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The UK Foot and Mouth Epidemic of 2001: A Research Resource
(Professor David Campbell, Professor Robert Lee, Tamara Egede)

An online research resource

Legitimising the Cull: The Animal Health Act (2002)

Links to the BRASS Centre Website
UK policy of stamping out The vaccination question

One of the major responses of the Government to the criticism of the contiguous cull was to introduce into Parliament a Bill known as the Animal Health Bill. After a protracted passage in Parliament, the Bill was finally enacted into law and is cited as The Animal Health Act 2002. (Full Text)


For other useful resources on the passage of the Bill into law see:

House of Lords Amendments

The House of Commons Research Paper

Official Explanation Notes

The Animal Health Act 2002 (Commencement) Order 2002

The Animal Health Bill (G). Legislation Watch

Parliamentary Summary – 2001–2002 Session in Parliament

The Act provides a legal basis to the contiguous culling policy utilised by the Government to confront the 2001 epidemic that many had viewed as illegal.

The explanatory notes for the Animal Health Act state that the enactment has two main purposes. The first is to provide additional powers to tackle FMD and for these powers to be extended to other animal diseases by order. The second is to provide additional powers to deal with transmissible spongiform encephalopathes (TSES) in sheep. The Act also makes a number of amendments to the enforcement provisions of the Animal Health Act of 1981.

Campbell and Lee, in their paper The Power To Panic: The Animal Health Act 2002, comment that the Animal Health Act seeks to make ultra vires acts of the past legal in the future, completely disregarding the compelling reasons for the previous withholding of such powers. They also argue that “by passing the 2002 Act, the Executive, rather than review the flaws in its policy that produced ultra vires actions on this huge scale, is avoiding any lessons to be learned by giving itself the power to repeat its mistakes. The assumption that legislation at least aspires to implement sensible policy does not apply to the 2002 Act. It is legislation which intentionally gives a power to panic."

Many believed that the passage of the Act was to scapegoat farmers for the spread of the 2001 epidemic, instead of the Government owning up to its mishandling of the crisis.

Conservatives attack "absurd and draconian" Foot and Mouth Bill

Despite the reservations and criticism of the Act, the Animal Health Minister declared that "In the event of a future outbreak, we need to make sure that we have a wide range of
disease control options available, including vaccination, serology and slaughter."
This Act provides the necessary disease control measures, and the range of strategies in the Government's armoury as highlighted in the Government's Response to the FMD Inquiries. As if to appease sceptics of the Bill, the Minister stated that it was the Government’s
intention only to use the measures provided in the Act as a last resort.


Animal Health Act (2002) – Greater Ability To Deal Swiftly With Annual Disease Outbreak
News Release DEFRA 455/02. 8th November 2002.

Web site created and maintained by Heledd Jenkins
Last updated 26.02.04