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THE creation of a new Animal Health and Welfare Board for England is ‘an important step’ in sharing responsibility for animal health and welfare between government, animal keepers and other interested parties, according to Jim Paice, minister for agriculture and food.
In a written ministerial statement on April 26, he said that the aim was ‘to build trust between government and animal keepers and strengthen arrangements for working together to develop a true partnership’.
The new board's terms of reference state that it will be responsible for ‘strategic animal health and welfare policy and oversight of its delivery in relation to England, taking account of public health considerations’. It will be the principal source of advice to Defra ministers on animal health and welfare policy, and will make recommendations on policy affecting the health and welfare of all kept animals, including farm animals, horses and pets. However, the final policy decisions will rest with Defra ministers.
The board will form part of the internal structure of Defra rather than being established as a non-departmental public body or an arm's length body. It will comprise up to 13 members – five senior Defra officials, including the Chief Veterinary Officer, and seven or eight external members, one of whom will chair the board. Defra is currently advertising for a chair and external members of the board (see box below) and plans to have the new body in …