HC Deb 16 December 1963 vol 686 cc837-8
23. Mr. E. Johnson

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he is aware that sheep are being exported by air for slaughter; and what regulations govern the transport of such animals by air.

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

We are aware that sheep have been flown to France and Belgium. The Transit of Animals Orders to not at present extend to air transit, but inspections by our veterinary officers have indicated that conditions are satisfactory, and we have no evidence that sheep suffer when transported by air. My right hon. Friend hopes to make an announcement shortly about the extension of the Exported Cattle Protection Orders to sheep and pigs, and he is considering the general question of regulations for the protection of animals in air transit.

Mr. Johnson

May I ask my right hon. Friend whether the subsidy designed to keep the price of meat fairly stable in the British market is also paid on sheep going abroad for slaughter? Is he aware that, contrary to what he has said, I have information that the condition of these animals in transit is extremely unsatisfactory? Why should we meet the demand of a trade which involves cruelty and suffering?

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

The subsidy, or deficiency payment, is paid to the producer on certification of his stock going through the market on the hoof. It is a producer subsidy and is not for the consumer. In view of the present demand, there is no reason why this trade should be stopped.

Mr. Gibson-Watt

Does not my hon. Friend agree that the use of air transport for exporting livestock is probably much morehumane and quicker than the use of ships, and will he not discourage the use of air transport for this purpose?

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

It is certainly quicker and there is the added safeguard of the air transport safety requirements. These are a safeguard for the animals.

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