UNQUALIFIED vets will be barred from practising under a new bill to be tabled next month. All vets would be forced to register with a new board in an attempt to enhance the status of the profession. Anybody who illegally practised or falsely claimed to be a vet could be fined $100,000 and jailed for 12 months. The new bill will also provide, for the first time, the chance for non-British trained vets to practise in Hong Kong. Barry Bousfield, of the Agriculture and Fisheries Department, admitted the new law came late and after repeated calls from the profession for a registration system. 'The law was originally proposed in the 1950s,' the senior veterinary officer said. But he said it was important to bring in change as the only qualification currently recognised was from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons in Britain. Mr Bousfield also said there were a dozen or more unqualified vets practising in the territory and there were many pet shop owners who carried out veterinary treatment. 'I think the penalty in the bill is quite high and I hope it will stop these people practising,' he said. The new body, the Veterinary Surgeon Registration Board, will consist of a chairman and nine members, including six vets, one other medical practitioner, a pharmacist and a consumer representative. It will conduct registration, handle complaints and draft a code of practice for the profession, with an inquiry committee to be formed. The board will also design the qualifications need for registration. Mr Bousfield said the department had recommended to the Secretary for the Economic Services that a five-year university degree in veterinary science which is accredited in Hong Kong should be recognised by the board. Other five-year degree holders may be given a test before registration. Less well-trained people will be rejected. There are about 50 vets in the territory trained in China, Taiwan and Philippines, who may face the test. The Veterinary Surgeons Registration Bill will be tabled to the Executive Council for approval next Tuesday.