Pigs 'in distress' at farm linked to peer

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The Independent Online

The Conservatives called yesterday for an inquiry into allegations of poor conditions at pig farms linked to a government agriculture spokesman.

The Conservatives called yesterday for an inquiry into allegations of poor conditions at pig farms linked to a government agriculture spokesman.

Television reports said pigs at two farms on the Hampshire-Wiltshire border were kept in small stalls, some without access to drinking water. Sky News broadcast footage of farms on which, it said, sows suffered in cramped and distressing conditions.

Lord Carter, the Government's chief whip and agriculture spokesman in the House of Lords, was a non-executive director of WE & DT Cave, the company that owns the farms, until 1997 when his wife became a director.

But he insisted yesterday that the farms had not acted outside the law and had passed inspections by government animal welfare officers.

A statement from Lord Carter's solicitors said: "The farms have passed every inspection and they confirmed the farms were operating within the regulations".

"As recently as 15 March this year, the animal welfare officer confirmed the visits included unannounced spot checks and that they had been given free access of all parts of the farm."

Peter Ainsworth, the Conservative rural affairs spokesman, said he did not know whether the allegations were correct but called for an inquiry to establish the facts. "These are very serious allegations indeed and should be the subject of a full inquiry," he said.

A spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said inspectors from the State Veterinary Service had visited the farm twice last year and found no evidence of infringements.

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