THE export of livestock for slaughter and fattening will be permanently banned under legislation announced in the King’s Speech.

The Government’s previous attempt to impose a ban as part of wider animal welfare reforms was scrapped earlier this year, but the new law will be more tightly focused on exports.

It will ban the export of cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and horses in a move welcomed by campaigners, including actress Dame Joanna Lumley, who have long called for a prohibition.

Live exports will still be permitted in some circumstances, including racehorses being allowed to move for breeding and races.

If the Animal Welfare (Livestock Exports) Bill passes, it will prevent animals being sent to the continent for slaughter from England, but the UK Government plans to work with the administrations in Scotland and Wales to make this apply across Great Britain.

The measure is possible as a result of Brexit, which allows the UK to break away from the European Union’s rules governing live animal exports.

Although no animals have been exported for slaughter since the Government announced its intention to ban the practice in 2021, the legislation will ensure this is put on a permanent basis.

The Bill also includes promises of money for farmers to improve animal welfare conditions and a £4 million fund for smaller abattoirs.

Dame Joanna said: “This is absolutely marvellous news. Now the Government must deliver and ban the archaic practice of transporting live animals on long and arduous journeys overseas for slaughter or fattening once and for all.

“Exporting live animals is utterly unnecessary. They suffer enormous stress, exhaustion, dehydration and overcrowding.

“We have seen a series of broken promises from Government on this subject over the years, so this is very welcome news. This Bill must now be passed as a matter of urgency.”

Compassion in World Farming’s chief public affairs manager James West said: “This is the first King’s Speech since Rishi Sunak became Prime Minister last October and we are really delighted he is taking the opportunity to address this issue.

“We welcome the Government choosing to recognise the widespread public and cross-party support by including a Bill to ban live exports during this parliamentary session and hope we will see swift progress on this issue, which is long over-due.”

While animal welfare groups welcomed the proposed ban on live exports, there were concerns at the absence of measures to outlaw the importation of hunting trophies in the King’s Speech.

The Tory manifesto in 2019 pledged to ban imports from trophy hunting of endangered animals but backbench legislation aimed at implementing this was effectively talked out in the House of Lords.

Claire Bass, senior director of campaigns and public affairs at Humane Society International/UK, said: “We’ve had enough of this Government promising a lot and delivering very little to stop animal cruelty.

“British trophy hunters travel around the world killing animals for fun – including endangered species like polar bears and leopards – and ship their souvenirs home to the UK, and over 80% of the British public believe this should stop. Today the Government has turned its back on them.”

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We are committed to the manifesto pledge.

“We will continue to explore the right way forward to meet that commitment.”

But he added: “We’re not setting that out at this point.”