Many people have contacted me about animal welfare issues – which I understand are important to many in this Election.
We have a moral duty to treat the animals we share our planet with in a humane and compassionate way. No other major political party has such a proven track record of decisive action for animals at home, on farms and in the wild. It is also an issue which I have raised with Ministers on a regular basis as a result of the decisions of the Tory/Lib Dem Government.
The last Labour Government achieved much to end the cruel and unnecessary suffering of animals with the banning of hunting with dogs, securing an end to cosmetic testing on animals, banning fur farming and introducing the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
This is a legacy that we are proud of and one which we believe shows that we can be trusted on animal welfare. You may find it helpful to see some of the commitments which I support.
1. Protect the Hunting Act
Ten years ago the Labour Party ended the cruel practice of hunting with dogs, because we believe that causing defenceless animals to suffer in the name of sport has no place in a civilised society. But just as we celebrate the Hunting Act, the Tories plan to repeal it. We will protect the Hunting Act to ensure it is not repealed.
2. Ban wild animals in circuses
Travelling circuses are no place for wild animals. Being moved from place to place in cramped and substandard enclosures, forced training and performance, loud noises and crowds of people are the unavoidable distressing realities for animals in circuses. Despite promising to ban the use of wild animals in travelling circuses, the Tory-led Government has failed to do so. We will ban this cruel practice, and the Welsh Government already has the necessary legislation to automatically employ this ban in Wales as well.
3. End the ineffective and inhumane badger culls
Badger culls are supposed to reduce Bovine TB but experts say the Tories’ culls will make the problem worse. Following repeated failures to meet deadlines and targets, the Government is effectively pursing an unscientific mass cull with no rigorous monitoring or evaluation. Labour will end this and develop a better plan to eradicate Bovine TB, learning the lessons from the Welsh Government where a vaccination programme is already in place.
4. Improve the protection of dogs and cats
At present we have ineffective regulation, a lack of information for pet owners and a failure to deal with irresponsible and cruel breeding practices. We will review the inadequate regulations on the sale and breeding of dogs and cats and develop a new strategy to improve their welfare.
5. Tackle wildlife crime and reduce animal cruelty on shooting estates
More needs to be done to protect animal welfare on shooting estates. I support an independent review into the most effective way to end the illegal persecution of birds of prey, such as the hen harrier; prevent non-target animals getting trapped in snares; and ensure the humane treatment of game birds.
6. Lead the fight against global animal cruelty
The humane treatment of animals should be a benchmark for any civilised society. National governments have a duty to work together to prevent cruelty around the world. It is important that we push to end all commercial whaling as well as prevent the poaching and near extinction of endangered species such as elephants, rhinos and tigers.