Agriculture spokesman Anthea McIntyre today led Conservative MEPs in backing stronger measures to enforce legislation protecting live animals being transported across the European Union.

The report, approved by the European Parliament in Strasbourg, calls for implementation of existing rules to be stepped up with more on the spot inspections and the confiscation of transportation lorries for repeat offenders.

It also recommends a reduction in journey times where possible and advocates alternatives to live animal transport, such as expanding the trade in frozen meat and carcasses.

Miss McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands, stressed that the UK already strictly enforced welfare standards and inspected millions of animals before travel. But some other member states carried out no inspections at all.

She said: "UK farmers employ the highest standards and are invested in the welfare of their animals, including during transport. Sadly these standards are not always replicated across the EU and this report suggests some sensible safeguards, including the greater use of technology to track animal journeys and engagement with third countries about their welfare standards.

"Animal welfare is a top priority. Where unacceptable practices exist, they must be detected and stamped out."