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Export trends vary by species. The latest figures from the Meat and Livestock Commission showed that exports of calves fell in the last quarter of last year compared with the same period of 1993 and the figures for sheep indicate a sharper drop.
First, I deplore the outrageous letter bomb attacks on my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and on my right hon. Friend the Member for Bridgwater (Mr. King). Does my hon. Friend agree that a possible result of port-side mobs will be longer journeys for animals, and thus greater suffering, as well as the destruction of a legitimate livelihood for many farmers?
I am sure that my hon. Friend reflects the feelings of the whole House in deploring violence and terrorism in making a political point when in a democracy we have other, more suitable methods. With regard to the effect of demonstrations on animal welfare, my hon. Friend will know that officials from the Ministry and from trading standards departments would always ensure that if the welfare of animals at the point of departure had been so disrupted that it was felt necessary that they should not continue the journey, the necessary steps would be taken to ensure that the welfare of those animals was protected. My hon. Friend is quite right that windscreens being broken and lots of noise from thumping on the lorries cannot be in the interests of animal welfare.