HC Deb 17 May 1994 vol 243 cc444-5W
Mr. Gale

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what action her Department has taken concerning reported deaths of sheep travelling between Portsmouth and France; and if she will make a statement.

Mr. Soames

It has been reported that 30 dead sheep were found after a vehicle was unloaded from a ferry sailing between Portsmouth and St. Malo on 19 April. It has also been reported that in a separate incident on 25 April 39 sheep were found to be dead in similar circumstances after crossing from Portsmouth to Le Havre. No carcases have been made available either to the British or French authorities to determine the cause of death. The Ministry has discussed the circumstances of both cases with the exporters, ferry companies and Hampshire county council, which is responsible for enforcing the legislation on the welfare of animals during transport. It has been concluded that there is insufficient evidence to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that any person carried out an action so as to cause the animals unnecessary suffering.

The Ministry has issued comprehensive guidance for exporters and ferry operators about the standards to be observed when livestock is carried on roll on/roll off ferries. Steps have been taken to remind exporters about the importance of following this guidance and the Ministry will be inviting ferry operators to participate in discussions about their procedures for ensuring that proper arrange-ments are made to safeguard the welfare of animals.

Forward to