The UK has long led the way on animal welfare. In 2021, the Government's Action Plan for Animal Welfare, set out reforms for this Parliament and beyond. Since then, the Government has passed the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Act, recognising the sentience of vertebrate animals and some invertebrate animals. In addition, the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Act introduced tougher sentences for cruelty, increasing maximum sentences.
Now that the UK is no longer in the European Union, the Government can end live animal export, further strengthening animal welfare protections. The Animal Welfare (Livestock Exports) Bill delivers the Government’s manifesto commitment by banning the live export of cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and horses for slaughter and fattening. The bill follows on from a 2020 consultation on ending live animal exports in which 87% of respondents agreed that livestock should not be exported for these purposes.
Like countless constituents, protecting animals and enhancing animal welfare means a great deal to me and I appreciate the strength of feeling around this issue. I was fortunate to be able to help deliver the world leading Ivory Act during my time as the Government Whip at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which enforced a near total ban on the import, export and dealing of items containing elephant ivory.
I was very pleased to be able to join this important debate in the Chamber on 15th January where the Bill had its Committee Stage and remaining Commons Stages. While no animals have been exported for slaughter from Great Britain since the government announced its intention to bring forward a ban in 2021, this Bill will make it permanent.
We have some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world and I am delighted we have been able to make use of post-Brexit freedoms to strengthen these standards by preventing the export of live animals for slaughter and fattening. You can be assured that I will continue to do all I can to represent the views of my constituents and will do all I can to get this Bill through Parliament as soon as possible.
You can read more about this here: New legislation set to ban live animal exports - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
I am glad that the Welsh Government supports the Legislative Consent Memorandum (LCM) they have tabled on the Animal Welfare (Livestock Exports) Bill. As you are likely aware, animal welfare is a devolved competency and a matter for the Senedd, so this stage is necessary in order to apply Westminster-made legislation in Wales. I am aware that the Bill came before the Senedd’s Economy, Trade and Rural Affairs Committee on 31st January and that, at the time of writing, there is no date set for it to be debated in the Senedd’s Legislation, Justice and Constitution Committee. I will follow the LCM’s process with keen interest.
Unfortunately, as I am not a member of the Senedd, I will not have the opportunity to vote on the LCM. I have been assured by my Welsh colleagues that they will support this motion. It is important that UK animal welfare legislation is consistently of the highest calibre, across all regions of the United Kingdom. Devolved administrations can help this process by not hesitating when accepting Westminster-made legislation so as not to allow pockets of poor animal welfare regulation to be taken advantage of; we have already seen this happen when the Welsh Government prevaricated on fully applying ‘Lucy’s Law’, consequently garnering a reputation as the puppy farming capital of the UK. I am, therefore, pleased that my colleagues intend to back this LCM.