The Private Members’ Bill on Equine Welfare (Ragwort Control) successfully completed its Committee Stage last week and will go forward to Report Stage and its Third Reading on Friday 11 July.
Initiated by the British Horse Society and sponsored by John Greenway, MP for Ryedale, the Bill has been amended to include a Code of Practice on how to prevent the spread of ragwort.
An agreement on the code of practice was reached at the Bill’s Second Reading (21 March) between Mr Greenway and Alun Michael, Minister for Rural Affairs and for the Horse, which means the codecan be taken into account if a court feels it is relevant.
John Greenway says: “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 plant.
“By adopting a statutory code of practice, Parliament is sending a clear message to landowners about how to meet their existing responsibilities. If they fail to follow the code, they are more likely to face a successful prosecution. Equally if they follow it, they will have a defence.
“The Bill will make a significant impact on the amount of ragwort improving equine welfare, which is our sole concern. ”
BHS Chief Executive Kay Driver says: “While 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 that, if this Bill succeeds, 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 it forward on behalf of every equine in Britain.”