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Animals (Exports)

Volume 885: debated on Thursday 30 January 1975

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asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) if the limits on length of journeys for animals exported for slaughter, as presently laid down in the Balfour Assurances, will continue to apply; and if he will clarify the conditions under which licences will be issued;(2) if the EEC draft directive on intra-community trade in live animals—64/432/EEC as amended—applies to sheep; and under what international and legally enforceable code the export trade in sheep from the United Kingdom will operate, particularly to France which had not signed the Balfour Assurances for sheep;(3) if the Balfour Assurances on the export trade in live animals for slaughter will continue to operate; and if so for what countries.

The Balfour Assurances were undertakings given by the Governments of Belgium, France, Italy, the Netherlands and West Germany on the treatment of animals exported from this country for slaughter. They are being superseded by more comprehensive safeguards for animal welfare which have been sponsored by the European Economic Community and by the Council of Europe.EEC Directive 64/432, as amended, contains health provisions for cattle and pigs, with incidental welfare benefits. Directive 74/577, adopted on 18th November 1974, deals with the humane slaughter of cattle, sheep and pigs. It will become fully operative throughout the Community by not later than 1st July 1975.The welfare of farm animals during transport between member States will be safeguarded by another directive which the Commission is expected to put to the Council of Ministers shortly. It will give effect in Community law to the Council of Europe Convention, already ratified by six EEC member States, including France, on the welfare of animals during international transport. In the convention, the accent is on ensuring that the animals are fit to travel and on avoiding delays rather than on precise distance limits. Applications for licences will be considered for exports to member States of the European Economic Community and to such other countries as can provide adequate safeguards for the animals in question. There will be close veterinary control.