Export of UK horses for slaughter 'could resume'

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Indy Politics

Up to 10,000 live horses a year could be exported to France and other European countries for food, under plans to lift a ban on the export of equines for human consumption from Britain.

The Conservatives claimed yesterday that thousands of former pets will be shipped abroad because of the Government's failure to opt out of a European Commission proposal to change the rules on the transport of live animals which would effectively end Britain's ban on exporting horses abroad for meat.

Around 10,000 horses a year are slaughtered in Britain and some carcasses are sent abroad to nations where horse meat is eaten, such as France and Italy. But UK rules mean people found exporting live ponies or working horses under a certain value abroad are liable for a fine, meaning the trade in food animals is effectively banned.

However, a European Union amendment to the rules which govern the export of live animals abroad will override the rules, and critics claim it would create a trade in live meat, including former racehorses. A meeting of MPs and horse charities in the House of Commons today will look at how to stop the plans.

Yesterday James Gray, the Conservatives' countryside spokesman, called on Alun Michael, the Rural Affairs minister, to "stand up to the EU to prevent live horses being exported to EU slaughterhouses". He said: "This practice has been banned for the last 70 years with good reason. I am certain that most people hate the idea of exporting our horses to be made into sausages and salami on the Continent."

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