Sweeping Changes to Quarantine Law Proposed
The most radical and sweeping changes to the UK's quarantine laws for almost a century have been proposed by a panel of experts.
The Government, as promised, wants the views of the public before taking decisions on whether to change the rules. The main proposals, which are based on a thorough risk assessment and the latest science, would allow pets to travel to and from Britain, the EU and specified rabies free countries. Quarantine would remain for animals from other countries.
- Agriculture Minister Nick Brown said:
- "Professor Kennedy's report proposes the most radical changes to our quarantine laws for almost a century. It is an important piece of work.
"I am pleased to see that the report contains a thorough risk assessment of the alternatives, and that the changes proposed to the current rules provide a level of protection against rabies entering this country which would match that which quarantine gives us now.
"I am sympathetic to change along the lines recommended by Professor Kennedy's Advisory Group. We next want to hear views from the public and interested organisations before deciding on a specific way forward.
"In any event, I am determined to make sure that the UK remains a rabies-free country with strong safeguards against the disease. We also need to look at how the new system would work in practice and how pet owners would pay for it.
"I have today sent a consultation letter with a summary of the report's recommendations to over 1000 organisations and individuals asking them for their comments. Any member of the public can obtain both documents free from the four UK Agriculture Departments. The documents have also been placed on the Internet."
Agriculture Minister Nick Brown today published the report of the independent Advisory Group on Quarantine which was set up by the Government in October 1997 and chaired by Professor Ian Kennedy. At the same time Mr Brown announced a public consultation on the options for change outlined in the report titled Quarantine and Rabies: A Reappraisal.
The report contains a number of detailed recommendations for change. In the main, they would allow pets to travel into the UK from other EU Member States and specified rabies-free countries, as long as the animals had been protected against rabies by vaccination, were identified by microchips, blood tested and carried appropriate certificates to prove this. The system would allow UK residents' pets to travel abroad to these countries with their pets and return to the UK without any quarantine requirements. However, the report also proposes that pet cats and dogs from other countries should still be subject to a six month period in quarantine. The report recommends that a sufficiently long period of up to three years should be allowed for the introduction of the new system so that it can be implemented effectively.
The consultation letter issued by the Government today asks the public to consider:
- whether the proposed new system offers adequate safeguards against the importation of rabies into the UK;
- how pet owners would be affected by the proposed new system;
- what should happen to those animals arriving at a UK port whose microchip cannot be read, or whose paperwork is not in order;
- the proposed timescale for implementation of up to 3 years;
- their views on the proposals for animals other than cats and dogs, where non carnivores from European countries and rabies free islands would no longer be subject to quarantine, carnivores would be subject to 6 months quarantine, and bats would be subject to quarantine for life; and
- whether animals admitted to the UK under the new arrangements should be treated against certain tapeworm and tick infestations not currently found in the UK.
The public and interested organisations should submit their responses to the proposals set out in the Advisory Group's report by 31 December 1998.
- Copies of the full report (price £15) are available from:
- MAFF Publications
- Admail 6000
- SW1A 2XX
- Tel: 0645 556000
- Responses to the public consultation should be sent to:
The closing date for consultation responses is 31 December 1998.
- Miss S Davenport
- Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food
- Hook Rise South
- KT6 7NF
- The setting up of an independent Expert Group to advise the Government on quarantine and rabies was announced on 2 October 1997. The Group, which met for the first time on 24 November 1997, comprised nine experts and was chaired by Ian Kennedy, Professor of Health Law, Ethics and Public Policy at University College London.
- For further developments see the later MAFF press release.