MP mounts equine protest

Shadow agricultural secretary James Gray rode into Parliament yesterday in a bid to draw attention to the export of live horses for slaughter.

The MP, president of the Association of British Riding Schools, entered Parliament Square on retired champion police horse, Pascal, becoming the first MP to ride a horse into Parliament since the beginning of the last century.

Mr Gray is fiercely campaigning to bring an end to the export of live horses before the practice is reintroduced to the UK following the adoption of European laws which would make it possible.

A debate on the issue was held in the House of Commons immediately after Mr Gray’s stunt.

Rural affairs minister Alun Michael hinted during the debate at a possible government u-turn on the export of live horses for slaughter. He told MPs at the end of a heated discussion on the topic that the government would look more closely at the issue.

Mr Gray warned Mr Michael during the debate that he would go down in history as the “Minister for Horse Slaughter” if he failed to take up a solution proposed by the European Parliament.

Speaking ahead of the debate, the shadow minister said: “The practice has been banned for the last 70 years with good reason. I am certain that most people hate the idea of exporting our horses to be made into sausages and salami on the continent.”

Mr Gray’s 23-year-old mount was on loan from the International League for the Protection of Horses.
The last MP to exercise a right to ride his steed into the precincts of the Commons was Sir Arthur Samuel in 1920.