SNP Ministers ducking responsibility for animal welfare with failure to explain opposition to live exports ban

SNP Ministers are ducking a key responsibility on animal welfare, according to the Scottish Greens, who have launched a stinging attack on Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing over his failure to explain his opposition to banning live export of animals for food processing.

Mr Ewing appeared to decide the government's policy without consultation in early February, prompting outrage from animal welfare campaigners and questions in parliament.

Scottish Green MSP Mark Ruskell lodged a series of parliamentary questions about live exports but one month on these have still not been answered, despite documents showing that last year more than 5,000 young calves discarded by the dairy industry endured lorry journeys from Scotland to Spain lasting up to 135 hours.

Recently, prominent SNP supporter and animal rights campaigner Kay Hamilton warned that she will quit the party if the policy goes ahead, while backbench SNP MSPs have joined with the Scottish Greens and Labour to sign a parliamentary motion calling for a consultation.

Meanwhile SNP MPs at Westminster have been arguing against the live export ban, with Glasgow East MP David Linden stating that the SNP ‘cannot support moves that create further challenges or disadvantages for our livestock sector’.

Mark Ruskell MSP, Food & Farming spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, said:

"Over a month on from Fergus Ewing’s assertions that a live export ban would harm agriculture, he has failed to provide any evidence to support that position. The Scottish Government are trying to create a fake war with Westminster on this issue, when it’s clear they should be backing Gove’s proposed ban on live exports to end animal suffering.

"We've seen time and again the SNP fail to make the right choices over animal welfare, whether it's on fox hunting or tail docking. All the evidence is clear that live animal exports are cruel and unnecessary, a ban won't affect movements from our islands, and we have an economic opportunity to focus on exporting meat products rather than live animals.

"I plan to bring amendments to the Scottish Government's Continuity Bill in a bid to ensure the EU's high standards of animal welfare are transferred to Scots law in the event of Brexit. This is clearly needed in the face of a Scottish Government that cares little for our reputation as a good food nation. I would urge SNP MPs at Westminster to listen to the evidence rather than mimicking Fergus Ewing's fake war rhetoric."