Can my right hon. Friend say why it is necessary for him to await this Report? Could he not take steps to stop needless suffering to these animals by requiring their slaughter before shipment?
The fact that I was in doubt whether that would be the right course to take was one of the reasons why I wished to have the advice of this Committee. I wanted its advice on wider issues also. I wanted it to establish the facts about what is occurring at present. When I have that information, together with the advice of the Committee, I shall be in a position to decide what is the right thing to do.
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he will amend the terms on which the Departmental Committee on the Export of Cattle for Slaughter to the Continent was appointed so as to enable it to inquire into the conditions under which sheep and pigs are exported for slaughter and to make recommendations.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that quite recently an export trade in pigs and sheep has developed with the Continent? Has he not the same concern for these sheep and pigs as he has for the cattle, and would not the most expeditious way of dealing with this new trade be to get the same Committee to make inquiries about it?
To the best of my knowledge, there has been virtually no trade to date in either sheep or pigs from this country to the Continent. Such a trade may, of course, develop in the future, in which case the same action would be required. If the hon. Gentleman has any evidence to the contrary, any evidence of any cruelty arising from such trade, I shall look at it with the greatest interest and attention.
Is my right hon. Friend aware of the very wide public anxiety about the export of live cattle to the Continent, and will he do everything he can to speed up the issue of the Report?