HC Deb 29 June 1989 vol 155 c1101
11. Mr. John Hughes

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether his Department has responded to the call from Compassion in World Farming for farm animals to be accorded the status of sentient animals; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Donald Thompson

I have told Compassion in World Farming that the Government see no need to press for a change in the status of farm animals under European law because the treaty of Rome already provides all the necessary powers to protect the welfare of farm animals.

Mr. Hughes

Is the Minister aware that the conditions in which many animals travel when they are exported are nothing short of barbaric, causing the animals a great deal of unnecessary suffering? If the new Common Market transport regulations fail to eliminate that suffering, what steps will he take to press for improved standards?

Mr. Thompson

I do not agree that animals being transported in and from the United Kingdom are caused suffering anywhere near the description that the hon. Gentleman gave. This is the fifth question about animal welfare today, and it is a credit to the House that we take the matter so seriously. I have before me our clear statement of policy detailing how we expect animals to be carried when they travel in this country and to other countries. We shall press the European Commission to maintain rigorously the standards that we have set and which seem to be operating successfully in this country.

Mr. Charles Wardle

Will the Minister accept that lofty strictures about the treatment of farm animals are an insult to the vast majority of British farmers, who look after their livestock in a humane fashion and have quite enough to do making a living from the land without interference from politically motivated animal rights protestors?

Mr. Thompson

I agree with my hon. Friend that the vast majority of our farmers deal with their farming business and the welfare of their animals in an exemplary way. In Parliament, however, we are concerned with the villain in all sorts of ways and we cannot tolerate villainy in regard to animals.