A Westminster Hall debate has been scheduled for 19 February on e-petitions relating to animal testing and non-animal research methods. The subject for this debate has been chosen by the Petitions Commitee, and the debate will be opened by Elliot Colburn MP.
The Farrier’s (Registration) Bill 2016-2017 is a Private Members’ (Ballot) Bill introduced by Byron Davies MP. It is a Bill “to make provision about the constitution of the Farriers Registration Council and its committees.” The Bill is due to have its report stage and third reading in the Commons on Friday 24 March 2017.
The Bill completed its committee stage on Tuesday 7 March 2017. It had its second reading on Friday 27 January 2017. It was presented to Parliament for first reading on 29 June 2016 through the Ballot procedure.
The Bill extends to England and Wales and Scotland.
Background: Regulation of the farriery profession
The Farriers (Registration) Act 1975
The explanatory notes to the Bill set out the current regulatory framework for the farriery profession as follows:
“The Farriers Registration Council (FRC) is the regulatory body for the farriery profession in Great Britain. It has statutory responsibilities as set out in the Farriers (Registration) Act 1975 (FRA) to maintain a register of farriers, determining who is eligible for registration and to regulate farriery training. The FRC investigates and, where necessary, determines disciplinary cases through the statutory Investigating Committee and Disciplinary Committee. In common with other statutory regulatory bodies its primary function is to protect and maintain the public interest; in doing so this also serves to act in the interests of animal welfare.”
DEFRA consultation to reform of the Farriers Registration Council (FRC)
In November 2013, DEFRA consulted stakeholders seeking views on proposals for reforming the governance, structure and operation of the Farriers Registration Council (FRC). The consultation document explained that “such reforms would include certain amendments to the Farriers (Registration) Act 1975 (FRA)”.
In its summary of consultation responses, DEFRA stated that it intended to go forward with proposed amendments to reform the Farriers (Registration) Act 1975 with respect to the constitution of the Council and the constitution of the Investigating and Disciplinary Committees. It went on to say that it intended to prepare a draft Bill to make the amendments. However, the Coalition Government did not find space in their legislative programme for the draft Bill in the 2010-15 parliament.
Private Members’ Bill ballot, May 2016
Following the ballot for Private Members’ Bills held on 26 May 2016, Byron Davies MP ‘picked up’ the draft bill and presented it for first reading on 29 June 2016.
On 2 December 2016, the FRC website announced that its chairman had accepted an invitation to speak with Defra Minister, George Eustice on 16 December 2016. At this meeting, the FRC Chairman Tony Charlwood and DEFRA Minister George Eustice discussed the Bill ahead of its second reading. According to the FRC press release, the Minister and Chairman discussed the development of the draft Bill, and noted preferences and ideas offered during the consultation.
What does the Bill do?
Clause 1 of the Bill introduces the schedule, which amends the Farriers (Registration) Act 1975 and makes changes to the constitution of the Farriers Registration Council and its committees: the investigating committee and the disciplinary committee. Clause 2 of the Bill gives the Secretary of State powers to change the constitution of the Council and its committees by regulations. Clause 3 defines the territorial extent and commencement of the Bill—England and Wales and Scotland.
The Schedule has three parts, which replace the respective sections in the original Act dealing with the constitution of the council, the constitution of the investigating committee, and the constitution of the disciplinary committee.
Part 1 of the schedule deals with the constitution of the council. The Bill retains the existing number of members (16), but makes some changes to their make-up as follows:
- Four practising farriers will be elected;
- Two farriers will be appointed by the British Farriers and Blacksmiths Association;
- Three members will be appointed by the Worshipful Company of Farriers (but there will be a new requirement that at least one must be a practising farrier);
- There will be two veterinary surgeons appointed by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons; and
- Five lay representatives will be appointed by various interested bodies, (e.g. the RSPCA and the British Horseracing Authority).
The Bill also introduces a fixed four-year term of office for all members, stipulates that a member may serve on the council only twice and introduces fitness-to-serve conditions.
Parts 2 and 3 of the schedule make changes to the constitution of the investigating and disciplinary committees.
Debate and amendments to the Bill
There have been no tabled amendments to the Bill at any stage, and there is widespread support for this Bill across the House. Shadow DEFRA Minister Mary Glindon expressed her support for the Bill at committee stage, stating:
“We support the Bill, as it introduces a greater level of fairness and transparency to the FRC and its committees that will underpin its progress as a modern and professional regulator for its members, and for those who rely on the industry well into the future.”
The Government has stated that the Bill “enjoys full Government support”. In addition, DEFRA was responsible for drafting the explanatory notes to the Bill (with the consent of Byron Davies, the Member‐in‐Charge of the Bill).
Explanatory Notes to the Bill (23 January 2017). Prepared by DEFRA with the consent of the Sponsoring Member Byron Davies MP.
The Bill, as introduced (20 January 2017)
Public Bill Committee Proceedings (7 March 2017)
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