HC Deb 15 January 1991 vol 183 cc458-9W
Miss Emma Nicholson

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what action he proposes to take to improve the protection of livestock in markets.

Mr. Maclean

Orders have been made under the Animal Health Act 1981, to come into force on 1 March 1991, which will lay down detailed welfare safeguards for farm livestock and horses in markets. This important legislation will create a new offence of causing injury or unnecessary suffering to animals in markets. Horses at markets and other places of sale will now be protected by specific controls for the first time. The new orders will introduce minimum ages at which calves and foals can be put through markets without their mothers. There will be a ban on selling calves more than twice in any 28-day period, and practices such as the use of electric goads on calves, young pigs, sheep and horses and the tying of poultry and calves will be prohibited. Among other new provisions are controls on handling, penning, feeding and watering animals.

This legislation has been discussed with market operators and other interested parties, and follows closely recommendations from the Farm Animal Welfare Council, to which I am very grateful. We are also issuing codes of practice which give further guidance to all those involved in markets on how best to safeguard the welfare of animals.

In recent years, concern for animal welfare has become increasingly important in the design and running of today's markets. Everyone should realise that transport to and from market and the time spent there, can be potentially stressful for animals. The overriding principle behind the new orders and codes of practice is the need for particular care and consideration for all animals in these different environments.

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