The UK has a long history of leading the way on animal welfare. I am pleased that now we have left the EU, the Government is committed to improving our already world-leading standards by delivering a series of ambitious reforms, outlined in the Action Plan for Animal Welfare. Building on the Action Plan, the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill will bring in some of the world’s highest and strongest protections for pets, livestock and kept wild animals. I look forward to supporting the Bill as it makes its way through Parliament.
Primates are highly intelligent animals with complex needs and require specialist care. I am pleased that through the Bill the Government will deliver on the manifesto commitment to introduce a ban on keeping them as pets, ensuring that all primates being kept privately in England are being kept at zoo-level standards and that ownership of primates at a level below these standards is phased out.
I understand that live animals can endure excessively long journeys during export, causing distress and injury. EU rules prevented any changes to these journeys, but the UK Government is now free to pursue plans which would see a ban on the export of live animals for slaughter and fattening. This Bill will ensure that the UK is the first European country to end this practice.
I want to reassure you that I take the issue of illegal puppy imports very seriously. I am pleased that the Bill will introduce new powers to tackle the unethical trade of puppy smuggling by reducing the number of pets, including dogs, cats and ferrets, that can travel under pet travel rules. It will also provide powers for the Government to bring in further restrictions on the movement of pets on welfare grounds, and allow for enforcement measures to support these restrictions. Further restrictions could include an increase in the minimum age of imported puppies, as well as the prohibition of the import of pregnant dogs and dogs with mutilations such as cropped ears and tails.