February 16 letters: Shocking scenes in abattoirs

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Have your say

From: Martin D. Stern, Hanover Gardens, Salford.

I WOULD like to comment on the debate raging in your letters column of the necessity, from an animal welfare perspective, of pre-stunning of animals for slaughter.

It is a matter of dispute as to whether it renders the animal unconscious or merely paralyses it. Even in the former case, this would only happen if the stunning were carried out perfectly.

Unfortunately, under the conditions prevalent in abattoirs, it fails to work about 20 per cent of the time and has to be repeated.

I have witnessed several such cases. Anyone who has suffered an electric shock will know that this is both painful and distressing. The electric stunning method used is essentially the same as that in electro-convulsive therapy which has been banned unless the patient is first anaesthetised for this very reason.

Animal Aid recently filmed inside eight randomly chosen (non-Jewish) British slaughterhouses and found evidence of cruelty in seven of them where animals were kicked, slapped, stamped on, picked up by fleeces and ears and often improperly stunned before going to the knife while still conscious.

This is similar to William Snowden’s experience last summer (A glimpse into workings of a slaughterhouse, The Yorkshire Post, February 4) and, in that case, the terrified animal was a pig, so it was clearly not a case of either a Muslim or Jewish slaughterhouse.

Such practices are completely unacceptable and those concerned with animal welfare would do well to concentrate on their elimination rather than trying to enforce the dubious benefits of pre-stunning.

Obviously, much needs to be done to improve animal welfare at all abattoirs and the current obsession with ritual slaughter is something of a red herring.

Think-tank
off the rails

From: ME Wright, Grove Road, Harrogate.

LIKE David Collins and other contributors, I, too, have been wondering in hope if the Monster Raving Loony Party still exists.

Recent news suggests that it is alive and kicking, having diversified into public transport (The Yorkshire Post, February 11). The answer to overcrowded peak-time trains, according to the Institute of Economic Affairs, is to make passengers change their travelling needs to suit the railways. Give the train companies the same freedom as the banks and all will be well.

At last, we have a clear understanding of what the term ‘public service’ means to the suits in 21st century Britain – the public exist to serve the railways. If this comes to pass, shareholders may book yet another skiing holiday in the French Alps, confident that at least they will be able to afford the fares on the excellent SNCF trains.

Devolution
opportunity

From: Coun Andrew Carter Leader of the Conservative Group, Leeds Council.

WITH the Core Cities meeting in Glasgow and the Government giving clear indications that the devolution of fiscal powers is very much on the agenda there is a real opportunity for a ‘vast’ new future for England’s great cities.

Over the years there have been models doomed to failure such as John Prescott’s plans for regional assemblies. This, of course, follows on from the virtual destruction of reasonable dialogue between the government and big city local government brought about by the ‘loony left’ in the 1980s.

Now time has moved on. The deal agreed by the Government with Manchester is quite obviously economically sensible based on the view that taxpayers’ money raised centrally is better when it is then spent locally.

The Government’s deals are incremental, in other words, with money and political decision making comes the need for this to be gradually introduced and based on demonstrable success.

There is, however, one fly in the ointment. In some parts of big local government there is still something clearly ‘rotten’, Rotherham being the most recent example. Like it or not when fiscal devolution takes place, there has to be a new model of elected public accountability which ensures that not only is there strong and capable administration, but strong and capable opposition to hold to account those who will then have been entrusted with billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money.

Ban drivers from smoking

From: Elisabeth Baker, Leeds.

I WAS pleased to read that smoking in cars carrying children is to be banned (The Yorkshire Post, February 12). But I have long thought that drivers should be banned from smoking in any circumstances.

I have seen drivers holding a cigarette whose hot ash is about to drop onto them, causing them to look down and brush the ash away. How is that for a distraction?

Further, the numbers of drivers ignoring the ban on the use of hand-held mobile phones is at epidemic proportions. If I had not taken evasive action, my car would have been hit by an oncoming lorry as the driver attempted to turn a corner with one hand on the steering wheel and the other holding his phone.

Anyone convicted of such an offence should be disqualified from driving immediately.