HC Deb 23 February 1995 vol 255 c477
12. Mr. Simon Hughes

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what are the Government's objectives for European Union policy changes during 1995 on the subject of the transport of live animals within the EU.

Mr. Waldegrave

Our objectives are to win agreement to a system that contains satisfactory journey limits and journey times based on the best veterinary advice. We have also succeeded in securing an early review of Community legislation on the welfare of calves.

Mr. Hughes

The Minister did a good job in Brussels the other day. I wish him well in achieving a successful outcome to the negotiations and a successful Europewide agreement. Does he accept that the lesson to be learned, in what has been a fast-moving situation in the past few weeks, is that, if we can possibly achieve national cross-party agreement on these issues, on the basis of Government proposals put to the House, which are debated and agreed here first, his hand will be strengthened and European animal welfare will be considerably improved?

Mr. Waldegrave

I am genuinely grateful for the hon. Gentleman's words. I think that he has a real point. The strength that any Minister has in negotiating for improvements which are broadly supported by the House, if the House can for a moment forget its party divisions and put the united interests of the country first, is always considerable.

Mr. Marland

Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is somewhat unusual that this is yet another significant statement from the Liberal party, but not from the shadow Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food? Is my right hon. Friend as curious as I am as to exactly where he is?

Mr. Waldegrave

I am informed that they seek him here, they seek him there, they seek him everywhere.