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Delivering on Animal Welfare

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There has been widespread online coverage on The Guardian, Mail Online, Telegraph, Mirror, I News, Spectator, Yahoo News, Politico and more following the Government’s update in the House yesterday on the status of the Kept Animals Bill.

There has been further reporting today in The Times (p2), Independent (p11), Daily Mail (p13) and on Sky News, which run similar critical pieces which claim Government has “scrapped” the Bill.

As set out in the Oral Statement in the House today, we remain fully committed to delivering our manifesto commitments.

Given the successful progress so far in this Parliament of so much single-issue legislation and the pressures that the original Bill faced from broader interests beyond the original manifesto commitments, we will be taking forward measures in the Kept Animals Bill individually during the remainder of the Parliament - the most effective route possible.

We are committed to cracking down on puppy smuggling. We will ban the imports of young, heavily pregnant or mutilated dogs. Applying strengthened penalties will help send a clear message that animal cruelty will not be tolerated and will enable our courts to take a firmer approach to cases where pets are illegally imported.

We’ve also taken action to tackle the practice of puppy farming. Following the introduction of Lucy’s Law in 2020, everyone must now buy directly from breeders or consider adopting from rescue centres – a major step in stopping the illegal pet trade. If an individual sells puppies or kittens without a licence they could receive an unlimited fine or be sent to prison for up to 6 months.

We also have one of the most rigorous pet travel border checking regimes in the world. Every dog travelling into Great Britain on approved routes has its microchip and paperwork checked to make sure they are all properly vaccinated and old enough to travel.

Farming Minister Mark Spencer said:

In this country, we pride ourselves on our high standards of animal welfare, and we have introduced powerful laws to maintain them.

We are delivering on our manifesto promises and continue to explore ways to enhance our position as a global leader on animal welfare.

We are also supporting Private Members’ Bills currently before Parliament banning the import of detached shark fins, banning the import of hunting trophies and banning the advertising and offering for sale here of unacceptably low animal welfare activities abroad.

Action we’ve already delivered on animal welfare since 2010 includes:

  • Recognised animal sentience in law and introduced accountability to Parliament for how well all government policy decisions pay due regard to the welfare needs of animals.
  • Ramped up enforcement with:
      • Increased maximum sentences for animal cruelty from six months to five years’ imprisonment.
      • New financial penalty notice powers in addition to other existing penalties under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
      • New protections for service animals with ‘Finn’s Law’.
  • Raised farm animal welfare:
      • Launched the Animal Health and Welfare Pathway with new annual vet visits and grants.
      • Implemented a revised welfare at slaughter regime and introduced CCTV in all slaughterhouses.
      • Banned traditional battery cages for laying hens, permitted beak trimming via only infra-red technology.
      • Raised standards for meat chickens.
  • Significantly enhanced companion animal welfare:
      • Revamped the local authority licensing regime for commercial pet services including selling, dog breeding, boarding, animal displays.
      • Banned the third party puppy and kitten sales with Lucy’s Law.
      • Made microchipping compulsory for cats and dogs.
      • Introduced offences for horse fly-grazing and abandonment.
      • Introduced new community order powers to address dog issues.
  • Provided valuable new protections for wild animals:
      • Banned wild animals in travelling circuses.
      • Passed the Ivory Act which came into force last year, including one of the toughest bans on elephant ivory sales in the world, and extended it to five further species.
      • Gave the police additional powers to tackle hare coursing.
      • Banned glue traps.
      • Supported the Private Member’s Bill currently before Parliament banning the import of hunting trophies.
      • Supported the Private Member’s Bill currently before Parliament banning trade in detached shark fins.
      • Supported the Private Member’s Bill currently before Parliament banning the advertising and offering for sale here of unacceptably low animal welfare activities abroad.

The UK already has among the highest standards of animal welfare in the world. The steps announced today and we remain committed to enhancing them further.

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