HC Deb 18 April 1957 vol 568 cc2096-8
49. Mr. Hurd

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he has yet received the Report of the Committee inquiring into the treatment of cattle exported for slaughter on the Continent; and what action is proposed.

52. Mr. Dye

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he expects to receive and publish the report of the Departmental Committee on the Export of Live Cattle for Slaughter.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. J. B. Godber)

My right hon. Friend and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland received this Report yesterday, and it will be published shortly after Easter. The Committee's recommendations will be studied urgently and an announcement of the Government's intentions made as soon as possible.

My right hon. Friends would like to take this opportunity of thanking Lord Balfour of Burleigh and the members of his Committee for their very valuable services, and, in particular, for the rapidity with which they have carried out their investigations.

Mr. Hurd

I am sure that the whole House will wish to join in paying tribute to the Committee, which has done its job very quickly. Can my hon. Friend say how this export trade in cattle for slaughter on the Continent is going today? Are as many being sent now as were being sent three or four months ago, when the Committee was set up?

Mr. Godber

There has been a considerable falling off. I would not like to commit myself to actual numbers, but I should think that they have been reduced approximately by half. That has perhaps reduced the urgency of the matter, but I know how important it is in the minds of hon. Members, and we will try to give our views on it at the earliest possible moment.

Mr. Dye

Can the hon. Member say whether the members of the Committee saw for themselves the conditions in France and other Continental countries before they came to any conclusions in this matter?

Mr. Godber

Yes, Sir. The members of the Committee travelled very widely. They went to all sorts of foreign countries. I almost included Scotland, but perhaps I had better not. They have certainly been to France and other Continental countries and examined every possible aspect of this matter in the very short time they have been working.

Mr. G. Jeger

Is the Minister aware that there is a certain amount of disquiet in the country because the inquiry is limited in its scope and does not include the export of sheep and pigs? Is he further aware that a number of people have written to me and, presumably, to other hon. Members who are interested in the subject? Will he keep an open mind upon it, and if an opportunity arises for referring back to the Committee, will he do so?

Mr. Godber

That is a rather wider question. We have no evidence of any substantial export of either sheep or pigs. We are as concerned as the hon. Member to prevent cruelty in these matters, however, and if he likes to bring any particular cases to our notice we shall look into them.

Mr. Willey

I should like to join in the tribute which has been paid to the work of this Committee. This matter is likely to be discussed in the Council of Europe, as there is general interest in it, and if the Minister can assure us that the Report will be published in time it will be very helpful to our discussions there.

Mr. Godber

I cannot give an undertaking today. We have only just received the Report and we must look at it in all its aspects. We shall certainly bear that point in mind.

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