The UK has long led the way on animal welfare. In 2021, the Government's Action Plan for Animal Welfare, set out reforms for this Parliament and beyond. Since then, 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 cruelty, increasing maximum sentences. The Ivory Act came into force in 2022 and has recently been extended to cover five more endangered species.
The Kept Animals Bill was designed to implement several ambitions for animal welfare, including banning the live exports of animals. However, the Bill’s multi-issue nature meant that there was considerable scope creep, and the Bill risked going beyond the original commitments in the manifesto on which I was elected and those set out in the action plan. Therefore, the Government announced in May that it would take forward measures in the Kept Animals Bill individually during the remainder of the Parliament.
I am assured by my ministerial colleagues that they are committed to ending the export of live animals for fattening and slaughter. There have not been any live exports for fattening or slaughter since 2020 and the Government wants to make this permanent. I will continue to follow this issue closely.