A number of constituents have written to me asking for a ban on live animal exports. Here are my views:
I have been asked my views on live animals being exported for fattening, which will ultimately be slaughtered and might present a legal loophole for any proposed bans on live exports for slaughter.
With new trade deals on the horizon and the UK no longer subject to EU-wide rules on animal welfare, we must ensure there are comprehensive regulations in place to ensure the UK has equal and better animal welfare standards going forward. I am committed to promoting best practice in cruelty-free animal husbandry and to ensuring better enforcement of agreed standards.
The Government has launched a call for evidence on controlling live exports for slaughter after Brexit. I believe the UK's standards must reflect good scientific evidence to ensure animal welfare.
Instinctively, I support the RSPCA evidence that animals transported in a standard vehicle should not be moved for longer than eight hours. Even in enhanced vehicles, I believe transportation should be kept as short as possible, by encouraging slaughter close to where animals are reared.
Labour is currently consulting on a new Animal Welfare Plan and is considering proposals which include: a ban on live animal exports for fattening and slaughter, as well as the possible introduction of mandatory labelling of meat and the potential for ending the use of cages, with a phased ban on sow farrowing crates.
Whilst a ban on live exports appears attractive, in my view the journey limit is crucial. There is no value in banning a journey from a farm in Kent to Calais, but allowing a journey from Inverness to Bristol. I support a strict maximum journey limit for fattening and for slaughter.
I also believe food labelling must be clear and unambiguous so that consumers know exactly what they are buying. It should also encourage consumers to buy British.
I will continue to support the promotion of humane and sustainable British farming reflecting the highest animal welfare standards.