glad that the SI refers to this because it clearly mentions the potential harmful substances which could be in those animals when they are exported. Can he tell me a little more about the Government’s thinking on that aspect rather than the stud, breeding and horseracing side that we automatically think about? However, I think that hundreds of animals are still being shipped abroad for whatever purpose—in the end, we are not quite sure about that.

I turn to the Explanatory Memorandum. Paragraph 13.2 on page 4 refers to “retrospective microchipping” for older horses,

“which will apply from 1 October 2020”.

What will happen between now and then or is something already in place that I have missed? That is quite likely because these statutory instruments are complex.

As far as I am concerned, I welcome the instrument. It is really a matter of transferring EU laws to make it possible for us to continue in the same way. However, we must bear in mind that becoming a third country brings with it additional requirements for those involved in the sector. However, I am much more at ease with those that are registered than perhaps I am with the unregistered. I am not sure how this statutory instrument deals with that aspect of animal welfare and, in fact, in the end of human health welfare too.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for his clear exposition. Notwithstanding his assurances, I would like to seek further assurance on two points. First, will this instrument adequately maintain the biosecurity of the UK horse population, particularly regarding African horse sickness and the movement of horses into the UK? My second point was touched on by the noble Baroness, Lady Byford. In view of the fact that the welfare of horses in the UK might be hindered by the difficulty and costs of enabling humane slaughter of unwanted horses, can the Minister assure us that this SI places no additional impediment on the humane slaughter of horses in approved equine abattoirs, which in some cases might be abroad?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

My Lords, I welcome the statutory instrument’s purpose and I thank my noble friend for introducing it. We should not take equine health for granted, given the latest incident of equine flu and the devastating effect it could have on the racing community. I should declare that I am a member of the APPG on racing, and I live on what was a stud farm in North Yorkshire.

What is the relationship between the statutory instrument and the tripartite agreement? When the tripartite agreement was created it was outwith the European Union. It obviously continues to function extremely well and it is slightly confusing that it should have been brought in the EU’s remit when it refers only to horses travelling between the UK, Ireland and France. I know there is great concern that this agreement should continue. I hope the statutory instrument will allow that—it could be one of its benefits—but given that we now have almost less than a month to go, what will the status of the tripartite agreement be and what is the specific relationship between the statutory instrument and that agreement?

Most of the reasons why horses and ponies travel are for racing, breeding and the purposes of riding but, as my noble friend Lady Byford pointed out, there is quite a thriving trade on the continent for edible horsemeat. I confess that I did so once as a student in Denmark, when a trick was played on me and I did not quite realise what I was eating. Having grown up with a little pony, I was absolutely devastated afterwards. There was a sinister development in, I think, 2012 with the horsegate scandal. It showed that there is the potential for, or has been, an animal health issue almost every 10 years: we had BSE in the early 1990s, foot and mouth in the early 2000s, and then what was thankfully only a passing off, not a human or animal health food scandal. But it was totally unacceptable that we never really got to the bottom of the chain. The Select Committee that I chaired tried to invite witnesses who could have proved beyond doubt that there were Irish connections involved, which we were unable to do because we could not subpoena witnesses from outside the United Kingdom.

This is an extremely important instrument for biosecurity, animal health and potentially passing off. I hope my noble friend will put my mind at rest that that is its basis. I have a Question coming up next month, so I will have the opportunity to pursue that further.

My noble friend Lady Byford mentioned the Explanatory Memorandum, in which paragraph 3.2 on page 2 refers to the Lords sifting committee recommendation that this instrument should use the affirmative procedure. It also mentions the “potential costs”. In the disclaimer—for want of a better word—at the end, it is recorded as saying that,

“the total cost … falls below the £5 million”,

but the committee must have been concerned. Will the Minister repeat the actual cost for the benefit of the Committee this afternoon? It is obviously below £5 million, but I will be interested to know what the actual cost will be. I welcome that the department, through this instrument, will continue to allow free movement with a minimum of disruption. That begs the question of potential checks in the event of no deal at ports of entry to the continent. I hope that can be resolved by carrying over the tripartite agreement. If it was initially outwith the European Union, I see no reason why we cannot reach an agreement between the UK, Ireland and France that it should continue.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

My Lords, I too thank the Minister and his officials for the helpful way in which they have outlined the impact of this statutory instrument and answered questions from those of us who brought them to their attention. I am particularly glad that we can reassure the general public. I feel that very few of them will read the statutory instrument, but it makes it clear that the status quo will be maintained with regard to equine passports. We do not want horse owners thinking that there will be changes in when they need to get their horses identified or in the status for selling feral ponies because although the SI removes those requirements, they are found elsewhere in domestic legislation. If you read the SI, you would not know that, but it was very reassuring to hear from the Minister that the status quo is maintained with regard to equine passports.

I add my voice to the voices of those who raised the issue of horsemeat entering the food chain. I understand from officials that the regulations with regard to the waiting time before that meat can enter the food chain are carried over in their entirety. Going on from what the noble Baroness, Lady Byford, said, it is not just horses going abroad. Horses are slaughtered in the UK. We have four registered slaughterhouses in the UK. I was amazed to find out that 2,800 animals a year are slaughtered in the UK for the food chain.

I do not oppose this statutory instrument but it highlights a number of concerns about what will happen to the trade in and moving of horses if there is no deal. As the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, said, this mainly concerns racing, competition and breeding, but individual horse owners take their horses to the continent, including younger people who might go to train to be great jockeys in the future, which would be fantastic. It is estimated that 42,000 such journeys are made every year, so if there is no deal, the impact will be great.

I have one question for the Minister. As the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, has noted, the Government’s technical note makes clear that the UK will need to be listed as a third country by 29 March. If we are not listed, we cannot move horses to Europe. Can the Minister confirm whether I am correct that if we are not listed by the EU as a third-party country, no horses will be able to move? That would have an incredibly big impact. The noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, said that the impact assessment, such as it is, refers only to the impact of this tiny SI, which is less than £5 million, but if there is no deal and horses cannot move, that will have a massive impact on the industry and on individual horse owners. Have the Government made any estimation of the cost of that devastating outcome?

The second area I want to touch on is that if there is no deal but we are listed, there will be a need for the new ID document, as the Minister rightly identified. As he said, this should be for non-industry equines only. However, having listened to the debate in the Commons, it seems that there is the possibility that the Commission may not recognise our stud books; that is my understanding of the Commons debate. I would be interested to know whether there is a possibility of the Commission not recognising our stud books. In that case, all equines, including industry equines, would be required to have ID documentation. I know that the Minister has made it clear that the documentation, both the export certificate and the ID documentation, would be available at a minimal cost, but they will require extra blood tests which cost hundreds of pounds. As the noble Lord, Lord Trees, mentioned in the debate on an earlier SI, this will require vets. However, if we do not get a deal, we will not have the 50% of our vets who come from other parts of Europe. We could be under real pressure in terms of the number of vets we have. Again, that would put an extra burden on horse owners and it is possible that the industry might have to wait longer to enable the veterinary profession to undertake these extra requirements. All of that comes on top of the extra border inspections which may be required at ports. I believe that most horse owners are very caring and considerate; they do not want to see their horses stuck at borders, which would be the result of no deal.

This SI points to the fact that, at the very minimum, there will be extra costs, extra administrative requirements and undoubtedly extra time for horse owners if we have no deal. If we have no deal and we do not get listed as a third party, there will be no movement at all, which will have a massive impact. This is another statutory instrument which demonstrates the huge loss that this country will bear if we leave the European Union on 29 March.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I add my name to other noble Lords who have spoken today and thank the Minister for his explanation of the regulations. I declare my interests as set out in the register, but hasten to add that I have no connections with anything to do with horses. The Minister is correct to make clear that these regulations are being made in the event of a no deal outcome to the UK leaving the EU and it would be redundant should the UK leave with a deal. I thank the Minister once again for facilitating discussions earlier in the week on the SI.

While EU law is supported by UK domestic enforcement legislation after exit day with a deal, as EU legislation will then be retained under the withdrawal Act, the UK must still have an effective, operable statute book should the UK leave the EU without an agreement, as the Minister has explained. Labour recognises that the regulations largely make no changes to the current policy or enforcement, although there are one or two points I shall come to, and therefore does not oppose them. That is not to say that there are no significant concerns about the considerable impact that a no deal outcome will have on the equine industry as well as nearly every other industry. For this reason, the sifting committee of your Lordships’ House has recommended that the regulations be made under the affirmative procedure.

EU law requires equines to be identified by way of a passport. In most cases, equines born after 2009 must also be uniquely identifiable with a microchip. It is recognised and emphasised that this passport will contain important identity information and pertinent details of veterinary medicines administered to the animal and will define the animal’s current food chain status eligibility. The identification regulations have also been recently updated. The UK’s database was launched on 8 March 2018 and contains data about virtually every equine in the UK except those registered and listed as belonging to semi-wild and wild populations. It is to these populations that my attention has been drawn by World Horse Welfare and I thank that organisation for raising these issues. In his opening remarks, the Minister explained that the technicalities under the legislation withdrawing the UK from the EU might explain some of the anomalies the charity has raised. I thank him for that and I also thank the noble Baroness, Lady Parminter, who underlined this point. Some of the points that I am about to raise might be redundant, although, as World Horse Welfare has specifically asked these questions and I have given the Minister notice of them, perhaps I may outline them so that he can deal with them appropriately.

The first concerns the amendment to article 12. Regulation 15(c) on page 5 omits paragraph 2. World Horse Welfare does not agree that that paragraph should be omitted. According to the organisation’s understanding, to do so would be to make a change to current practice in an already complex system where member states may decide to limit the maximum permitted period for identifying the animal to six months or to the calendar year of birth. England and the devolved Administrations are already using slightly different language in their implementing regulations and it is unclear whether they are using this derogation. Am I correct that removal of this derogation, if not covered under domestic legislation, would add to the confusion regarding the relevant deadline to get an ID document for a horse and cause further confusion for the 70-odd passport issuing organisations across the UK—already a confusing enough situation? Does the Minister agree that the industry might be encouraged to undertake a rationalisation of the number of passport issuing organisations, especially if that were to result in cost savings?

World Horse Welfare also raises a concern about the omission of article 13 in Regulation 16 on page 6 regarding wild and semi-wild horses. In England there are horses living under wild or semi-wild conditions; namely, on Dartmoor, Exmoor, Wicken Fen and the New Forest, and on some commons in Wales. It is impractical and indeed a risk to their welfare to require them to be passported unless being moved, sold or brought into domestic use. Once again, I would be grateful if the Minister could clarify the situation regarding this article, as it has been used to great effect for many years.

Returning to more general matters regarding the no deal scenario and how its worst features can be mitigated, what discussions have the Government had with the EU and the European Commission about allowing the UK to become a listed third country on the day the UK leaves the EU? Once again, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Parminter, who raised this issue.

As with other farm animals, these passports are mostly necessary in relation to non-pedigree, unregistered equines. Have the Government undertaken any discussions within the EU to recognise UK stud books and pedigree records? The Minister made reference to stud books in his opening remarks. Will it be possible to assimilate all farm animals under a scheme drawn up by the APHA with a simple, single-page document that will meet the requirements of the legislation and which can be downloaded and signed off by the relevant vet at the same time as other travel documents and health certificates?

Although the Explanatory Memorandum makes it clear that additional costs will not result from the regulations, the Minister will be aware that your Lordships’ sifting committee specifically raised the cost of blood tests for equines moving into or through the EU following UK withdrawal and recommended that the regulations be upgraded in this respect. I understand that the number of tests and procedures varies depending on the risk-assessed disease risk category assigned to the third country. What discussions have the UK Government had with the EU regarding the UK’s disease risk status as a listed third party? How many tests would this involve and what would be the likely additional costs for those moving horses from this country to the rest of the EU, given that blood testing is a mandatory requirement for all equines from third countries?

Lastly—or nearly lastly—there also remain concerns about the welfare implications of long queues at the borders, should they happen in the event of no deal. Clearly, hours spent in a queuing lorry in high temperatures pose significant welfare problems for live animals. Can the Minister outline whether any contingency planning has been undertaken regarding live animals, including equines, in the event of a backlog of lorries at the border? Would it be possible for priority to be given to live animals in any queue? EU veterinarians have to sign off on various responsibilities during movement, which means that some of the checks will occur outside the UK. After Brexit, most of these responsibilities will fall to UK vets, which may increase the work required and the associated costs, assuming movements continue to occur at the current rate. I am grateful to the Minister for his follow-up letter regarding the recognition of standards in veterinary surgeons following the SI that we discussed last week.

Finally, I understand that the recent Equine Identification (England) Regulations 2018 will become subject to review by no later than October 2023. This is some considerable time ahead, and no doubt is the normal due process procedure in normal times. Would the Minister consider whether this process should be reviewed and reconsidered, given the various regimes, should no deal indeed turn out to be what happens?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

My Lords, I am most grateful again for this very constructive debate. Some of the issues have gone beyond the instrument itself, but I am delighted to answer as many of them as I can. If there are points of detail to follow up, I will ensure that we do so.

In reply to the noble Baroness, Lady Parminter, and the noble Lord, Lord Trees—in fact all of your Lordships, because this is something that we all care desperately about—this SI absolutely is about the continuation of the existing high standards of biosecurity and equine health. There is no change to anything at all in these technical and operability amendments. I say again to my noble friend Lady Byford and the noble Baroness, Lady Parminter, that there are absolutely no changes in the standards required for horses entering the food chain. Articles 34 and 37 of EU regulation 15/262 cover the action that must be taken when an equine dies or is slaughtered to ensure that the animal’s ID and medication record reflect any medical products administered to the animal and its status regarding the food chain.

In reply to the noble Lord, Lord Trees, and the noble Baroness, Lady Parminter, the Food Standards Agency enforces checks carried out at slaughterhouses and will take appropriate enforcement should that be required. The combination of the legislation, passports, microchips, the UK’s central equine database and checks by the FSA help to ensure that, with that architecture, the safety of the human food chain is secure.

To confirm, because it is terribly important, particularly to my noble friend Lady Byford, these regulations will not affect government policy on the slaughter of equines for food. The existing equine identification rules do not prevent the slaughter of an equine for human consumption, provided the equine is properly identified in accordance with the legislation and has not been signed out of the food chain.

On the issue of passports, which the noble Baroness, Lady Parminter, and the noble Lord, Lord Grantchester, referred to in one sense, the current rules around applications for and the issuing of an equine passport are set out in our domestic regulations—for example, at Regulation 6 of the Equine Identification (England) Regulations 2018. For article 12, referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Grantchester, concerning a derogation allowing for a shortening of the deadline for issuing a passport, domestic secondary legislation already sets out the appropriate and necessary deadlines. Therefore, the article is omitted from the retained primary because it is covered in domestic law. The relevant provision in England can be found in Regulation 6 of the Equine Identification (England) Regulations.

On the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Grantchester, semi-wild ponies are in so many ways an iconic and cultural part of many of our wonderful landscapes. Article 13, which was omitted from the retained legislation, contains the derogation available on semi-wild ponies. The domestic regulations, which came into force for England on 1 October 2018 and in Wales on 12 February 2019, make use of the derogation for semi-wild ponies. Therefore, the allowance rules pertaining to semi-wild ponies are not changing. For example, this is a provision in Regulations 17 to 23 in Part 3 of the Equine Identification (England) Regulations. An equivalent provision is made in the Welsh regulations.

I am well aware of the long-standing nature of the tripartite agreement, which was raised by my noble friend Lady McIntosh. The Government recognise the importance of the tripartite agreement and we have published the implications of a no-deal Brexit on equine movement in the technical notice Taking Horses Abroad if there’s No Brexit Deal. This made clear that we would no longer have access to the tripartite agreement if the UK leaves without an agreement. Of course, we are seeking and want a deal, and I am well aware of all the equine interests. There has been a very strong working relationship with the equine sector for a long period of time. We fully realise that we want to ensure the free movement of equines as part of the tripartite agreement. If we did not have that access all EU member states would be subject to the same rules on equine movements—we are planning for this scenario, although we do not want these circumstances to arise. I think everyone in the equine world—many in Ireland, although not so many in France—is working as hard as they can to get these matters resolved.

My noble friend Lady Byford mentioned retrospective chipping. This is in our domestic regulations. The 2020 deadline for microchipping is to give time to owners of horses that were not previously required to be microchipped to adjust to the new requirement, but these microchipping requirements are so important for identification if horses are stolen or get loose, or if there are strays. There are all sorts of reasons why it was absolutely right that we extended microchipping to all horses and to give that ability for older horses that were not part of the original regime. I suggest that anyone who has not had their horse microchipped and, inevitably, has a routine visit from the vet, gets it done at the same time.

A number of other points were made. As I said in my opening remarks—the noble Lord, Lord Grantchester, referred to it—we have been in close communication with the Commission about a listing, not only on this matter but more widely. Clearly, the stud book issue is alongside that. Although obviously I cannot guarantee it, we are very positive about the response and understanding in the reference to “swiftly” because member states are of course keen to continue with the movement of equines, particularly between the Republic of Ireland and the UK, where there is a strong equine connection, and indeed between the UK and France. It is absolutely understood that it will be of mutual benefit to get those listings.

Noble Lords have talked about the costs of the blood tests. They are not directly related to this instrument but blood tests are likely to be required to obtain an export health certificate, which owners will have to pay for. Additional costs related to the need for blood tests are estimated to be between £200 and £500 depending on the third country category placed on the UK. As I have explained, we are expecting, if this were to come about, that we would be placed in a low-risk category and therefore we are not expecting the higher figure. That is not a consequence of the regulation but a result of having to comply with existing third country rules. As I have said, our export of equines to other third countries is already subject to blood testing requirements and, as I know directly, the equine sector is familiar with the process. Indeed, it is the norm for third country movements. But, again, we are looking for a deal. I emphasise that we need and want a deal.

The noble Baroness, Lady Parminter, asked what would happen if the UK does not get a third country listing. Racehorses registered with a national or international organisation or association will still be able to move; it will be other horses that will not. I would also say that we have a lot of communication with the equine sector, not only with the British Horseracing Authority and the racing authorities but more broadly as well. The sector is apprised of the new requirements and it is vital that a clear component of that is that we continue with clear communications. That is why I have looked at many of the technical notices on this matter so that, as a horse enthusiast, I can check how they might be received because they have been written in language that I would understand.

The noble Baroness also raised a point about capacity. The APHA has now planned for this and there is adequate capacity, while DAERA has already indicated that it is ready and able to issue the notices in Northern Ireland. The Government do not plan to charge for ID documents.

The noble Lord, Lord Grantchester, asked about the rationalisation of passport-issuing organisations. The point was eloquently made but it is not a component of this instrument. However, the noble Lord has raised an issue that could clearly be a matter for review. Of course, all passport-issuing organisations must comply with the law.

We have been working with the equine industry on the issue of border delays. In the event of no deal we need to ensure that this is factored in. The key point of any factoring in is that animal welfare must not be compromised. We are working closely with the equine sector because we must not put our animals in any jeopardy.

The noble Lord, Lord Grantchester, also said that the review would take too long. The first report must be published by 1 October 2023. It is a deadline and we will look at it; indeed, we will review earlier if there is a clear case to do so. That is very important.

Since the noble Lord, Lord Trees, is here and since two members of my family are in the veterinary profession, as I have disclosed before, I should say that I am very conscious of the vet as a key component in equine life. It is also important that I therefore assure the Committee that Defra provided evidence to the Migration Advisory Committee, strongly supporting the return of veterinary surgeons to the shortage occupation list. A report on that is due this spring. However, we are working with the official veterinarians and other support officers to ensure all that we need to have in place is there in readiness.

Although this slightly goes off the subject of this instrument, I am also very conscious that my noble friend Lady McIntosh mentioned equine flu, while the noble Lord, Lord Trees, mentioned African horse sickness. We absolutely must maintain our biosecurity standards and, wherever possible, enhance them. One key area in the work of the Animal Health Trust, the universities and the APHA—all the organisations that we have in the public, private and charitable sectors—is the health status of UK horses, which is hugely important. That is part of our reputation and when we see cases of animals not being cared for, we are all angry and expect matters to be undertaken. I notice that my noble friend Lord De Mauley is here; important work was also done on the legislation to ensure the welfare of horses that were being dumped on other people’s land.

Parliament, and all of us, have been working extremely hard beyond this instrument, but I will look at Hansard because there may be some elements, or twists and turns in some questions that I have not fully covered. In the meantime, this technical operability instrument is important and we have it ready.

Motion agreed.