Select Committee on European Union Fortieth Report


Letter from Jim Knight MP, Minister for Rural Affairs, Landscape and Biodiversity, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to the Chairman

  I am writing to update you with developments on the proposal for a Directive introducing humane trapping standards for certain species, to which the above Explanatory Memorandum refers.

  The European Parliament Environment Committee on 21 June 2005 gave strong support for rejecting the proposal. The proposal has also been debated on two occasions by the Environment Public Health and Food Safety Committee. The rapporteur proposed to both reject the proposal and also make substantial amendments to the Directive.

  The proposal for a Directive was first debated by the European Parliament on 16 November 2005. The European Parliament then voted in plenary on 17 November 2005 to reject the text of the above proposal for a Directive, but did not proceed to vote on the draft legislative resolution. The proposal was instead referred back to the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety. At its meeting on 28-29 November 2005, the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety held a brief exchange of views and decided to recommend to the plenary to confirm the rejection of the Commission's proposal.

  Without further debate in plenary, the European Parliament voted on 13 December 2005 to adopt the draft legislative resolution and thereby close the legislative procedure.

  The European Commission are considering the next steps on this issue and I will write to you again when their intentions become clear.

15 February 2006

Letter from the Chairman to Jim Knight MP

  Thank you for your letter of 15 February, which Sub-Committee D (Environment and Agriculture) considered at its meeting on 15 March.

  The Committee notes that the European Parliament rejected this proposal. We would be grateful for an explanation as to why, in the Government's view, the European Parliament took this action. We would also very much appreciate you keeping us informed of the Commission's next steps on this dossier. In the meantime, the Committee decided to retain the proposal under scrutiny.

17 March 2006

Letter from Jim Knight MP to the Chairman

  Thank you for your letter of 17 March regarding the European Parliament's decision to reject the European Commission's draft Directive. It may be helpful if I firstly update you with progress on this issue. The European Commission has issued a tender for a two-year euro500k project to identify the state of art research, science and application of trapping standards and methods which reduce pain, distress and suffering as much as technically feasible in order to improve the welfare of trapped animals. (OJEC Ref: (06/S 19-20257/EN)).

  The project will in particular, identify and use testing methods which reduce as much as technically possible the use of live animals for the testing of trapping methods. Accordingly, the work will focus on improving the protection of the welfare of trapped animals as much as technically feasible and to further foster the development of alternative testing methods to reduce the use of live animals for the testing of trapping methods.

  You requested an explanation as to why, in the Government's view, the draft Directive was rejected. There were a number of areas of concern with the draft Directive which the European Parliament debated before making their decision. There were, for example, concerns that the proposal could contradict other Community legislation, such as the Habitats Directive, and that it was not based on the latest scientific research or did not take into account alternative killing methods. There were also concerns that the Directive would not actually prevent or even reduce animal suffering.

  I note the Select Committee's decision to retain the proposal under scrutiny. I will of course keep the Committee updated should there be any further developments. However in light of the European Commission's two-year project, mentioned above, I do not anticipate major developments until that project is concluded.

14 April 2006

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