Horse passport legislation is to be scrutinised by the House of Lords.

The Lords’ merits of statutory instruments committee has launched an enquiry into the way passport legislation was introduced in February 2005 and is asking members of the public, equestrian groups and the government departments involved to determine whether it has achieved its aim.

Chairman of the Lords’ committee, Lord Filkin, said: “It is fundamentally important for government to know whether legislation is actually achieving its objectives.

“The regulations we are looking at in our enquiry are all ones that we had concerns about when they were going through Parliament in 2004/05.”

Jan Rogers of the British Equestrian Federation and National Equine Database, who is compiling a response on behalf of British equestrianism, said: “A review of the implementation of horse passports is timely and I am sure there will be some robust comments to feed back to Defra.

“There have been issues surrounding the implementation of the law. I shall start with finding out the views of the passport issuing organisations [PIOs].”

The consultation will be open until 11 September and public comment is invited.
Horse passports were introduced by the EU as a way of ensuring horses going into the food chain were free from drugs like bute.

But the scheme in the UK has been criticised by police, vets and owners for not offering strict identification of horses. Four years on, many horses still do not have passports.

A spokesman for Defra told H&H: “We shall make our response to the House of Lords in due course.”

Since 1 July, all horses and foals applying for a passport must be microchipped to comply with European law, but a delay in the UK means the statutory instrument to create that law will be laid before Parliament on 1 August.

To comment on the Lords’ review, go to http://www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/merits.cfm

This article was first published in Horse & Hound (16 July, ’09)