§ Mr. McDonnell
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many slaughterhouse premises have closed in the last 12 months; and what effect this has had on reducing journey times of livestock to slaughter within the UK. 
§ Mr. Rooker
During 1998, 28 slaughterhouse licences (red meat and poultry meat) were revoked because they had ceased operating. The effect on journey times will vary according to the location of the farm of origin and the nearest slaughterhouse. Whilst we would prefer animals to be slaughtered close to the farm, this may not occur for a variety of reasons. Legislation lays down clear rules to protect the welfare of animals during transport, and there is no reason why animals should not be transported safely and humanely.