asked the Minister of Argiculture, Fisheries and Food (1) whether he will publish in the Official Report the results of any inquiries made by his Department into allegations of breaches of regulations during the transport of a consignment of 500 live sheep from Dover to an abattoir at Prudhomat, in the Lot department of France, after a journey of 25½ hours;(2) what details of feeding arrangements were
(a) sought and (b) received by his Department for the proper handling of a consignment of 500 live sheep recently exported from Dover for slaughter at an abattoir in Prudhomat, in the Lot department of France, in accordance with the conditions of issue of an animal export licence where live animals are expected to travel for more than 18 hours.
I take it that the hon. Member is referring to the case which was reported in the News of the World on 21 March last.The central allegation in that report relates to the failure to provide food and water on a long journey. This is governed by European Community directives which both exporting and importing countries are required to enforce.Exports of live food animals from Great Britain are subject to licensing under the Export of Animals (Protection) Order 1981. Applicants for licences are required to state the port of disembarkation of the consignment and the final destination of the consignment. Licences are only issued, in cases where the distance between the two is more than 350 miles, if satisfactory arrangements for feeding and watering en route are given on the application form. An applicant would be committing an offence against section 69 of the Animal Health Act 1981 if he deliberately made a false statement on his application form with the purpose of obtaining a licence. It is not the practice to reveal details of investigations made, since the information collected may be used in evidence. However, I can assure the hon. Member that I will take appropriate action in any case where investigations reveal clear evidence that an irregularity has taken place.