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horse British Horse Society Ragwort Bill goes forward to Report Stage and Third Reading

The Private Members' Bill, Equine Welfare (Ragwort Control) Bill, initiated by The British Horse Society and sponsored by John Greenway, MP for Ryedale, successfully completed its Committee Stage last week and now goes forward to Report Stage and Third Reading, set for Friday 11 July.

Following agreement at the Bill's Second Reading (March 21) between Mr Greenway and Alun Michael, Minister for Rural Affairs and Minister for the Horse, Committee Stage amendments have ensured that a Code of Practice, to be made by the Minister, will provide statutory guidance on how to prevent the spread of Ragwort. It will also be 'admissible in evidence' meaning that it can be taken into account if a court feels it to be relevant.

John Greenway said, " The original Bill was always intended to provide Parliament with the chance to consider a number of options, any one of which would strengthen the fight against this pernicious disease. By adopting a statutory code of practice Parliament is sending a clear message to landowners about how they should meet their existing responsibilities. If they fail to follow the code, they are more likely to face successful prosecution. Equally if they follow the code they would have a defence, though following the code will make a significant impact on the amount of Ragwort and, in turn, improve equine welfare which is our sole concern."

BHS Chief Executive Kay Driver commented, "Whilst it is disappointing that sacrifices have had to be made with the original wording of the Bill, we are still confident that the amendments will ensure, if this Bill succeeds, that it will make a positive difference in controlling the spread of Ragwort. The Ragwort Bill has received very strong support and we are grateful to John Greenway for taking this Bill forward on behalf of the nearly one million equines in this country."


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