Export for Slaughter

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Fisheries and Food – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 25 March 1993.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Terry Lewis Mr Terry Lewis , Worsley 12:00, 25 March 1993

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on current progress towards improving welfare provision for animals exported live for slaughter.

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

I raised this at the last Agriculture Council and the Commission has agreed to bring forward proposals for further measures to protect the welfare of animals in transit. The present circumstances are not satisfactory and we will continue to press until we get a very much better answer.

Photo of Mr Terry Lewis Mr Terry Lewis , Worsley

I accept the Minister's response, but may I remind him of his statements during our EC presidency when he gave every indication that the matter was to be tackled more urgently? Is he aware that there has been a very large increase in the numbers of animals being exported? He will be aware that we have recommenced exporting to Spain. That cannot be good for the animals and every welfare organisation in the country is opposed to what is going on at the moment. I ask for even more urgency on a matter that we have discussed on many occasions in the House.

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

The hon. Gentleman and I are not far apart on the matter. We are seeking to ensure that the standards of animal transport throughout Europe are raised to the standards in this country. I hope very much that we can ensure that the rest of Europe learns about animal welfare from us. We have a lot to learn from them, perhaps, in our treatment of children and old people, but we have much to teach them on animals.

Photo of Roger Gale Roger Gale , North Thanet

Does my right hon. Friend agree that, while some issues can benefit from subsidiarity, environmental matters in general, and animal welfare matters in particular, require a European approach? Will he confirm that Her Majesty's Government will not agree to any standards for animal welfare, particularly with regard to animals in transit in Europe, that are lower than those that constitute current practice in the United Kingdom?

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

There is no question of the welfare of farm animals being dealt with as a matter of subsidiarity. These are matters which bear directly on a common agricultural policy and we want the same standards throughout Europe. I have made it clear that I am not introducing unilateral measures in this country; I am insisting that the standards rise throughout Europe. There are very important areas in which subsidiarity should be applied, but this is not one of them.

Photo of Martyn Jones Martyn Jones , Clwyd South West

The Minister will agree that the best thing for animal welfare would be for all animals to be slaughtered as close as possible to the point of production. What measures is he taking, in conjunction with the Agriculture Council, to encourage that in Europe generally and in Britain in particular?

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

It will be a great help when we have, throughout Europe, slaughterhouses that are recognised by every part of Europe as reaching the same standards. I agree with the hon. Gentleman that the more meat that can be carried on the hook and the less on the hoof, the better, but within the Community there will be transport of live animals. I am determined that that transport shall be at a standard that is proper and that it reaches the high standards we have in Britain and reaches from the north of Scotland to the south of Sicily.