Kate Hoey laments live animal export bill 'will not apply to Northern Ireland because the government must kowtow to the EU'

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​Kate Hoey has lamented the government's handling of the rules on live animal exports, saying there is "no good reason" why they could not be applied to Northern Ireland.

The former Labour MP, now peer, was speaking during a debate in the House of Lords on the Animal Welfare (Livestock Exports) Bill.

In short, the bill aims to "prohibit the export of cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and equines for slaughter... beginning in or transiting through Great Britain to EU member states and other third countries".

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Baroness Hoey recalled one woman telling her back in 2016 that the only reason she planned to support Brexit was "so that we can get rid of live animal exports".

A general image of pigs (Getty)A general image of pigs (Getty)
A general image of pigs (Getty)

"It was a vivid example of how people saw specific things in the referendum campaign that they knew the EU was doing that they wanted to change, and that was one," Baroness Hoey told the House.

She went on to add: "Of course I will support the Bill but, as others have said, there are changes that could be made, and I would certainly like it to go much further.

"It is not acceptable, here in the House of Lords in the United Kingdom Parliament, that the Bill is not going to apply to Northern Ireland."

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She said "animal welfare should be a UK-wide matter" and urged that "ways could be found, even at a late stage in committee, to ensure that the Bill applied to the whole country".

The baroness added that ostensibly "Northern Ireland has been left out because of the Government’s deep concern about farmers not being able to take their cattle over the border to be fattened or to abattoirs", but the real reason is that the government must "kowtow" to EU law.

Labour peer Baroness Ritchie (former SDLP leader) said that "for practical, agricultural, trading, political and animal health reasons, that is the right decision", adding "the Bill must not jeopardise the access that Northern Ireland farmers have to the Republic of Ireland".