Calf ban permanent?
A BAN on the export of UK calves to Continental veal crates could become permanent under the Labour government.
The EU Court of Justice is expected to rule later this month on a challenge brought by welfare groups to the previous govern-ments insistence that it could not introduce a ban.
Junior farm minister, Elliot Morley, said the new government would use the court ruling to clarify its policy. And if the judgement went in favour of welfare groups it would introduce a ban on calf exports to veal crates.
"We did say consistently that if we could ban calves going to veal crates then we would do so," said Mr Morley.
MAFF had insisted it could not take unilateral action because it risked a challenge under EU law. But the RSPCA and Compassion in World Farming argued that Article 36 of the Treaty of Rome entitled the government to ban a trade that was regarded as morally indefensible by much of the British public.
Labour will not introduce a ban on the whole live export trade as called for by welfare groups. But Mr Morley indicated that it would tighten inspection and enforcement procedures. It would also look at how it could use a licensing procedure, set to be introduced under EU rules, to stop exporters or hauliers convicted of serious offences from trading.
Mr Morley made clear his distaste for the trade. He said Labour believed animal exports for slaughter were not just bad for animals but bad for the rural economy. *