Thank you for contacting me about the Kept Animals Bill Live animals commonly endure excessively long journeys during exports, causing distress and injury.
Previously, EU rules prevented any changes to these journeys, but leaving the EU has enabled the Government to pursue plans which would prevent unnecessary suffering of animals during transport and see the UK become the first country in Europe to end this practice. Following a public consultation on the manifesto commitment to end excessively long journeys for animals for slaughter and fattening, I am pleased that the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill has now been introduced to Parliament. This Bill will allow the UK to become the first European country to end this practice.
I understand that under the Bill export journeys for slaughter and fattening that use England or Wales as a land bridge would not be permitted. I am assured that the legislation will not impact on domestic slaughter and fattening movements, and that the export of poultry, as well as animals being exported for breeding purposes, will continue to take place providing animal welfare is suitably protected.
As part of the consultation process, Ministers also looked at proposals to generally improve animal welfare in transport, such as new maximum journey times, new requirements for thermal conditions and ventilation, space and headroom allowances and tighter rules for transporting live animals by sea. I understand that an official response to the consultation will be published in due course.
Primates are highly intelligent animals with complex needs and require specialist care. I am pleased that through the Bill the Government will deliver on the manifesto commitment to introduce a ban on keeping them as pets, ensuring that all primates being kept privately in England are being kept at zoo-level standards and that ownership of primates at a level below these standards is phased out.
I am pleased that the Bill will introduce new powers to tackle the unethical trade of puppy smuggling by reducing the number of pets, including dogs, cats and ferrets, that can travel under pet travel rules. It will also provide powers for the Government to bring in further restrictions on the movement of pets on welfare grounds, and allow for enforcement measures to support these restrictions. Further restrictions could include an increase in the minimum age of imported puppies, as well as the prohibition of the import of pregnant dogs and dogs with mutilations such as cropped ears and tails.
As you are aware, animal welfare is a devolved matter and therefore any policy surrounding this important issue is the responsibility of Ministers in Wales. I was disappointed that the Welsh Government’s manifesto did not contain any reference to primates and the keeping of these highly intelligent animals as pets. My colleagues in the Welsh Parliament are committed to introducing a ban to this practice and I have been assured that they will continue to lobby the Welsh Government on this.
More broadly, I understand the Welsh Government has committed to developing a model for the regulation of animal welfare and plans to introduce registration for animal welfare establishments, commercial breeders for pets or for shooting, and animal exhibits. While I am pleased that the Welsh Government is taking action on animal protection, this plan seems to lack ambition compared to the UK Government’s Kept Animals Bill and its wider Action Plan for Animal Welfare.
Additionally, I am pleased that following a consultation from the Welsh Government, the Welsh Parliament passed legislation introducing new regulations for pet sales and banned third party sales of puppies and kittens. I welcome that these rules will put a stop to lengthy and multiple transportations for the young animals which can be highly distressing.