.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


The highlight of yesterday's Plenary Meeting was a statement by the Minister for Environment, Planning and Countryside on the Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSE) (Wales) Regulations 2006. Put in plain English these regulations lift the ten year long ban on the export of British Beef.

Naturally, this has delighted the farmers but it also raised concerns amongst those who are not keen on seeing live calves bundled up in crates and shipped across the channel for slaughter. One of these was the Labour AM for Cardiff South and Penarth, who is well-known for her views on animal rights:

Lorraine Barrett: Thank you for the statement, and for this opportunity for me to express my concern at the reinstatement of live exports. I have mixed feelings, really. From an economic perspective, the reintroduction of beef exports is fine for farmers. I should, I suppose, declare an interest as a non-meat-eater. However, I take exception to Mick Bates’s comments that people who demonstrate against the live export of animals have, not a hidden agenda, exactly, but only come from one area of life: there are many members in my group—and my husband would want me to include him in this—who eat meat, but who are totally against animals being exported from Wales to other countries.

The Presiding Officer: Order. This is not a debate; it is a statement. I do not think I can possibly call you, unless you have a highly relevant point of order at the end of the statement.

Lorraine Barrett: I will now come to my question, as this is a statement. That was my little preamble.

The Presiding Officer: If you were on your preamble that is alright.

Lorraine Barrett: Thank you. While I hope that we would reach a point in the future at which no live animals are transported from Wales or the UK, can you assure me, Minister—you have already mentioned it, but I want more assurance—that you have sufficient personnel to ensure that you can monitor vigorously the welfare standards that you mentioned in your statement for those animals, which have no choice but to be exported across quite long distances from Wales?

Lorraine might not be a meat-eater but Carl Sergeant is and he was keen to ensure that we all know it. Nevertheless, Carl the Carnivore also had concerns:

Carl Sargeant: I am probably an example of the people whom Lorraine Barrett mentioned—I am happy to eat meat, but I do not agree with live veal exports under the conditions that currently exist. The Royal Society for the Protection of Animals has suggested that there are serious and negative long-term effects on the health of young calves transported in the crates. Minister, you said that the crates will be banned by the end of 2006, and that it is inhumane to transport calves in this fashion—yet it is okay to continue with this inhumane and terrible transportation of young cattle for another six months. You will also be aware that the ‘strict’ controls that are in operation in ports are the same controls on meat imports and the smuggling of meat. There are failures in this respect, and I am concerned about supporting live veal exports. Perhaps I lack understanding about some aspects of this, and I readily accept that, but I am at a loss to explain, if we must have veal exports, why we cannot kill the calves in the UK and send them across to the continent in refrigerated vehicles.

Elsewhere, it was business as usual as the opposition parties worked hard to pin down the Government on their broken promises. Unfortunately, some members found this task more difficult than others and entered the dreaded zone of the mixed metaphor:

Janet Ryder: The foundation phase is another of your lauded promises. When will it be rolled out? It has been delayed for at least two years already. It is happening in pilot schemes, but it has not been rolled out. You may wish to intervene again, Carl—you can fool some of the people some of the time, but your chickens will come home to roost in 2007 when people start to count your pledges.

Any hope that Janet may have had that she had got away with this quickly evaporated with the next speaker, who, in conjunction with his group leader, had some metaphors of his own to share with us:

David Melding: The Mike German award for mixed metaphors goes to Janet this afternoon; I congratulate her on that startling image. I want to return to the issue of free school breakfasts. I try never to miss breakfast, because it is an important meal that sets you up for the day. It was an eye-catching promise when the Labour Party made it during the last election, and it was at the core of the 10 promises contained in its manifesto. If a party cannot deliver on its key pledges or cannot conceive of those promises in a coherent way, it must be brought to book. I find it quite miserable that members of the Labour Party have stood up and said, ‘Of course, we never meant everyone when we said "all"—we only meant about 3 per cent of the population’. I have before me the relevant quotation from the Labour manifesto, which is:

‘Free school breakfasts for all school kids’.

It was discovered on an Easter egg hunt: they had lots of children running around a field finding Easter eggs with promises on. In fairness, it was good campaigning, as it caught the interest of the media. However, did anyone from the Labour Party then tell the media, ‘When we say "all", we mean a certain proportion, which we now realise is 3 per cent’? The Minister for Education, Lifelong Learning and Skills is lucky that the chamber is circular, because if it was in the shape of a classroom she would have been sent to the naughty corner a long time ago for not doing her homework.

Nick Bourne: In an attempt to help the Labour Party, I will just say that there could still be some undiscovered eggs out there, one of which might say, ‘These promises are not to be taken seriously’. That might be the explanation.

I think that we were all relieved that they did not introduce the Easter bunny into the debate.
I have to wonder if the 'serious health effects' for aninmals being exported alive include being eaten ;)
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?