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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, what is the lesson to be learnt from this exchange? Neither the noble Lord, Lord Dainton, nor, I am sure, the Minister, is suggesting that anything less than many thousands or hundreds of thousands of people would be killed. The fact that we cannot give a precise answer to the Question does not mean that these weapons are less terrible.

Lord Henley: My Lords, nobody said that they were not. But they serve a very useful purpose as a deterrent and they have provided for our security for over 50 years.

Lord Jenkins of Putney: My Lords, does the noble Lord agree that the deterrent is excessive? The lethality deployed is enormously overdriven. It is an enormous waste of taxpayers' money. Will he not look at the matter fairly and agree with that?

Is he aware that more accurate estimations have been made by the Japanese? Is he also aware that a reasonable, informed guess can be made? I shall be able to put that estimate in Written Questions to the noble Lord rather than taking up the time of the House this afternoon.

Lord Henley: My Lords, I believe that it is a minimum strategic nuclear deterrent, and that is all. As I said, the explosive power of our nuclear arsenal will, when fully deployed, be some 25 per cent. less than it was in 1990. As regards costs, Trident is expected to absorb less than 2.5 per cent. of the defence budget over its procurement period. It is coming into service well under its original estimates.

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Exports of Livestock

3.30 p.m.

Lord Swansea asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will take immediate steps to prohibit live exports of livestock to the Continent.

The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Earl Howe): My Lords, legal advice is that it is not open to Her Majesty's Government to prohibit exports of live animals to the Continent, since to do so would contravene Article 34 and other articles of the Treaty of Rome. However, we shall continue to work hard in the European Union to achieve, Community-wide, limits on journeys to slaughter and a ban on veal crates. We have also been examining how opportunities can be created—with the help of existing grant schemes where possible—for farmers to find new domestic markets for their male calves. We trust that all interested parties will join in this initiative, including Compassion in World Farming and the RSPCA, to whom my right honourable friend outlined these plans at a constructive meeting this morning.

Lord Swansea: My Lords, I can hardly say that I am grateful to my noble friend for that Answer, although I do not blame him personally for its content. Does it mean that those unfortunate animals—animals have feelings—are condemned forever to endure the privations about which we read daily in the press? Does not the Treaty of Rome provide for derogation in certain cases? Is this not a case for derogation?

Earl Howe: My Lords, I believe that there are two strands to my noble friend's concern: the transport of the animals; and the conditions in which the animals are kept when they reach their destination. We believe that it is possible to transport farm animals in ways that are acceptable from a welfare point of view. The Ministry takes great care only to authorise those routes which provide, and carriers which adhere to, proper welfare standards.

The subject of veal crates has achieved some publicity recently. We are setting an example in Europe. We have banned the veal crate in this country and our efforts will continue to be directed towards achieving agreement that such crates should be banned across the European Union.

Lord Ennals: My Lords, is it possible for the Minister to give an assurance that his right honourable friend the Secretary of State, in his role as a farmer, would fully comply with such an agreement in the European Union if, as we hope, it were to be achieved?

Earl Howe: My Lords, I am sorry that the noble Lord should see fit to comment on a Member of another place who is also a highly conscientious and able Minister. My right honourable friend very rightly distanced himself from the farm in which he has an interest when he was appointed Minister because of his ministerial office. He therefore takes no active part in the management of the farm. He has, however, made clear on repeated occasions his distaste for and disapproval of

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veal crates. As I said, my right honourable friend and all my departmental colleagues are working to help farmers to identify domestic markets for their calves.

Lord Renton: My Lords, is my noble friend aware that some very bad cases have come to light of old horses being exported from this country to the Continent, and of their being badly ill treated when they reach there? Although one bears Article 34 of the Treaty of Rome in mind, will the Government bear in mind that this situation has occurred and could occur again? Will they be vigilant about it?

Earl Howe: My Lords, my noble friend makes an important point about horses. In fact, as he will know, the minimum value rules ensure that no horses are exported from this country for slaughter, although we all know that horses may be exported for sporting purposes and such like. That falls into a different category. However, we place great importance on maintaining our ability to adhere to the minimum value provisions. I am sure that that is a view which will be common to many of your Lordships.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon: My Lords, do the Minister and the House realise the enormity of the statement which the Minister made in his original Answer: that the House of Commons, and indeed Parliament, are not able to legislate on a matter of vital and great importance to huge numbers of British people; that they are not enabled to legislate in the face of riot and mayhem at our ports; that they are not able to legislate to prevent the enormous sums of public money being expended through the police presence at our ports and airports; and that they are not able to seek to prevent the export of animals for veal which are being brought up in disgraceful and barbarous conditions? If that is what he is saying, by God we have certainly lost our sovereignty in this country and the Government ought to be damned well ashamed of themselves.

Earl Howe: My Lords, I think that the noble Lord misunderstood my Answer. I said that we had set an example in Europe by banning veal crates ourselves. As he will know, the common agricultural policy is a means of ensuring fair competition in Europe in agricultural products. It is a regulated market. It is simply not open to us to dictate to other member states what their standards of animal welfare should be beyond the minimum standards laid down by the Community. What we now have to do is to win the debate in Europe. We have argued long and hard for improved welfare standards. We shall continue to do so; and we are making good progress.

Lord Cockfield: My Lords, while accepting that my noble friend the Minister is acting on legal advice, perhaps I may ask him how he reconciles his legal advice with the specific provisions of Article 36 of the Treaty of Rome which acts by way of derogation from Article 34 to which he referred. It reads as follows:


    "The provisions of Articles 30 to 34 shall not preclude prohibitions or restrictions on imports, exports"—

and I ask him to note the word "exports"—

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    "or goods in transit justified on grounds of public morality, public policy or public security; the protection of health and life of humans, animals or plants".

Earl Howe: My Lords, my noble friend refers to Article 36 of the treaty and specifically to the provisions on public morality and the protection of animal health. As regards public morality, the European Court of Justice has restricted the operation of that phrase to matters such as pornography. As regards the protection of animal health, there is specific Community legislation which regulates the welfare of animals in transit so that an export ban would be illegal. Any other restriction would have to accord with the general provisions of the treaty and with the directive on protection of animals during transport. In particular it would have to be proportionate and non-discriminatory. We believe that our requirement, in relation to farm animals, for resting, feeding and watering at 15-hour intervals is proportionate and fair.

Lord Gallacher: My Lords, will the noble Earl state whether the Government support present research by the Hannah Institute aimed at extending indefinitely the period of lactation of cows so obviating the need for dairy cows to produce calves annually? Do the Government support that research institute financially either directly or indirectly?

Has the noble Earl seen the letter from the director of the institute in The Times of 10th January which indicated that the institute's research in that direction has gone a considerable way and is likely to be successful?

Earl Howe: My Lords, unfortunately I am unaware of that particular research programme. However, I shall write to the noble Lord with an answer.

Easter Recess

3.39 p.m.

Lord Strathclyde: My Lords, it may be for the convenience of the House to know that, subject to the progress of Business, it is expected that the Easter Recess this year will be taken during Holy Week, and that the House will resume shortly after the Easter Monday Bank Holiday. It may also be for the convenience of your Lordships if I say that, as usual, it is expected that the Whitsun Recess will be taken during the week of the late May Bank Holiday on Monday 29th May.


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