Labour is the party of animal welfare. From bringing forward the landmark Hunting Act to protecting the treatment of domestic animals under the Animal Welfare Act, Labour has always placed the welfare of animals high on the policy agenda. At a European level, Labour secured better welfare standards for battery hens and chickens and tightened the rules on the transport of live animals. It is a record Labour is rightly proud of.
However, we cannot allow hard-won progress to be undone. We know that Labour must be at the forefront of driving through the next phase of progress in the journey towards better animal welfare standards that are up to date and fit for purpose.
That is why last year we consulted widely on a range of policies on animal welfare in order to build upon the long-standing leadership of the Labour Party on the issue of animal welfare, and to underpin the next phase of animal welfare initiatives under the next Labour government. Some areas of policy are devolved, for example in agriculture, and where this is the case we would work closely with the devolved governments.
We had a huge response to our consultation, with over 6,000 detailed submissions, and I would like to sincerely thank every individual and organisation who took the time to contribute their views and expertise. Every submission was carefully read and considered and we held a number of follow-up roundtables and discussions.
This document is the result of hours of meetings, discussions and combing through detailed submissions.
An Animal Rights Commissioner
One of our key proposals is the appointment of an Animal Welfare Commissioner to ensure that government policy across Whitehall is continually informed and underpinned by the latest scientific evidence on animal sentience and best practice in animal welfare. We had such a positive response to this proposal that it has been moved right to the top of this document to be our first pledge.
Never has it been more pressing to drive forward a comprehensive and ambitious agenda on animal welfare. At the time of writing this plan, we have a Tory government recklessly hurtling the nation towards a disastrous no-deal Brexit, new trade deals on the horizon that raise serious questions over animal welfare and food safety standards, flip-flopping on the issue of fox hunting and the largest destruction of a protected species in living memory with the inhumane and ineffective badger cull.
When this Tory government does talk about animal welfare, it has taken a haphazard approach, announcing random stand-alone policies while simultaneously pursuing an underlying policy agenda that at best overlooks animal welfare and at worst seeks to turn back the clock. Labour will put animal welfare policy on a serious and credible footing, driven by science and best practice, rather than vague sentimentality or ‘campaign-of-the-month’.
……. is one where no animal is made to suffer unnecessary pain and degradation and where we continue to drive up standards and practice in line with the most recent advances and understanding. The policies set out here in our Animal Welfare Manifesto are the next stage in that journey.
Sue Hayman MP
Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs