asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he has any plans to visit the Southall horse market to study the implementation of his voluntary code on markets; and if he will make a statement.
I have no plans at present to visit the market at Southall. However, I am kept informed of conditions there by my veterinary staff, who frequently attend to monitor and encourage compliance with the code.
Will my hon. Friend accept from me that conditions at the Southall horse market have improved considerably, but that the handling, stabling and transport of horses still often leaves much to be desired and that considerable cruelty is involved? Will she pay an unannounced visit with me to the market on some occasion?
Delighted as I would be to pay unannounced visits to anywhere with my friendly hon. Friend, I must remind him that legislation already exists to protect horses in markets, in trnasit and during loading and unloading. It is a matter for enforcement by the police and local authorities. I hope that it will be reassuring to him to know that the Farm Animal Welfare Council is considering the welfare of horses in its review of markets. We look forward to studying the council's recommendations.