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The British Horse Society British Horse Society comments on passport regulations

The British Horse Society, having studied the finalised Horse Passports (England) Regulations 2003 published by Defra yesterday, has the following comment to make.

The BHS is pleased that at long last the equestrian world has sight of the regulations relating to horse passports, which come into force on 30 November. It welcomes the fact that several issues raised by equine organisations have been accepted by Defra and implemented in the final document, particularly in relation to extending the deadline six months to 30 June 2004 and the movement of foals when the dam is moved to or from stud.

However, it is still puzzling that passports shall be issued bilingually, in French and English, other than Section IX, which should only be in English (Section 13). Section IX is the declaration as to whether the animal will go into the human food chain or not.

Other puzzling regulations include Section 15 (3) where slaughterhouses are expected to retain passports for one year after an animal is destroyed, rather than return it to the original issuing organisation so that records can be updated, but perhaps the most worrying change is Section 18 (3) (b) which 'requires in application forms for passports and appropriate extra pages an indication of the intended declaration as to whether or not the horse is intended for human consumption and sign the passports or appropriate extra pages accordingly'. Few, if any, application forms include an intended declaration and it would appear that it is up to the issuing organisation to complete Section IX of the passport according to this intention. The BHS will be looking for clarification from Defra on this requirement.

One enlightening result of the published regulation is that the original draconian penalty of six months in prison and/or a fine of £5,000 has been replaced with 'a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months or both' (Section 23 (1) (a)). Again, the BHS is seeking clarification on the 'statutory maximum' for a fine.


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