Animal Welfare (Livestock Exports) Bill - Second Reading

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords am 5:39 pm ar 21 Chwefror 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Lord Douglas-Miller Lord Douglas-Miller The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 5:39, 21 Chwefror 2024

I understand my noble friend’s point. I assure her that our officials are working very hard on this issue, but it is not going at pace at the moment.

My noble friend Lady McIntosh also asked why the Bill had been brought forward, given that there are other issues facing our farming sector. It is important that we put a permanent end to this unnecessary trade. Although there have been no exports of livestock for slaughter recently, given that there is demand from the EU for sheep from Great Britain, we would expect that trade to restart in the future if we did not legislate to ban live exports now. She also asked whether there were any plans to introduce a corresponding ban on animals imported for slaughter and fattening. There has never been a particularly significant import trade for either: for example, in 2019, only 91 cattle and 178 sheep were imported for slaughter or fattening from mainland Europe.

The noble Baronesses, Lady Bakewell and Lady Hayman, reflected on the Government’s broader animal welfare commitments. I take this opportunity to reassure them that we remain committed to our other animal welfare manifesto commitments, which are to crack down on illegal puppy smuggling, ban the keeping of primates as pets, and prevent livestock worrying.

On the question that the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, raised on poultry, when we consulted on banning live exports for slaughter or fattening, we were clear that we were not proposing to extend the ban to poultry. There have been no exports of adult poultry for slaughter in recent years. I appreciate that the poultry industry and breeding companies export around 25 million day-old chicks every year, but no welfare concerns have been identified with this practice.

I once again thank all those who have spoken for their thoughtful and valuable comments. It has been hugely encouraging to hear the broad consensus throughout the debate on the importance of protecting and enhancing the welfare of the animals in our care. It is also clear that we can agree on the core aims of the Bill.

Bill read a second time and committed to a Grand Committee.