Animal Welfare (Livestock Exports) Bill - Second Reading

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:39 pm on 21 February 2024.

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Photo of Lord Douglas-Miller Lord Douglas-Miller The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 5:39, 21 February 2024

The noble Baroness makes a very good point. Once animals have passed into the Republic of Ireland, that is outwith the jurisdiction of the Bill. That is the current position.

I would like to address the issues eloquently described by the noble Lord, Lord Dodds, and the noble Baroness, Lady Hoey, concerning Northern Ireland and the Bill. I hope they will appreciate that I am somewhat constrained in this respect. Perhaps I might write to them separately on the issues they have raised.

The noble Lord, Lord Dodds, raised the question of negotiations with the EU on veterinary medicines going into Northern Ireland. The Government are committed to seeing a long-term, sustainable solution ahead of December 2025 that will properly support the flow of veterinary medicines into Northern Ireland from Great Britain on an enduring basis. It remains our priority to find a solution, through technical talks with the EU, that removes the barriers to supply of veterinary medicines into Northern Ireland. The Government are very clear that, in all scenarios, it is imperative to safeguard the supply of veterinary medicines into Northern Ireland. If necessary, we will deploy all available flexibilities in line with our legal obligations.

The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, asked about the impact of this legislation on farmers and businesses. The current position is that we expect the ban to have minimal impact. We published an impact assessment in 2021, which can be accessed via the Bill’s Explanatory Notes. We estimated the direct cost to businesses of ending live exports to be around £5.2 million across the 10-year appraisal period, or around £500,000 per year. As there have been no exports for this purpose since 2020, the impact will have further decreased.

My noble friend Lady McIntosh, the noble Baroness, Lady Young, and the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, also asked about border control posts on the northern coast of France. EU border control posts can be operated only with the approval of the competent authority in the relevant EU member state. The majority of BCPs are privately operated, and the main barrier to date for the establishment of a BCP for livestock is the commercial viability of such a site. We have encouraged our counterparts in France to do more to support commercial efforts to construct and operate a BCP for livestock, and we continue to engage with them to try to resolve this issue.