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Animal Welfare

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN 155893, tabled on 19 April 2022

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent steps his Department has taken to improve animal welfare.

Answered on

26 April 2022

This Government published the Action Plan for Animal Welfare on 12 May 2021, setting out over 40 commitments on animal welfare and conservation. Since its publication, a programme of primary and secondary legislation has started to take forward many measures, alongside some non-legislative reforms.

We delivered our Manifesto commitment to increase the maximum prison sentence for animal cruelty from six months to five years through the Animal Sentencing Act. This came into force in June 2021.

The Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill has successfully completed its Parliamentary passage and is awaiting Royal Assent. It establishes an Animal Sentience Committee to consider how individual central government policy decisions take account of animal welfare. It also recognises that decapod crustaceans and cephalopod molluscs are sentient.

The Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill has completed its Commons Committee Stage and, following the passing of a carryover motion by the House, will continue its passage in the next Session. The Bill delivers manifesto commitments relating to banning live exports, banning primates as pets, and tackling puppy smuggling. It also includes the new pet abduction offence in response to a recommendation from the cross-government Pet Theft Taskforce.

We are supporting two Private Members Bills. The Animal (Penalty Notices) Bill is awaiting Royal Assent and the Glue Trap (Offences) Bill is awaiting its Third Reading in the House of Lords.

Alongside these legislative reforms, Defra has launched Calls for Evidence on welfare labelling and the fur trade and launched consultations on puppy smuggling and zoo licensing standards. Defra has also published government responses to consultations on implementing and enforcing the Ivory Act, banning the shark fin trade, introducing welfare in transport reforms, mandating cat microchipping and banning trophy hunting.