MP urges action on illegal live horse exports from the UK

Horse portrait.

A Conservative MP is calling for a ‘crackdown’ on illegal exports of live horses, to prevent them entering the food supply chain.

Greg Barker, MP for Bexhill and Battle, has proposed a bill calling the Animal & Plant Health Agency to be made the leading enforcement agency stopping the illegal trafficking of live horses.

The charity World Horse Welfare estimates that a lorry-load of 20 horses could be worth £10,000 at European meat markets, and that trafficking 10,000 horses per year could fetch criminals £5 million.

Barker said: “The UK can be proud of its laws that protect the welfare of every one of our country’s one million equine. The laws protect them from indiscriminate export for slaughter. However, in reality, horses and ponies can effectively be shipped anywhere, for any purpose, in any condition because there are is no effective enforcement at our ports.”

Barker said the bill would prevent illegal horse exports by: 1) requiring the Secretary of State to commission and publish a study of the effectiveness of enforcement of horse exports, and 2) making a single agency responsible for all animal exports and imports, including health, welfare and documentation.

If legislated, the Tory MP’s bill would also mandate use of the Government Agency Intelligence Network to ensure close working with other enforcement agencies and NGOs to clamp down on the trade and ensure government receives its due revenue from tax, penalty fines and the Proceeds of Crime Act.

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