HC Deb 17 February 1983 vol 37 cc251-2W
Mr. David Atkinson

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list all those measures that have been taken by the Department since May 1979 to protect farm animals, including the export of live animals.

Mrs. Fenner

In June 1979 instructions were issued to Government veterinary officers that animals which had given birth in the preceding 48 hours should not be certified as fit for exportation. In July 1979 the Agriculture Ministers appointed the Farm Animal Welfare Council—FAWC—to keep the welfare of all farm animals under review and to advise Agriculture Ministers.

In 1980, following a report by FAWC and with the approval of Parliament, we made the Welfare of Livestock (Deer) Regulations which prohibit the removal of any part of the antler while in velvet of deer which are kept as livestock on agricultural land and took certain other steps in connection with antler velvet.

Following our re-examination of the arrangements governing the export of live animals, and after consulting FAWC, we made the Export of Animals (Protection) Order 1981 in order to improve the welfare protection given to exported farm animals. At the same time we introduced a code of practice for the care and feeding of farm animals in approved export lairages.

In 1982, following a review by FAWC, we introduced, and obtained parliamentary approval for, revised versions of the welfare codes for cattle and pigs. In response to a further FAWC report we made the following regulations to prohibit or further limit certain mutilations on farm animals:

Earlier this year we issued proposals for action following the report by FAWC on the welfare of poultry at the place of slaughter.

Internationally, we have been concerned to see progress made on a Community directive governing minimum standards for laying hens in battery cages, and have participated actively in further Council of Europe discussions on draft recommendation for the protection of laying hens.

We have recently received the advice of FAWC on our proposals to update and replace the existing orders concerning the conveyance of live poultry and the sea transport of farm animals. We shall shortly be issuing, also following advice from the Council, codes of practice on the care of farm animals and horses during their transport on roll-on/roll-off ferries, and by air. Consultations are in progress on FAWC recommendations for revised welfare codes for domestic fowls and turkeys and for new codes covering ducks and rabbits.

The FAWC is currently reviewing the welfare of redmeat animals at the place of slaughter, considering the arrangements governing religious slaughter, studying the welfare of animals at markets, discussing the welfare of farmed deer and reviewing the welfare codes to see whether any of the recommendations could more appropriately be incorporated into mandatory regulations.