HL Deb 20 May 1971 vol 319 cc517-9

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are aware that live calves weighing less than the permitted 116 lb. are being exported to Belgium, and are being slaughtered on arrival by inhumane methods.]


My Lords, I have no evidence that calves weighing less than the permitted 110 lb.—and I emphasise that figure—are being exported to Belgium. or that humane methods of slaugther are not being employed. My noble friend may have in mind that in November last year the R.S.P.C.A. pub- lished a report by two of its officers, and, following inquiries, my honourable friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food made a Statement in another place which was circulated in the OFFICIAL REPORT. We have received no further complaints. If my noble friend has any further information we should be grateful to have it, and would of course look into it.


My Lords, I hank my noble friend for that reply. I apologise for making a mistake. May I ask whether he is aware that in fact I have some evidence that calves below the permitted weight have been exported since that debate? If I may give that evidence to my noble friend in private I will do so. Might I ask, further, whether he is quite satisfied that the inspection procedure for these calves at our ports of embarkation is quite satisfactory?


My Lords, I should be most grateful if my noble friend would give me the evidence that he has. I can assure him that it will be looked into very carefully. Yes, my Lords, Her Majesty's Government re confident that the inspection procedure is working satisfactorily.


My Lords, is it not time that the Government gave up the idea of exporting food animals to the Continent? Why cannot we use our own very good meat in this country instead of exporting meat and having to import meat to make up for it?


My Lords, is my noble friend aware that I asked a Question concerning this matter a short time ago and received what I must confess was not a very satisfactory Answer? Would he not agree that although he personally has no evidence of the fact that this sort of thing is going on, other people have; and that there is no reason to believe that the solitary incident on which the R.S.P.C.A. reported was the only one?


My Lords, I can tell my noble friend that I am aware that he asked a Question in this House on this subject; but I am not aware that the Answer was not satisfactory, since I gave it myself. It would be a very great help if my noble friend would let us have this evidence, and then it can be fully looked into. The Ministry cannot look into evidence unless it is put in their hands.