HC Deb 10 December 1992 vol 215 cc756-7W
Mr. Bowden

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) what steps he plans to take to ensure that, as required by article 5.2 of the new EC directive on the protection of animals during transport (91/628/EEC), itineraries are drawn up for animal transport journeys exceeding 24 hours to ensure that the animals are rested and given food and water;

(2) whether he will require his officials from 1 January 1993 to ensure that the animal welfare requirements of EC directive on the protection of animals during transport (91/628/EEC) have been taken into account before issuing health certificates under directive 90/425/EEC for animals being transported from the United Kingdom to other countries.

Mr. Gummer

[pursuant to the reply, 17 June 1992, c. 575]: EC directive 91/628 sets a framework of controls which are to be supplemented by additional Community rules. Commission proposals for these additional rules are still awaited and it is now clear that they will not be in place by 1 January 1993 when the directive is to be implemented. In this situation, the directive permits national measures to apply in the relevant areas pending implementation of the further Community rules.

The draft order to implement the directive in Great Britain was circulated for consultation at a time when the prospects for further Community measures remained unclear. It will now be revised so that national measures in the relevant areas will continue to apply.

The legislation will require animals beginning a journey in Great Britain to be rested, fed and watered after a maximum of 15 hours. Animals will also have to be fed and watered, as appropriate for the species, before the start of the journey. The current requirements for animals for export to be rested and inspected near the port will no longer apply, but there will be a requirement for inspection of export consignments at the place of origin by a veterinary surgeon. Where the directive lays down new requirements—for example, the requirement for the transport of animals and birds by air to comply with the International Air Transport Association live animals regulations—these will be applied. In areas where further Community rules are awaited, such as the design of vehicles, existing rules will continue to apply.

The legislation will give powers to inspectors to prevent journeys if the requirements, including those relating to feeding and watering arrangements, are not met.

Much concern has been expressed about further controls on animal transport. There have been fears that when the directive is implemented on 1 January 1993 much of our existing law could be removed. This will not happen. We will take full advantage of the provision in the directive for national rules to continue to apply pending the adoption of further Community measures. I have discussed this matter in detail with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and am delighted to have its full support for the steps we will be taking.

The Government will continue to press for the outstanding issues to be resolved in the Community as soon as possible. In the meantime, the arrangements in the United Kingdom will provide a comprehensive system of controls to safeguard the welfare of animals in transport.