HC Deb 20 May 2004 vol 421 c1095
16. Mr. Richard Bacon (South Norfolk) (Con)

If she will make a statement on the animal welfare rules governing (a) domestic and (b) imported pig rearing. [174418]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Mr. Ben Bradshaw)

The vast majority of imports of pork and pork products into the UK are from other member states. All member states have to implement and comply with minimum welfare standards for pigs, as agreed by the European Union.

Mr. Bacon

The British Pig Executive estimates that 70 per cent. of the 767,000 tonnes of pigmeat imported into this country is produced to standards that would be unlawful in the UK. Given that 92 per cent. of consumers want imported meat to be produced to animal welfare standards equivalent to those in the UK, is it not time at least to have clear and unambiguous country of origin labelling, so that consumers can make an informed choice? To that end, will the Minister give his full support to the magnificent Bill of which I am the promoter, which is to receive its Second Reading on 16 July, and which would give effect to clear food labelling?

Mr. Bradshaw

We are looking at the subject of labelling. I always urge all British consumers to buy British pork. One of the reasons for the figures that the hon. Gentleman quotes is the unilateral ban on sow stalls and tethering that was passed by the Conservative Government—a move that we supported and implemented in 1999. It was the Labour Government who, in 2001, managed to extend the ban to the rest of the European Union, thus ensuring a level playing field for our pig producers.