The UK government has launched its first Action Plan for Animal Welfare, following the Queen’s speech yesterday.
Environment Secretary George Eustice published the policy paper today. It commits Britain to a slew of new measures to ‘improve the treatment’ of animals in the UK and abroad.
“Since 2010 we have achieved remarkable things in animal welfare,” the document states.
“On farms we introduced new regulations for minimum standards for meat chickens, banned the use of conventional battery cages for laying hens, and made CCTV mandatory in slaughterhouses in England…
“But we are going to go further. Our manifesto was clear that high standards of animal welfare are one of the hallmarks of a civilized society.
“We have a long tradition of protecting animals and that will continue – and we will continue to support such efforts overseas.”
Action plan for animal welfare
The move will be kicked off tomorrow with a flagship bill recognizing animal sentience.
Other pledged actions include ending the export of live animals for slaughter and fattening; examining the use of cages for poultry, and farrowing crates for pigs; cracking down on pet theft; increasing protections for kept wild animals by ending the low-welfare practice of keeping primates as pets, and improving standards in zoos.
Moreover, the government says it will ‘explore potential action’ in banning the import of fur and foie gras.
‘A nation of animal lovers’
Claire Bass is the executive director of Humane Society International/UK. The charity welcomes the action plan, saying the government is formally addressing many of the critical welfare issues it has raised for years.
In a statement sent to PBN, Bass said: “Britain prides itself as a nation of animal lovers.
“So, the countless millions of animals still suffering both here and overseas for food, fashion, and our entertainment, deserve this proactive plan for greater protection.
“The Action Plan for Animal Welfare has the potential to right many wrongs for animals. [It] sends a clear message that abusive or careless industries causing animal suffering will no longer have a place or a market in modern Britain.”
However, Bass also said the ‘devil will be in the detail’. She argues the government is already appearing to be ‘watering down’ its ban on trophy hunting imports.
“We must ensure that these ambitious aims are met with equally ambitious and robust legislation,” Bass added.
“Delivering meaningful change for animals requires real commitment from across Whitehall and a resolve not to buckle in the face of those with vested interests in inhumane products and practices.
“That includes a commitment right across government to ensure that our animal welfare wins at home are not undermined by a race to the bottom in trade negotiations…
“Respect for animal welfare is not only the right thing to do for animals. But, it will also play a critical role in tackling global environmental and public health challenges such as climate change, antibiotic resistance, and future pandemics.”