Cllr Andrew Snowden is a County Councillor for Hoghton with Wheelton and Lead Member for Highways and Transport on Lancashire County Council.
Thursday 26th October was a day I was particularly proud to be a Conservative in Lancashire. The now Conservative-run Administration brought forward a sensible way forward to tackle the issue of providing meat in School meals and other Council operated facilities from animals being slaughtered without being stunned first.
The proposal was brought by Cllr Geoff Driver CBE, the now Conservative leader of Lancashire County Council. He argued that it is cruel to slaughter animals without stunning them first, as is the case with a minority of halal meat suppliers.
Currently, Lancashire supplies 27 schools with halal meat, catering for up to 12,000 children and this meat currently does not have to come from animals that were stunned before being slaughtered.
As I said in my speech to Full Council, asking fellow Councillors to vote in favour of banning non pre-stunned meat, this is a clear issue of animal rights. It is about us, as representatives of the people of Lancashire, setting out what we believe is the minimum standard of humane treatment that animals should receive in our county.
I highlighted that slitting an animal’s throat whilst it is still conscious is cruel and unnecessary; it causes pain and suffering that we would not tolerate under any other circumstances. I challenged any councillor to say they would allow their pet dog or cat to be put down this way if it was ill (silence from all) – if it is too cruel for them, then why is it fine for any other animal?
To be clear: this is not a ban on halal meat. Our motion caters for and respects the needs of the Muslim (and Jewish) communities in Lancashire, which is fundamentally important and an absolute requirement.
The County Council will still provide halal meat that is slaughtered the same way as 84 per cent of all halal meat in the UK – being that the animal is slaughtered whilst stunned. It meets the religious requirement according to many scholars, whilst also meeting the concerns of many people, such as myself, who believe passionately in having moral standards of treatment for animals.
Following a heated and at times fraught debate, the motion passed with support from most Conservatives and some other councillors. The majority of the Labour group voted to keep killing animals in this inhumane way.
I was proud to be a Conservative that day because we took on a sensitive but important issue in a mature and constructive way. Our Leader apologised to anyone who may be offended by this ban – but highlighted that it was purely an animal rights issue.
We made a stand and I was proud to passionately argue the case for doing so and I know many residents across Lancashire are grateful that we did not shy away from tackling such a difficult issue.