All horses and ponies in England and Wales are to be given a unique registration number and a "passport" for life, Rural Affairs Minister Alun Michael announced today.
By 31 December, 2003, all horses, ponies and donkeys will need to have a passport, bringing the country into line with European legislation. The Government is also in discussion with the equine industry on setting up a central database on horses which could be used for disease control.
The Government has looked for the most cost-effective way of meeting this legal requirement and to find the best way of keeping bureaucracy to a minimum. This will be achieved by working with the horse industry, within which many organisations already have a register and issue passports. By working with those organisations, the need to create a new bureaucracy has been avoided, and horse users will benefit from a fully integrated system.
In a Written Answer to Tony Cunningham MP (Workington), Mr Michael said:
"We have carefully considered the responses to the consultation exercise carried out on the implementation of Commission Decision 2000/68. Taking account of these views and the need to comply with the terms of the Decision the Government has decided that by 31 December 2003 all horses and ponies must have passports. The Government also intends to introduce a unique identification number for all horses and ponies.
"Owners and keepers of horses and ponies which are not currently registered will be required to register these animals with one of the appropriate approved equine organisations. The owners of these animals and the owners of registered horses and ponies which currently do not have passports, will be required to obtain passports from the approved organisations. We will require that owners of horses and ponies which currently have passports be issued with the new extended passport containing details of veterinary medicines administered.
"Discussions are now taking place with industry organisations about detailed implementation arrangements.
also considers that it is vital to establish a central database of basic
information on horses which could be used for disease control and other
purposes and will establish the necessary arrangements following discussion
with the Horse Industry in order to achieve this end with a minimum of
bureaucracy and at minimum cost".