I am pleased that the UK Government is committed to the highest standards of animal welfare, and I share your belief that our forthcoming exit from the European Union is an opportunity for us to build on our current high standards of animal welfare. You are right to point out that, as long as we remain in the EU’s single market, we are unable to ban live exports of animals.
Here in Scotland, agriculture is a devolved matter, and so much of the responsibility for animal welfare in farming rests with the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood. I hope that the Scottish Government will take note of the advances the UK Government is making on animal welfare and ensure that Scotland does not fall behind the rest of the United Kingdom.
With respect to mandatory labelling, it is important that the potential cost to businesses and consumers is taken into account. I believe that the several existing voluntary assurance schemes in place ensure that consumers with a preference for a particular farming method can readily find meat products labelled with the information they seek.
Following efforts from the UK Government, I am happy to report that sales of antibiotics for use in animals in the UK have now fallen to their lowest level since records began, exceeding the UK Government’s target two years early – I hope that the UK Government will continue these efforts and work to build on that success. Moreover, I welcome the UK Government’s plan to make CCTV mandatory in slaughterhouses under its jurisdiction.