HC Deb 20 December 1985 vol 89 cc347-8W
Mr. Nicholls

asked the Prime Minister if she will list all measures her Government have taken to promote the welfare of animals; and if she will make a statement.

The Prime Minister

The Government are committed to promoting the welfare of animals and have taken wide-ranging measures to improve their protection. We played a leading role in the preparation of a draft Council of Europe convention for the protection of vertebrate animals used for scientific and other experimental purposes, and have introduced in another place a Bill to relace the Cruelty to Animals Act 1876 with a new system of controls which will strengthen the safeguards against avoidable suffering by animals used in scientific research.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department has given support and assistance to privately introduced measures to prohibit the sale of pet animals at markets (the Pet Animals (Amendment) Act 1983), and to strengthen the legal protection of badgers against acts of cruelty (section 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside (Amendment) Act 1985). Further protection was given to a number of wild species by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

The Government supported the introduction of the Zoo Licensing Act 1981 and in April 1984 my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment issued standards of modern zoo practice dealing among other things with the care and accommodation of animals in zoos, in accordance with section 9 of that Act.

This year the Government extended for a further four years the prohibition on the import of skins and products made from harp and hooded seals. The original prohibition, for two years, was introduced in 1983. In 1984, the Government introduced measures to treat all whales as an endangered species and to prohibit all products made from whales for commercial trade.

With regard to the welfare of farm animals, the Government established, in 1979, the Farm Animal Welfare Council which keeps under review the welfare of all farm animals and advises on any legislative or other changes which it considers necessary or desirable in order to improve or maintain standards of welfare. The council has reviewed all the welfare codes for livestock issued under the Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1968. Revised codes in respect of cattle and pigs have been approved by Parliament and are in operation, and those for domestic fowls and turkeys are under consideration. The council is now considering the revised codes to see whether any of the recommendations could more appropriately be made mandatory by incorporation in regulations.

In addition, my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has introduced the Veterinary Surgeons (Operations) Order 1982, further controlling operations on farm animals; the Export of Animals (Protection) Order 1981 which improves protection for animals in transit; and the Slaughter of Poultry (Humane Conditions) Regulations 1984 which provide further protection for poultry at the point of slaughter.