Thank you for emailing me about animal welfare.
I fully understand the concerns which have been raised. Animals, as sentient beings who can feel pain and suffering, are very important and I want to reassure you that strong action is being taken to reduce their risk of harm.
The Government is committed to making any necessary changes to UK law in a rigorous and comprehensive way, ensuring animal sentience is legally recognised once the UK leaves the EU. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is currently engaging closely with relevant organisations and authorities to enhance its policies on this issue further.
The UK has some of the highest standards of animal welfare in the world and the Government has made it clear that it places great importance on the welfare of farmed animals. Ministers are keen to explore the issues raised in the ‘End the Cage Age’ petition, while continuing to focus on maintaining world-leading farm animal welfare standards through both regulatory requirements and statutory codes.
Furthermore, since 2017 legislation has been brought back with regard to animal welfare; the Animal Welfare (sentencing) bill 2019 – 2021. Currently sittings have been suspended, but once all resumes, the bill will undoubtedly be focused on again. The next reading is scheduled to commence on 26th June.
I am hopeful that encouraging action is being taken to improve animal welfare at home and abroad. The bill is likely to include tougher sentencing than at present. Increasing maximum sentences for animal cruelty, banning third party sales of puppies, and introducing one of the world’s toughest bans on ivory sales.
Once we have left the EU, we could do even more. At present it is difficult; the UK’s current position of full harmonisation with EU rules on pet travel, means the import of puppies under 6 months cannot be banned. Clamping down on puppy smuggling proves challenging, as it is difficult in accurately identifying underage puppies at the border. EU rules also restrict our ability to control live animal exports.
We are a nation of animal lovers - rest assured the Government will ensure that they are reflecting the importance of animal welfare in their future policy decisions.