Pigs

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Fisheries and Food – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th January 1991.

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Photo of Paul Murphy Paul Murphy Shadow Spokesperson (Wales) 12:00 am, 24th January 1991

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the alternatives to sow stalls and tethers in the housing of dry sows.

Photo of David Maclean David Maclean Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food)

On 10 January, my right hon. Friend the Minister announced the Government's intention to ban the installation of new close confinement stalls and tethers for pigs and to phase out existing systems of this type.

Photo of Paul Murphy Paul Murphy Shadow Spokesperson (Wales)

As the Minister said, only a moment ago, that he was concerned about animal welfare, he must agree that there is widespread concern about some aspects of intensive farming, particularly pig farming. Therefore, will he give a guarantee that the Government, and he in particular, will support the private Members Bill dealing with pig husbandry going through the House?

Photo of David Maclean David Maclean Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food)

There is no difference between the main principles of the Bill and the regulations that my right hon. Friend the Minister intends to make. The trouble is that the Bill does not go as far as our regulations would go, nor does it encompass all the categories of animals—boars, fattening animals and animals in the field. Our regulations are a bit better.

Photo of Mr Robin Maxwell-Hyslop Mr Robin Maxwell-Hyslop , Tiverton

Will my hon. Friend ensure that the coming into effect of the regulations of which he speaks is the same throughout the EC and throughout the whole of the United Kingdom so that our producers are not put at a disadvantage compared with imports either from other EEC countries or other parts of the United Kingdom?

Photo of John Gummer John Gummer Secretary of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food

I take my hon. Friend's point. That is why we must ensure that we phase out our systems within a sensible time scale, so that the rest of Europe will be able to come in to our time scale. If we move precipitately on that, we may not be able to get complete agreement in the EEC, but we are pressing most strongly that other countries should follow our lead on this.

Photo of Mr Geraint Howells Mr Geraint Howells , Ceredigion and Pembroke North

I have listened with interest to what the Minister had to say about the Bill to be introduced tomorrow. At this late stage, will the Government assure the House that they will support the Bill?

Photo of David Maclean David Maclean Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food)

I have made it clear that I believe that our regulations go further and are superior to the proposals In the Bill. If the House waits, it will hear, when I speak in the debate on the Bill tomorrow, my response to it and what I have to say about the regulations, on which we started I o consult yesterday.