The government has scrapped the long-awaited, widely popular Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill in a disgraceful U-turn. By turning its back on this piece of pro-animal legislation, it has betrayed the British public – who voted for the government based on manifesto commitments like a ban on live export – as well as the thousands of animals who will continue to suffer unprotected.
The bill would have, among other things, tackled puppy smuggling, restricted the keeping of primates as “pets”, and banned the live export of animals for fattening and slaughter.
Animals raised for their flesh already suffer tremendously – the absolute least the government could do is spare them the unnecessary trauma and terror of an arduous journey overseas before they’re killed, which is what the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill would have done. PETA and other animal protection groups will now push for these vital legal protections to be delivered via private members’ bills.
What Was the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill?
The Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill was first introduced to Parliament in June 2021 and went through two readings in the House of Commons. It then languished without making any progress as animals continued to suffer. It was a vital piece of legislation, with cross-party political and public support and would have banned the live export of animals for fattening and slaughter.
Why We Need to Ban Live Export
Every year, hundreds of thousands of animals including sheep, cows, goats, and pigs are crammed into severely crowded lorries and ships for dangerous overseas journeys that can last days or even weeks. They are transported hundreds or even thousands of miles in all weather extremes, often without sufficient food, water, or rest, causing distress, injuries, and disease. Many die as a result.
The journeys can also result in fires, and ships may sink, causing the animals a horrifying death. In June 2022, more than 15,000 sheep drowned when a live-export ship capsized in the Red Sea.
Video footage from a capsized ship in Romania with 14,000 sheep onboard. This is the reality of live export. Don’t wanna support this? Then stop eating meat. pic.twitter.com/1bECx8HOgC
— Ari Solomon (@VeganAri) November 25, 2019
Once they reach their destination, they typically endure horrendous conditions that are likely illegal in the UK and a more violent death than they would experience here.
Transporting live animals thousands of miles in cramped, filthy conditions is a major cause of the spread of zoonotic diseases around the world – from foot-and-mouth disease and avian influenza to SARS.
The Government’s U-Turn
The government has long promised to end live export. It committed to a ban in its 2019 manifesto and its Action Plan for Animal Welfare in 2021. By scrapping the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill, the government has broken its promises to the UK public and betrayed animals.
E-Mail the Environment Secretary Now
Tell the environment secretary, Thérèse Coffey, to end this horrific cruelty and ban live exports now: