Thank you for contacting me about maintaining and improving animal welfare standards through legislation.
As someone who keeps a wide variety of animals, I believe first and foremost that animals are sentient beings who can feel pain and suffering, and I would like to reassure you that strong action is being taken to reduce their risk of harm.
There is no place in this country for animal cruelty, and we must ensure that those who abuse animals are met with the full force of the law. I am therefore pleased that the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill has now been introduced in the House by Chris Loder MP, and will be backed by the Government. The new Bill will enable tougher prison sentences for the most serious perpetrators of animal cruelty, from the current maximum of six months to up to five years.
I believe that this increase in sentencing will send a clear message that this behaviour will not be tolerated. The maximum five-year sentence will become one of the toughest punishments in Europe, strengthening the UK’s position as a global leader on animal welfare.
Having left the EU, I am pleased that the UK will now have the opportunity to do even more. A consultation will shortly be carried out on restricting live animal journeys, requiring approval for longer journeys and bringing forward welfare conditions for these journeys when they are necessary.
I am also pleased that all food coming into this country will be required to meet existing import requirements. I know that the EU Withdrawal Act will transfer all existing EU food safety provisions, including existing import requirements, onto the UK statute book. These import standards include a ban on using artificial growth hormones in domestic and imported products and set out that no products, other than potable water, are approved to decontaminate poultry carcasses. Any changes to existing food safety legislation would require new legislation to be brought before Parliament.
The launch of the new Trade and Agriculture will ensure that the voices of the public and industry are heard, and that their interests are advanced and protected. It will advise the Government on how Britain can remain a world-leader in animal welfare and environmental standards.
We are a nation of animal lovers and I am pleased with the Government’s commitment to make our new relationship outside of the EU will aim to protect the animals we love and cherish too.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me about this important issue.