Thank you for contacting me with regards to animal welfare.
The Government shares the public’s high regard for animal welfare and the UK has one of the best scores on the World Animal Protection Index. The UK has a strong track record on welfare, for example, leading the way on the banning of battery cages for laying hens, sow stalls and veal crates. On top of that, we have banned cosmetic testing, are tackling the international illegal wildlife trade and cracking down on backstreet puppy breeders.
As you may be aware, we have banned testing of household products on animals. This came into effect in October 2015 and covers all finished products – including detergents, polishes and cleaning products, laundry products, air fresheners, deodorants, paints and other decorating materials. We have also ensured better conditions for farm animals. We have led calls in Europe for the better enforcement of the bans on battery hen cages and sow stalls, with the UK farming industry spending millions of pounds to improve conditions for animals.
Furthermore, we are tackling the illegal wildlife trade. We have announced an additional £13 million for tackling the illegal wildlife trade, doubling our investment to £26 million. This investment has seen the British military provide training for anti-poaching rangers in key African states and is enabling UK law enforcement to share their expertise and work with our international partners. We have also set out plans to ban the sale of ivory produced in the last seventy years, making UK rules on trading ivory amongst the toughest in the world. In 2018, we will host a global wildlife conference to drive forward further action in this area.
We have recently announced plans which will make it completely illegal to sell puppies younger than eight weeks old and require anyone breeding and selling three or more litters of puppies a year to apply for a formal licence and to ensure the highest standards of animal welfare, we will make CCTV recording in slaughterhouses mandatory.
All existing EU legislation will be copied across into domestic UK law to ensure a smooth transition on the day after Brexit as part of the Great Repeal Bill and as we leave the European Union, the Government has stated it will be able to increase controls on the export of live farm animals for slaughter.
With regards to the badger cull, England has the highest incidence of bovine TB in Europe. We have a comprehensive 25 year strategy that includes strengthening cattle testing and movement controls, improving biosecurity, badger control in areas where TB is rife and vaccination in the Edge Area. Our strategy is delivering results and England will apply for Officially TB-Free status for half the country in 2017, two years ahead of schedule.
Hunting is a very contentious issue on which strong views are held on both sides of the debate in the Horsham constituency as elsewhere. Personally, given the major issues confronting the country, I don't view it as a priority issue. However I do understand that for some this is a critical issue.
We have yet to see any proposed amendments to the Hunting Act. However as I answered both before the last general election and when it was raised as an issue at the start of the last parliament, I opposed the Hunting Act when it was first debated and my views have not substantially changed.
Thank you once again for taking the time to contact me.