LANCASHIRE County Council voted to ban supplying its schools and premises ‘halal’ meat from animals which had not been stunned before slaughter – with the exemption of poultry.

The decision followed an unruly debate on the controversial issue sparked by the authority’s Tory leader Geoff Driver.

On a free vote, councillors voted 41 for the ban, 24 against with 15 abstentions.

The decision by the authority’s full council meeting will order its suppliers to provide only ‘halal’ beef and lamb from animals stunned before slaughter.

The vote brings the prospect of repeat of the 2012 boycott of ‘halal’ meat in school meals by thousands of Muslim children in East Lancashire when the county council adopted a similar policy.

This protest was sparked by the Lancashire Council of Mosques’ insistence that only meat from non-stunned animals met its strict interpretation of Islamic dietary rules.

Cllr Driver exempted poultry from the ban as stunning chickens may kill them before slaughter and bleeding thus clearly contravening Muslim religious rules.

Cllr Azhar Ali (Nelson East) and Cllr Mohammed Iqbal (Brierfield and Nelson West) failed in attempts to delay the vote.

Cllr Driver said: “This is an animal welfare issue and an animal welfare issue alone.

“It is not anti-Semitic or anti-Muslim. I have brought it forward purely because the supply contract is up for renewal.

“Killing animals without stunning them beforehand causes them unnecessary stress, pain and discomfort.

“Many Muslim scholars and 84 per cent of Muslims accept meat is still halal if animals are stunned before slaughter.”

Cllr Ali expressed concern that Muslim parents would withdraw their children from school meals which for those from deprived families was ‘their only hot nutritious food of the day’.

Oswaldtwistle Conservative Cllr Peter Britcliffe said: “I don’t see why halal meat has to come from un-stunned animals causing unnecessary suffering.”

Cllr Albert Atkinson, Ribble Valley North-East Tory representative, said: “I am firmly for the stunning of animals before they are slaughtered.”

Pendle Rural Liberal Democrat Cllr David Whipp, a vegetarian, said: “I do not think stunning or not makes any difference to the distress and suffering of the animals.”

Pendle Central Conservative Cllr Joe Cooney voted against the ban.

Padiham and Burnley West UKIP councillor Alan Hosker backed Cllr Driver saying: “The key issue for me and the residents I represent is the unnecessary suffering of animals.”

Cllr Iqbal said: “This is taking choice away from schools and children.”