AN historic debate challenging the responsibility of the racing industry over horse welfare took place in parliament this week.

The debate was in response to an e-petition by animal rights campaign group Animal Aid which received 105,000 signatures calling for the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) to be stripped of its welfare role in Britain.

The group claims not enough is being done to stop horses dying in races, and it said 1,773 horses have been killed as a result of racing since 2007.

Three horses died at a meeting at Hexham Racecourse in April this year.

Animal Aid wants a new body to be created with a sole aim of improving welfare standards.

Before Monday’s debate the government had answered a written question by saying it was “satisfied that the BHA works to make horseracing as safe as possible”.

During the debate the government said it sees no need for an independent welfare regulator, quoting a BHA statistic that the fatality rate per runner has fallen by a third in 20 years.

The newly-appointed minister for animal welfare, David Rutley, concluded by praising the BHA for working hard to reduce racing risks.

But Animal Aid called it a “landmark development in getting this critical issue onto the political