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Animal Welfare

Volume 450: debated on Monday 23 October 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to which countries young calves are exported from the UK for slaughter abroad; what his most recent estimate is of how many calves were exported to each; and what the normal journey times are to each country. (94265)

As at 11 October, the number of young calves exported for production this year from the UK to mainland Europe, by country, and estimated range of travelling times (excluding rest stops en route) are as follows:

Country

Estimated number of animals

Range of travelling times (hours1)

Belgium

11,526

11-40

France

2,349

11-19

Germany

34

218

Italy

738

328

Netherlands

25,511

11-39

Spain

3,200

27-46

Total

43,358

1 Journeys vary significantly, depending upon where in the United Kingdom the journey starts and the route taken.

2 Single consignment.

3 Multiple consignments to single destination.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will assess the scale of (a) rule breaking and (b) welfare infringements concerning the care of animals exported for slaughter abroad. (94268)

All livestock exports are inspected for health and fitness to travel by local veterinary inspectors before loading at the premises of departure. In addition, at least 5 per cent. of vehicles are inspected by the State Veterinary Service (SVS) at the time the animals are loaded on to the vehicles. The SVS also inspect a minimum of 30 per cent. of vehicles at Dover.

A total of 14 Statutory Notices have been served by the SVS at Dover. These notices have ordered remedial measures to be taken for breaches such as insufficient bedding, insufficient headroom and correcting stocking densities between different compartments of vehicles. A further two Statutory Notices were served by the SVS at supervised loadings at departure premises: one to prevent an unsuitable vehicle being used in hot weather and one to prevent too many animals being loaded. Oral warnings have also been given for more minor infringements. In all cases, the SVS write warning letters to the transporter and carry out follow-up checks to ensure future compliance.

In addition, all export journeys require route plans. Plans for all new routes are checked to ensure they meet rest and journey time requirements. Journeys will not be allowed to start unless the requirements have been met. Route plans must be returned to the issuing Animal Health Divisional Office within 15 days of completion of the journey. On receipt, the details of the actual journey undertaken as recorded by the transporter are checked for compliance.