Green MSP challenges Michael Gove on animal slaughter loophole

Michael Gove has been challenged by a Green MSP to close a loophole that could result in thousands of animals that are transported for fattening every year not being included in post-Brexit animal welfare legislation.

During questioning at Holyrood’s rural economy committee, the UK environment secretary asked John Finnie to forward evidence that thousands of calves leave Scotland every year for “processing” – a term used for the transportation of animals for fattening and then eventual slaughter.

Finnie, the Scottish Greens’ rural and island communities spokesperson also asked Michael Gove to apologise for appearing at the committee by video call the day before Holyrood suspends for summer recess. He says the repeated rescheduling by the UK government minister has “hindered” the committee’s attempts to hold Scottish ministers to account.

Mr Finnie, a Highlands and Islands MSP said:

“There is a glaring loophole in the UK government’s consultation on controlling live exports for slaughter during transport after the UK leaves the EU. I’m astonished that Michael Gove and fellow UK government ministers are not aware that the consultation does not include a focus on what is known as ‘processing’.

“Compassion In World Farming share my concerns about this prospective legal loophole whereby animals which are not being immediately slaughtered on arrival could still be exported. I’m astounded that Michael Gove didn’t seem to be aware, and asked me for evidence, of the fact that thousands of calves leave Scotland every year for ‘processing’, to possibly be slaughtered within days or weeks of arriving at their destination.

“There is a fine line between the definitions of ‘slaughter’ and ‘production’ and differing standards between the two categories could create a loophole. These animals must also be covered by exports legislation otherwise Brexit could have dire consequences for this country’s animal welfare standards.”

Finnie added:

“While Mr Gove’s video call to the committee is appreciated, doing so the day before parliament goes on summer recess is not helpful. His cancelling and rescheduling on several occasions has also hindered the committee’s efforts to hold the government to account on these very important rural economy issues.”