Lisa Nandy MP: ​Strengthening animal welfare laws is vital

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​Looking back at the issues raised with me by constituents last year, animal welfare was undoubtedly one of the most frequent.

​It’s no secret that the UK is a nation of animal lovers and we in Wigan more than live up to that reputation.

The last Labour Government delivered ground-breaking protections for animals, from ending the use of animals in cosmetic testing and stopping fur farming in the UK to protecting the treatment of domestic animals under the Animal Welfare Act and banning fox hunting.

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People who have contacted me on this issue are incredibly disappointed that most of the promises made by the current Government to improve animal welfare have not been honoured.

Wigan MP Lisa NandyWigan MP Lisa Nandy
Wigan MP Lisa Nandy

After the 2019 election the then Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, said on the steps of Downing Street that one of his priorities would be to “promote the welfare of animals” as it was a cause “so close to the hearts of the British people”.

Yet recent analysis by the RSPCA shows that the Government have failed to deliver on 14 of their 15 key pledges on animal welfare since then.

Many of these were to be included in the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill which was supposed to be the cornerstone of the Government’s animal welfare agenda but has now been scrapped by Ministers.

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The Bill contained measures to address many of the issues people have contacted me about such as tackling the cruel puppy trade, restricting the importation of cats and dogs – including those which have undergone mutilations such as ear and tail cropping - and banning the keeping of primates as pets.

The Government has also backtracked on promises to consider banning the caging of farm animals such as hens and pigs, ending imports from foreign fur farms and regulating the use of animal snares and traps.

The Government ignored calls from the public and animal welfare charities for the Bill to be reintroduced this year, which represents a profound setback for animal welfare in the UK.

The Government now says it will take forward the Bill’s contents as individual pieces of legislation without any indication in most cases of when.

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This will further delay these important protections from becoming law.

Furthermore, despite previous indications that the Government was committed to consulting on food labelling reforms, it has recently said that this is not the right time for consultation.

I believe that consumers deserve to know where their food is coming from and how it has been produced.

People want to make the right decision, but they cannot do so without information.

Strengthening our animal welfare laws is a priority for Labour, as it is for everyone who has contacted me about these issues, and I will always support action to achieve the strongest possible animal welfare laws.

All animals deserve protection and I believe it is wrong to promise tougher animal welfare legislation if those promises are then not met.