HC Deb 16 December 1963 vol 686 cc826-7
9. Mr. E. Johnson

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what regulations in regard to the length of journey by sea, rail and road, and to ensure that cattle exported for slaughter are humanely treated and humanely slaughtered, are made by him when granting a licence to export such animals; and what steps he takes to make certain that these regulations are fully obeyed.

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

Licences issued by the Board of Trade are required for the export of cattle for slaughter to Europe and they are issued only in respect of those countries which have given assurances that the cattle will not be re-exported or moved more than 100 kilometres from the port of disembarkation and that they will be adequately fed and watered and humanely slaughtered. Undertakings have been given by Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Western Germany and we naturally accept that they are honoured. There are no limitations on the length of the sea journey, for the Animals (Sea Transport) Orders provide for the protection of animals carried by sea. The Exported Cattle Protection Orders require that, before being exported to the Continent, cattle shall be rested, fed, watered and certified fit before shipment. Local authorities and the police assist Ministry officers in ensuring that these Orders are effective.

Mr. Jobnson

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply, but would he not agree that the export of cattle for slaughter is a most undesirable trade in view of the fact that we are already very large importers of meat and cattle for food? Will he make doubly sure that in the event of cattle being exported to Italy or Spain they are humanely slaughtered, because the humane killer is not used in Spain and only in the minority of slaughterhouses in Italy?

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

I cannot agree with my hon. Friend that this traffic should be banned. There is a demand for our live animals on the Continent, and I see no sufficient reason at the moment why this should not be met if producers in this country are prepared to do so.

Mr. H. Hynd

With all the modern methods of refrigeration, is it necessary to export live animals? Why cannot they be slaughtered here?

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

That depends entirely on the trade. There is a demand for our animals on the hoof on the Continent, and I see no reason why this should be interfered with at the moment.

Mr. Burden

Is my hon. Friend aware that there was a demand in certain continental countries for live horses from Ireland and that the manner in which they were treated caused such disquiet in this country that every effort was made to get it stopped? This has very largely been discontinued from Ireland and horses are now slaughtered there and exported in car case. Why cannot this be done in the case of cattle from this country?

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

This is an entirely different case. I think that the present situation adequately safeguards those cattle which go overseas.

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