The bill to ban live animal exports ‘for good’ will be debated in Parliament later today (October 25).
Former cabinet minister Theresa Villiers will kick-start calls in an attempt to persuade the UK government to end this type of trade in future legislation as soon as Britain leaves the EU.
Ms Villiers said she was pushing for the ban whilst ensuring the country remained competitive and compliant with World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.
She said: “Successive governments have been powerless to act because EU rules prevented them from imposing a ban.
“Whilst this procedure generally does not lead directly to a new law getting on to the statute book, I will be working to persuade as many MPs as possible to support it.
“I hope that this will also be a means to set out the strong case for a ban and persuade the Government to include one in future legislation.”
The RSPCA was the first animal welfare charity to back the bill after concern over ‘shocking and stressful’ conditions.
David Bowles, RSPCA head of public affairs said: “We also have grave concerns about the patchy enforcement of live transport laws – something highlighted by recent European Commission reports – and the face that animals are being exported to countries where they faced conditions considered illegal in the UK.
“We are confident that a live export ban or a restriction upon export journeys could be acceptable to the WTO now that a clear framework has been established to ensure regulations can be crafted so they can pass the tests set at the WTO.”
The National Sheep Association (NSA) were quick to comment and said ministers and policy makers would cause huge implications for the live exports sector if they ignored industry concern over such ‘highly questionable’ calls.
NSA chief executive Phil Stocker added: “I am somewhat dismayed and disturbed by the RSPCAs statement backing Theresa Villiers bill and welcoming a ban on live exports for slaughter. To me this suggests an unwillingness to work with the industry on practical solutions that really will improve animal welfare rather than just pander to the noise being made by campaigners.
“For sheep a ban on live exports would put an end to the majority of our live export movements across the Irish border when these animals may only travel short distances. Thankfully Ministers have recognised Brexit as an opportunity to control or restructure live movements rather than suggesting they want to ban them.
“The fact still remains that exports per se do not damage welfare, and neither does taking animals across water. Any problems that do occur happen because of a lack or regulatory compliance and that is why the NSA has been talking about exploring a concept of assured routes where transparency and traceability can be guaranteed.”
The Live Animal Exports (Prohibition) Bill will be presented to Parliament on October 25, allowing one exemption in local transport from Northern Ireland to the Republic of Ireland proving transfer does not continue to a third country.