Clause 42 - Prohibition of export of livestock for slaughter etc

Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 3:14 pm ar 16 Tachwedd 2021.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Victoria Prentis Victoria Prentis The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 3:14, 16 Tachwedd 2021

I beg to move amendment 43, in clause 42, page 25, line 7, leave out “3 months” and insert “6 months”

This amendment increases the maximum term of imprisonment for an offence under this clause committed in Scotland from 3 months to 6 months.

Photo of Geraint Davies Geraint Davies Llafur, Gorllewin Abertawe

With this it will be convenient to discuss Government amendments 46 and 53.

Photo of Victoria Prentis Victoria Prentis The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

These are minor and technical amendments to clauses 42, 43 and 46, which relate to the prohibition on the export of relevant livestock for slaughter and the power relating to the importation of dogs, cats and ferrets.

Amendment 43 increases the maximum term of imprisonment in Scotland for a contravention of the prohibition on live exports from three months to six months. This change was requested by the Scottish Government and will bring the penalties in line with the penalty that will be available in England and Wales.

Amendments 46 and 53 clarify the regulation-making powers in clauses 43 and 46. They will allow regulations enforcing the prohibition on the export of livestock for slaughter, and regulations prohibiting or restricting the importation of dogs, cats or ferrets on welfare grounds, to provide that summary sheriffs as well as sheriffs and justices of the peace in Scotland can issue warrants to authorise entry into private dwellings.

Amendment 43 agreed to.

Amendments made: 44, in clause 42, page 25, line 13, leave out paragraph (a) and insert—

“(a) cattle and other bovine animals,”

This amendment simplifies paragraph (a) of the definition of “relevant livestock”, and ensures that it includes steers.

Amendment 45, in clause 42, page 25, line 14, leave out from “horses” to end of line and insert “and other equine animals,”—(Victoria Prentis.)

This amendment simplifies paragraph (b) of the definition of “relevant livestock”.

Question proposed, That the clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Victoria Prentis Victoria Prentis The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Clause 42 is essential for ending unnecessary journeys of livestock and horses for slaughter and fattening, and for improving the welfare of those animals. The clause also removes provisions from the Animal Health Act 1981 in relation to the export of horses. The provisions were originally intended to prevent the export from Great Britain of low-value horses and ponies for slaughter on the continent.

Photo of Daniel Zeichner Daniel Zeichner Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

I think we all welcome the end of exports of livestock for slaughter and fattening for slaughter. It has clearly rightly exercised many of our fellow citizens over many years. The numbers have of course declined, but there are still too many. This is an excellent opportunity to do something and we strongly support this part of the Bill. Excessive journey times in the shipment of live animals cause significant welfare harms, including the deprivation of food and water, lack of rest, extremes of temperature and humidity, handling by humans, exposure to novel environments, overcrowding, insufficient headroom and noise. There is still sadly the danger of animals being exported to countries where they are slaughtered in situations with standards that are significantly lower than the standards that apply in the UK. Consequently, the Government’s decision to bring this provision forward is welcome.

We thought that there should have been some additional provisions, and we have already had that discussion. There is more to be done and we are slightly worried— this has been pointed out by the British Veterinary Association—that the focus on exports has perhaps missed the point that the real issue is the length of the journey. I know that the Government are bringing forward measures for consultation to look at that, but that gives me the opportunity to point out—I suspect the Government would strongly agree—that there is a dearth of local abattoirs in this country. Animals are regularly required to travel longer distances to slaughter than many of us would like. That can cause significant harm.

We very much hope that the Minister will look at how best we can tackle that problem by re-establishing a local network of slaughterhouses in this country. On my summer tour around the country, which I am grateful to the Minister and her officials for helping me to secure, I was struck by the number of times that this point was raised. Many farmers across the country would like to find a way of returning to mixed farming, but the lack of a local abattoir is a major disincentive to that. I had exactly this conversation with a former colleague of the hon. Member for Keighley who made the point strongly to me. I suspect that many others have had exactly the same conversation. It is not an easy problem to solve, but it is pretty clear that it will need some sort of Government intervention. We would certainly do that, and I encourage the Government to do so in the meantime.

On that basis, we are delighted to support the prohibition of the export of livestock for slaughter.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 42, as amended, accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.