§ 10. Mr. David Cameron (Witney) (Con)
What estimate she has made of the cost of enforcing new legislation on horse passports; and if she will make a statement. 
§ The Minister for Rural Affairs and Local Environmental Quality (Alun Michael)
The horse passports regulations will be enforced in two ways. Local authority trading standards officers will be responsible for enforcing the requirement to have a passport. The Meat Hygiene Service will be responsible for enforcing the legislation at the slaughterhouse. Enforcement will be subsumed in existing responsibilities and resources.
§ Mr. Cameron
What will the Department tell people when they see an army of snoopers paid for with council tax to inspect their stables; when they see a law that has 397 been condemned as defective by a Committee of the House; and when they see a measure that excludes most wild ponies, which do occasionally—and regrettably—end up in the food chain, while including donkeys and other ponies, virtually none of which do? Why have the Government wasted so much time in introducing such a ridiculous piece of bureaucracy just so that the French can go on eating horsemeat?
§ Alun Michael
The hon. Gentleman obviously knows very little about the legislation and the reasons for it. It will clearly surprise him to learn that it has strong support in the horse industry.
The advantage of the horse passport system, apart from the identification of horses and the meeting of our obligations under the legislation, is that the industry will be able to go on using the methods that it currently uses, which are extremely valid and would not be used unless the regulations were in place.
§ Mr. Owen Paterson (North Shropshire) (Con)
That was an amazing reply. The National Audit Office has confirmed that the British Cattle Movement Service has lost more than 100,000 cattle, at a cost to the British taxpayer of £15 million a year. Can the Minister name three clear lessons from that fiasco to prove to the House that this latest bureaucratic nightmare will not lose a similar number of horses?
§ Alun Michael
It was an amazing reply because it was made in response to an amazing question from an Opposition Back Bencher, but the Front Benchers are even better: they do not seem to understand the difference between horses and cattle.
We have introduced a statutory instrument that responds to our discussions with the industry about the most efficient and co-operative way of implementing legislation. It is a good example of the Government working with the horse industry and recognising the contribution that it makes to this country and the economy of rural areas. I must say to the hon. Gentleman that that was never done by his party when it was in government.