Queen’s Speech Confirms New Animal Welfare and Protection Laws

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During The State Opening of Parliament, the Queen’s Speech confirmed the introduction of new legislation that will offer more protection to animals and pets, and ensure their feelings are protected by law. Now these new bills have received Royal Assent, they can be introduced into the UK’s legal system.

Better Protection and Increased Punishments

Animal lovers will be pleased to hear the feelings of animals and pets have formed part of key new animal legislation that today, has been formally approved by Her Majesty The Queen, in her speech for The State Opening of Parliament.

The Government plan to improve animal welfare standards in the UK, to the very highest possible, and view all animals ‘with a backbone’ as sentient beings with the right to fair treatment and happiness. The Animal Sentience Bill aims to protect all pets, as well as farm animals and those used in sporting events, with new legislation banning any cruel practices.

The Queen also said the Government plan to increase punishments given to those found guilty of animal abuse. Initially introduced with the Animal Welfare Act 2021, maximum sentences will increase from just 6 months, up to 5 years. This is something Battersea Dogs and Cats home have tirelessly campaigned for, and have now thanked the Government for backing.

Animal Welfare Reform

The new laws that are to be introduced are to take advantage of the UK’s independence from the EU, to allow us to increase our own standards that we hold ourselves accountable to.

There will be three new bills introduced which all raise the standard of care for animals; The Animal Sentience Bill, the Kept Animals Bill and the Animals Abroad Bill. Collectively, these will:

  • Ban animals from being exported in order to ‘fatten them up’ for slaughter
  • Ban battery cages for hens in the production of eggs
  • Ban veal crates (small 54”x22” cages young calves are confined to their whole lives before slaughter)
  • Ban sow stalls (metal cages which only allow breeding/pregnant sows room to stand or lie down)
  • Install CCTV in all English slaughterhouses
  • Improve animal welfare standards in zoos
  • Ban people from keeping primates as pets
  • Ban the export of live animals
  • Ban any advertisements in the UK for lower welfare care abroad
  • Increase the limits on the sale of foie gras (duck or goose liver produced from force-feeding)
  • Ban the import of hunting trophies from endangered animals
  • Create the toughest laws in the world to ban the trade of elephant ivory

Stolen Pets

In the wake of the Covid Pandemic, there has also been a huge demand for cats and dogs and as a result, an increase in the number of pets being stolen. These pets are then sold on in a growing black market. In order to try and tackle this issue, the Government want all 10million cats in the UK, to be fully microchipped. If this is made a legal requirement, cat owners will have to ensure their pets are chipped or risk a fine of £500.

Long Overdue Recognition

The news of the new bills will undoubtedly be welcomed with open arms, as for years, many politicians and campaigners have been pushing for better animal welfare and for animals to be recognised as sentient beings.

Back in 2018, politicians had the chance to back the Animal Sentience Bill which has come up for debate 3 times since. They were strongly criticised for not backing the bill at the time, and although animals are protected under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, they are not viewed as sentient beings. Thankfully, this will now change.

Speaking to The Telegraph, George Eustice, The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs UK Minister said “How you treat animals and the legislation you have to govern that, is a mark of a civilised society, and we should be constantly looking to improve and refine our legislation in this area”.