MPs set to debate shechita


Shechita is set to come under renewed political attack at a parliamentary debate on Monday week.

It has been prompted by a petition launched by the British Veterinary Association calling for the prohibition of animal slaughter without pre-stunning – a move which would effectively end shechita.

Shimon Cohen, of defence campaign Shechita UK, said “Once again, shechita is under threat in the UK. We will be briefing MPs over the next few days. We are confident that MPs will see that there is ample scientific end to support our case.”

The BVA argues that animals slaughtered without stunning them first suffer pain.

But defenders of shechita say the cut to the animal’s neck swiftly renders it unconscious.

The BVA’s electronic petition, supported by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, reached more than 100,000 signatures last month – which meant that it would automatically be considered by Parliament’s backbench committee for debate.

The debate has been sponsored by the Conservative MP for Kettering Philip Hollobone,who believes that "the vast majority of my constituents would support the wording of the above petition and I strongly suspect that these views also represent the majority of opinion in this country".

But he added that he was "well aware of the sensitivities of this issue among the Jewish community and I have been impressed by the way in which a number of MPs representing constituencies with large numbers of Jewish voters have pressed the case for kosher slaughter."

He hoped that "both sides of the argument will have a full and fair hearing - the best parliamentary debates are those in which there is a full and vigorous exchange of views. It would be wrong to say that these matters ought not to be debated – they need to be discussed and I am sure our strong, mature and democratic parliamentary process can do this is a way which generates more light than heat."

Mr Hollobone said it was "difficult to avoid growing calls for more detailed labelling of how the meat we eat is slaughtered. It is then up to the consumer to choose. What I think aggravates people the most is the thought that they may be buying meat which has been slaughtered in a way with which they disagree and yet which they have no way of knowing about.

"Sadly, our membership of the EU means that the UK is having to wait for Europe to decide how labelling might be improved. Personally, as someone who is against our continuing membership of the EU, I think food labelling ought to be a matter for the British Government alone to decide."

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