§ 31. Mr. Bottomley
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement about the export of cattle from the port of Richborough, Kent.
Substantial numbers of cattle have been exported this year from Richborough to the Continent for slaughter. The transit of cattle to the port and on the voyage is governed by comprehensive regulations designed to prevent unnecessary suffering, and the attention of shipping companies regularly engaged in this traffic has been drawn 1923 to them. Officers of my Department recently investigated conditions at the port and examined several hundred cattle there. Adequate food and water were available and there was no evidence of cruelty or suffering while the animals were awaiting shipment.
§ Mr. Bottomley
I thank the Minister for that reply, but may I ask whether he is aware that there is still public disquiet in the district, and that it is alleged that these cattle are being exported under conditions which amount to cruelty? Further, may I ask why we export these cattle, subsidised, at cheaper prices than we have to pay for imported meat from the Argentine?
To answer the first part of the right hon. Gentleman's supplementary question, I will note what he says, and I give him the assurance that I will keep a very close eye on this situation at Richborough. As regards the second part of his question, I am satisfied that these exports are in the economic interest of this country. I think it will help the right hon. Gentleman to understand how that could be when I say that I think two-thirds of the exports of cattle represent the export of cows and not young heifers; and of the remainder, a proportion is sold for dollars for the use of American troops on the Continent.
Mr. T. Williams
Might I ask whether any of those cattle which have been exported—with which I do not disagree, though I would prefer to see carcases exported rather than livestock—have been followed to the various slaughterhouses to ascertain what kind of treatment they get?
§ Sir A. Gomme-Duncan
Would my right hon. Friend agree that the bulk of this export of cattle is of pedigree cattle and of great value to stocks of cattle in this country also?
As far as the export of pedigree cattle is concerned, that would be so; but in this instance I think the Question is dealing with cattle which are exported to the Continent for slaughter there.