Owners no longer have to apply for a passport for their horse by the end of this year following confirmation from Defra that the deadline for obtaining a passport is to be extended for an additional six months to 30 June 2004.
The decision to extend the deadline follows considerable concern from PIOs (Passport Issuing Organisations) and horse owners alike that the government had not left enough time between the publication of the final legislation and the deadline for applications.
Alun Michael, rural affairs minister and minister for the horse, says: “In our consulation earlier this year, concern was expressed about the tight deadline between laying the necessary regulations before parliament and the proposed 31 December 2003 implementation date.
“A number of stakeholders have also raised concerns more recently, and in response to this I have decided to postpone the requirement to have a passport until 30 June 2004. This will give horse owners extra time to apply and PIOs more time to cope with demand.”
The regulations that will form the new passport legislation, including the new deadline of 30 June 2004, have now been laid before parliament and will come into force on 30 November 2003.
However, Defra has confirmed that all legislation is subject to parliamentary approval and that it is possible for members to “pray” against this regulation, which could lead to a debate.
“The horse passport proposals have been subject to wide spread consultation
and has the support of the majority of the horse industry,” says Defra spokesperson Rachel Shaw. “We have no reason to believe that parliament will not take the same view.”
The British Horse Society, which took part in the government’s consulation process and is a PIO, says it welcomes the extension of the deadline and looks forward to reading the final legislation.
BHS chief executive, Kay Driver, says: “We are pleased that government has seen fit to listen to our concerns over the very tight deadlines imposed earlier this year as this will alleviate the pressure on horse owners and PIOs such as ourselves.
“It is a shame that this decision was not taken earlier. To expect the regulations to come into force just one calendar month prior to the deadline was never a viable option. Common sense has prevailed, albeit at a rather late date.”
The new passport legislation will be published in full on the Defra website shortly.
Don’t miss H&H’s indepth report on the latest passports news in 13 November issue