The UK continues to uphold tight regulations when it comes to animal welfare.
I would like to assure you that the Government is committed to upholding our world-leading animal welfare standards and to delivering a series of ambitious reforms, as outlined in the Action Plan for Animal Welfare.
The Animal Welfare (Sentience) Act, which completed its passage into law in April, enshrines in domestic law the recognition that animals are sentient and creates an expert Animal Sentience Committee to review policy decisions relating to animal welfare.
Introduced to Parliament in June 2021, the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill will introduce new restrictions on pet travel and on the commercial import of pets on welfare grounds. The Government is reviewing consultation responses on further proposals to eliminate this illegal trade and aims to deliver the necessary secondary legislation alongside the passage of the Bill. In addition, the export of livestock and equines for slaughter and fattening from, or transiting through, Great Britain to anywhere outside the British Islands will be banned.
Further, the Kept Animals Bill will also ban keeping primates as pets and improve zoo regulations, as well as creating new police powers to protect livestock from dangerous dogs. Further, I am aware that a new offence of taking and detaining a dog was added to the Bill at Committee Stage in the House of Commons, with a power to extend to other pets, if necessary. This Bill was carried over into the new parliamentary session and will return to the House as soon as parliamentary time allows.
Finally, the Government is firmly committed to delivering one of the toughest bans in the world on the import of hunting trophies from nearly seven thousand endangered and threatened species. This will see the UK leading the way in protecting endangered animals and strengthening long-term conservation. The Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill was recently introduced to Parliament. I know that Ministers are also looking to protect animals abroad, including those used in low welfare animal experiences.
I am aware that the production of foie gras from ducks or geese using force feeding is rightly banned in the UK as it is incompatible with the UK’s welfare standards. I am aware that Ministers have committed to building a clear evidence base to inform decisions on the import or sale of foie gras.
I know that fur farming has been banned in the UK for 20 years, and there are already restrictions on some skin and fur products which may never be legally imported into the UK. The Government’s recent call for evidence to seek views and evidence on the current fur sector will be used to inform any future decisions on the fur trade.