HC Deb 27 November 1986 vol 106 cc339-40W
Mr. Home Robertson

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) what steps have been taken by his Department to monitor the welfare of livestock exported from Britain in transit in other European Economic Community member states; and if he will make a statement;

(2) what steps he is taking to enforce animal welfare legislation in relation to the transport of livestock exported from the United Kingdom; and if he expects any prosecutions to be initiated.

Mr. Donald Thompson

Under the Export of Animals (Protection) Order 1981, all food animals exported from Great Britain must, immediately before the journey, be rested for at least 10 hours and offered food and water at an officially approved lairage premises. The animals may be exported only if they have been certified as fit to travel by one of my veterinary staff. Two-tier vehicles used for these exports are subject to approval by my Department, and the animals must be loaded in the presence of an official.

Once the livestock enter the territory of another member state their welfare becomes the responsibility of that country in accordance with the requirements of Council directive 77/489/EEC. If any welfare problem comes to my Department's attention we take it up with the authorities of the member state concerned. Monitoring exercises have from time to time been carried out in co-operation with importing countries, but under national and European Community law the United Kingdom Government have neither the responsibility nor the power to monitor transport in other member states.

As regards enforcement in the United Kingdom, my Department has been investigating recent allegations about exports of sheep to establish whether there is any evidence that breaches of United Kingdom law have occurred.

Mr. Hancock

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) if he will take action against the exporters of three live elephants in a steel container to Hong Kong from Southampton; and if he will make a statement;

(2) if he will introduce regulations to ensure better standards for the export of non-farm animals; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Donald Thompson

The Transit of Animals (General) Order 1973 already affords extensive protection to the welfare of all animals in transit, and I see no need to introduce further measures. This legislation covers that part of an international journey which takes place within British jurisdiction. Enforcement is the responsibility of individual local authorities.

As regards the export of the three elephants in question, one of my veterinary staff examined the steel container to be used and was satisfied that it was suitable and that the animals were fit to travel.