This Bill, which was brought forward by Conservative MP Craig Mackinlay, relates to local authorities in England and Wales but does affect livestock from Scotland, some of which is transported via these routes.
Live animal exports are very tightly regulated – particularly by the European Union – in order to ensure animal welfare. Local authorities have the primary responsibility for enforcing the EU regulations on live animal exports to ensure animals are protected during transportation, while veterinary inspectors from the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) also have powers to ensure transporters are following the rules. If livestock is transported for slaughter, consignments must meet the full requirements of the EU legislation on the protection of animals during transport (Council Regulation (EC) 1/2005).
According to recent statistics, Scotland relies on live animal exports more than any other country in the UK. A complete ban on live exports would also impact breeders of pedigree stock, which are regularly imported and exported. In this context, it would be difficult to support any change to the law that could set a precedent on exports and may end up having a detrimental impact on rural areas where farming remains the mainstay of the local economy.
That said, I do not want to see animal welfare regulations in Scotland – and across the UK – diluted as a result of leaving the EU. Our SNP MEPs at Brussels work very hard to promote better standards of animal husbandry and humane treatment for livestock. We need to ensure Scotland and the UK have the best environmental and animal welfare protections and I believe that we need to continue to work with the EU to improve current regulations and not disregard them as the author of this Bill has done.
My colleagues at Holyrood, Brussels and Westminster will continue to push the SNP’s long term vision of the development of an infrastructure of regional slaughterhouses, through rural development and support as well as a revision of state aid rules, which will reduce the need to transport animals long distances for slaughter. It is vastly preferable to transport carcases, both from an animal welfare and economic point of view nor should we export live animals for slaughter to countries where we cannot safeguard their welfare.