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Environment and Animal Welfare

Volume 664: debated on Tuesday 1 October 2019

Today I am notifying the House about recent announcements I have made on measures to enhance the welfare and protection of animals. These include proposals to address long journeys for live animals that are being transported for slaughter, and to restrict the import and export of hunting trophies.

First, I have announced that we will consult on improving animal welfare in the transport of live animals. Last year DEFRA issued a call for evidence in relation to future standards on welfare in transport, followed by commissioning external research, and inviting the farm animal welfare committee to conduct a review and make recommendations.

I welcome the farm animal welfare committee’s recommendations that live animal journeys should be minimised and that animals for slaughter should not be transported longer distances if suitable alternatives are available. FAWC’s report will inform a public consultation on this issue, which will be published in due course. The consultation is intended to take forward our manifesto commitment on restricting the live export of animals for slaughter.

Secondly, I recognise the concerns that have been expressed regarding the welfare of primates kept as pets, given the complex needs of these animals. Therefore, we will issue a call for evidence to better understand:

the scale of ownership of primates as pets,

how they are acquired, and

the merits and impacts of potential restrictions on ownership, sale, breeding and trade.

The call for evidence will be published in due course.

Thirdly, we will issue a call for evidence on compulsory microchipping for pet cats. Evidence will be sought on the benefits and impacts of subjecting cats to similar measures to those currently required under the rules on compulsory dog microchipping. The call for evidence will be published in due course.

Fourthly, we will launch a consultation on banning the import and export of trophies from the hunting of endangered species. This follows the introduction of the UK’s world-leading ivory ban in December 2018. A roundtable on trophy hunting was held in May 2019, with all sides of this debate represented. The views raised during those discussions will inform the proposed consultation on further restrictions on the import and export of hunting trophies. The consultation will be published in due course.

Alongside these measures, I have announced plans to create a new forest project in Northumberland to help improve our natural environment and respond to climate change.

Trees and forests need to play a vital part in our response to climate change. To start an ambitious new Northumberland forest, the Government have announced their commitment to create three new forests in the county, with up to 1 million trees to be planted in the period up to 2024.

We expect planting to begin next year to coincide with the COP26 conference. The Government will set up a new forestry partnership for Northumberland to help identify sites for afforestation and provide a forum to bring local stakeholders together to help take the project forward.

We expect these plans to pave the way for further woodland creation partnerships elsewhere in the country.