HC Deb 09 March 1966 vol 725 cc2081-2
8. Mr. Clark Hutchison

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will take steps to prohibit the export from Scotland of live animals for slaughter abroad.

The Minister of State, Scottish Office (Mr. George Willis)

As a welfare measure, the export of live animals for slaughter is limited to those countries which have given the Balfour Assurances. My right hon. Friend would not feel justified in present circumstances in placing further restrictions on the trade at the present time.

Mr. Clark Hutchison

Does the hon. Gentleman realise that, when the animals leave these shores, we have no physical control over them, and there is cruelty? If in the next Parliament I bring in a Bill from those benches, will he and his colleagues support it?

Mr. Willis

The assurances are given from one Government to another, and we would not expect them to be very lightly disregarded. If the hon. Gentleman has specific cases in mind and he sends them along, we will be quite pleased to look at them.

Mr. Rankin

Would not my hon. Friend agree that, while we may have regulations and assurances, it is the case that both of these are evaded when cattle are being exported? Would not one aid in averting the suffering be achieved by slaughtering the animals before they are exported? Why cannot that be done?

Mr. Willis

In general, there is an increasing demand for live animals rather than slaughtered animals. With regard to the first part of the Question, if my hon. Friend has any specific case, we should be quite pleased to look at it.

Mr. Stodart

Would not the hon. Gentleman admit that it is far preferable that we should send carcase meat abroad where it is intended for consumption, rather than live animals? Will he do his best to see that our slaughterhouse accommodation is brought up to the necessary standards, and not be obstructive when people wish to do that?

Mr. Willis

I do not accept that we are obstructive in this matter. Rather the opposite is the case. With regard to the first part of the Question, the fact is that there is an increasing demand for live animals, and the question that we have to ask ourselves is whether or not we are going to lose this trade rather than send the animals that are desired. We feel that, in view of the assurances that are given as a result of the Balfour assurances, there is no need at the present time to make any change.