I believe that strengthening our animal welfare laws is a priority for Labour. People want to see us go further on animal welfare, putting our animals’ health first. All animals deserve protection. I believe it is wrong to promise tougher legislation if promises are then not seen through.
I strongly welcome the long overdue Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill, as there is much scientific evidence that animals think, feel, experience pain and suffer. I recently spoke in Parliament advocating for a ban on animal testing, seeking to end this cruel and barbaric practice (view this here and here). The Bill has now finished its parliamentary scrutiny and awaits Royal Assent, after which it will be law.
As you know, the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill would introduce a licensing system for keeping primates as pets, ban the live export of animals for fattening and slaughter, and allow the Government to make regulations about the importation of cats, dogs and ferrets into Great Britain. It was last scrutinised by Parliament on 18 November. I am pleased the Bill has a carry-over motion which, if agreed, means scrutiny can continue in the next parliamentary year.
I have long supported banning live exports and the keeping of primates as pets, and toughening laws against puppy smuggling. During scrutiny, the Labour Party tabled amendments to strengthen the Bill on these issues but disappointingly the Conservative Government voted these down.
The import of fur and fur products into the UK, a barbarous and unnecessary trade, should be banned at the earliest opportunity. I support a ban on foie gras imports, the production of which is rightly banned in the UK.
Additionally, I support ending the import of wild animal trophies from threatened species. Any ban should cover all species classed as vulnerable, endangered, critically endangered and extinct in the wild.
I further believe new laws must be the next step if the travel sector cannot meet the challenge of removing holidays and excursions that abuse animals.
It has been suggested these bans would be included in an Animals Abroad Bill. I am aware of media reports surrounding the future of the legislation and the Government’s reiteration of its commitment to ban trophy hunting. No legislation has been published but I will continue to follow developments closely.