I share concerns entirely about this issue. Animals are often transported in horrendous conditions for long journeys across the continent where they may suffer from overcrowding, exhaustion, extreme temperatures and a lack of food and water. Moreover, the animals arrive at overseas slaughterhouses that often have lower welfare standards than those in the UK.
All live animal exports from Britain and Europe are currently controlled by an EU regulation. In April, the Government launched a call for evidence on controlling live exports for slaughter and improving animal welfare during transport after Brexit.
The initial call for evidence sought views from industry, devolved administrations, charities and the public and considered all options for raising welfare standards, including a potential ban. The call for evidence closed on 22 May 2018. The Government says it will consider the responses and will respond in due course.
However, a consultation alone does not go far enough. I fully support a ban on the export of live animal for slaughter and fattening and I believe that the Government should bring forward proposals to put this into effect as soon as possible.
The Opposition is currently consulting on a new Animal Welfare Plan and one of the proposals being considered is a ban on live exports for slaughter and fattening, with an exemption for breeding animals as long as they are transported under genuinely high welfare standards. It also proposes an exemption for livestock transported across the Northern Ireland border.
While we await the Government’s response to the consultation, I can assure that I will continue to press for legislation to restrict the export of live animals and, more widely, for our existing environmental and animal welfare standards to be retained and strengthened once we have left the EU.