In Crawley we have an MP who has conviction and who makes a difference. On the 3rd of February 2015, Crawley MP Henry Smith put forward an Adjournment debate in the House of Commons calling for the mandatory introduction of CCTV in slaughterhouses. This followed the release of secret recordings that showed shocking and appalling mistreatment of animals in a slaughterhouse.
Henry stated the following at the time. “CCTV in slaughterhouses provides welfare oversight and helps prevent abuse; something, from the appalling scenes witnessed, is clearly now needed. Most supermarkets have already taken decisive action. All the major chains now insist that their slaughterhouse suppliers have CCTV installed. I am pleased to have support of over 170 MPs, and that 80,000 people have signed a petition on the Government website. Personally I’ve been vegetarian for over a quarter-of-a-century because of animal welfare and food sustainability reasons, but I believe the vast majority of those who eat meat also want to know that their food has been produced without cruelty.”
I agreed with that and took the view that while voluntary introduction at many slaughterhouses was welcome, only the mandatory introduction can truly ensure the safeguards needed at every slaughterhouse. Henry’s efforts paid off when this subsequently became part of the Conservative manifesto in this year’s general election.
Then, last week, the Environment Secretary Michael Gove announced new plans to make CCTV mandatory in all slaughterhouses in England and it looks like the Welsh government is to follow suit. These rules will be phased in over the next year and Food Standards Agency vets will be able to ask to see footage of all areas where livestock are held. Any slaughterhouses found to be failing welfare standards could face a criminal investigation or lose staff licences.
While we do have some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world, and we should be rightly proud of the way in which the UK has led the way in the protection of animals, Henry Smith recognised that on this issue, there was more to be done and successfully called for positive change.