The UK has long led the way on animal welfare and the Government has delivered an ambitious legislative programme since the publication of the Action Plan for Animal Welfare. Ministers are committed to building on our strong track record on animal welfare.
In the King’s Speech, the Government announced the Animal Welfare (Livestock Exports) Bill, which will ban the export of cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and horses for slaughter and fattening from Great Britain, stopping unnecessary stress, exhaustion and injury caused by exporting live animals. This Bill will ensure that animals are slaughtered domestically in high welfare slaughterhouses in the UK, reinforcing the UK’s position as a world leader on animal welfare.
Regarding puppy smuggling, the UK has one of the most rigorous pet travel border checking regimes in the world and every dog travelling into Great Britain on approved routes has its microchip and paperwork checked to make sure they are all properly vaccinated and are old enough to travel. The Government has said that it will ban the imports of young, heavily pregnant or mutilated dogs and it would be supportive of legislating to ban this through a single-issue Bill when parliamentary time allows.
Further, mindful of the challenges the sectors are facing, Ministers do not consider the time is right to consult on cage reforms. However, the market is already driving the move away from using cages for laying hen production. In addition, the Government’s animal welfare priorities for its Animal Health and Welfare Pathway include supporting producers to transition away from confinement systems.
On food labelling for animal welfare, Ministers want to make it easier for consumers to purchase food that aligns with their values, by improving transparency and providing the industry with a level playing field to promote such products. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) intends to work with the industry to explore how to harness the market to improve food information for consumers and raise animal welfare standards.
In 2021, Defra carried out a call for evidence on the fur trade in Great Britain. Defra continues to build an evidence base on the fur sector, which will be used to inform any future action on the fur trade. This includes commissioning the Animal Welfare Committee to explore current responsible sourcing practices in the fur industry.
Finally, in May, the Prime Minister set out the Government’s six principles to ensure that British farming is at the heart of British trade. One of these principles included seeking to advance international co-operation on animal welfare and to promote high welfare standards. The UK will safeguard its ability to maintain high animal welfare, environmental and food standards in new trade agreements.