Stronger measures to enforce legislation to protect live animals being transported across the European Union have been backed today by Conservative MEPs.

The report calls for implementation of existing rules will be stepped up with more on the spot inspections and the confiscation of transportation lorries for repeat offenders. The report 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.

Conservative Agriculture spokesman Anthea McIntyre MEP 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."

Jacqueline Foster MEP, Conservative Transport spokesman and Vice President of the European Parliament's Animal Welfare Intergroup, said the aim was to reduce live animal transport of animals to a minimum.

"Slaughtering should take place as close to the source as possible and we must continue the shift towards the transport of meat. Where live transport is unavoidable, such as for breeding or for further rearing, lorries should be equipped with watering, feeding and cooling systems and the highest standards of stockmanship demanded."

The report was authored by Danish MEP Jorn Dohrmann, a colleague of Conservative MEPs in the European Conservatives and Reformists Group. It was approved today by a large majority in the European Parliament.