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Veterinary Practice (Amendment) Bill 2011: Report and Final Stages

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 752 No. 2

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Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I move amendment No. 1:

In page 12, line 45, to delete “this section—” and substitute “this section and section 126A—”.

This is not contentious legislation and this is reflected in the small number of amendments on Committee Stage. On Report Stage there is only one amendment, tabled on the basis of legal advice. It concerns the powers of entry allowing authorised officers to make inspections of veterinary practices. On Committee Stage, I stated an issue arose over authorised officers entering premises without a warrant. There were two exemptions concerning the premises they could enter without a warrant. One concerned people’s homes and the other concerned public buildings, in other words, premises linked to my Department which have a veterinary or veterinary practice connection. On legal advice, we also want to exclude public buildings in respect of entry by authorised officers from the Veterinary Council of Ireland with a warrant. We are clarifying the matter on the basis of legal advice. The amendment is not overly contentious and I appeal to the Opposition to support us in that regard.

There will be an opportunity to discuss all these issues again in the Seanad when the Bill is considered there. If further clarification is necessary at that stage, I will be in a position to answer questions.

[241]Deputy Michael Moynihan: Information on Michael Moynihan Zoom on Michael Moynihan I do not have a difficulty with the amendment. It was discussed on Committee Stage. We do not have a difficulty with the overall thrust of the Bill either. It tidies up some legislative faults regarding the legislation on veterinary practices and veterinary nurses. I do not have an issue with the Bill.

Deputy Michael Colreavy: Information on Michael Colreavy Zoom on Michael Colreavy Will the Minister clarify whether the Bill will lead to different protocols and sets of rules for private and public buildings?

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney No. That is a very fair question. There will be authorised officers who will be able to enter premises to conduct investigations if there has been a complaint. The idea that we would be authorising officers to enter a public premises would legally mean we would be authorising officers to enter our own premises. The advice was that there would be an unnecessary legal conflict considering that all the codes of practice and obligations for inspection and obeying the rules are in place in public buildings and my Department in any case. One could have taken the contrary view and stated authorised officers should also be able to investigate departmental offices or departmental veterinary offices. However, given that all the legal obligations that exist have to be enforced by my Department and our inspectors in any case, having a double inspection process did not seem to make much sense. If Deputies have concerns about this, I can deal with them when discussing the legislation in the Seanad in a few weeks.

Deputy Michael Colreavy: Information on Michael Colreavy Zoom on Michael Colreavy Based on that clarification, we will support the amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Bill reported with amendment and received for final consideration.

Question proposed: “That the Bill do now pass.”

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I thank the Deputies opposite for helping to facilitate the passage of this Bill. The Bill is not particularly controversial. We have tried to take on board some of the comments and observations of the sector, namely the Veterinary Council of Ireland and a number of farming organisations. This is not contentious; it is about taking a pragmatic approach to ensuring farmers and owners of animals can do certain tasks without having to have veterinary supervision or meet the cost of bringing in a veterinarian to do those tasks. The tasks include farrier activity, the microchipping of companion animals, which are predominantly pets, the scanning of cattle and sheep and bovine hoof trimming. These jobs are traditionally done by farmers and, in some cases, others working in the animal husbandry business.

There are jobs that need to be done by qualified practitioners and others that do not necessitate the presence of a veterinarian. We are trying to make that distinction so we will not have legal challenges seeking clarification. That is the main thrust of the Bill.

Other aspects of the Bill cover the recognition of veterinary nurses, for example, and the improvement of standards and enforcement capability and codes of conduct within veterinary practice to ensure that we raise standards to the desired level. I am happy to support the Bill and I thank the Deputies for their co-operation. I look forward to taking the Bill to the Seanad so it can be made law as soon as possible.

Deputy Michael Moynihan: Information on Michael Moynihan Zoom on Michael Moynihan This is a common sense Bill in many ways. Practising farmers have built up expertise in animal husbandry and dealing with hoof care and scanning over generations. They have become experts at farm-gate level. This Bill is worthwhile in that it will [242]remove some of the bureaucracy that exists. I am happy to support it and have it pass through the Dáil.

Deputy Michael Colreavy: Information on Michael Colreavy Zoom on Michael Colreavy My party is happy to support the Bill. We said at the outset that we would support its passage through the House. We will work with the Minister in ensuring it is implemented.

Question put and agreed to.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett The Bill will now be sent to the Seanad.


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