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Thursday, April 8, 1999 Published at 17:40 GMT 18:40 UK

UK Politics

New rules on live exports

The new rules cover veterinary inspections

The government has announced new guidelines on the exporting of live animals but has refused to ban the controversial trade.

The government will introduce new guidelines for veterinary inspection of sheep and pigs being sent for slaughter or fattening in other EU member state by the end of next month.

The guidelines will determine whether animals are fit for transport and the minimum times that an inspection of animals by vets should take.

They will also outline the exporter's responsibilities.

'Ban not possible'

At the moment, exporters nominate their own vets and payments for the work are arranged between the two parties

The government wants to eventually introduce a system where vets are chosen independently of the exporters. The vets would also be paid through a system operated by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

Farm Animal Welfare Minister Elliot Morley said: "The government cannot lawfully ban the live export trade because of EU single market rules.

[ image: The export industry is growing, say campaigners]
The export industry is growing, say campaigners
"But the government is committed to ensuring the highest possible standards of animals health and welfare apply when exports do take place.

"The action we are taking is designed to strengthen the safeguards for animal exports. We have made it clear that animals which are not fit to travel to their intended destination will be rejected from certification."

However, the new guidelines have far from satisfied animal rights campaigners who will continue to lobby for a total ban on the trade.

Compassion in World Farming's Political Director Peter Stevenson told BBC News Online: "We are disappointed because we think this trade should be banned.

"Not many people realise that this trade is actually going up from 440,000 lambs and sheep in 1997 to £700,000 in 1998.

"This is a rotten trade, this is a cruel trade and it should come to an end, it's as simple as that."

Mr Stevenson welcomed the tightening of guidelines on how vets checked animals but urged the government to implement a system where vets are independently chosen to check animals.

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