Labour is the party of animal welfare. From bringing forward the landmark Hunting Act to protecting the treatment of domestic animals under the Animal Welfare Act, Labour has always placed the welfare of animals high on the policy agenda. At a European level, Labour secured better welfare standards for battery hens and chickens and tightened the rules on the transport of live animals. It is a record Labour is rightly proud of.
However, we cannot allow hard-won progress to be undone. We know that Labour must be at the forefront of driving through the next phase of progress in the journey towards better animal welfare standards.
Just last year the Prime Minister Theresa May openly declared her support for fox hunting and to bring back a free vote on the matter. Last year almost 20,000 badgers were killed across England in the largest destruction of a protected species in living memory, whilst the most recent RSPB Birdcrime Report showed that for the first time in thirty years, not one prosecution took place for raptor persecution.
Never has it been more pressing to set an ambitious agenda on animal welfare than now. Labour fought for animal sentience to be part of the EU Withdrawal Bill but this was voted down by the Government despite Michael Gove going on record to say that he would support it just months earlier. Instead, we now have a rushed and haphazard Animal Sentience Bill which, according to the Environment and Rural Affairs Select Committee, has failed to consider the full implications of the policy. With new trade deals on the horizon and the UK no longer subject to EU-wide rules on animal welfare, we must ensure that we have a comprehensive legislative agenda in place to make sure that the UK has equal and better animal rights across the world.
This suite of policies on animal welfare seeks to build upon the long-standing leadership of the Labour Party on the issue of animal welfare. We are seeking views on measures that will underpin the next phase of animal welfare legislation under the next Labour government. Our approach will not be one of half measures and backtracking, based on ‘campaign of the month’ issues. One of our key proposals that we are seeking feedback on is the appointment of an Animal Welfare Commissioner to ensure that government policy across Whitehall is continually informed and underpinned by the latest scientific evidence on animal sentience and best practice in animal welfare.
Our vision is one where no animal is made to suffer unnecessary pain and degradation and where we continue to drive up standards and practice in line with the most recent advances and understanding.
We hope you will take the time to input into this consultation and help us develop the next phase of Labour’s animal welfare agenda.