My Lords, noble Lords will know of my long-standing interest in and commitment to animal welfare. I believe, like all colleagues here today I have no doubt, that the way we treat animals is a mark of our humanity. Traditionally, I have campaigned more often on issues relating to domestic animals, such as cats and dogs, as we did yesterday, but today I turn my attention to animals of a somewhat bigger variety, and certainly on a more global scale, by introducing this important Bill. It is a privilege to do so.
As this Bill relates to advertising, I declare an interest as a director of the Advertising Standards Board of Finance and note my other interests. I am grateful to all noble Lords who will take part in this important debate. I much look forward to it, especially to the contribution of my noble friend the Minister. My noble friend Lady Fookes had wanted to take part to support the Bill, but regrettably she is unable to be here today.
I am indebted to Angela Richardson MP, who piloted the Bill through the other place with passion, eloquence and skill. I hope its journey in this House will be just as smooth, reflecting its overwhelming public backing. The Bill has government and cross-party support, and it has incredibly strong public support. An Opinion Matters poll just a few months ago showed that 82% agreed that the Government should use their influence to bring an end to overseas activities which involve animal cruelty.
The Bill also has the powerful backing of many of the charities involved in this field of work, among them Save the Asian Elephants, the RSPCA, World Animal Protection and Four Paws UK. I am particularly indebted to Save the Asian Elephants for the comprehensive briefing it has provided to me and others, as indeed I am to our Library for its background document. I am also very grateful to officials at Defra, who have been generous in their time and expertise working on this Bill.
This Government have done a great deal in recent years to protect and enhance animal welfare, yet it is a never-ending battle. There is always more to be done, and this excellent Bill rises to the challenge, fulfilling the commitment in the 2021 Action Plan for Animal Welfare to ensure that
“businesses do not benefit from selling attractions, activities or experiences to tourists involving the unacceptable treatment of animals”.
The Government’s intention, which this Bill delivers on, is to steer tourists away from so-called attractions which rely on cruel and brutal practices to ensure the obedience of animals, towards visits to places where animals are cared for and treated properly, with dignity and humanity. This includes Asian elephants, about which I will say more in a moment, big cats such as tigers and lions, baby monkeys, dolphins and much other marine life. Many of these animals are subjected to unimaginable cruelty in the name of so-called entertainment.
The pattern, whatever the species, is often horribly the same. Taken from their own habitat, on land or sea, infants’ mothers are often killed to capture them. They are kept in incredibly harmful close captivity. They are forced through traumatising fear, pain or drugs into a state where they can be dominated and made to perform unnatural behaviours. They are often callously slaughtered when they are no longer needed for exhibition.
Take Asian elephants as an example of the sort of species that might be helped by this enabling legislation. These magnificent animals—now an endangered species, which is incredibly dangerous in view of their crucial role in boosting biodiversity, rejuvenating forests and helping combat climate change—are treated with indescribable viciousness to prepare them for tourist activities such as elephant rides and washing. They are snatched from the wild, with their protective mothers often butchered in front of them, subjected to the brutal “breaking of the spirits” through isolation and starvation, then stabbed and beaten with repulsive hooks and sticks before being restrained by tight wire ties that bite the flesh, prevent movement and cause sepsis—all actions that would clearly be punished with the utmost severity if committed in the UK. They are also things of which the tourists who go to see them are almost always unaware.
The treatment of dolphins is another appalling example of animal cruelty. Activities offered in many tourist venues include swimming with them, interacting with them by touching or feeding them, using them as props for souvenir photographs and selfies, which causes them immense distress, and so-called beaching, the horrible practice where they are trained to propel themselves out of the water on to a stage—a demeaning act that often ends in severe injury to the animal. To prepare them for all this, these highly intelligent creatures are subjected to coercive control, deprived of food to make them respond to training, and kept in confined, featureless tanks that are 200,000 times smaller than their natural home range.
Big cats, such as tigers and leopards, can be treated just as badly. Separated from their mothers just days after being born, cubs are hand-reared to become a tourist attraction. They are often declawed in the process and their teeth are removed. Their lives are often pitifully short, as most of them become too dangerous to handle at around six months old, so they are often sold or killed, with lions sometimes sent to hunting facilities to be shot by paying trophy hunters before the whole horrible cycle begins again with new cubs.
This is about not just animal welfare but human welfare too, as animals treated with such abject cruelty can often themselves become highly dangerous. Asian elephants, when provoked, can attack, often fatally. According to Save the Asian Elephants, at least 700 tourists and others have been killed in the past generation, and 900 more have sustained catastrophic injuries.
While preparing for this debate, I was privileged to meet Helen Costigan, whose 20 year-old sister Andrea died tragically on a visit to Thailand in 2000 when an elephant, which had been trained in the barbaric way I described, charged her at the Nong Nooch resort. Nearly a quarter of a century on, this cruel and dangerous resort, still with no safety measures in place, is still promoted to unsuspecting tourists by 120 UK-based entities. Helen supports the Bill and is working with Save the Asian Elephants not just to help bring an end to animal cruelty but to save human lives too.
We cannot do this on our own. This is a global problem, but it is incumbent on us to do all we can to lead the way. The Bill is not a magic wand, but it will do a huge amount to tackle the problem at source by ending in England and Northern Ireland the sale and advertising of tourism to places abroad where wildlife is cruelly exploited in the way I described, and because of the size of the UK market that will make a real impact. A survey from World Animal Protection in 2018 showed that 51% of UK tourists who visited dolphin venues purchased their dolphin experience right here as a result of marketing and advertising. The same year, 2 million UK tourists visited India and Thailand, with nearly a third of those visiting Thailand reporting having ridden or tried to ride an elephant, unaware of the cruelty, and indeed the danger to human life, involved in it. More than 1,200 companies in the UK market currently promote almost 300 overseas so-called attractions which often make their money from the barbaric treatment of Asian elephants. We sit on top of an awful, unchecked market, feeding violence against animals, malnutrition, overwork, loneliness and despair.
Along with the work being done by the industry on a voluntary basis, the Bill will make a significant difference by dampening demand. How will it work? Clauses 1 and 2 set up a framework of offences involving the sale and advertising of low-welfare animal activities abroad. Clause 3 outlines the penalties, prosecutions and liabilities for offences under the legislation. Clause 4 provides relevant enforcement powers. Clause 5 establishes procedures for making regulations in the UK Parliament and the Northern Ireland legislature, while Clauses 6 and 7 deal with interpretation and the territorial extent of the Bill. Noble Lords will have noted that the Bill relates only to England and Northern Ireland. The devolved Administrations in Scotland and Wales have the power to choose what UK government legislation they wish to consent to, and I hope they will look carefully at the Bill, particularly in view of the huge public support for action across all parts of the UK, including Scotland and Wales.
As I said earlier, the legislation on its own will not end the terrible animal cruelty masquerading as entertainment that takes place in some parts of the world, but it is a huge leap forward in protecting wild animals and demonstrating our commitment as a country to establishing world-leading standards for animal welfare. I hope it will also continue to raise the profile of this issue and educate the public by making clear that activities and attractions that are marketed as wildlife tourism often flourish as a result of unimaginable cruelty to animals and are a huge welfare risk to humans.
We are a nation of animal lovers and proud of it. The Bill gives us a chance to lead the way. It will be a world first and put down another crucial marker in the battle against animal cruelty. It will hoist a flag around which other nations can rally. I hope that this House will look with favour on it and show again that we understand the force of Gandhi’s famous words:
“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated”.
Let us now play our part. I beg to move.
My Lords, I stand to speak in support of this Private Member’s Bill and to congratulate Angela Richardson MP in the other place and my noble friend Lord Black on ensuring its introduction and safe passage through Parliament. I am delighted to support the Bill, which will ban the promotion and sale of activities abroad where animals are ill treated and harmed for tourism.
Charles Darwin wrote:
“The love for all living creatures is the most noble attribute of man”.
I am a pet owner and feel strongly that we should ensure that animals in our care are treated with kindness. Like my noble friend, I believe that animal welfare is one of the litmus tests of a civilised society, and I hope others agree that it is intolerable that animals should be subjected to trauma, fear and pain.
As has already been highlighted, the scale of animal cruelty in wildlife tourism cannot be overestimated. More than 500,000 animals are currently known to be involved in tourist entertainment in low-welfare establishments where cruel and inhumane training methods are often used to force animals into submission. World Animal Protection’s 2016 report found that three in four wildlife tourist attractions involve some form of conservation concern or animal abuse. These ratings were based on animals’ ability to experience five freedoms that we take for granted: freedom from hunger and thirst; freedom from discomfort; freedom from pain, injury and disease; freedom from fear and distress; and freedom to behave normally. We should not and must not stand by.
This legislation will prevent UK travel companies profiting from and fuelling the problem. While I understand that there has been guidance from the Association of British Travel Agents, it is only voluntary and has not been taken up widely enough. We need to ensure that tourists are informed so that they choose not to buy holidays involving animals that have been treated cruelly. While I am proud that this country has one of the highest animal welfare records in the world, and I was pleased to read the cross-party and government support this Bill had as it passed through the other place, we must not be complacent. Exploitation and unethical methods of training should not be used to force animals into submission.
Like my noble friend, I was sent horrific and sickening photos by organisations lobbying for the Bill. My noble friend described how Asian elephants, in particular, suffer from extreme cruelty. They are often snatched in the wild, with their mothers killed in front of them, and then their spirit is broken by isolation, starvation, stabbings and beatings to make them easy to use for tourism. The captive trade in primates is threatening some species with extinction, all for an Instagram cuddle. Many big cats in captivity, such as tigers, lions and leopards, may have been deliberately separated from their mothers just days after being born, depriving them of the nutritious milk necessary for their growth and development, as well as maternal care. As we heard, when they become too dangerous to handle, they are often killed or sold. Many lions in South Africa cuddled by paying tourists when they were cubs may end up being shot by paying trophy hunters. There are around 3,500 whales and dolphins languishing in small concrete tanks around the world, deprived of their natural habitat.
It is not just the horrific treatment of the animals involved in tourist entertainment. We also need to consider the wider risks that low welfare standards bring. For example, Save the Asian Elephants research reports that the number of Asian elephants engaged in tourism in Thailand has increased by 70% in recent years, yet the global population has crashed from millions in the 19th century to barely 40,000 today, with an estimated 40% of them in captivity. Asian elephants are now considered an endangered series, and there are wider biodiversity, ecosystem and environmental impacts as the megagardeners of the forests are being enslaved. Unethical tourism has contributed to too many species suffering dramatic decline.
Before I finish, I too pay tribute to my noble friend Lady Fookes, who has spoken so often and is such a powerful advocate for animal welfare. We hope to see her back in the House soon.
To conclude, UK travel companies should not sell wildlife holidays that involve animal cruelty, and we should encourage other nations to do likewise. As it is so powerful, I beg the indulgence of the House to use Mahatma Gandhi’s quote again:
“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated”.
I support the Bill and wish it a speedy passage through our House.
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Black of Brentwood, a notable champion of animal welfare, has laid out with clarity the measures in the Bill and the penalties attached for non-compliance. It is a pleasure to follow the noble Baroness, Lady Hodgson of Abinger, another champion of animal welfare.
I fully support the aims of the Bill, which was trailed in the Government’s Our Action Plan for Animal Welfare, published in 2021 by the then Secretary of State George Eustice. I have received briefings giving details of the harm and suffering caused to animals forced to perform acts that are unnatural to them in order to please tourists.
In the past, it has sometimes been the case that a family with a terminally ill child would take that child abroad to swim with a dolphin. It is a natural reaction of a loving parent to give their child a unique opportunity in the last months of their life, but the other side of this type of tourism also has to be considered. The noble Baroness, Lady Hodgson, and the noble Lord, Lord Black, listed the appalling treatment meted out to some of these animals.
The Government are obviously supporting this Private Member’s Bill, but to protect animals abroad from unnecessary cruelty it should be borne in mind that curtailing the freedom of choice for the tourist is necessary. It is not ethical to keep wild animals in restricted captivity that does not allow them freedom to roam. Such restriction may cause them to behave in an uncertain fashion. The interaction of humans with wild animals is fraught with danger. Encounters could encourage the transmission of zoonotic diseases. There could be incidents where a visiting tourist may be injured or even killed—the noble Lord, Lord Black, referred to 700 tourists being killed. Banning the promotion of tourist activities abroad involving interaction with wild animals that would not be permitted under our domestic law is the right way forward. In 2022, Savanta conducted an online survey in 15 countries, including the UK, commissioned by World Animal Protection; 81% of UK responders agreed that countries should stop the commercial exploitation of wild animals.
I fully support the ethos and aims of the Bill but, as I am sure the Minister expects, I have some questions. I have read the Hansard transcripts of Second and Third Readings in the other place and I am fully conversant with the types of appalling activities that the Bill is attempting to prevent. Discouraging direct tourism from engaging with wild animals is clearly essential.
The Bill makes it clear that the measures apply only to England and Northern Ireland. It also gives immunity to anyone advertising these activities by means of electronic transmission. This means that if, for instance, I go online and search, “riding with elephants in Thailand”, I will get an almost immediate response and a choice of providers with which I can book. At some point, I assume, I will have to put in my address and, if the address is in England or Northern Ireland, the advertiser will then say, “I’m sorry, but we can’t help you; we operate out of England and Northern Ireland”, or whichever it may be. However, if the advertiser is operating out of Wales and Scotland, I assume that I can then book what could be the trip of a lifetime. This seems like a massive loophole.
Another loophole concerns the use of the phrase “principal market” in Clause 2(5)(b) for anyone printing anything outside the UK, and whose principal market is not the UK. It will be difficult for an enforcement agency to determine what constitutes a principal market and subsequently demonstrate that the company has passed a threshold for a principal market. Furthermore, it will be difficult to prove that a principal market is within the UK and so an offence has been committed. Removing the word “principal” from Clause 2(5)(b) would mean that the legislation would cover any advertisement intended for England or Northern Ireland and would remove confusion. I realise that amending the Bill will cause it to be delayed or, worse, lost. Can the Minister indicate how we can strengthen the Bill without this happening?
There are 11 occasions in this short Bill when the phrase
“in a relevant part of the United Kingdom”
is used. The Explanatory Notes make it clear that this means England and Northern Ireland. So if I am not IT-literate or I prefer the personal touch, and I go to a travel agent and attempt to book such an experience, in England and Northern Ireland it will not be possible. However, if I live close to the borders of Wales or Scotland, I can nip across and make my booking there. Can the Minister reassure me that this will not happen? The Bill does not indicate that Wales and Scotland already have such a ban in place, and the noble Lord, Lord Black, has indicated that they do not. Are the Government consulting with the devolved Administrations to ensure that a ban is brought forward without delay? There is no mention in Hansard transcripts from the other place that this has been a consideration. Clause 2(6)(b) limits the scope of the legislation to persons carrying on a business
“in a relevant part of the United Kingdom at the time of the distribution”.
Would omitting the word “relevant” close this potential loophole? Can the Minister clarify how this loophole can be addressed?
I turn my attention to the issue of enforcement, and refer to my entry in the register as a vice-president of the LGA. The police are not involved in the enforcement breaches of this legislation. This is to be done by trading standards officers under the auspices of local authority weights and measures metrology departments. We have had debates previously about the shortage of professionally trained trading standards officers. Are the Government confident that there will be sufficient officers available to take on this additional work? The public are very keen that this Bill should work.
In short, we have a Bill that should work but which penalises only those who print and publish written literature, presumably in the form of flyers and posters, and not those who publish the same material online; plus the Bill’s powers extend to England and Northern Ireland but not to Wales and Scotland, where we have no physical borders. I am keen that this Bill should get on to the statute and that it should work, but currently I am unclear that it will achieve its objective. I am looking to the Minister for reassurance.
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Black of Brentwood, for his excellent and thorough introduction of the Bill to your Lordships’ House, as well as Angela Richardson MP for steering it through the other place. I would also like to thank a number of charities that have been campaigning on this issue: the RSPCA, World Animal Protection, Animal Welfare and Four Paws. In particular, I want to thank Save the Asian Elephants and Duncan McNair, who is with us today. I genuinely believe we would not be here debating this Bill were it not for the work that he has done, and I congratulate him.
As has been mentioned, the Bill has strong cross-party support. The legislation will represent a significant step forward in protecting wild animals from the cruelty and exploitation that we have been hearing about in this debate. It will also demonstrate the UK’s role in establishing world-leading standards on animal welfare in this area. However, to realise this ambition the Bill must deliver effectively its objective of banning the promotion and sale of animal activities abroad that would be illegal under domestic legislation.
We have heard that the intent of this Bill has overwhelming public support, and we have heard the poll evidence to support that. Every year, hundreds of thousands of wild animals are exploited for entertainment in the global tourism industry. As research has shown, one of the problems is that many of these wildlife tourist attractions have impacts of which the tourists who take advantage of them have absolutely no idea. Common examples that we have heard include elephant rides and swimming with dolphins experiences. For these actions to take place, there are cruel training techniques, coercive control, conditioned unnatural behaviours, stressful interactions and so on. Many of these animals are highly intelligent and this is appallingly cruel treatment.
By discouraging the sale and promotion of such activities, the proposed Bill aims to help steer the market towards promoting more ethical and welfare-friendly tourism. Some travel companies have taken steps to restrict the sale of low-welfare activities to their customers but, unfortunately, many well-known companies continue to sell these cruel and exploitative wildlife experiences.
I thank the noble Lord, Lord Black, for mentioning Helen Costigan and her sister. They had the most appalling experience and terrible tragedy, and it is important that we put into the context of this the human tragedy that can come out of the treatment of animals in this way.
We support the Bill because it aims to improve animal welfare overseas by prohibiting the sale and advertising of such activities. To ensure the smooth passage of the Bill, we are not going to table any amendments. However, as the noble Baroness, Lady Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville, said, there are some areas where we would like clarification from the Minister to ensure that it meets its objectives effectively.
Activity regulations must reflect the changing market for low-welfare activities abroad. Regulations must be kept in alignment with changes in domestic animal welfare legislation as well as evolving scientific understanding of animal sentience and its impact on animal welfare. In the absence of a duty to review regulations, is the Minister able to confirm how activity regulations are going to remain comprehensive and up to date?
The noble Baroness, Lady Bakewell, mentioned some of our other concerns so I will not go into great detail, but one is the use of the phrase “principal market” in Clause 2(5)(b). Our concern, as she laid out, is that this could open up a loophole. We agree with her that removing “principal” from the clause would mean that the legislation covered any advertisement intended for England or Northern Ireland and remove any confusion. I wonder if the Minister would consider taking that back to his department to have a further look at it.
The other concern is about widening the parameters of committing an offence, as raised by the noble Baroness. She talked about “relevant”, which is extremely important. We are concerned that it risks excluding from prosecution people based in Scotland or Wales who sell or promote regulated activities in England or Northern Ireland, as she laid out. We agree with her that omitting “relevant” would close that potential loophole. If the Minister were able to clarify that the department would look at that how that loophole could be addressed, we would be grateful.
We very much support this legislation and want it on the statute book but it is important that it is fit for purpose, so we look forward to the Minister’s reassurances regarding the questions that we have asked.
My Lords, I am grateful to all who have spoken in this debate. I am pleased to be speaking in support of the Bill and to see such interest in this legislation from across the House. I pay tribute to my noble friend Lord Black and his colleague in the other place, Angela Richardson, for the eloquence and passion that they have put into this and the excellent work they have done with a variety of different organisations to make sure that we have some legislation here that will be effective and will reflect both the need and what our public demand, which is ever higher animal welfare standards.
This legislation is welcome, as domestic travel agents are currently able to advertise and sell unacceptably low-welfare activities abroad to tourists without any regulation. The Bill will prohibit the advertising and offering for sale in England and Northern Ireland of tourist-related activities abroad involving animals. The Bill will provide a framework under which secondary legislation may be used to implement bans on specific low-welfare activities abroad, examples of which include riding, bathing and taking selfies with animals. The animals used in such practices are often trained using, as my noble friend said, brutal methods that allow tourists to get within touching distance of them. For any activity to be deemed within scope of a specific ban will involve animals that are kept in conditions or subject to treatment that would not be permitted under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 or the Welfare of Animals Act (Northern Ireland) 2011.
Throughout the Bill’s passage it has been made clear that low-welfare activities involving Asian elephants are likely to fall within the scope of this legislation. There has been especially strong support for a ban to be introduced in this area. Asian elephant rides, bathing and other similar activities are extremely popular with tourists. However, aside from the suboptimal conditions that the elephants are often kept in, what is not seen is the cruel training methods that they are subject to in order to make them a safe tourist attraction.
While close interactions with captive wild animals are seen by many as a once-in-a-lifetime experience, surely it would be far more fulfilling to observe these animals displaying natural behaviours in natural environments in just the way that nature intended. The Bill aims to encourage tourists to visit high-welfare attractions where animals are free to display more natural behaviours and cruel practices are not used to train them for human entertainment.
World Animal Protection’s 2022 report The Real Responsible Traveller states that sanctuaries that are certified by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries, and which do not breed for commercial purposes, are likely to offer the highest standards of care to their animals. An example of a high-welfare attraction is ChangChill in northern Thailand, which has become one of the first elephant attractions to transition to an observation-only model. The venue has become a popular tourist attraction, demonstrating that there is a demand for animal-friendly, observation-only tourism.
A scant look at what is being advertised as we sit here today shows quite the opposite in other locations. From the comfort of the UK you can
“pre-book your joy ride on the back of an elephant”
without any knowledge of what that elephant went through in order for you to have an experience that you might think was trouble-free but, clearly, so often is not.
It has been predicted that, as the travel industry picks up following the pandemic, the UK’s outbound travel figures will surpass pre-pandemic levels. It has been estimated that by 2024 up to 86.9 million outbound travel bookings could be made per year. In 2019, 79% of travellers who witnessed animal cruelty said they would pay more for an activity where they knew that the animals did not suffer. However, it is often difficult for tourists to make that judgment on whether the animals they are interacting with are, or have been, subject to cruelty.
I join the noble Baroness in paying tribute to Save the Asian Elephants for the endless work that it has done on this and so many other areas in protecting this extremely at-risk species. Today I also remember my late friend Mark Shand, who set up and ran Elephant Family, which continues to do noble work in trying to create the wildlife corridors that will allow that extraordinary species to survive in its own environment at a time when there is huge human pressure on it, as there is on so many species.
I shall address some of the questions that were put to me by the two noble Baronesses who represent their parties on the Front Bench. The Bill focuses on advertising and sales taking place in England or Northern Ireland, not those taking place abroad. If an advert is distributed by means of electronic transmission and the person does not carry on business in England or Northern Ireland, we could not prevent that from happening—that has to be said. However, we hope that, if we bring in a domestic ban, awareness-raising will influence potential tourists and dissuade them from pursuing unacceptable activities abroad.
The guidance that we are giving to enforcement bodies will be developed for trading standards in England and the Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland so they will be able to effectively enforce the Bill. The guidance will be produced as and when specific bans are introduced.
Despite not being UK-wide, the Bill will still make it possible to ban the advertising and sale here of low-welfare animal activities abroad to consumers in England and Northern Ireland. That will send a strong message that these activities are not deemed acceptable.
While it will not be possible to stop prospective tourists purchasing unacceptable activities abroad from a travel agent in Wales or Scotland, the Government hope that consumers living in England or Northern Ireland who are planning a holiday abroad will make a positive decision, in line with the legislation in England or Northern Ireland. We work closely with the devolved Governments in both those countries to make sure that, where possible, our animal welfare policies align. In some cases, they have been a little ahead of us; in other cases, like now, we are a bit ahead of them. But there is an inexorable acceptance that we want sensible animal welfare policies such as this to be UK-wide, and we will continue to work with them to ensure that that happens.
On the question of the “principal market” point, the use of the term “principal market” relates to the market for which a publication is intended. Clause 2(5) is aimed at ensuring that a business is not treated as having committed an offence if a publication is printed and published outside England or Northern Ireland and is not intended principally for a market that includes an audience in England or Northern Ireland. Therefore, the exclusion in Clause 2(5) does not apply to a publication that is printed outside England or Northern Ireland and contains a prohibited advertisement if it is published or distributed in England or Northern Ireland and the publication was principally intended for a market that includes an audience in England or Northern Ireland—I promise your Lordships that that makes sense; I read it through several times before I said it.
I want to make sure that we have legislation that works, and what I say to the House is this: let us not make the perfect the enemy of the good. We have a very tight timetable, particularly for Private Members’ Bills, and if we have to bounce too much back and forward between the two Houses, there is a timing risk. I am not using that as a threat, but just saying that I live in the realities of the timetable. I know that all sides appreciate that. I just want to get this on the statute book as quickly as possible.
The Government will have the ability, through supporting the Bill, to bring forward future targeted bans on low-welfare activities involving animals. The details of these bans will provide clarity to the tourism industry and their consumers on whether specific activities are deemed acceptable or not. With the knowledge of animal welfare that we have as a nation, we must take the necessary steps to steer UK tourists away from entertainment overseas that involves the unacceptable treatment of animals, and instead towards activities where animal welfare is appropriately protected. By disallowing the advertising and sale, here, of attractions abroad involving low-welfare practices, we can also encourage the providers of such low-welfare animal activities abroad to switch to better methods.
No matter how big or small, any change that we are able to make to influence global animal welfare for the better should be seen as a positive move. The Government are committed to raising animal welfare standards worldwide and take such matters very seriously. From the debate today, the importance of animal welfare to us is clear, not only domestically but across the world. I hope that the introduction of this Bill marks a step in the right direction towards fundamental changes in the way that animals are treated in the tourism industry. In closing, I reiterate my support for the Bill and my huge appreciation to my noble friend for bringing it to the House today and to all noble Lords for their contributions to this debate.
I am incredibly grateful to all noble Lords who have taken part today. My noble friend Lady Hodgson was absolutely right to say that we must not be complacent and she had a powerful message, which is one for us all to note: that the price of an Instagram selfie is indescribable, sickening cruelty—and more people need to understand that.
The noble Baroness, Lady Bakewell, underlined the threats to human life, including the spread of zoonotic diseases, another important issue which had not been raised in the debate. I am grateful to her and to the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman of Ullock, for raising some important issues. I associate myself with the comments of the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, about Save the Asian Elephants and the work of Duncan McNair. I too have no doubt that we would not be at this point if it was not for that tireless campaigning.
I am grateful to my noble friend the Minister for making clear, with his customary eloquence and passion, the Government’s continuing commitment and support, and for answering so many of the questions involved. This may not be an absolutely perfect Bill, but it is a very good start, and it is important that we get it on the statute book as soon as possible—I think we will all have taken note of the important things that he said about timing. I am also grateful for his commitment to working with the devolved Governments to achieve UK-wide implementation as soon as that is practical.
As I said earlier, our struggle to improve animal welfare is a long and continuing journey but, at the end of the day, those we are seeking to protect have no voice of their own. What we as a House are showing today in supporting this Bill is that we can be that voice, and that we will not let them down. There is much to do, but this is a vital staging post in our journey. I hope we can make swift progress in getting it on to the statute book as soon as possible.
Bill read a second time and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.