The Scottish Government has agreed to support demands for strict enforcement of European rules regulating the transportation of live horses for slaughter.

Thousands of horses are transported for the human meat market each year, many undergoing journeys of more than 1,500 miles in packed lorries. Rules on feeding, watering and rest periods are often ignored.

World Horse Welfare is campaigning for tightening in the rules and updates on the legislation.

“In this day and age there can be no justification for 100,000 horses being inhumanely transported for slaughter each year in intolerable conditions and it is up to politicians at all levels of government to continue to press for action on this issue,” said John Scott MSP, the Scottish Conservatives’ spokesman on rural affairs.

Mr Scott, who has the backing of more than 40 other MSPs for a parliamentary motion calling for a tightening of welfare rules, raised the matter during Question Time in the Scottish Parliament on 6 November.

In his response, Rural Affairs Minister Richard Lochhead agreed to contact the European Commission to seek action to secure the proper enforcement of current welfare regulations.

Mr Scott welcomed the minister’s response, but went on to call for further improvements.

“I do however want to see the Government take a further step and give its support to an overall strengthening of the regulations, including the introduction of short finite journey limits and, ultimately, to support an end to the practice of long-distance transportation of horses to slaughter.”

Emma Cook, World Horse Welfare’s head of campaigns and European affairs, added: “We have been heartened to see cross-party support in Scotland for an end to this inhumane and unnecessary trade. We now hope to see real progress in Europe.”

To back World Horse Welfare’s campaign, visit www.makeanoise.org.uk