House of Lords Select Committee on the Merits of Statutory Instruments

Press Notice

10 June 2004


A report from the House of Lords Select Committee on the Merits of Statutory Instruments published today highlights concerns about the Government's latest proposals for horse passports.

The proposals, contained in the Horse Passports (England) Regulations 2004, give effect to Decisions of the European Commission aimed in part at protecting the human food chain. They will require all passports to record veterinary medicines given to a horse.  Any horse that has been administered with medicines not intended for food-producing animals will not be permitted to be slaughtered for human consumption.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, Chairman of the Committee, said

"Horse passports have been the subject of controversy in Parliament over the last year. The Committee of course supports the objective of protecting the human food chain. Our concern, however, is whether the expected benefits of the policy match up to the burden imposed on horse owners. Although the Government has indicated that between 6,000 and 10,000 horses are slaughtered in England each year for export for human consumption, by their own estimates, these proposals may mean that more than 800,000 horses will now have to be issued with passports."

The Regulations, scheduled to come into force on 10 June 2004, mean that owners will have to apply for horse passports by 30 June 2004; and from 28 February 2005, a horse passport will have to be presented whenever a horse moves premises, enters a competition, is used for breeding, leaves the United Kingdom, or is sold, or presented for slaughter.

The Committee's Report draws the proposals to the attention of the House of Lords and, if taken up by a Member of the House, could lead to a debate in the Chamber.


1.   The Committee's report is contained in HL Paper 107, Session 2003-04 (10th Report).

2.   The Horse Passports (England) Regulations 2004 (SI 2004/1397) implement Commission Decisions 93/623 and 2000/68. They were laid before Parliament on 20 May 2004. They can be found on DEFRA's website at:

DEFRA's website explains that completed passport applications must contain silhouettes that have been verified and signed by either a veterinary surgeon or a competent representative from a recognised Passport Issuing Organisation (PIO).  PIOs are organisations that have been authorised by DEFRA or the devolved administrations (Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales) to issue horse passports.

3.   The Merits of Statutory Instruments Committee was appointed by the House of Lords on 17 December 2003. The 3rd Report of the Committee set out its plans for enhanced scrutiny of secondary legislation (3rd Report, HL Paper 73, Session 2003-04). The Committee's website, with copies of all its reports, can be found at:

4.   The Committee's membership is as follows:

Lord Addington
Lord Armstrong of Ilminster
Lord Boston of Faversham
Viscount Colville of Culross
Lord Desai
Lord Graham of Edmonton
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath (Chairman)
Lord Jopling
Lord Methuen
Earl of Northesk
Viscount Ullswater

5.    The Committee's terms of reference are:
"To consider every instrument which is laid before each House of Parliament and upon which proceedings may be or might have been taken in either House of Parliament, in pursuance of an Act of Parliament …with a view to determining whether the special attention of the House should be drawn to it on any of the following grounds:
(a)  that it is politically or legally important or gives rise to issues of public policy likely to be of interest to the House;
(b)  that it is inappropriate in view of the changed circumstances since the passage of the parent Act;
(c)  that it inappropriately implements EU legislation;
(d)  that it imperfectly achieves its policy objectives."


 Christine Salmon
Clerk to the Select Committee on the Merits of Statutory Instruments
House of Lords 
London  SW1A 0PW

Tel: 020 7219 3233
Fax: 020 7219 2571