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Government responds to letter asking for update on plans to act on petitioners’ animal welfare concerns

18 July 2022

Environment Secretary George Eustice MP has responded to a letter from Petitions Committee Chair Catherine McKinnell MP asking what steps the Government is taking to address petitioners' concerns on certain animal welfare issues.

In the letter dated 12 July, George Eustice says the Government remains committed to progressing the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill as soon as parliamentary time allows. Among other reforms, this Bill would create a specific new criminal offence of pet abduction.

Following the absence of the Animal Welfare (Animals Abroad) Bill from the Queen’s Speech in May, in the letter the Government welcomes Private Members’ Bills dealing with international animal welfare issues, including Bills to:

  • Ban the import of hunting ‘trophies’ from endangered species; and
  • Prohibit the advertising within the UK of low-welfare animal activities abroad

The letter also welcomes a Bill to ban the import and export of detached shark fins and shark fin products. Since the letter was sent, this Bill, introduced by Christina Rees MP, was debated in Parliament on 15 July. During the debate, DEFRA Minister Steve Double MP confirmed the Bill “has the full support of the Government and we will do all we can to assist its swift passage through both Houses and on to the statute book”. The Bill will now be considered line-by-line at 'committee stage’, on a date to be confirmed.

The letter reiterates the Government’s commitment, made during a debate on 20 June on a petition relating to the use of cages for farmed animals, to offering financial support to help the farming sector phase out the use of cages for pigs and laying hens.

Background

In her letter of 24 May, Catherine McKinnell asked for more information on steps the Government is taking to address petitioners’ concerns relating to:

  • Shark finning
  • Advertising of low welfare animal experiences
  • Reforms to improve farmed animal welfare standards

Read the Committee’s letter

Measures to address the first two of these issues were expected to have been included as part of an Animals Abroad Bill, but this Bill was not included in the Queen’s Speech. The Queen’s Speech sets out the Government’s plans for new laws, and changes to existing laws, for the parliamentary year ahead. The Government had also previously stated that it was exploring phasing out the use of cages in farming. This letter therefore asked for more information on the Government’s plans.

Further information

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