On Monday 5th December, an animal welfare bill relating to kept animals will be debated in Westminster Hall after an online petition received over 100,000 signatures demanding that the bill is passed through parliament and made law.
Back in June 2021, the Kept Animals Bill was first proposed. The bill sets out a number of provisions that will better protect and improve the welfare of kept animals such as farm animals, pets and kept wild animals.
While the bill has undergone two readings in the House of Commons, it is still awaiting to enter the report stage where Members of Parliament consider amendments to the bill. This means there are still a significant number of stages left to complete, both in the House of Commons and the House of Lords, before the bill can be made law.
The reason why so many people in the country are keen for this bill to get passed through parliament quickly is because of how much of a difference parts of it will make to the lives of thousands of animals. The five key areas that the bill focuses on are:
- Puppy smuggling: The bill will give the government and law enforcement greater power to tackle puppy smuggling by reducing the number of pets that can travel at one time in and out of the United Kingdom. Additionally, pregnant dogs will not be allowed to be imported into the country, nor will dogs with cropped ears and tails.
- Live exports: The bill will ensure that the United Kingdom are the first country in Europe to ban the export of live animals for slaughter and fattening. This will reduce the number of live animals that have to experience distressing long journeys in cramped conditions.
- Pet monkeys: One of the Conservative’s manifesto pledges at the last general election was to introduce a ban on having primates as pets. This bill aims to follow up on this pledge due to the fact primates are animals that require specialist care and therefore shouldn’t be bought as pets.
- Livestock protection: Livestock animals such as cows, pigs and chickens are often at risk of being attacked by out-of-control dogs. This bill will provide the police with more power to protect livestock from these attacks.
- Conservation in zoos: As animal rights activists continue to garner more support in their opposition to zoos and animals being held in captivity, this bill will amend the Zoo Licensing Act to ensure zoos are doing more to contribute to conservation.
Upon the petition receiving over 100,000 votes, the government released a statement which read:
“The Kept Animals Bill was reintroduced following the Queen’s Speech in May 2022 and will progress to Report stage in the Commons as soon as parliamentary time allows. It was introduced in the previous Session, and it is not unusual for some bills to be carried over to the next Session to ensure sufficient time is allowed to fully scrutinise their provisions.”
While this won’t fill many of the petitioners with confidence in regards to anything concrete being moved forward during the debate on Monday, it does still show that the bill is on the government’s agenda.
When the bill was first brought forward to the House of Commons in June 2021, Environment Secretary at the time, George Eustice expressed his views on the same.
“As an independent nation outside the EU, we are now able to go further than ever on animal welfare by banning the export of live animal exports for slaughter and fattening, prohibiting keeping primates as pets and bringing in new powers to tackle puppy smuggling.”George Eustice , Former Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Since then, it’s fair to say that the government has gone through a reshuffle or two. Thérèse Coffey now holds the post and has gone on record in the past to state that she is “committed to the highest standards of animal welfare.”
It’ll now be up to her and the rest of parliament to push through this legislation as quickly as possible with the pressure being ramped up by the petition that is to be debated on Monday.