A fresh attempt to alert Parliament to the issue of rising equestrian insurance premiums is being planned.
For the second time, an MP will introduce a Bill calling for the amendment of the Animals Act 1971 in order to lessen the insurance burden on horse owners.
But while ministers said last month that they supported the principle of the Act being amended, lack of Parliamentary time may prevent the Bill from being heard.
The Animals Act has become the focal point for those battling high public liability insurance premiums after the landmark Mirvahedy v Henley court case in 2003 widened the scope of the Act — and with it the chance of owners being found liable for their horses’ actions, even if they had not been in any way negligent.
In October, Tewkesbury MP Laurence Robertson introduced a Ten Minute Rule Bill — a type of private Member’s Bill — calling for the law to be changed so that owners are not always held responsible for the way their animals behave (news, 19 October 2006).
A lack of Parliamentary time meant the Bill was never heard (news, 26 October 2006), but Stephen Crabb, Conservative MP for Preseli Pembrokeshire, has now taken up the baton on behalf of horse owners after one of his constituents, yard owner Ingrid Evans, saw her insurance premium rise from £2,000 per annum to £6,000 after a claim was filed against her.
Mr Crabb told H&H he had yet to receive a slot in which to introduce his Bill, which has been drawn up by lawyers at the Country Land & Business Association (CLA), but said he would be “incredibly surprised” if a slot was denied.
But he admitted: “The chance of a Ten Minute Bill making it through to the statute book isn’t that great. It is a bit of a long shot, but it’s a long shot worth taking.”
Read this news story in full in today’s issue of Horse & Hound (19 April, ’07)