Lord Sheikh’s speech on Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill

Amendment 31

I should now like to speak to Amendment 31. As we have left the European Union, we must commit to animal welfare standards and uphold any recommendations or protections that were applied previously under Article 13 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. The article stated that the administrative provisions and customs of member states must respect the religious rites, cultural traditions and regional heritage of their citizens. We should not dilute that.

I am a practising Muslim and eat only halal meat. In addition to me, there are 3.4 million Muslims in the United Kingdom and we make up 5% of the British population. Among the Islamic community in the United Kingdom, a number of British Muslims eat only halal meat. It is important that they are allowed to do so and there should be no interference on the issue of religious slaughter.

I have received representations from a number of Muslim communities that have asked me to make the points that I have raised today. In addition to Muslims, a number of members of the Jewish community would like the practice of shechita to be maintained. Unfortunately, some members of the British population are critical of halal and other slaughter practices, perhaps due to misconceived ideas of what religious slaughter entails. I should emphasise that Islam forbids the mistreatment of animals and guarantees their welfare and well-being. That is enshrined in our deeply held Muslim beliefs.

Islam, of course, prescribes how an animal can be slaughtered for food and we would like that to continue. I and other Muslims believe that when we undertake halal slaughter, we are acting humanely. Indeed, there is no evidence to suggest that halal or other forms of religious slaughter are less humane than conventional methods. I have spoken in your Lordships’ House previously on the issue of halal slaughter and discussed it with the then Ministers from Defra. I also corresponded with David Cameron when he was Prime Minister and was assured that the practice of halal and shechita would be continued. I very much hope that such matters will remain an integral part of the slaughtering process. We should therefore include Amendment 31 in the Bill in order that those practices and other matters are preserved for the sake of our religious communities.

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The Conservative Muslim Forum was founded by Lord Sheikh in 2005. All of its members are full members of the Conservative Party.

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