Section 1 – Slaughter for preventing spread of disease
6.Section 1 inserts a new section 32E and Schedule 3A into the 1981 Act and gives the Scottish Ministers supplemental powers to slaughter animals and birds with a view to preventing the spread of specified diseases including, for example, Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) and Classical swine-fever. These new powers are additional to existing powers under section 31, as read with Schedule 3 to the 1981 Act, to slaughter animals “affected” with specified diseases (as well as those suspected of being affected, or which have been in contact with affected animals, or in any way exposed to the infection).
7.Paragraph 6 of Schedule 3A gives the Scottish Ministers the power to extend the new slaughter power to any disease of animals they specify and, in such cases, to specify the animals (meaning any mammals except man), birds or amphibians which could be slaughtered. In the cases of the diseases specified in paragraphs 1 to 5, the Scottish Ministers may specify by order a wider group of animals to be slaughtered than those specified in these paragraphs. The diseases which may be specified are diseases of animals, as defined by section 87 of the 1981 Act. The power of slaughter provided for in paragraph 6 applies to, potentially, a wider category of “animals” than in paragraphs 1 to 5 of the Schedule. By virtue of paragraph 6 the Scottish Ministers can specify any animal, bird or amphibian to which the paragraph 6 slaughter power applies and in this context “animal” means any mammal (except man). The power will enable the slaughter of any mammal and not just those animals covered by the definition in section 87 of the 1981 Act, in order to prevent the spread of disease to farmed livestock in a disease outbreak. For example the slaughter of wild animals such as foxes might be necessary in event of an outbreak of a fast spreading disease capable of being transmitted by foxes to livestock.
8.Paragraph 9 makes provision as to the procedure for making an order under paragraph 6. It requires such an order to be laid in draft and approved by a resolution of Parliament unless there is an outbreak of a disease of animals (as defined by section 87 of the 1981 Act) or some other emergency relating to a disease of animals in which case the emergency order making power detailed in paragraph 9(3) can be used. An emergency order must include a description of the emergency giving rise to the need to use the emergency procedure.
9.Paragraph 7 of Schedule 3A provides that the Scottish Ministers may exercise the new powers of slaughter whether or not the animals, birds or amphibians concerned: are affected or suspected of being affected with the disease; are or have been in contact with animals, birds or amphibians so affected; have been in any way exposed to the disease; or have been treated with vaccine or serum or both against the disease. Therefore, Scottish Ministers could, if considered necessary, adopt a slaughter policy to ring-fence disease beyond a disease infected area. For example, such a disease defence policy could be used in relation to FMD where the virus has been known to spread over many kilometres in certain wind conditions. In certain circumstances, such a cull could be deemed necessary to curtail the disease spread .
10.Paragraph 8 requires the payment of compensation for any animal (as defined by section 87 of the 1981 Act) slaughtered under Schedule 3A, but not other animals, birds and amphibians, and allows different provision to be made for different cases or classes of case. The existing powers of the 1981 Act could be used, if it was considered to be appropriate, to provide for the payment of compensation for other animals or birds or amphibians slaughtered under the exercise of any of the new slaughter powers. An order, providing for the payment of compensation under paragraph 8(1), is subject to negative resolution of the Scottish Parliament.