Thank you for writing to me about the Government’s Action Plan for Animal Welfare.
My ministerial colleagues and I share your high regard for animal welfare. In May 2021, the Government set out a series of ambition reforms in the Action Plan for Animal Welfare.
Since 2010, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has had a strong track record in reforms. This includes: a ban on the use of conventional battery cages for laying hens; mandatory CCTV in slaughterhouses across England; a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses; the strongest ivory ban in the world; mandatory microchipping of dogs; and the modernisation of the licensing system for dog breeding and pet sales. I understand that Ministers have been working to add a new requirement for the compulsory microchipping of cats.
In 2021, the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Act came into force, raising the maximum sentence for animal cruelty from six months to five years. In addition, the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Act formally recognises animals as sentient beings and establishes the Animal Sentience Committee, consisting of experts within the field, to ensure that animal sentience is considered when developing policy across Government.
Further, the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill will introduce some of the world’s strongest protections for pets, livestock and kept wild animals. This includes a ban on keeping primates as pets and exporting live animals for slaughter and fattening. The Bill addresses puppy smuggling by reducing the number of pets that can travel under pet travel rules. I look forward to supporting this Bill as it continues to progress through Parliament.
Ministers recognise the concerns related to foie gras and the Government has been looking at the advertising and offering for sale of unacceptably low welfare activities using force feeding practices. The Government has been considering potential action in relation to animal fur, as set out in the Action Plan and carried out a call for evidence on the fur sector in 2021.
Regarding cages, I am aware that the Government is committed to exploring the phasing out of cages, supporting the industry to do so in a way which underpins the UK’s food production and does not have any unintended animal welfare or business impacts.
The Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill will ban the import of hunting trophies for specific species and I will continue to support the its progress through the House.
Thank you again for writing to me.
With best wishes.
Jonathan Lord MP
Member of Parliament for Woking