I am a passionate believer in high standards of animal welfare, and I’m proud of the fact that the UK is a world leader in this field. That’s exactly as it should be.
By way of background, I was one of a group of backbenchers that campaigned to increase the penalties for people who abuse animals from six months in prison to five years. I also spoke out in favour of a ban on the ivory trade, later announced by the Government. These two measures alone were hailed by the RSPCA at the time as representing “a fortnight of incredible news for animal welfare in the UK”.
The Government is committed to upholding our world-leading standards of animal welfare. The Government’s Action Plan for Animal Welfare sets out the Government’s vision to introduce a range of world-leading reforms to improve the welfare and conservation of animals at home and abroad. I welcome these proposals and look forward to their implementation.
Fur farming has been banned in the UK for 20 years, and there are restrictions on the import of certain skin and fur products into the UK. The UK has controls on fur from endangered species protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and does not allow imports of fur from wild animals caught using methods that are non-compliant with international humane trapping standards.
On the issue of fur imports, I welcome the fact that a call for evidence has now been carried out, alongside the Scottish and Welsh governments, to seek views from the public and businesses surrounding animal welfare as well as the social and economic impacts associated with the fur trade, both at home and abroad. I understand that the views, data and case studies received will be analysed to inform future government policy in this area. I look forward to reading the results in due course.
The production of foie gras from ducks or geese through force-feeding raises serious welfare concerns, which I share. I am glad that this method of production has been banned in the UK for over fifteen years following the introduction of the Animal Welfare Act 2006, which brought forward a legal requirement to provide for an animal’s welfare needs, such as supplying a suitable diet and protecting the animal from injury and disease. Under this legislation, it is a criminal offence to cause any unnecessary suffering to an animal.
Regarding the sale and import of foie gras, under the Government’s Action Plan for Animal Welfare, the Government has committing to building a clear evidence base to inform its decision on the import or sale.