Over recent years, Conservatives in Government have been actively working to improve animal welfare. We have also taken action to ban the plastic microbeads which do so much damage to marine wildlife. New laws come into force in January. We are going to make CCTV mandatory in abattoirs to ensure animals are not abused or mistreated at the point of slaughter. On the international level, we are banning the trade in ivory which puts the lives of African elephants in danger and we will legislate to increase the sentence for the worst acts of animal cruelty to five years imprisonment. That will ensure the sanctions for cruelty towards animals are as strong as anywhere else in the world.
As we leave the EU, new opportunities will arise to further improve animal welfare. We are reviewing the export of live animals for slaughter and will take action to restrict this trade. We will look to see how we can ensure food imports meet the highest welfare standards. And we will take action to deal with puppy farming and the cruel trade in pets reared in unacceptable conditions.
We will also legislate to ensure that the principle that animals are sentient beings, capable of feeling pain and pleasure, is embedded more clearly in UK law as we leave the EU. Some people have been arguing that we should amend the EU Withdrawal Bill to uphold the principle that animals are sentient beings. An amendment was tabled during the Withdrawal Bill debate which sought to amend the bill, allegedly to provide recognition of animal sentience.
The amendment, was flawed. Due to faulty drafting, Labour’s amendment would have meant animal sentience was only recognised in law for the next 2 years and would only apply to Ministerial decisions made in that period. Conservatives believe animals are sentient for life not just for the next two years, so we will do much better. Strengthened UK law will ensure that we have higher welfare standards than the EU.