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CLA looks to Parliament to help equine businesses

[Saturday 03 March 2007]
cla carole hodgson
CLA's Carole Hodgson takes equine campaign to Parliament

A LEADING countryside organisation is set to redouble its efforts to control the spiraling costs of insurance for horse-related businesses following developments in the House of Commons.

Two years after a motion asking MPs to support the Country Land and Business Association's call for an amendment to the Animals Act 1971 was originally tabled, the Shadow Agricultural Minister, Jim Paice, has now re-tabled a call for action in an Early Day Motion that has attracted the support of 22 MPs.

The CLA is contesting a 2003 House of Lords interpretation of the Act which broadened the scope of the original law leaving any business, including farms, involving a potentially dangerous animal highly vulnerable to being sued.

Keepers of animals, such as horses and cows, can now be liable for accidents involving their animals even when they have taken all reasonable steps to prevent the accident.

The move caused dismay in rural areas like the Yorkshire Dales as farmers and businesses such as trekking centers feared they may fall foul of the law.

Carole Hodgson, CLA's Regional Equine Team leader, is asking all politicians for support. She says: "The CLA has been calling for action since 2005, including a petition to the Government of over 1000 signatures. Yet nearly two years later, we are no further forward and hope that the political support of the opposition will impress upon the Government that it is now time to act on the Animals Act.

It is important that we all work together to save this activity

Carole Hodgson - CLA

"A government consultation on the issue was talked about, but we feel there is no need for a costly and lengthy consultation. There is already clear evidence that vast increases in insurance costs are jeopardising the future of equine businesses.

"Every MP has horse riders in their constituency, as well as a range of businesses that depend upon the equine industry. This ruling is in danger of strangling the industry, and supporting this Early Day Motion is an immediate way of showing your support.

"I would also ask those involved in the industry to contact their MPs to make them aware of the real situation, and to further encourage their support. It is important that we all work together to save this activity."

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