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June 6, 2018

MPs call on UK Government to ban fur imports in passionate debate

Landmark debate hailed as huge step forward for #FurFreeBritain campaign

Humane Society International/United Kingdom

  • Jo-Anne McArthur

London—In a landmark debate, MPs of all political parties at a Westminster Hall debate in Parliament passionately spoke out in favour of banning fur imports from the United Kingdom, with MPs calling the fur trade “vile”, “loathsome” and the “grimmest of human activities”. The debate was held in response to the submission of a 425,834-strong petition delivered to No.10 Downing Street by the #FurFreeBritain coalition led by Humane Society International UK.

Although DEFRA Minister George Eustice MP failed to commit to government action, he acknowledged that there is nothing in World Trade Organisation rules that precludes the UK from banning items on ethical grounds, and that there is case law for us to advance such measures.

Join our call for a fur-free Britain.

Humane Society International UK Executive Director Claire Bass said “After such an impressive display of compassion from MPs of all political colours, it’s immensely disappointing and frustrating that the government made no solid commitment towards a fur import ban. The U.K. banned fur farming as inhumane, so it is illogical to suggest we should now try to help fur farmers overseas make their businesses slightly less awful for the animals subjected to this cruel trade. MPs at the debate were united in their position that fur farming cannot be made humane, and that Prime Minister Theresa May’s ambition to be a ‘world leader in animal welfare’ will never be realised if we ban cruel practices here continue to outsource that same cruelty overseas.”

Notable quotes from MPs at the debate include:

Giles-Watling, Conservative MP for Clacton said: “Even though we should celebrate our world leading ban on fur farming… we have only outsourced this form of animal cruelty, and that is why I believe this import ban should be put in place… By waiting for this to happen we only prolong our role in supporting and enabling these terrible animal welfare practices and I do not believe this is in keeping with our British values.”

Kerry McCarthy, Labour MP for Bristol East, said “Fur farming was banned in England and Wales in the year 2000 and two years later in Scotland on the grounds of public morality, and the fact that fur produced in the same methods is allowed to be imported into the country is fundamentally illogical and surely it must be immoral too…A lot of our fur imports come for countries where animal welfare standards are even lower than the UK’s were before we introduced a fur farming ban. In some countries you could say the standards are simply non-existent.”

Kerry McCarthy continued “The idea of ethical fur farming even in countries which report to be high welfare, has been shown time and time again to be a complete fiction… The UK’s ban on fur farming was introduced only after our farm animal welfare council spent years gathering evidence eventually concluding that fur farms are simply unable to satisfy even the most basic needs of the wild animals kept in them. The council explicitly stated it was not possible to safeguard the welfare of animals kept on fur farms.”

Patricia Gibson, SNP MP for North Ayrshire and Arran, said “Consumers have made an ethical choice away from fur, a ban is important to keep these loathsome and vile products from our country, to help us wash the blood from our hands...The door for a fur import ban is open, will the Minister walk through it?”

On the morning of the debate, Humane Society International UK, Open Cages and more than 100 #FurFreeBritain campaigners gathered outside Westminster holding placards showing the grim conditions on fur farms across 15 countries such as France, Poland and China that import fur into the UK. Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell MP and Shadow Environment Secretary Sue Hayman MP attended the event to show their support. The #FurFreeBritain campaign calls on the government to make the UK a fur-free zone by extending existing cat, dog and seal fur bans to cover all fur-bearing species. Although fur farming was outlawed in the UK on moral grounds in 2000, and EU regulations ban fur from domestic cats, dogs and from commercial seal hunts, Britain still imports and sells fur from a range of other species such as fox, rabbit, mink, coyote, racoon dog, and chinchilla. According to the most recent trade statistics from HMRC, in the last year* the UK imported almost £75 million of animal fur (£74,154,873).

The campaign has garnered strong celebrity support; 31 of the country's biggest celebrities—including Dame Judi Dench and Ricky Gervais—sent a letter to the Prime Minister calling for a fur import ban. The full letter and list of signatories can be read here. Alesha Dixon, Evanna Lynch, Kirsty Gallacher and Chris Packham have taken to social media to show their support for the campaign. Take action and donate to help.

Further information:

  • More than 130 million animals suffer each year in the global fur trade, the majority reared in terrible conditions on fur factory farms.
  • Around the world in countries such as the U.S., France, Poland and China, wild species are kept in small, barren battery cages for their entire lives before being killed by gassing or electrocution.
  • Wild animals such as coyotes fare no better—they can languish in agony in cruel traps for hours or even days before dying from dehydration, starvation or attacks by predators, or being shot or crushed to death when the trapper returns.
  • A 2018 YouGov poll commissioned by HSI UK shows that more than two thirds of the British public support a UK fur import ban, with only 8 per cent opposed to the idea.
  • The #FurFreeBritain campaign calls on the government to make the UK a fur-free zone by extending existing cat, dog and seal fur bans to cover all fur-bearing species.
  • Earlier this month, Environment Secretary Michael Gove received a letter from 50 vets and animal experts speaking out against cruel fur farming. The full letter and list of signees can be read here.
  • In recent times there has been a fast-growing list of designers banning fur—Gucci, Versace, Michael Kors, Donna Karan and Jimmy Choo—who join those with long-standing fur bans, such as Hugo Boss, Armani, Tommy Hilfiger, and Vivienne Westwood.

* (April 2017–March 2018 inclusive)

Media contact: Humane Society International UK: Harriet Barclay, hbarclay@hsi.org, +44 (0) 7794354596

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