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Animal Welfare (Livestock Exports) Bill

Volume 836: debated on Thursday 14 March 2024


Clause 1 agreed.

Amendment 1

Moved by

1: After Clause 1, insert the following new Clause—

“Regulations about extension to list of relevant livestock(1) An appropriate national authority may by regulations extend the list of “relevant livestock” in section 1(4).(2) Appropriate national authority in relation to the power under subsection (1), means—(a) the Secretary of State;(b) the Scottish Ministers, so far as provision made by the regulations would be within the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament if contained in an Act of that Parliament;(c) the Welsh Ministers, so far as provision made by the regulations would be within the legislative competence of Senedd Cymru if contained in an Act of Senedd Cymru.(3) The Secretary of State may not make a statutory instrument containing regulations under subsection (1) unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, each House of Parliament.(4) The Welsh Ministers may not make a statutory instrument containing regulations under subsection (1) unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, Senedd Cymru.(5) Regulations made by the Scottish Ministers under subsection (1) are subject to the affirmative procedure (see section 29 of the Interpretation and Legislative Reform (Scotland) Act 2010).”Member's explanatory statement

This amendment would allow the appropriate national authority to extend, by statutory instrument subject to the affirmative procedure, the list of livestock species which may not be exported for slaughter.

I have tabled this amendment with the support of the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman of Ullock, as an opportunity to improve the Bill and future-proof it for the benefit of all animals and animal welfare. This Bill is welcomed by all in the Committee, I believe, and we wish to see it on the statute book as soon as possible.

The basis of the Bill is to prevent the restart of the cruel and unnecessary trade in animal exports for slaughter and fattening. The Bill has identified in Clause 1(4) the relevant livestock. These animals have, without doubt, made up the majority of the trade and have suffered the most over many years. The Bill will have less impact on farming income and reduced opportunities than it would have done before Brexit, because this trade has almost stopped over the past few years. The Bill will stop the restarting of this trade and, in effect, is a safety net to stop the named animals having to go through this ordeal in future.

The question is why the Bill does not cover all animals. The Minister tried to address why other species have not been included in the Bill when summing up at the end of Second Reading, saying that two animal charities, Compassion in World Farming and the RSPCA, said that the Bill covered the relevant species to end this unnecessary trade. I noted that a similar amendment was tabled in the other place. In response to that proposed amendment, Compassion in World Farming said that it was not aware of any alpacas or deer being exported for slaughter. The RSPCA said that only sheep, calves and horses had been exported from Britain for slaughter in the past 10 years. If the RSPCA is correct in its comments, mature cattle have not been exported for slaughter and fattening over the past few years, but they have been included in the Bill. As I understand it, a possible trade in mature cattle was foreseen by Defra, and so, to act as a safety net, Defra included all cattle on the relevant livestock list so that the trade could not take place.

I believe that this amendment would only enhance the Bill, as it would act as a safety net for all animals in Great Britain not currently included in the Bill. I acknowledge and welcome the support for this legislation from the devolved Administrations in Wales and Scotland. I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Young of Old Scone, for her suggestion at Second Reading that the Secretary of State should have the power via secondary legislation to extend the list of relevant livestock to the Bill in Clause 1(4), so that if an export trade for slaughter in alpacas, deer, rabbits or other species was to be developed in future, relatively speedy action could be taken to stop that new trade via statutory instrument after consultation with the farming and veterinary industry and animal welfare charities, so that certain animals would be prevented from enduring this unnecessary journey.

Surely one of the functions of government is not only to look at the past and create legislation to improve society, and in this case animal welfare, but to look to the future to ensure that any changes in society or opportunities that people create cannot inflict similar issues to the ones that have already been banned—in this case, the suffering and cruelty of the livestock not currently included in the Bill.

Can the Minister and his advisers in Defra explain to someone new to the legislation process what the barriers are, and the possible repercussions of not including other species on the relevant livestock list, and possibly to not accepting this amendment, that we noble Lords have not foreseen? I hope that the Government can find time to include this amendment and that it does not slow up the implementation of this important and welcome Bill. I beg to move.

My Lords, I warmly support this amendment and I doubt whether any remarks by my noble friend the Minister will convince me otherwise. I suspect the main reason that it is not in the Bill is that they have taken so long to bring it forward that they are now worried about any changes to it which might prevent the whole thing going through, for reasons I need not dwell on. But it is a serious mistake. No one can foresee what might be wanted for the export trade in the future. Therefore, this seems a sensible proviso against future problems. For that reason, I warmly support it.

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord de Clifford, set out clearly his reasons for this amendment. At Second Reading, many noble Lords taking part in the debate raised the issue of increasing the number of species covered by this short Bill. Many also made the case for ensuring that the Bill got on the statute as quickly as possible, and certainly before the end of this Parliament.

Increasing the number of species covered by the Bill should be done through affirmative secondary legislation, rather than specified species being added to the Bill. Many issues could come along which might make it wise to add a different species to the Bill. I support the view that, in future, the Secretary of State should be able to make adjustments to match the circumstances at the time, and I believe that this amendment would allow that to happen.

At Second Reading, it was suggested that deer were added, among other animals. I would be reluctant to see deer added to the list unless there were exceptional circumstances to support this. Our country is currently overrun with deer, which are doing immense damage to our trees and woodlands, and in some cases domestic gardens. If we have a surfeit of deer here, we should deal with the problem ourselves, internally. Exporting the problem for others to deal with does not seem sensible or humane. I look forward to the Minister’s comments, but I generally support the aim of these two amendments.

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord de Clifford, for bringing forward Amendments 1 and 8. I was pleased to add my name to them. As he said, this was discussed at Second Reading and had a lot of support in the Chamber. We know that trends in the types and number of animals being exported can change quite a lot over time, so it is practical and sensible to ensure that the legislation can be kept up to date by revisiting the banned list in future. The noble Baroness, Lady Fookes, talked about the fact that changes can happen, and we need to be prepared for that.

It does not make any sense to me that if a future Government wanted to increase the list, they would have to go back to primary legislation. By putting it in the Bill, it can be done easily through affirmative secondary legislation, as the noble Baroness, Lady Bakewell, said. These amendments would allow that to happen. Taken together, we believe that Amendments 1 and 8 are a sensible measure that allows for future flexibility, and I hope that the Government will seriously consider adding it into the Bill. I cannot see why it is an unacceptable request.

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord de Clifford, my noble friend Lady Fookes and the noble Baronesses, Lady Bakewell and Lady Hayman, for their interest in this Bill and for seeking to ensure that the ban on live exports for slaughter is comprehensive.

This is indeed an important question, which we carefully considered when developing this legislation. We consulted on the ban on live exports in 2020 and received over 11,000 responses. I reassure noble Lords that we received no evidence then, and have received none since, that a ban on any other species was necessary. The definition of “relevant livestock” covers all species for which there has been a significant slaughter export trade. In the 10 years prior to EU exit, the live export trade for slaughter and fattening mainly involved sheep and unweaned calves.

Several noble Lords noted in our earlier discussions that poultry is not within the scope of the Bill. We have had no exports of poultry for slaughter in recent years.

Noble Lords have also discussed this amendment in the context of alpacas, llamas and deer. The 2021 June agriculture census reported records of around 45,000 farmed deer, 12,000 alpacas and 1,000 llamas kept in the UK. These numbers are extremely low compared to the numbers of animals for which a significant slaughter export trade has existed in the past; for example, around 33 million sheep and 10 million cattle are kept in the UK.

Deer, llamas and alpacas are kept for a range of reasons, such as for venison and for alpaca fleece. We have no evidence of any of these species being exported for slaughter or fattening from Great Britain to the EU, nor, indeed, that there is any demand for a trade in live exports from the EU or elsewhere. As the noble Lord, Lord de Clifford, pointed out, Compassion in World Farming, an organisation that has campaigned to ban live exports for 50 years, has said that it is

“not aware of any alpacas, llamas or deer being exported for slaughter”.

The RSPCA has also said that

“only sheep, calves and horses have been exported from Britain for slaughter in the last 10 years”.

I understand the noble Lord’s desire to ensure that the ban will apply to all relevant animals, both now and in future. However, when considering the data that we have on the past slaughter export trade, I firmly believe that the current definition of “relevant livestock” is already sufficiently comprehensive. I therefore ask the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment.

I thank the noble Baronesses, Lady Fookes, Lady Bakewell and Lady Hayman, for their support for my amendment and for seeing the practical side of why we should have this amendment in place. I also thank the Minister for his detailed response, as ever, although I am disappointed that I have been asked to withdraw my amendment; it is practical and would safeguard those other species for the future. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 1 withdrawn.

Clauses 2 to 6 agreed.

Amendment 2

Moved by

2: After Clause 6, insert the following new Clause—

“Review of impact on import of livestockWithin six months of the day on which this Act is passed, the Secretary of State must publish and lay before Parliament a review of the impact of this Act on—(a) the number of livestock imported into Great Britain from the EU for fattening or slaughter, and(b) the welfare standards of livestock imported into Great Britain for fattening or slaughter.”

I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord de Clifford, on moving his first amendment in Committee; it is very good for him to get that under his belt.

In moving Amendment 2, I am delighted to speak to Amendment 3, which is also in my name. I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman of Ullock, for lending her support to Amendment 2. These two amendments are grouped with Amendments 4 and 5 in the names of the noble Baronesses, Lady Hoey and Lady Bakewell; they are on similar themes, but I will leave them to speak to their own amendments.

I declare my interests at the outset. I chaired the EFRA Committee in the other place for five years and served as an MEP for 10 years. I am also an associate of the British Veterinary Association; I must stress that I do not always agree with its views, but I welcomed the briefing that it shared with me in advance of today.

As I indicated to my noble friend the Minister at Second Reading, I wish to press the Government into, I hope, reaching a reciprocal arrangement with EU member states on our exports; that was mentioned earlier in connection with Amendment 1. In effect, there is now no trade in live animal exports, so that ship has sailed, but I believe that it would be far better to proceed on the basis of reciprocity.

UK farmers are currently in an extremely unhappy, unequal and unfair situation. For example, at home, we have banned egg production through battery cages. Egg producers in this country were keen to comply with this, and, more specifically, British consumers were really agitating for this to be put in place. Yet we are now importing thousands of eggs a year that are produced across mainland Europe in battery cages. I note that the NFU reported that the UK granted temporary suspensions in May 2022, and—dare I say it?—that imports of Ukrainian poultry meat to the UK,

“direct and transhipped via the European Union, had increased by 90% in the first 11 months of 2023 compared to the same period in 2022”.

We have been here before. We banned sow stalls and tethers in the 1990s—the then Secretary of State was present in the Committee just a moment ago. That put about 40% of our pig production in this country out of business, yet we imported pigmeat produced to lower standards, using sow stalls and tethers, for a further seven years. Here we are again: we have, quite rightly, banned egg production through battery cages, yet we are importing thousands of tonnes of poultry meat and eggs produced through battery cages. I hope that eggs produced in battery cages—which are deemed unsuitable to be produced in the UK and against the best interests of animal welfare and environmental standards—will not be introduced into this country, or will be clearly labelled as such. Most of these are on sale in major supermarket chains, and it should be for the supermarket to decide.

It is obviously a very generous and humanitarian act to help Ukrainian producers, but it should not be at the cost of putting our home producers out of business. On what basis are we importing these products in such quantities to be allowed to compete so unfairly with domestic egg and poultry meat production, greatly undercutting home production on price? As I mentioned, domestic egg production has been very badly hit as a result.

The purpose of Amendment 2 is to request the Government to undertake and publish a review within six months of this Bill being passed—it could equally be 12 months, if my noble friend felt that that was more appropriate—so that they can establish the numbers of livestock imported into Great Britain from the EU for whatever purpose, but specifically under the provisions of the Bill for fattening and slaughter. I accept that the Government could not provide these figures at Second Reading, but it behoves them to produce these figures as requested in the terms of Amendment 2.

Further, the amendment requests a similar review within six months of the Bill being passed of the welfare standards of livestock imported into Great Britain for fattening and slaughter, so that we can ascertain the numbers entering that do not meet the same high animal welfare and environmental standards that our home producers have to meet.

Amendment 3 seeks to review the impact on the UK-EU trade balance. In moving Amendment 2, I referred to egg imports. I ask my noble friend to agree to such a review in the terms set out in Amendment 3 with regard to other livestock and, in particular, breeding stock. Does my noble friend the Minister, and his department, really think it is appropriate and fair that the UK is effectively unable to export any of our prized breeding livestock because there are no facilities or border posts on mainland Europe to take them?

Could my noble friend the Minister update the Committee on progress on reaching a phytosanitary agreement with the European Union to facilitate the export of our breeding stock and other exports? Defra’s website and the requirements for import into the UK, which I would argue are again hampered by the lack of a phytosanitary and sanitary agreement, say that the EU exporter needs to apply for a GB health certificate in their own country. What monitoring do we do to make absolutely sure that that certificate is as is said on the label?

I note the severe shortage of vets in this country, which is a constant theme from all the veterinary organisations, and which is partly because of Brexit and partly for other reasons. Can my noble friend say whether this is impacting on the timely import of imports at our borders, and will do so under the Bill’s provisions?

At Second Reading I and others identified a potential loophole that is the subject of a separate amendment in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Hoey, who will speak to it in a moment. The effect of the loophole is that there is a way around the ban on exports contained in the Bill, which is already effectively operating in practice. That is simply that livestock destined for Europe is passing through Northern Ireland on to southern Ireland, and from there onward by an even longer sea journey than was ever possible from our ferry ports in Great Britain to mainland Europe. Does my noble friend agree that this loophole makes a mockery of the Bill as drafted and that the need for a review such as set out in Amendment 3 is absolutely compelling?

We are told that with regard to the current trade of all livestock, according to the impact assessment, which I believe was for 2021, the figure for sheep for slaughter was 6,272, and for fattening 38,111, with four goats for fattening. As this was set out in the impact assessment, and as that impact assessment has not been revised, can my noble friend update us on whether there have been any changes in those figures since the impact assessment was published?

I put to the Committee and my noble friend the Minister that there are other unforeseen consequences of the Bill that should equally be monitored through such a review as set out in Amendments 2 and 3. I think in particular about the closure of abattoirs in recent years, meaning that, in every eventuality, livestock have further to travel to slaughter. This has serious consequences for the livestock industry in this country. I look to Thirsk and Malton—which was my constituency in the other place—which has two vibrant livestock marts. There are many others across England alone. However, I fear for the future of our farmers, both with the abattoirs closing and if the Bill goes forward in its present form without, at the same time, seeking to have a review after either six months or a year to see what the impact is under the terms of Amendments 2 or 3, or to open on an urgent basis, as sought by the National Sheep Association, our legitimate trade in breeding stock to the continent of Europe.

Finally, I refer the Committee to Defra’s statistics, updated on 20 February 2024. Even before the Bill is to come into effect, the total number of pigs relating to the figures on which the February 2024 statistics are based has already decreased by 2.5%. The total number of sheep has increased, and I would monitor that very closely. However, the total number of poultry has decreased by 1%. I urge my noble friend to look at those figures and see what impact these products coming in from mainland Europe have had on them.

I urge my noble friend the Minister to agree to the reviews set out in Amendment 2 on the impact of the import of livestock, and to the review requested in Amendment 3 of the impact of EU trade balance between Great Britain and the EU in relation to livestock. I beg to move.

My Lords, I will speak to my Amendment 4 but first I thank the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, for her remarks. I very strongly support her amendment and the amendment that will be spoken to in a moment or two.

The only interest I have to declare is that I was born and reared on a small organic farm. It is so long ago that the word “organic” was not used and had not even been thought of, but it was an organic farm. I brought many little piglets into the world, being left to look after many sows in their own homes. They got out every day and had a lovely life, and I would very often accompany my favourite to the local abattoir —and it was local—so I am not speaking on this because I do not accept that animals have to be killed. In fact, I would not be here if my family had not been able to sell animals and so on, so I am very keen to see this from a real welfare point of view.

I tabled my amendment because I simply do not accept what is going to happen—we will talk about it later—with Northern Ireland being left out. That could be avoided, but if it cannot, then at the very least His Majesty’s Government need to look over a short period of time—I have said 12 months but it could be less—at the effects of the trade situation between Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the European Union. It is really important to point out that the trade at the moment, as many Members said at Second Reading, is going from Northern Ireland. Yes, of course a lot of it is staying in the Republic of Ireland, but we really have no idea just where the 17,000 pigs, 3,500 cattle and 337,000 sheep that crossed the border ended up. We now know that that will continue.

I thank the Minister, because he has engaged with me and written a very interesting letter, which I got yesterday, which explains again in great detail why Northern Ireland cannot be included. However, although the reality is that the animals that go from Great Britain to Northern Ireland will have to stay for a period of time before they can be moved on, what is happening to the animals already being moved that are in Northern Ireland and are going to go over? There is no idea whatever in Defra or DAERA, whichever is responsible, about where those animals will end up. Very often, they will end up, as the noble Baroness said, going down to the south of Ireland—a long journey—and then across to France, another long journey. Many of them will probably then go on to even worse conditions in north Africa.

I want this amendment to be put in. I genuinely cannot understand why the Minister cannot accept all three amendments. They seem perfectly sensible and perfectly common sense about how we look to the future when the Bill becomes an Act. Then we can say, “We are going to look at this and see what is happening”.

I have one final question for the Minister: how are we going to monitor this? Does he personally care about what is happening to those animals leaving Northern Ireland? How will the department monitor it, and how can we ensure that the welfare of those animals will be protected when we are washing our hands of part of the United Kingdom in this law as we put it through?

My Lords, I shall speak to my Amendment 5, which aims to support the farming community. At Second Reading, Members recorded that the NFU was not overwhelmingly in favour of the Bill. There were several reasons for this. First, there was concern about the importation of animals that were not raised to the same animal welfare standards as those which pertain in the UK. This argument has been raised many times since Brexit, particularly in relation to the various trade agreements the Government have entered into and are entering into with countries outside Europe. This is an extremely valid issue and although various Ministers have given reassurances from the Dispatch Box, they have not satisfied the farming community.

Secondly, there is the financial impact. Although I fully support the Bill’s aims, we cannot get away from the fact that the export of live animals for fattening and slaughter was a considerable part of some farmers’ income. The NFU estimates that, in 2022, the UK exported a total value of £751 million-worth of live animals. Farmers are concerned that imports of New Zealand and Australian lamb during the British peak season will reduce the domestic demand and price for their animals.

I understand the farming community’s concerns. To ensure that our own excellent farmers, who have high animal welfare standards, are not undercut by cheap imports raised to lower standards, I propose that the Government undertake and publish a review within six months of the passing of the Bill on the effect on the farming community in Great Britain.

Amendments 2 and 3, in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh of Pickering, and supported by the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman of Ullock, refer to the importation of livestock to the UK for fattening and slaughter. At Second Reading, I asked the Minister how many animals were currently imported for slaughter. I am grateful to him for his written response, which indicated that, according to Animal and Plant Health Agency data, since the beginning of 2021, around 1,800 pigs and 500 cattle were imported for fattening, and 900 cattle imported for slaughter. These animals came from the Republic of Ireland. The numbers coming direct from the EU were exceedingly small—in the tens—over the same period. It would seem that the importation of live animals is not directly from our near neighbours in Europe but from other countries with which we are trading. I do not believe that this trade is helping our farming communities. I therefore support these amendments.

The noble Baroness, Lady Hoey, has tabled Amendment 4, which deals with the trade between GB, Northern Ireland and the European Union. This trade was referred to at Second Reading. Although I do not wish us to inhibit trade on the island of Ireland, it is not in the spirit of the Bill for live animals to be exported to Eire from the EU, cross the border between Eire and Northern Ireland, and then be exported to the UK. This is an issue that the Government will have to deal with if the Bill is not to be undermined by this trade. As the noble Baroness, Lady Hoey, has said, monitoring is essential.

For the reasons I have given, I support all the amendments in this group. It is really important that we support our farming community at this time. I look forward to the Minister’s response.

My Lords, I am pleased to support the various reviews set out in these amendments. I shall concentrate particularly on the first of these, on the import of livestock. It goes some way to deal with worries about lower welfare standards, but it asks only for a review. In other words, the Government could have the review and ignore it completely. One would hope that that would not happen, but I am a cynic, and unless something is written into the law I am not happy that anything will happen.

I would be interested to know from my noble friend the Minister what regulations there are, or what advice is given regarding the welfare of livestock imported from the continent. I have the impression that nothing happens at all. Perhaps he can confirm or deny that point.

My noble friend Lady McIntosh referred to the import of eggs raised under conditions that would be illegal here, but I am not sure whether they are regarded as livestock. I hope that they are, but I would like to hear from the Minister himself whether this is the case.

I support these amendments and the reviews, but I would like to see more teeth.

My Lords, these amendments ask pretty important wider questions about the Bill’s impact on imports, trade and farming. Some extremely good questions have been asked about how we can ensure, when we trade with other countries, that we receive imports that meet the high standards we set for our own farmers.

I turn first to the two amendments in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh of Pickering. I was very pleased to add my name to Amendment 2. We need to look at reciprocal arrangements with the EU around imports. The noble Baroness gave a really good example of how farming standards are undermined by imports; she talked about eggs and pigmeat in particular, as well as the fact that, although battery cages are banned here, we can import from countries that still use them.

Poultry is not within the scope of the Bill. As for the livestock trade, I am not sure whether eggs would be included—meat is certainly not included, only livestock—so I am not sure that these amendments fall within the scope of the Bill. However, this is an incredibly important issue that needs to be addressed by both the department and government. As the noble Baroness, Lady Fookes, said, a review is not a big ask. In thinking about when the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh of Pickering, talked about imported livestock and the fact that the Minister did not have the numbers at Second Reading, I wonder whether the numbers are known at all—or, indeed, whether there is a guesstimate as to how many. It would be interesting to know whether those figures actually exist.

In speaking to her Amendment 3, the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh of Pickering, mentioned breeding stock. I tried to put down an amendment on that but was told that it was not within the scope of the Bill, so I imagine that the noble Baroness’s amendment is not either. However, again, the points that she made about sanitary and phytosanitary checks on imports are incredibly important, whether we are looking at animal diseases that may reach our shores or that have already reached our shores. It is incredibly important that we are very aware of those border checks.

The noble Baroness, Lady Hoey, tabled Amendment 4. As she did at Second Reading, she raised concerns about the movement of animals in Northern Ireland and their potential onward movement through Ireland to, as she said, wherever; we do not know where animals could end up and what conditions they could be held in. Again, in her amendment, she is asking for a review, in this case a review of the Bill’s impact on trade between Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the EU. To me, that seems a reasonable request.

In speaking to Amendment 5 in her name, the noble Baroness, Lady Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville, clearly laid out farmers’ concerns regarding trade agreements. We are all very aware, I think, of the concerns that have been raised over the last few years while different trade agreements have been agreed or, sometimes, not agreed. The issues of animal welfare and standards have always been at the forefront of those discussions.

I conclude by saying to the Minister that, although some of the debate we have just had on this group is not within the scope of the Bill, these are issues that need addressing.

My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend Lady McIntosh of Pickering and the noble Baronesses, Lady Hayman of Ullock, Lady Hoey and Lady Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville, for their engagement on this Bill and their contributions to this debate.

The proposed reviews of the impact on trade between Great Britain and the EU—or Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the EU—are not necessary, for several reasons. In the first place, there have been no recorded exports for slaughter or fattening from Great Britain to the EU since 2020, and this Bill makes that permanent. In these circumstances, putting an end to this trade cannot on its own have an impact on the current trade balance between Great Britain and the EU. We also have full clarity on the subject of livestock trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Movements of animals within the UK internal market are out of scope of this Bill. Slaughter and fattening movements will therefore be able to continue between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, although there have been very few movements of this kind.

The Bill will not apply in Northern Ireland to ensure that farmers in Northern Ireland have unfettered access to both the UK and Republic of Ireland markets. As a result, the Bill will not have an impact on the trade of livestock between Northern Ireland and the EU. The final destinations for the vast majority of livestock exported for slaughter from Northern Ireland are in the Republic.

Taken all together, I can understand the concerns that, despite this Bill, there will be loopholes for livestock movements from Great Britain to the EU via Northern Ireland. I assure noble Lords that the requirements on moving animals to Northern Ireland would make such a slaughter trade uneconomical. Livestock transported for slaughter from Great Britain to Northern Ireland must go directly to the slaughterhouse. It would be an offence to take them anywhere else. When livestock are moved for other purposes, they must be moved directly to the holding of destination and remain there for at least 30 days. Failure to do so is an offence and may result in prosecution.

To address the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Hoey, my colleagues in Defra have a close working relationship with their counterparts in DAERA. They meet regularly to discuss issues related to livestock movements, and share information and developments where appropriate. As part of this mutual exchange, volumes of livestock movements in and out of Northern Ireland are closely monitored using data from the Animal and Plant Health Agency and the TRAde Control and Expert System.

I turn now to the subject of imports. First, I assure noble Lords that there are no, and never have been, significant imports for slaughter or fattening. According to our records on imports to Great Britain from the Republic of Ireland, since the beginning of 2021, around 1,800 pigs and 500 cattle have been imported for fattening while around 900 cattle have been imported for slaughter. The total number of livestock imports into Great Britain for fattening and slaughter from other EU countries is smaller still. This very small number of animals imported into Great Britain does not in any way constitute a comparable trade to the previous live export trade and is in stark contrast to the 44,500 sheep that were exported for slaughter or fattening from Great Britain to the EU in 2020.

The noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, asked about the impact assessment for the ban. Our impact assessment received clearance from the Regulatory Policy Committee and was published in July 2021. It estimated the direct cost to businesses to be around £5.2 million across the 10-year appraisal period, or around £500,000 a year. The Regulatory Policy Committee agreed that no further assessment by it was required. As there have been no recorded live exports for slaughter or fattening since the assessment was published, the impact will have further decreased.

The noble Baroness also asked about veterinary capacity for the European health certificate, in particular whether there are any issues relating to the certification process in Europe at the moment. My Defra colleagues are in close contact with their European counterparts. I would put the overall assessment on that as being negligible. There were one or two small incidents, particularly around 24-hour cover in some areas, but they seem to have been addressed and we are not receiving any further issues there.

A number of noble Baronesses asked about the reciprocal arrangements for border control posts in Europe. This is a commercial issue but we are sympathetic to the concerns of the businesses involved. As such, the department has been active in doing what it can to support a satisfactory outcome. Defra officials have continued to track progress on this issue and have met regularly with the NFU and others who represent the wider industry. It is disappointing that, despite all these efforts, the companies seeking to identify an appropriate solution have not been successful in securing a border control post to serve their preferred routes.

I assure noble Lords that welfare standards for livestock imported into Great Britain remain unaffected by this Bill. All of the very low numbers of livestock imports into Great Britain come from EU member states, primarily the Republic of Ireland. This means that the animals are reared in conditions that are comparable to the animal welfare standards that apply in Great Britain. We do not foresee any reason why this would change.

A number of noble Baronesses asked whether eggs are included in this. As eggs are not livestock, no, they are not. Furthermore, all imports of live animals must be transported in accordance with our animal welfare in transport regulations. Every consignment of livestock imported into Great Britain must be fit for transport and have a journey plan approved by the Animal and Plant Health Agency prior to arriving. Transporters must make all necessary arrangements in advance to minimise the duration of the journey and must comply with the rules on journey times and rest periods.

We also have high standards of animal welfare at slaughter in Great Britain, whereas a significant public concern on the issue of live exports was about poor standards of slaughter in some third-party countries —especially outside Europe. Our legislation sets out strict requirements to protect the welfare of animals when slaughtered, and official veterinarians of the Food Standards Agency are present in all approved slaughterhouses to monitor and enforce animal welfare requirements.

Finally, on the impacts on farming in Great Britain, our impact assessment, published in July 2021, estimated a direct cost to businesses of around £5.2 million, as I said. I think we have covered that already.

In conclusion, the Bill will reinforce our farming industry’s position as a world leader on animal welfare, boosting the value of British meat and helping to grow the economy. I am grateful to my noble friend Lady McIntosh and the noble Baronesses, Lady Hayman, Lady Hoey and Lady Bakewell, for seeking to ensure that all of the Bill’s impacts have been fully considered. I respectfully ask my noble friend to withdraw Amendment 2 and ask noble Baronesses not to press their Amendments 3, 4 and 5.

My Lords, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to debate this; I am particularly grateful for the support of my noble friend Lady Fookes. We are often not entirely on the same page on this as, in the other place, I represented a livestock-producing part of the country and she represented a livestock-consuming part. She has campaigned with great vigour.

I am grateful to all noble Lords who have spoken for their support for the amendments. I am slightly disappointed that my noble friend the Minister skirted around some of the issues causing great concern to the farming community, which were so eloquently encapsulated by the noble Baroness, Lady Bakewell, in terms of the impact on farmers. We are discussing animal welfare today but I am very conscious of the impact on the farming community from an onslaught and barrage of legislation such as this. As the noble Baroness, Lady Bakewell, mentioned, my noble friend’s estimate was from 2021 when, in effect, there was no export. Having lost that probably five years previously —probably before Covid—the impact is much greater than £5.2 million.

I am grateful for the support of the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman of Ullock, in this regard as well. She and the noble Baroness, Lady Hoey, mentioned the importance of monitoring. I do not think that my noble friend the Minister mentioned what monitoring there will be. It concerns me that we have not got to the bottom of this loophole, which does exist. I heard what he said about trade going through. I believe that it is lucrative enough and is already happening. I have been told that it is the only way for breeding stock to get out of the country. It is a much longer journey than would otherwise be the case.

My noble friend picked up on a point about slaughter-houses—but not the point that I made, which is that, because we have closed local abattoirs, livestock in this country has to travel further, which is obviously a source of concern to the farming community as well as consumers, the RSPCA and others. Vets are required on-site at slaughterhouses, which raises another issue about vets.

I take my noble friend’s point that these border posts in EU countries are a commercial arrangement but he skirted over the fact that this is a commercial arrangement that our farmers expect us to put in place for them. I hope that we can focus on the reciprocal arrangements for this.

I appreciate that my noble friend said at Second Reading that there are ongoing discussions about sanitary and phytosanitary arrangements, but I leave the Committee with the thought that breeding stock is a real issue. We have lost generations of breeding stock, which are immensely lucrative and obviously finite; they live for only so long, so to get them over to the continent is very pressing indeed, as is the urgency of phytosanitary agreements being negotiated and the opening up of border posts. I will discuss with colleagues what we might do at the next stage. For the moment, I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment 2 withdrawn.

Amendments 3 to 5 not moved.

Amendment 6

Moved by

6: After Clause 6, insert the following new Clause—

“Review of impact on welfare standards(1) Within six months of this Act being passed, the Secretary of State must lay before Parliament a review of the impact of this Act on welfare standards of livestock for export.(2) The review under subsection (1) must recommend whether further legislation should be introduced in response to the review.”Member’s explanatory statement

This amendment requires the Secretary of State to review the impact of the Act on welfare standards for livestock for export.

Amendment 6 is the only amendment in this group, but just before I go into the detail I want to mention to the Committee that I have had a message from my noble friend Lady Mallalieu to say how disappointed she is that she has been unable to join the debate, due to ill health, and to assure the Minister and Members that she fully supports the Bill but has some reservations around exporters of breeding stock to Europe. She does not feel that there was adequate consultation with them during the planning process of the Bill. I mention it here because I want to talk about welfare standards around breeding stock, and so it links to some of my concerns.

My Amendment 6, calling for a review of the impact on welfare standards within six months of the Bill being passed, is less about what is in the Bill and more about what is not. As the Bill covers only livestock and live exports that are for slaughter, and not those for breeding and competition, my concern is that, because the standards around breeding and competition are not covered, it risks some animals falling through the cracks in this area.

The British Veterinary Association sent a particularly good briefing on the impact of transport on animals’ health, including animals that are being transported within this country, not just exports. This was mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh. The BVA is asking that there be a well-defined set of animal health and welfare standards which must be met for the entirety of the journey of animals that are transported within this country, which I fully support and I hope that the Minister will, and that the minimum standards should be the same for all animals, no matter the purpose of the transportation.

The BVA talks about the multiple factors at the different stages of an animal’s journey that need to be considered. These include the transport time and distance from point of production. Its argument is that animals should always be slaughtered as close as possible to where they are reared, which brings me to the issue that the noble Baroness raised. So many small, local abattoirs have closed. I know that the Government are developing a very good policy on this and are funding small abattoirs, but the funding is only to keep currently existing abattoirs open, not to reopen any that have closed. Unless we look at that aspect, animals in this country will always travel further distances than they ever have in the past.

At this stage, I should draw attention to my interest as president of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust, as this is something it has done quite a lot of work on. The BVA also talks about the transport design, the condition, the stocking densities and the skill of the driver. How the driver actually transports these animals—watering, feeding intervals, rest periods and the proper monitoring of health and welfare—is not talked about enough.

It also points out that, in December 2023, the EU announced plans to replace the current legislation for the protection of animals during transport. These changes would include maximum journey times, limits on transportation under high temperatures, increased space allowances and increased welfare requirements for vulnerable animals. Its concern is that the UK risks falling behind, and therefore diminishing its world reputation when it comes to animal welfare, if we do not look at replicating something similar for animals that are transported within this country. I know that is not about banning live exports, but if one of the reasons we are doing this is because of animal welfare during transportation, it is logical that the next step is to consider the standards within this country when we are transporting animals.

Finally, I thank the Minister for responding to and reassuring me on the questions I raised at Second Reading about delays to sea journeys. I was particularly concerned about that, and I thank the Minister for his thorough response, which was much appreciated. Transportation in animals is a bigger issue than simply that addressed in the Bill.

I will intervene briefly to support the contents of Amendment 6, as moved so eloquently by the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman of Ullock.

I had to give a wry smile, because I spent hours in the European Parliament passing legislation on the movement of animals, including on the length of journey and the feeding and watering intervals. Can my noble friend say—I cannot remember but I am sure his department will—whether we transposed all the existing regulations on animal welfare at the time that we left the European Union? Is it part of our retained EU law? I do not think we need to start from scratch—that is extremely important. That is true particularly in view of what the noble Baroness, Lady Hoey, was saying about long journeys from Scotland. I am not saying that there should not be journeys from Scotland—it is very proud of its livestock production —but we need to be sure that we have transposed those regulations and that we will not start absolutely from scratch.

That also begs the question that I referred to earlier about the shortage of vets. I was grateful for the briefing we had, over a very enjoyable evening, from the British Veterinary Association. I am sorry that my noble friend was not there, but the Secretary of State was, and he acquitted himself extremely well. The point was made that there is a shortage of vets, and a plea was made to whichever party is in government after the next election—I am sure it will be a Conservative Government, so I am addressing my noble friend very vigorously here—that we should address the issue that the BVA raised about veterinary qualifications and the status of veterinary. This was a big issue in some of the Brexit legislation that went through. We had a number of Spanish and other European vets who left, so there is a shortage of vets.

This is my noble friend’s opportunity to wax lyrical about abattoirs. My husband and I have a voucher—it is rather an odd thing to bid for—to go and visit an abattoir followed by a lunch. We thought we might do it the other way round—we will see how it goes. With the closure of abattoirs, not only are there longer journeys but there is a requirement that a vet is at the abattoir for the duration of the slaughter process. Is that putting undue pressure on vets, as well as all the export certificates that are required in this regard? I am also deeply disappointed that eggs and poultry meat are not included in the remit of the Bill.

My Lords, I am always in favour of anything that might improve the welfare of animals. Of course, one must include this review of the impact. However, on a technical point, I wonder whether this does not go slightly beyond the remit of the Bill itself. We are dealing in the Bill only with the export of animals for slaughter or further fattening, and this refers to export alone, not to animals that are going to be slaughtered. It would be aimed rather at the sort of animals that would be going over for racing, showjumping and the breeding of specialist animals.

In practice, the likelihood is that those animals would be given very good standards indeed because of the fear of damaging their monetary value, so I hope that there is no real practical concern about this. That said, there is a case for examining welfare standards within the country, particularly in transport, because the journeys can be very long indeed, if not as long as some of the ones to the continent. I hope that, although it goes beyond this Bill, my noble friend might be able to assure us that they are looking very carefully at the standards of transport and at the general condition of livestock within the country as opposed to those for export.

My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman of Ullock, has raised the issue of the welfare of animals for export, which was raised at Second Reading. The noble Baroness, Lady Fookes, makes a very valid point about the welfare of expensive animals which are covered by this Bill.

The Bill allows, quite rightly, for animals to be exported for the purposes of showing, breeding and taking part in competitions. The owners of the animals will want their animals to arrive in tip-top condition. Some of the travel times which occurred for animals exported for fattening and slaughter, and their access to food and water, were completely unacceptable and shocking. I hope that that would not apply to the animals covered by the Bill as being permitted to be exported.

Although the owners of those animals going abroad for the purposes listed in the Bill are likely to ensure that their animals are well cared for, we cannot take this for granted and, occasionally, some exported animals may have a less than enjoyable experience once they have left our shores. For that reason, I support the amendment proposed by the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman of Ullock, although I am not entirely sure that it fits within the remit of the Bill. A review of the welfare of exported animals for whatever purposes, permitted under the Bill, should be reviewed to ensure that everyone is complying with the regulations.

I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman of Ullock, for this amendment, which I would support. Concerns have been raised in the equine world that there is fear that horses will be exported under the guise of competition but will then immediately go to slaughter. Do port authorities currently track the movement of livestock for breeding or competition out of our ports?

I also support the point made by the noble Baroness about the veterinary situation. There is still a shortage of veterinary staff. It is getting better but it is still an area that we are concerned about—certainly, with veterinary staff at ports. Certainly, we would welcome European veterinary staff on the other side of the border, and an animal import area in the French ports would be welcomed, if we could pressurise the EU for that.

I thank noble Lords who have spoken for their support. The purpose of putting down this amendment was to be able to be able to talk very broadly about standards right across the piece, to make sure that no movement of animals was permitted to be below really high standards. The wording came about after a number of attempts; this was the one that was considered to be in scope, so that I was able to debate these issues. I am aware that this is about export and not about movement in this country but, again, we need to keep this on the radar and the Government need to look at it, particularly as the EU has toughened up its rules.

The noble Lord, Lord de Clifford, just made a really good point—it was also made at Second Reading— about the potential misuse of the Bill when it is enacted: for example the illegal transport of animals under the guise of them being for breeding but them then being slaughtered. I know that some equine charities have raised concerns about the potential for that to happen. What will be put in place to ensure that it happens absolutely as minimally as possible?

Having said all that, I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

I am sorry. It is terribly important that I listen very carefully to everything that the Minister has to say.

I know that everybody is in a hurry to catch their trains. As I speak, I am trying to work up an interesting story on abattoirs at the same time. I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, and others for their engagement on the Bill and their proposals as to how this legislation might be refined.

I will touch on the issue of horses and equines first because it is a good point that has been raised with me on a number of occasions. We are striking a fine balance here to make it possible for people to go abroad with their animals—in this case, their horses—for breeding purposes and to go to events, shows, et cetera. My personal observation is that it is blindingly obvious when you are taking a horse to a race or a show and when you have 15 scruffy-looking horses in a scruffy vehicle and you say, “Yeah, we’re just going to the gymkhana over in France. We might be back later”, but this is not always a clear-cut thing. I appreciate that there is the possibility that something nefarious could happen in this space but I believe that the controls we have in place will arrest 99.999% of that space, which is about as much as we might expect.

Let me crack on with some of my other answers. The impact that this Bill will have on the welfare standards of exported livestock is clear, I hope. The Bill will stop the export of cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and horses for slaughter and fattening. The impact on the welfare standards of these movements will be that these unnecessary journeys will stop entirely. Export journeys for slaughter or fattening are unnecessary because the animals could be slaughtered or fattened domestically. The animals that would have previously been exported for slaughter and fattening will now go on domestic journeys that are shorter in duration and less stressful than any equivalent export journey.

A number of questions were asked about internal journeys. The noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, asked about drivers. We have a driving course and a certificate of competence that are required here. All drivers in attendance are expected and supposed to undertake this training; that is checked. I hope that that helps but I take the wider point that was made on that.

I also take the wider point on abattoirs, which are an issue and link to many other issues in this space—in particular, the issue of vets. I am currently in extensive discussions on vets with the wider veterinary profession, with noble Lords and noble Baronesses who have an express interest in this matter and with the Chief Veterinary Officer. We have a little working group working on that at the moment to explore what we might do.

I was pleased to see earlier this week that two smaller abattoirs are opening and one, in Yorkshire, is reopening. There is a concerted effort here to make this a reality but I appreciate that it is a problem. I suspect, although I do not know, that the nature of the work is probably a large part of the problem here: if you have spent five years training to be a vet, standing in an abattoir and signing off certificates is probably not the most exciting thing that you thought you might be doing; I am guessing that, in the wider context, working in an abattoir is not an exhilarating experience. The point is well made and the matter is in hand.

Let me turn to some of the other issues that cropped up. Welfare issues for animals in transport came up, not just for exports but for domestic transport. This is principally governed by Council Regulation (EC) 1/2005

“on the protection of animals during transport and related operations”,

which is assimilated legislation. This is supplemented by domestic orders in England, Wales and Scotland. I have referred to a couple of issues on that.

Transporters have a legal duty to protect the welfare of the animals in their care. This means that contingency plans must be in place to ensure that animal welfare is not compromised—even in the event of the disruption of a journey, for example. These plans should include identifying control posts and emergency lairage facilities that can be used to provide animals with appropriate rest periods; using alternative routes; or postponing the journey until sea conditions or other conditions are suitable for it to take place.

Turning to the second part of this amendment, I assure noble Lords that we already keep welfare in transport policy more generally under review. This Bill is an example of that and follows the Farm Animal Welfare Committee’s 2018 report, commissioned by the UK Government and the Scottish and Welsh Governments, which examined animal welfare during the transport of livestock.

We discussed one of the Bill’s most crucial measures during this debate: the species within scope. I have set out why the current definition of “relevant livestock” is sufficiently comprehensive.

To conclude, I appreciate the noble Baroness’s wish to ensure that the Bill’s impact continues to be kept under review following Royal Assent. Given that the impact of the Bill on the welfare standards of livestock for export is clear and we already keep the wider policy areas under close review, it is not necessary to add these further requirements to the Bill. I therefore respectfully ask the noble Baroness to withdraw her amendment.

My Lords, may I say how much I enjoyed listening to the Minister’s response? I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment 6 withdrawn.

Clause 7: Extent, commencement and short title

Amendment 7

Moved by

7: Clause 7, page 5, line 17, leave out subsection (1)

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment would remove the extent provisions from the Bill to probe the implications of the current extent provisions for Northern Ireland.

My Lords, Amendment 7 is the only way that the Bill Office was able to agree that I could raise some probing issues about the implications of the current extent of provision to Northern Ireland. Noble Lords will know that, in the other place, there was a move to include Northern Ireland; I was not able to put that in as it was not possible but this amendment gives us a short opportunity to discuss this. I will not be giving my normal 25 or 35-minute speech on how dreadful the Windsor Framework and the protocol are because I think that, on this occasion, most Members here who want to see the Bill go through recognise that the protocol has caused problems on things such as this. In my view, animal welfare should not be devolved; animal welfare is animal welfare wherever it is and whatever part of the United Kingdom it is in.

When the Minister responds, I know that he will say, “We would love to do this. We think it is really important that animals can move for slaughter from Northern Ireland to the Republic”. It is a very important trade for farmers in Northern Ireland, and no one wants to stop that, but we want to prevent those animals being taken any further. Everything that has been said today has been about GB to Northern Ireland or GB to the Republic, and the safeguards that this will give, but, as I said earlier, there are no safeguards whatever for animals already in Northern Ireland, where they are being moved to and the distances they will have to travel.

A couple of months ago, I asked the Minister what plans the Government have,

“if any, to ensure that Northern Ireland operates under the same animal welfare standards as the rest of the UK during transport”.

I was referring to animals leaving Northern Ireland and going down into the Republic. The Written Answer came back:

“Animal welfare in transport is a devolved matter, and we will continue to work closely with the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs”.

We always work closely with these departments in our devolved areas, so I am not sure what that means. What we need is proper monitoring. As the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, mentioned, what we mean by monitoring and how we will monitor have not been clarified.

Of course, the real reason that the Government will not allow this to happen is that, they say, there is a range of international agreements, including WTO rules, preventing us creating an exception for movements ending in the Republic of Ireland. I know about the WTO, but I would love to know what the range of other international organisations are. Who is saying this? The WTO has exemptions, one of which is for public morals. This has been used in other parts of the world, so there is no reason why the Government could not have looked at this more carefully. As I said, the WTO does not stop us doing it; it comes in and challenges it only after we have done it.

If this had been handled properly, with the right diplomatic—one would hope—interventions from His Majesty’s Government, particularly with the European Union, which always tends to want to make exceptions for the Republic of Ireland and the reality that there is a border between part of the EU and part of the United Kingdom, I genuinely think that this could have been solved. If the current Government do not solve it, I hope that a new Government, if there is one, will look at it, because I cannot believe that common sense would say that we cannot make this happen. It is an island, and it could happen.

My final point is slightly off but very relevant: Great Britain is no longer a bluetongue-free area. We have a situation where farmers in Northern Ireland have gone over and bought animals but cannot now bring them back from Scotland to Northern Ireland and are paying lots of money to keep them safe, hoping that they will be able to be brought over. We discovered, last week or the week before, that animals coming from the European Union to Northern Ireland are coming through Great Britain and going directly into Northern Ireland, yet farmers in our own country cannot move their animals from Scotland because of this. Again, that is because the reality is, whether you were for or against Brexit, Northern Ireland has been left in the EU in so many areas and on so many issues.

I am sure the noble Lord will agree that, as far as Defra is concerned, practically every day something comes on to his desk that is related to the fact that things cannot happen for the rest of the United Kingdom because of the situation in Northern Ireland. Unfortunately, on this issue, the Government have not been prepared to fight it and do this. I accept that, even if the Minister or his department wanted to do it, there are people at much higher levels—let us say in the Cabinet Office—who take a great interest in anything to do with the protocol and the Windsor Framework, and that this will not be changed at this stage. However, it is important that it is let out, so that people understand and realise just why our Government do not feel that animals in Northern Ireland are entitled to the same animal welfare provisions as in the rest of our country.

My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Hoey, is rightly concerned about what is happening in Northern Ireland. Previous amendments have made reference to Northern Ireland. The Northern Ireland protocol has implications for animals. The number of animals moving through Ireland was listed in previous amendments.

I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Hoey, for raising this so that we can have this short debate. I have listened to her and am concerned that the passage of some animals may lead to unacceptable journeys. The WTO rules must be adhered to but there are ways to inject flexibility. I await with interest the Minister’s comments especially in relation to bluetongue, which he wrote to me about; perhaps he could now share that with the rest of the Committee.

I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Hoey, for introducing her amendment. She made some important points on Northern Ireland and on the transport between Northern Ireland and the Republic and onwards. It is a really complicated area and we have to take the concerns around it very seriously. I will be interested to hear the Minister’s response but there are probably more discussions to be had around this issue.

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Hoey, and others for their engagement on this Bill.

Let me first address the issue of the stepping stone from Europe to Ireland. What I would prefer to do, if I may, is take that outside of this discussion and the Bill today because it is not entirely connected. Perhaps I could come back to the noble Baroness separately on that.

I am very aware of the strength of feeling here and of the wider political issues so I shall stick to my script on this and not ad lib it, otherwise I shall get myself into terrible trouble. The Bill will prohibit the export of livestock and equines for slaughter and fattening from Great Britain to destinations outside of the UK and Crown dependencies. As the noble Baroness knows, none of the provisions affect Northern Ireland so there is no need for the Bill to extend to it; that is why the extent provisions are drafted as they are.

I understand the noble Baroness’s desire, through this probing amendment, to debate the implications of the Bill’s extent in relation to Northern Ireland. The Bill does not apply in Northern Ireland because of the vital importance of livestock movements for slaughter and fattening to the Republic of Ireland. Farmers in Northern Ireland routinely move animals in this way. The noble Baroness recognises this fact and has queried why we are not proposing a ban on exports from Northern Ireland with a targeted exemption for movements ending in the Republic of Ireland. A range of international agreements—I am waiting for a list of them—and their core principles, including World Trade Organization rules, would prevent an exemption of this kind, as the noble Baroness said.

The noble Baroness asked whether exceptions to the WTO requirements, such as that for measures to protect public morals, could apply in this case. Crucially, those exceptions cannot apply in a manner that would constitute a means of arbitrary discrimination between countries where the same conditions prevail. Any measure based on the exception must be applied in a consistent fashion to comparable trading partners. It is therefore not possible to make an exception for the Republic of Ireland on animal welfare grounds without extending the exception to other comparable countries outside the United Kingdom.

I understand the noble Baroness’ wish to explore whether the Bill could be extended further so that it applies across the United Kingdom. However, any such proposal would be either damaging to the Northern Irish economy or incompatible with our international agreements. The provisions that this amendment seeks to remove are necessary to set out the territorial extent of the Bill. I therefore respectfully ask the noble Baroness to withdraw her amendment.

My Lords, I thank the Minister for that. I am fond of him, and I know that he is fairly new to his position, but I have to say that I am not sure that he believes what he has been reading out on certain aspects of this. It would be very helpful to have the list of international organisations put in the Library, or perhaps in a response to me.

I know that it is not specifically related to the Bill, but I am also not terribly happy about the bluetongue issue. There is a similar aspect there, with farmers in Northern Ireland in a way being discriminated against. I think that the Minister should be able to answer on that very soon. On the issue about bluetongue and transporting from the EU direct to Northern Ireland through Great Britain—to Scotland or anywhere and then to Northern Ireland—I think probably all noble Lords would like that not to be possible. That should go into the Library as well, so that noble Lords can see it.

I will simply say that I do not think that I have learned anything particularly new in the arguments that the Government have put for this, and they have been very weak on it. I do not criticise the Minister or even his department; other forces are at work. I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment 7 withdrawn.

Amendment 8 not moved.

Clause 7 agreed.

Bill reported without amendment.

Committee adjourned at 2.26 pm.