British MP proposes bill to clamp down on illegal horse trade

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Greg Barker
Greg Barker

A British Conservative MP is proposing a bill to crack down on illegal exports of live horses and ponies to foreign markets.

Bexhill and Battle MP Greg Barker proposes that the Animal and Plant Health Agency be made the leading enforcement agency to stop illegal trafficking of possibly tens of thousands of Britain’s horses to continental Europe, many of which may enter the food chain.

“The UK can be proud of its laws that protect the welfare of every one of our country’s one million equines,” he said.

“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 is no effective enforcement at our ports.”

Barker’s bill would prevent illegal horse exports by:

  • Requiring the Secretary of State to commission and publish a study of the effectiveness of enforcement of horse exports; and
  • Making a single agency responsible for all animal exports and imports, including health, welfare and documentation.

It would also mandate use of the Government Agency Intelligence Network to ensure close working with other enforcement agencies and non-governmental organisations to clamp down on the trade and ensure the Government receives its due revenue from tax, penalty fines and the Proceeds of Crime Act.

The charity World Horse Welfare estimates that a truckload of 20 horses could be worth £10,000 at the meat markets, and that trafficking 10,000 horses a year would fetch those responsible £5 million.

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