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Live animal exports: should they be banned?

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By Matthew Limb

MPs pressing for a UK ban on live animal exports have spoken out about animal suffering, ‘horrendous’ conditions and inhumane slaughter abroad.

They were speaking at Westminster on Tuesday to debate an e-petition calling for a ban on live animal exports after the UK leaves the EU in favour of a carcass-only trade.

The petition fell just short of the 100,000 signatures usually needed to trigger a debate, but the petitions committee tabled the discussion anyway because of its public importance.

The UK government has a manifesto commitment to take early steps to ‘control the export of live animals for slaughter’ as the UK leaves the EU. At present, the UK has to adhere to EU regulations with live exports, but Brexit is seen as an opportunity for the UK to make its own rules.

For journeys up to eight hours, an animal transport certificate must be carried; however, for journeys over eight hours, more authorisation is required, including driver competency and rules on vehicles.

Many animal welfare organisations have campaigned for an eight-hour limit to live exports; however, a total ban is now under consideration.

Kerry McCarthy, Labour MP for Bristol East, said a ban on live exports was needed since enforcement of regulations to protect animals was ‘near impossible’.

shutterstock_Alexey Fedorenko

Whenever animals continue to be exported live, there will continue to be suffering

She said: ‘Whenever animals continue to be exported live, there will continue to be suffering and violations of welfare.’

McCarthy explained that the required ‘rest period’ for animals being transported was sometimes just a stop in a lay-by, with …

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