Amendment 1

Animal Welfare (Livestock Exports) Bill - Report – in the House of Lords at 3:49 pm on 8 May 2024.

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Lord de Clifford:

Moved by Lord de Clifford

1: After Clause 1, insert the following new Clause—“Regulations about extension to list of relevant livestock(1) An appropriate national authority may by regulations amend the list of “relevant livestock” in section (1).(2) “Appropriate national authority” in relation to the power under subsection (1), means—(a) the Secretary of State;(b) the Scottish Ministers, so far as provision made by the regulations would be within the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament if contained in an Act of that Parliament;(c) the Welsh Ministers, so far as provision made by the regulations would be within the legislative competence of Senedd Cymru if contained in an Act of Senedd Cymru. (3) The Secretary of State may not make a statutory instrument containing regulations under subsection (1) unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, each House of Parliament.(4) The Welsh Ministers may not make a statutory instrument containing regulations under subsection (1) unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, Senedd Cymru.(5) Regulations made by the Scottish Ministers under subsection (1) are subject to the affirmative procedure (see section 29 of the Interpretation and Legislative Reform (Scotland) Act 2010).”Member's explanatory statementThis amendment would allow the appropriate national authority to extend, by statutory instrument subject to the affirmative procedure, the list of livestock species which may not be exported for slaughter.

Photo of Lord de Clifford Lord de Clifford Crossbench

From the start of the passage of this Bill through the House, I have been in full support of its stated aims and the improvements it will bring to animal welfare in the farming sector. I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman of Ullock, for her support for this amendment both in Committee and in the House today, and for her support and advice in helping me table my first amendment to any Bill in the House. I also express my sincere thanks to the Minister and his extensive team—from his office and Defra—for making time to meet me last week to discuss these amendments.

I still believe that this small amendment has merit, as it would provide future protection not just to animals currently listed in the Bill, but to all animals—such as cattle, horses, sheep, goats and pigs—from this unnecessary trade and long, arduous journeys to other countries. I acknowledge that the Government listened to the results of the initial consultation and to animal charities when preparing the list of animals that had been traded abroad for fattening and slaughter prior to us leaving the EU. This amendment seeks to provide a safety net for all animals in future, if a trade in animals such as rabbits, alpacas and deer were to start due to an opportunity being provided to some to increase income because of changes in society or the environment. In that case, the Minister of State could quickly stop that unnecessary and cruel trade, for the benefit of animal welfare, by extending the list of relevant livestock to include the relevant animal.

I took on board from our meeting the Minister’s enthusiasm to get this Bill on to the statute book as quickly as possible. If the Government supported this amendment, it would delay the passage of the Bill. Given current pressure on parliamentary time, an unwanted consequence might be that time is not found for the Bill to be reconsidered in the other place, resulting in it being lost. That is something I do not wish to see, as the Bill will improve conditions for many animals. I also note concerns about more delegated powers being granted to Ministers of State, which I understand is something we prefer not to do too often. I beg to move.

Photo of Baroness Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville Baroness Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

My Lords, I am conscious that we are on Report and should not, therefore, repeat speeches we have previously made. We are all aware that the whole thrust of the Bill is to prevent live animals experiencing long and distressing journeys to Europe to be fattened or slaughtered. The Bill is short and specific as to the types of animals within its remit.

The noble Lord, Lord de Clifford, has raised again the issue of extending the list of relevant livestock. As the Bill stands, there can be no extension of species: only those listed in Clause 1(4) are covered by the Bill. I believe this is short-sighted. Those of us involved in the passage of the Bill, both in this Chamber and the other place, are not able to anticipate what other species might become attractive for export for fattening or slaughter in future. During the debates at the various stages, other species have been mentioned by noble Lords. It seems sensible and humane for additional species to be added in future without the need for separate legislation to ensure this happens.

The two amendments from the noble Lord, Lord de Clifford, give the Secretary of State, Scottish Ministers and Welsh Ministers the power to amend the list of “relevant livestock”. This is not an outlandish request but a very sensible and pragmatic way forward.

I am aware of the shortage of legislative time for the Bill to pass. I am also mindful that making amendments means that it must return to the Commons, which would delay it getting on to the statute book. However, I also have the words of the noble Baroness, Lady Fookes, from earlier stages of the debate, ringing in my ears. She said that if it is not in the Bill, it will not happen. I subscribe to that view.

I strongly support these two amendments and am looking for reassurance from the Minister that there will be some flexibility in future to ensure that, if necessary, other species can be included in the Bill.

Photo of Baroness Fookes Baroness Fookes Deputy Chairman of Committees, Deputy Speaker (Lords)

My Lords, my name has already been mentioned in this regard and, like others who have spoken, I am fully in sympathy with and support of the thrust of the amendments before us. I worry, however, about what happens if we pass such an amendment and it has to go back to the Commons. I do not know how close we are to a general election, but it is all too easy for things to get lost, particularly when there are other major Bills—perhaps of more interest to others than to us—which might get much further ahead in the queue. Having waited 50 years for a Bill such as this to be passed, I am desperately anxious that it does not fall at the last hurdle. So, reluctantly, I would not wish to vote for this amendment, but my heart is there for it. It is simply a pragmatic reaction.

Photo of Lord Trees Lord Trees Crossbench

My Lords, in line with the noble Baroness’s comments, I have a lot of empathy with this amendment and indeed the later amendment from the noble Baroness, Lady Bakewell. If they had been incorporated originally, that would have been perfectly reasonable, but alas, they are not in the Bill. This is a very important Bill and to send it back to the Commons would, as has been mentioned, seriously risk losing it. As it stands, it is an important Bill for the improvement of animal welfare. We have had a lot of animal welfare legislation in the last 10 years, but this is one of the more important examples. The noble Baroness, Lady Fookes, has waited 50 years for it, as she told us on her birthday at Second Reading. Regrettably, I say to my noble friend that I cannot support the amendment.

Photo of Baroness Hodgson of Abinger Baroness Hodgson of Abinger Conservative

My Lords, I begin by congratulating the noble Lord, Lord de Clifford, on his first amendment. I, like the previous two speakers, would ideally have liked to see this in the Bill at the beginning. I have not been campaigning for as long as my noble friend Lady Fookes, but I have been campaigning to get this ban in place for a number of years—from the time when I sat on the Farm Animal Welfare Council, which I think started in the 1990s.

I am keen to make sure that there is no excuse not to get this on to the statute book. My noble friend Lady Fookes and I tried to get it into the Agriculture Bill a few years ago. We were told, “Please don’t do it”, but we promised to bring it back in another form, and here it is. I can only echo the words of my noble friend and the noble Lord, Lord Trees: yes, ideally, it would be good to have this, but let us not hold up the Bill. Please let us ensure that it gets on to the statute book so that animals can no longer be exported for slaughter or fattening.

Photo of Baroness Hayman of Ullock Baroness Hayman of Ullock Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord de Clifford, for tabling and introducing this amendment; I was very pleased to help him with it and to support it. Although, as other noble Lords have said, the priority is to get the Bill through and on to the statute book, and we do not want to hold it up in any way, it was disappointing that the Government did not pick up this amendment following Committee. It would be a sensible, practical amendment, just to future-proof the Bill. It is not as if the amendment specifies certain animals; it would leave it open to a future Secretary of State to determine whether a particular breed of animal—rabbits, for example, were mentioned—should be brought into the scope of the Bill in future.

Unfortunately, as it stands, there cannot be any extension of species. As the noble Baroness said, ideally, we would have supported enabling that to happen in the future. I do not think any of us would want to see other species suffering what can happen during long-distance live transports. There is plenty of evidence from the RSPCA and others of the harm this causes animals, and plenty of evidence showing that, when we think they are being transported a certain distance, they are then picked up and transported much further. So, that is disappointing.

Having said that, I agree that the priority is to get the Bill on to the statute book. We strongly support it and I pay tribute to those noble Lords—the noble Baroness, Lady Fookes, for example—who have been campaigning for years to get this done; it is something I have been campaigning for myself for many years. So, despite being disappointed that this amendment has not been picked up by the Government, and thanking the noble Lord, Lord de Clifford, again for bringing it back for further discussion, I think that our priority is to support the Bill as it stands and to get it on to the statute book.

Photo of Lord Douglas-Miller Lord Douglas-Miller The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 4:00, 8 May 2024

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord de Clifford, and to all other noble Lords who have spoken so eloquently and passionately on these efforts to ensure that this Bill brings to an end excessively long journeys for all species likely to be exported for slaughter and fattening. I reassure noble Lords that the Government are fully in agreement on that point. We wish to put a permanent end to this unnecessary trade for all animals, and I believe that the definition of “relevant livestock” in the Bill will achieve that aim.

I shall begin by summarising the process of evidence gathering and consultation that led to the drafting of the list of species included in the Bill. In 2018, the Government launched a call for evidence on live exports for slaughter and on animal welfare in transport, alongside a systematic review conducted by Scotland’s Rural College and the University of Edinburgh. The UK, Scottish and Welsh Governments then commissioned a report from the Farm Animal Welfare Committee, which drew on this evidence, as well as a range of expert opinion from stakeholder engagement. Building on these findings, in 2020 we consulted widely on the ban on live exports for livestock and horses and received over 11,000 responses. During the consultation, we received no evidence that a ban on any other species was necessary. We have also received no such evidence since.

In the 10 years prior to EU exit, the live export trade for slaughter and fattening mainly involved sheep and unweaned calves. There have also been exports of pigs and goats for fattening, although these have been at significantly lower levels. While there have been no recorded exports of horses for slaughter, there is anecdotal evidence to suggest that the trade does exist. The definition of “relevant livestock” therefore already covers the species required for the Bill to bring an end to the unnecessary live export trade for slaughter and fattening. We also discussed this amendment in the context of alpacas, llamas and deer. In the UK, there are extremely low numbers of these animals compared with the numbers of farmed animals already covered by the Bill. More importantly, we have no evidence of any of these species being exported for slaughter or fattening from Great Britain to the EU, or that there is any demand for a trade in live exports of these species from the EU or elsewhere.

I understand noble Lords’ desire to ensure that the ban will apply to all relevant animals, at present as well as in the future. When considering the data we have on the slaughter export trade, I continue to hold the view that the definition of “relevant livestock” in the Bill is comprehensive and the proposed power to extend it is not required. The Government wish to see the unnecessary slaughter and fattening trade brought to a conclusive end at the earliest opportunity. I am sure this desire is shared by those here today and all those who support the Bill outside Parliament. Today, we have the chance to act swiftly and decisively to bring the end of this trade one step closer, and I therefore respectfully ask the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment.

Photo of Lord de Clifford Lord de Clifford Crossbench

My Lords, I am grateful to your Lordships for your support and your constructive challenge to my amendment and to the Minister for his detailed explanation. Given my own desire as well for the speedy passage of the Bill into law for the benefit of animal welfare in general, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 1 withdrawn.