The UK continues to uphold tight regulations when it comes to animal welfare.
We have a proud history in this country on animal welfare, but my Ministerial colleagues and I know there is more that can be done. I am encouraged that as an independent nation we are now able to re-examine some of our animal welfare laws, including the import of fur for use in fashion products.
Fur farming has been banned in England and Wales since 2000 and since 2002 in Scotland and Northern Ireland. As well as this, there are already restrictions on some skin and fur products which may never be legally imported into the UK. These include fur and products from cats and dogs, and seal skins and products from commercial hunts. The UK has established controls on fur from endangered species protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and this country does not allow imports of fur from wild animals caught using methods which are non-compliant with international humane trapping standards.
I appreciate that there is considerable support for banning all imports of fur products. We have some of the highest welfare standards in the world, and that is both a source of pride and a clear reflection of UK attitudes towards animals. While there are the existing import restrictions listed above, it is still possible to import other fur from abroad. I am therefore pleased that a call for evidence has been launched, alongside the Scottish and Welsh governments, to seek views from the public and businesses surrounding animal welfare as well as the social and economic impacts associated with the fur trade, both at home and abroad. I understand that the views, data and case studies received will be vital to helping to inform future government policy in this area, including by better understanding the trade both at home and abroad.