HC Deb 22 May 1996 vol 278 c211W
Mr. Forman

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what progress he has made on the implementation of the new EU rules on the welfare of animals in transport; and if he will make a statement. [30962]

Mr. Douglas Hogg

In October last year, we circulated our proposals for implementing the new EU rules on the welfare of animals in transport to over 600 interested organisations and individuals. That initial consultation ended in December and we have been considering the comments received. There are some issues on which it is now possible to give a clearer indication of the shape of future legislation. There are other issues where we shall need to consult interested parties further on how we should take practicalities into account while providing improved welfare conditions.

It is now clear that there is nothing to be gained by bringing forward early legislation on particular aspects of the directive. We shall, instead, develop practical and workable measures, which we shall implement in a single statutory instrument later in the year.

One of the central issues to emerge from consultation has been how livestock markets will fit in with the new rules. Consultation has clearly underlined the difficulties in requiring a "paper trail" to follow individual animals from farm of origin through markets and beyond and we will not now be pursuing this. We shall be consulting further on alternative approaches to markets to ensure that the continuity of protection required by the EU rules is provided.

We have also been considering the requirement for transporters to be competent. It had been our intention to require such transporters to undergo a formal assessment of their competence. However, we have decided, in the light of the consultation exercise, that this would impose an unnecessary burden on the majority of transporters and that, in common with approaches in other sectors, the onus should instead be on transporters to show that their staff have the necessary competence. In order to help both transporters and enforcers, it is our intention to provide a framework of the competences required.

We want to take the time available to us to make sure that all the detail of our implementing measures is sound and practical. We have therefore asked officials to continue discussions with all interested parties. When we have firmer proposals, we shall set these out in a further consultation document before finally deciding what approaches to adopt.

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