I would like to assure you that the Government is committed to upholding our world-leading standards in animal welfare and is delivering a series of ambitious reforms, as outlined in the Action Plan for Animal Welfare.
The Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill enshrines in domestic law the recognition that animals are sentient and creates an expert Animal Sentience Committee to review the efficacy of policy decisions relating to animal welfare. I am encouraged that the Bill will soon return to the House of Lords and has nearly completed its passage into law.
Further, the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill was introduced to Parliament in June 2021 and includes powers to introduce new restrictions on pet travel and on the commercial import of pets on welfare grounds. The Government is analysing responses to the consultation on further proposals to crack down on this illegal trade and is working 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. The Bill will also ban the keeping of primates as pets and improve zoo regulations, as well as give new powers to the police to provide greater protection to livestock from dangerous dogs. Further, I am glad 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 has completed Committee Stage and will be back as soon as parliamentary time allows.
I am also 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. Through the Government’s Action Plan for Animal Welfare, I welcome 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.
Finally, I welcome that the Government is firmly committed to plans to deliver one of the toughest bans in the world on the import of hunting trophies from nearly seven thousand endangered and threatened species. This means the UK will be leading the way in protecting endangered animals and helping to strengthen and support long-term conservation. I am glad that this will be brought forward as soon as parliamentary time allows. I know that ministers are also looking at further measures to protect animals abroad, including taking action against low welfare animal experiences.