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Animal Welfare Standards

Volume 682: debated on Thursday 15 October 2020

This country has some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world. We have modernised standards for dog breeding, pet sales and other licensed activities involving animals. We have introduced a world-leading ivory ban and mandatory CCTV in slaughterhouses. Our Agriculture Bill will recognise animal welfare as a public good and reward high standards of animal welfare, and we are also delivering on our manifesto commitments to end excessively long journeys for the fattening and slaughter of farm animals, to ban primates as pets and to introduce new laws on animal sentience.

As a veterinary surgeon, I was absolutely gutted that the amendment to the Agriculture Bill to uphold our high animal welfare and farming standards in trade deals was defeated this week. I am pleased that the Government have reassured us that products such as chlorinated chicken and hormone-treated beef will remain banned in the UK, but does my right hon. Friend agree that a practical solution to confirm that, along with bans on other products such as ractopamine-fed pork and those with excessive use of antimicrobials or growth promoters, would be to write those products into animal welfare chapters in trade deals? Does he agree that that makes sense and would make it clear that those products are off the table, allowing other acceptable products to be traded, driving up animal welfare standards around the world?

We will be using a range of tools to deliver on our manifesto commitment to protect food standards and animal welfare in all the trade agreements that we do, and we have three principal tools that we can use. First, we have the option to prohibit sales, as we already do, for instance, for chlorine-washed chicken and hormones in beef. Secondly, as my hon. Friend points out, we can use the sanitary and phytosanitary chapter, which is a feature of all trade agreements, to dictate the terms of access when it comes to food safety in particular. Thirdly, when it comes to issues such as animal welfare, we will use tariff policy to prevent unfair competition for our farmers.