Thank you for contacting me about the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill.
The UK has long led the way on animal welfare. In 2021, the Government published the Action Plan for Animal Welfare, setting out a series of future reforms for this Parliament and beyond. Since the plan was published, the Government has passed the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Act, recognising the sentience of vertebrate animals and some invertebrate animals. In addition, the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Act introduced tougher sentences for animal cruelty, increasing maximum sentences. The Ivory Act came into force in 2022 and has recently been extended to cover five more endangered species. In April, the Government made cat microchipping compulsory, helping to reunite pets with their owners.
The Kept Animals Bill, introduced in June 2021, was designed to implement several of the Government’s ambitions for animal welfare. This included banning the live exports of animals, seeking to prevent pet theft, and new measures to tackle livestock worrying. I am aware that the Bill’s multi-issue nature means that there has been considerable scope-creep, and the Bill risks being extended far beyond the original commitments in the Conservative Manifesto that I was elected on and the Action Plan for Animal Welfare. Therefore, the Government will now be taking forward measures in the Kept Animals Bill individually during the remainder of the Parliament.
I am assured that the Government remains fully committed to delivering its manifesto commitments on animal welfare. Having left the EU, the Government is able to and will ban live exports for fattening and slaughter. There have been no live exports from Great Britain since 2020, but legislation will ensure this becomes permanent, and Ministers remain committed to delivering it.
I am assured by my ministerial colleagues in Defra that the Government is committed to maintaining its strong track record on animal welfare and to delivering continued improvements, both in the course of this Parliament and beyond.