Pet Travel in the UK

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:15 pm on 21st June 2021.

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Photo of Thomas Buchanan Thomas Buchanan DUP 3:15 pm, 21st June 2021

T3. Mr T Buchanan asked the for Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs for an update on the issues surrounding pet travel in the UK as a result of the protocol that folk on the other Benches are seeking to talk up. (AQT 1453/17-22)

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

The European Union's expectation that we should treat animals for tapeworm and, indeed, rabies was put back in the first instance to 1 July. I chose to defer that further to 1 October because, again, we need solutions. No one, but no one, can argue that this poses a threat to the single market. Doing what the European Union wants us to do poses a threat to people who are disabled, who are not able to get their guide dog. Doing what the European Union wants us to do poses a threat to people who have family members in Great Britain and travel with their dogs to see them. Doing what the European Union wants us to do imposes an unnecessary medical intervention on animals. We should recognise that, if a disease has not been in a country for 99 years, we do not need to bring in rules to keep it out. That is the case for rabies, which has not existed in Ireland, Great Britain or, indeed, Northern Ireland for 99 years.

Photo of Thomas Buchanan Thomas Buchanan DUP

I thank the Minister for his response. Constituents have expressed concern about bringing their dog with them from Manchester and about the exorbitant cost of getting all those tests done. Does the Minister agree that the requirements, especially for rabies and tapeworm treatment, are totally unacceptable and counterproductive and present animal health issues?

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

The Member is absolutely right: they are totally unacceptable. It is also unacceptable that pointing that out is met with inflexibility in finding a solution. Our Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) and the UK Chief Veterinary Officer are engaging with their European Union counterpart. All know that this is just nonsense, but the politicians are not allowing it to change. It is regrettable that, even when you point out things that are entirely reasonable, the European Union engages in a way that is entirely unreasonable.