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The Animal Health Act was rushed through parliament in 2002 - in spite of an unexpected check in the House of Lords. It not only gives retrospective legality to the government sanctioned frenzy of killing that took place before the General Election of 2001 and then afterwards when FMD had not obediently been destroyed by this action; it also paves the way for a possible mass destruction of sheep in the UK if it can once be proved that sheep carry BSE outside a laboratory.

Even in its draconian form, the AHA did allow the last remnants of appeal. "Shall" will now replace "may" on Schedule 3 of the Act.

But parliament will not be asked to give its sanction - and it is very unlikely that more than a handful of people today have any clear idea of what the Animal Health Bill is really about. A proper debate might reveal that there are those on all sides of the House who would be rightly affronted at this further erosion of common sense. So, away from the public gaze, a Statutory Instrument will again be used to bring in amendments. The animal owners of the UK will wake up to what has happened to their rights only when it is far too late (and indeed it will be a criminal offence ) for them to object or refuse to cooperate in the slaughter of the innocents.