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Animal Welfare

Volume 495: debated on Tuesday 7 July 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent representations he has received in respect of his Department’s consultation on proposals to remove strict liability from animal owners under the Animals Act 1971; and if he will make a statement. (284683)

DEFRA has received 33 responses from a wide range of respondents, including private individuals, large national organisations, small local or regional groups, independent equine businesses, insurance companies and legal firms. We are now considering these detailed responses and will publish a summary of responses shortly.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what new slaughter welfare rules he proposes to introduce; and what estimate he has made of the cost of administering such rules in (a) Lancashire, (b) the North West and (c) England. (284783)

On 22 June the EU Council of Ministers reached political agreement on the final text of a Council regulation on the protection of animals at the time of slaughter. The regulation is expected to apply from 1 January 2013. It will replace the current directive 93/119 which the European Commission considers out of date. The regulation updates the existing regulatory framework to take account of technological improvements and opinions by the European Food Safety Authority and the World Health Organisation.

The regulation permits the use of national rules to maintain existing levels of welfare protection where these exceed those in the regulation. We would wish to maintain existing welfare standards and will be considering how national rules can be used to achieve this objective. Any changes to domestic legislation will be subject to a formal public consultation.

An initial estimate of the costs associated with the initial Commission proposal was published on the DEFRA website on 27 January 2009. Revised estimates are currently being prepared to reflect the changes made in the final text. These will be made available later in the year when the final text of the regulation is published. However, we have no plans to publish local or regional cost estimates.