The Conservative MP Sir Roger Gale has used a House of Commons debate to claim “vast amounts” of kosher meat is produced “not for the British market even, but for export.”
Jewish News understands that his claim, made during Monday evening’s second reading of the Animal Welfare Bill, is being challenged by senior figures within the UK’s kosher meat industry.
Sir Roger used his speech bring up the issue of non-stunned slaughter adding: “I would like to raise an issue that is not in this Bill, but will I think be so soon.”
He told the Commons: “Some of us have worked very carefully – and one colleague in particular has worked very hard indeed – to work with the religious organisations, particularly those of the Jewish faith, and Muslims, to make certain that it is understood that we do not seek to interfere with religious practice.”
But Sir Roger, a leading figure in the Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation, continued: “But that said, there is a case for much greater regulation of non-stunned slaughtered animals – because we know perfectly well that vast amounts of kosher and halal meat are produced not for the British market even, but for export.
“There is no necessity whatsoever for that.”
While some kosher meat may leave the UK for smaller Jewish communities abroad at Pesach and on other festivals, sources told Jewish News large scale export of produce is a myth.
Sir Roger then turned to his Conservative colleague Chris Loder MP who is expected to lay down an amendment to the Animal Welfare Bill calling for a dramatic cut in non-stun animal slaughter.
Loder stood to tell the Commons he believed there should be an “appropriate understanding of this matter.”
Sir Roger said that if Loder did lay down an amendment at a “suitable time” he “will certainly have my support.”
Jewish News revealed earlier this month of a growing push amongst backbench Tories, which is supported by some senior ministers, to use Brexit to rewrite UK legislation on non-stun slaughter of animals.
Shechita UK have vowed to convince MPs that kosher meat is produced in a manner that does not mean it should be singled out for criticism.
Jewish News has contacted Sir Roger to ask what evidence he has that “vast amounts” of kosher meat is exported from the UK.
The Second Reading of the Bill included proposals to crackdown harder on puppy smugglers, and was supported by Opposition parties.
Clarifying his comments, Sir Roger told Jewish News:” I actually said was that a vast amount of kosher and halal meat is exported.
“Some is also sold `unbranded` in supermarkets and is also used in catering for hospitals, schools and prisons. Chris Loder`s intention, which I support, is that non-stun meat should be delivered to order to meet genuine faith needs and not, as at present, generated in surplus for non-faith purposes and for export.
“My understanding is that the Board of Deputies and Muslim leaders understand and appreciate that difference.”
Board of Deputies Vice President Amanda Bowman responded saying: “The right for the Jewish community to eat meat prepared in accordance with our religious beliefs is an important part of Jewish life.
“Parliamentarians on all sides need to ensure that the Jewish community, and the Muslim community, are not stigmatised in any way for keeping their faith. Kosher meat is produced according to high animal welfare standards and, working with Shechita UK, we will be taking this matter up with the Government and Opposition.”
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