Ricky Gervais, Joanna Lumley and Paul O’Grady support call for commitment to vital animal welfare improvements
Humane Society International / United Kingdom
London—In the month of the bicentenary of the UK’s first ever animal protection law—Martin’s Act of 22nd July 1822—some of the UK’s leading animal charities are joined by Larry the Downing Street cat (@Number10Cat) and celebrities including Ricky Gervais, Dame Joanna Lumley and Paul O’Grady to urge Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak to pass and strengthen more laws to protect animals from suffering if they become the country’s next Prime Minister.
In an open letter to the Conservative leadership contenders, the CEOs of the RSPCA, Humane Society International/UK, FOUR PAWS UK and others, ask Truss and Sunak for their public commitment to deliver on the promises the Government made in its 2021 Action Plan for Animal Welfare, only four of which have so far been delivered. Thousands of members of the public have also emailed the leadership candidates over the last few days, calling on them to support animal welfare issues.
Sunak and Truss have been asked to go public on three specific commitments:
Pass the Kept Animals Bill, delivering on manifesto commitments to end live animal exports for fattening and slaughter; introduce new laws to tackle low welfare puppy imports and pet abduction; and restrict the keeping of primates as pets, amongst other measures—the Kept Animals Bill has not been given Parliamentary time since November last year.
Progress legislation to protect the welfare of animals abroad suffering for the UK market, including bans on imports of hunting trophies, fur and foie gras, and the advertising of low welfare tourism activities overseas. These bans were derailed by dissenters in Boris Johnson’s cabinet in recent months.
Strengthen existing legislation to: introduce compulsory cat microchipping; phase out use of cages in farming; prevent inhumane trapping and killing of wildlife (e.g. banning snares and expediting an end to the badger cull); and strengthen and extend the current laws on hunting with dogs.
The letter welcomes the Conservative Party’s 2019 manifesto statement that ‘high standards of animal welfare are one of the hallmarks of a civilised society’ and asks: “Animals need a Prime Minister whose government will give them the legal protections they need and deserve, as sentient beings. Will you pledge such protections as part of your leadership campaign?”
A spokesperson for the group of animal protection NGOs said: “In the year where the sentience of animals has finally been enshrined in law, we must not lose this dedication to better animal welfare in the UK. Animals matter to voters of all political persuasions, including the 72% of Conservative voters who want more and stronger laws to protect animals. Ministers are constantly claiming that the UK is a world leader on animal welfare, so we’re calling on Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss to set out exactly what they’ll deliver to justify that title. Showing compassion and ambition to protect vulnerable animals could tell us a lot about the sort of leader they might be.”
National polling carried out in April 2022 showed that British voters want to see the government follow through on its promise to protect animals, with 72% of respondents—and 71% of those who voted Conservative in the last general election—stating they would like the government to pass more laws designed to improve animal welfare and protect animals from cruelty.*
Read the open letter and view the full list of signatories.
*Polling was run on the Focaldata platform. Data was collected from a nationally representative sample of 10,018 adults between 11th and 20th April 2022.
Animal protection & conservation NGOs unveil plaque in Brighton’s Hilton Metropole Hotel where historic whaling ban was agreed in 1982
Humane Society International / United Kingdom
United Kingdom—The 40th anniversary of the global ban on commercial whaling has been marked today, with a plaque unveiled to hail one of the most significant conservation victories of all time.
Almost three million whales were killed for their oil and meat in the 20th century, bringing many species and populations to the brink of extinction. In July 1982, member countries of the IWC held an historic meeting at the Metropole Hotel in Brighton and agreed a global ban on commercial whaling, which remains in place today.
A recent £300,000 funding award to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) from the UK Government is supporting its vital whale conservation and welfare work around the world, addressing significant threats such as bycatch and climate change. This funding is also supporting the participation of developing countries in IWC meetings, ensuring that decisions are representative of all members. This financial support will help to enable the IWC to continue with its excellent work providing an international framework for the conservation and management of cetaceans.
To commemorate the anniversary a permanent memorial plaque was unveiled at the Hilton Metropole Hotel, at a reception attended by past and present members of the IWC, dignitaries and local Members of Parliament. Caroline Lucas MP opened speeches, pledging her ongoing commitment to vital conservation efforts. The event was co-hosted by leading animal protection charities working on the IWC, including the UK representatives of the Animal Welfare Institute, Born Free Foundation, Environmental Investigation Agency, Greenpeace, Humane Society International/UK, IFAW, OceanCare, ORCA, and Whale and Dolphin Conservation.
International Environment Minister Zac Goldsmith said: “The moratorium on commercial whaling led the way four decades ago and remains one of the clearest demonstrations that conservation action works, moving from a bleak outlook where nearly 3 million whales were killed in the 20th century, to one where whale populations are coming back from the brink of extinction. The work of the IWC has been instrumental, bringing together global partners to deliver the science, conservation and management to support these majestic marine mammals, and the UK is proud to lend our full support to this work, including to uphold this vital moratorium.”
Without doubt the ban on commercial whaling has spared the lives of hundreds of thousands of whales and been instrumental in pulling many species and populations back from the brink of extinction — although some have never recovered.
Beyond whaling, whales still face many threats caused by human activities including fisheries bycatch; chemical, plastic and noise pollution; ship strikes; habitat loss and the urgent climate crisis. Of the 90 species, 12 subspecies and 28 subpopulations of cetaceans that have been identified and assessed to date, 22 are listed as ‘Critically Endangered’, 22 as ‘Endangered’ and 16 as ‘Vulnerable’.
Originally established in 1946 to conserve whales in order to manage whaling, the IWC has since evolved to address myriad anthropogenic threats, such as fisheries bycatch, that are estimated to kill hundreds of thousands of cetaceans a year. The IWC is now central to global cetacean conservation and welfare efforts, including overseeing regional efforts to prevent entanglement and vessel strikes, and advancing the scientific understanding of cetacean sentience and suffering. The UK’s funding therefore comes as a huge boost to global efforts to protect these ocean giants for generations to come.
Sue Fisher, acting marine policy director for the Animal Welfare Institute, observed: “Forty years ago, members of the public protesting outside this hotel and around the world convinced their governments to ‘save the whales’. Today they face new perils from our degraded oceans. We commend the United Kingdom for its commitment to ensuring that the IWC can do its vital work to save the whales again.”
Claire Bass, executive director of Humane Society International/UK, said: “Whales face an uncertain future in our degraded oceans, but there can be no doubt that the global ban on commercial whaling has saved many species from the brink of extinction. The ban’s 40-year anniversary is therefore a timely reminder of what can be achieved and should serve to strengthen our resolve to strive for even greater action against threats such as entanglements and pollution. The UK government’s funding for and renewed commitment to the vital work of the International Whaling Commission is a very welcome boost that will support international efforts for years to come to ensure the recovery of cetacean populations and the welfare of these astonishing ocean giants.”
Lucy Babey, ORCA’s head of science & conservation, and marine mammal chair at Wildlife and Countryside Link, said: “The IWC moratorium on commercial whaling was one of the biggest single conservation measures ever introduced, and its legacy resonates even today. To celebrate this milestone is a privilege that I know everyone involved feels lucky to be a part of, and we are delighted that the UK Government has decided to reaffirm its commitment to the IWC to ensure the legacy of this momentous decision is safeguarded for years to come. Future generations can look back on this watershed moment and see a time when people who cared about the ocean came together and did something special, and in that spirit we are proud to have been a part of marking this occasion.”
Sharon Livermore, IFAW marine conservation director, commented: “To this day, the global commercial whaling ban remains one of the most iconic and important conservation achievements of all time. But there is still much work to do to protect whales and dolphins from the many other threats they face; the International Whaling Commission is central to that work, so this new UK government funding is very timely.”
Mark Simmonds OBE, director of science for OceanCare, said: “Historically, the whales had been viewed as huge swimming barrels of oil, blubber and meat, ripe for the plundering. By 1982, when the moratorium was agreed, they were much better known, the grace and grandeur of these social mammals had been revealed by ground-breaking underwater cinematography, and we were increasingly concerned about the cruelty of whaling. And now, forty years on, we know so much more! New species and populations have been discovered and we also recognize cultural units with unique behaviours, and we are also busy exploring the contributions that the whales make to keeping our essential marine ecosystems healthy. Now is the time to make the moratorium complete and for all commercial whaling to end.”
Vanessa Tossenberger, Whale and Dolphin Conservation policy director, commented: “Working towards the recovery of whale populations is part of a nature-based solution to the climate and biodiversity crises. We appreciate that the IWC is leading efforts to better understand whales and their impact on ecosystem functioning. For this work to be successful, the IWC must urgently strengthen protections for cetaceans from the many risks they are facing and ensure the moratorium on commercial whaling stays firmly in place and is fully adhered to by all IWC members.”
Clare Perry, Environmental Investigation Agency UK senior advisor on ocean campaign said: “The ban on whaling has already saved the great whales from certain extinction and today it has an even more important role to play in securing the future of all whales, dolphins and porpoises from mounting threats including hunting, pollution, climate change and bycatch.”
In the 20th century, commercial whalers killed 2,894,094 whales, including 874,068 fin whales and 761,523 sperm whales. At the peak of their operations, commercial whalers were killing an average of 70,000 whales a year.
The IWC’s commercial whaling ban was agreed in 1982 in a 25:7 vote, and came into effect worldwide in 1986. Catches fell to 6,361 that year. There are three countries that currently conduct commercial whaling: Norway, Iceland and Japan.
The degradation of the ocean has accelerated rapidly in recent years, with ocean temperatures warming up to 40% faster on average than the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change previously estimated.
Science estimates that the amount of plastic entering the ocean will increase three-fold between 2016—2040 if urgent action isn’t taken.
Ocean acidification has increased by 26% since pre-industrial times, and global maritime traffic as well as underwater noise levels from shipping, seismic surveys, exploration and military activities, have also significantly intensified.
An estimated 300,000 cetaceans are killed annually as bycatch in fisheries.
Media contact: Sally Ivens, Humane Society International/UK: firstname.lastname@example.org
Humane Society International
Humane Society International
Country’s leading animal protection charities urge prime minister: ‘Save the Animals Abroad Bill’
Humane Society International / United Kingdom
LONDON—New U.K. national polling from the #DontBetrayAnimals campaign, backed by a group of 14 of the country’s leading animal protection charities including Humane Society International/UK, shows British voters want to see the government deliver on its promise to protect animals. Polling comes almost exactly a year since publication of the government’s Action Plan for Animal Welfare, and amid rumours No.10 is considering abandoning the Animals Abroad Bill, which includes fur and foie gras bans.
Almost three quarters (72%) of respondents want to see this government pass more laws designed to improve animal welfare and protect animals from cruelty, and over three quarters (77%) want to see the government ban the importation of animal products where the production methods are already banned in the UK, including fur. Fewer than one in 10 respondents disagree that such an import ban should be introduced.
The campaigners are calling on the government to respond to the public’s wishes and include the Animals Abroad Bill in the upcoming Queen’s Speech. The new seat-by-seat MRP analysis of the polling illustrates the political, as well as moral, imperative for doing so.
If the government fails to deliver on its commitments to animals, as set out in its May 2021 Action Plan for Animal Welfare, this will be at odds with voters’ interests, as illustrated by the poll highlights, which estimate:
Almost three quarters (73%) of voters in seats held by cabinet ministers want to see the government pass more laws to protect animals.
Support for banning fur and other cruel imports is even higher in cabinet members’ constituencies (79%) than the national average.
Passing laws to protect animals is a doorstep issue for supporters of every major political party – only Brexit Party voters registered less than majority support, although almost half (48%) still support more laws to improve animal welfare.
Crucially, almost three quarters (72%) of voters in 20 of Conservative seats identified as the most marginally held want to see the government pass more laws to protect animals.
Constituencies in the former Red Wall (constituencies which historically tend to support the Labour Party), also showed strong support for animal protection legislation, with seven in 10 (70%) voters supporting import bans on low welfare products such as fur.
The poll also revealed consistent support for animal protection across a range of voter demographics:
Support for the government to pass more laws to improve animal welfare is equally high amongst all household social grades (AB: 71%, C1:72%, C2:72%, DE:71%). Support for banning the importation of animal products like fur is highest amongst AB household respondents (79%), but not significantly lower amongst DE households (74%).
Only 8% of women and 12% of men disagreed with the idea that the government should ban the importation of animal products like fur.
Support for the government to pass more animal protection laws is marginally higher amongst rural respondents (73%) than urban respondents (72%). Likewise, rural support for banning low animal welfare product imports like fur is slightly higher (80%) than urban support (76%).
The MRP analysis of the results challenge the narrative that the wants and needs of city dwellers are drastically at odds with rural residents, with the constituency of North East Somerset (76%) almost equally aligned with Islington North (75%) when it comes to wanting to see the government pass more legislation to protect animals.
The constituency of North East Somerset was found in the poll to have the joint eighth highest level of support for a ban on the importation of cruel animal products such as fur (North East Somerset; 83%), exceeding that of Islington North (80%).
The government needs to act fast to deliver what the electorate wants—by including the Animals Abroad Bill in the upcoming Queen’s Speech and fulfilling promises to legislate to protect animals it made in both its manifesto and Action Plan for Animal Welfare, including banning live exports.
Claire Bass, executive director of Humane Society International/UK, said: “Our new poll leaves no doubt that we’re a nation of animal lovers, and that the British public expect the government to deliver more animal protection laws. In terms of showing it is in tune with public opinion, banning the importation of cruelly produced products, such as fur and foie gras, is an open goal for Number 10. We urge Boris Johnson to ensure that the forthcoming Queen’s Speech delivers on the Conservative’s 2019 manifesto promise to better protect animals, both at home and abroad.”
Jessica Terry, World Animal Protection UK external affairs manager, said: “The government has repeatedly promised to introduce the Animals Abroad Bill, however we are yet to see any action. Through this bill, the prime minister promised to end the horrors of trophy hunting and cruel animal entertainment and we will continue to speak up until this legislation is passed. All animals deserve happy and healthy lives.”
Sonul Badiani-Hamment, FOUR PAWS UK country director said: “It is clear from this new polling that there is overwhelming public support for greater protection for animals, across political divides. We are almost a year on from the Action Plan for Animal Welfare and have had nothing but empty promises from the government. We urge the prime minister to seize the opportunity of the Queen’s Speech to save the Animals Abroad Bill, and urgently bring forward bans on fur, foie gras and trophy hunting imports in the next parliamentary session. With this legislation, the UK Government has a unique chance to assert its global leadership in animal welfare, sending a clear message that animal cruelty will neither be tolerated nor imported.”
Emma Slawinski, RSPCA director of policy & communications, said: “The Queen’s Speech will be an acid test of the government’s true commitment to honouring the animal welfare pledges it has made to the public. Its foot-dragging over the Animals Abroad Bill has been shameful, particularly in light of the new research showing such huge public appetite for legislation to protect animals.
“Announcing a ban on foie gras and fur imports as part of the Animals Abroad Bill on May 10 would be a good start and an opportunity for the government to demonstrate that rather than outsourcing animal cruelty, it really is committed to a better deal for animals. It would also be a strong signal that the government intends to keep its word on other animal welfare legislation, such as the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill in the future.”
James West, senior policy manager at Compassion in World Farming, said: “Compassion in World Farming warmly welcomed the publication of the Action Plan for Animal Welfare, including proposals to ban live exports for slaughter and fattening and ending the import or sale of foie gras. Despite the encouraging words offered by the government, one year on we have seen little progress – the Kept Animals Bill has not been in parliament since November, and the foie gras ban is at risk of being completely dropped. This polling highlights the fact that people expect the government to now keep its promises and progress both the Kept Animals and Animals Abroad Bills with urgency in the next parliamentary session.”
Media contact: Wendy Higgins, HSI director of international media: email@example.com
Notes to editors
Groups backing the #DontBetrayAnimals campaign are: Animal Aid, Animal Equality UK, Born Free Foundation, Compassion in World Farming, FOUR PAWS UK, Humane Society International/UK, The Humane League UK, League Against Cruel Sports, LUSH, Naturewatch Foundation, PETA UK, RSPCA, Save The Asian Elephants, World Animal Protection UK.
The polling was run on the Focaldata platform. Data was collected from a nationally representative sample of 10,018 adults between 11th and 20th April 2022. Using the polling data, Focaldata completed a constituency-level analysis using MRP modelling.
Over three quarters (77%) of voters think UK Government should ban the importation of animal products, such as fur, where farming and production methods are banned in the UK, including:
82% of women and 72% of men
61% of 18 – 24 year olds, 73% of 25-36 year olds, 76% 35 – 44 year olds, 82% of 45 – 54 year olds, 82% 55 – 64 year olds, 81% of 65+ year olds
The MRP polling analysis estimates support amongst:
over three quarters (78%) of the 10, 15 and 20 most marginal Conservative-held seats
almost three quarters (74%) of Red Wall voters
over three quarters (79%) of voters in the Cabinet’s constituencies
Fifteen cabinet members with 80%+ support are: Dominic Raab, Liz Truss, Sajid Javid, Kwasi Kwarteng, Alok Sharma, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Therese Coffey, Nadhim Zahawi, George Eustice, Brandon Lewis, Chris Heaton-Harris, Suella Braverman, Kit Malthouse, Michelle Donelan and Jacob Rees-Mogg.
Almost three quarters (72%) of voters would like to see the UK Government pass more laws designed to improve animal welfare and protect animals from cruelty, including:
75% of women and 69% of men
66% of 18 – 24 year olds, 75% of 25 – 34 year olds, 74% of 35 – 44 year olds, 74% of 45 – 55 year olds, 73% of 55 – 64 year olds, 69% of 65+ years old
The MRP polling analysis estimates support amongst:
Over three quarters (72%) of the 1-0,15 and 20 most marginal Conservative held seats
Almost three quarters (70%) of Red Wall voters
Almost three quarters (72%) of voters in the Cabinet’s constituencies
Naturalist Chris Packham joins Humane Society International/UK in celebrating ban
Humane Society International / United Kingdom
LONDON—The public’s use of glue traps to catch mice and rats will be banned across England after a government-backed Private Members Bill received unanimous support during its third and final reading today in the House of Lords. The ban has been welcomed by animal charity Humane Society International/UK, which led the “Unstuck” campaign to end the public use of the “inhumane, indiscriminate and indefensible” glue boards, which immobilise the small mammals in strong adhesive in which they can suffocate, rip off skin and fur and break their limbs in desperate efforts to escape.
Despite their potential to cause prolonged and extreme animal suffering, glue traps are currently widely sold to the public in DIY and corner shops, as well as online, for as little as 99p. The traps also pose a serious risk to other species, with numerous reports each year of animals—including protected and endangered species like hedgehogs, wild birds and bats, and even pet cats—being caught and suffering often fatal injuries.
The legislation contains a limited exemption for so-called “pest” control operatives to apply to the Secretary of State for a licence to use a glue trap, which may be granted where there is “no other satisfactory solution” and where the action is required for “the purpose of preserving public health or safety”. The exemption mirrors that of the 2015 glue trap ban in New Zealand, where glue trap licences have fallen year on year since the ban’s introduction, with no approvals for use in 2021.
Claire Bass, executive director of Humane Society International/UK, said: “Glue traps are crude devices that cause horrific suffering to millions of animals. It is absolutely right that their public use will be banned, and we hope this will precipitate their removal from sale by retailers since it will be illegal for their customers to use them. It is immoral to subject small, sentient wildlife to being immobilised on these sticky boards, only to suffocate in the glue, die slowly of their injuries, or be ineptly killed by unprepared members of the public who resort to drowning or throwing them in the rubbish while still alive. The licensing regime for glue trap use by the ‘pest’ control industry will need to be strictly managed to ensure that these cruel products are no longer casually used with impunity.”
Once the Bill receives Royal Assent, the new law will make it an offence in England for a member of the public or any “pest” controller without a licence to set a glue trap to either deliberately or accidentally catch a rodent, with a fine and/or up to 51 weeks in prison. Discovering a glue trap but failing, without reasonable excuse, to ensure it is disabled will also constitute an offence.
Naturalist and campaigner Chris Packham, who supported HSI/UK’s Unstuck campaign, joined the charity in welcoming the ban, saying: “When wildlife, like mice and rats, are successful at living alongside humans, we label them ‘pests’ or ‘vermin’ and seem to think that’s a green light to completely disregard their welfare. Glue traps are a prime example of this. That attitude has to change. I commend HSI/UK on their Unstuck campaign victory and I’m delighted that cruel and unnecessary glue traps will now be taken out of public use, prompting a more compassionate and also effective approach to dealing with unwanted wildlife. This law is great news for mice and rats, but also for the many unintended victims who get stuck in the glue, such as delicate birds, grass snakes, frogs and hedgehogs.”
Conservative MP Jane Stevenson, who sponsored the Bill, said: “I am absolutely thrilled that my Glue Traps Bill has passed its Third Reading, meaning it will soon receive Royal Assent and become law. The banning of the use of glue traps by the general public is another step forward in the strengthening of animal welfare legislation in England, and I want to thank everyone involved in making this happen. The use of glue traps is cruel and barbaric, and has often led to animals not intended to be caught in these traps dying in the most inhumane way. Together with ministers at Defra and organisations such as HSI/UK, the RSPCA and others, I am pleased to have made a positive difference.”
HSI/UK advocates an ethical approach to wildlife management, addressing the root cause of problems through human behaviour change strategies and wildlife control and mitigation measures that are humane, with lethal interventions used only as a last resort to protect public health and safety. As well as being inhumane, killing animals like mice and rats typically does not offer a permanent solution to the problems their presence might cause, whereas measures such as removing food sources and blocking up access holes are effective in addressing such situations.
The ban will come into effect in England two years after receiving Royal Assent. In Scotland, the government made a commitment in January this year to ban glue traps following a review by the Scottish Animal Welfare Commission, and the Welsh government has also been seeking stakeholder views on a possible ban.
Fans can vote online to help Save Ralph win internet’s top honor
Humane Society International
WASHINGTON, DC—Humane Society International announced today that Save Ralph has been nominated for best Public Service & Activism video in the 26th Annual Webby Awards. Hailed as the “Internet’s highest honor” by The New York Times, The Webby Awards, presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, is the leading international awards organization honoring excellence on the Internet.
Save Ralph is a stop-motion animation short film produced in several languages by Humane Society International (HSI) in support of its global campaign to end cosmetic testing on animals. Written and directed by Spencer Susser and produced by Jeff Vespa in partnership with HSI and the Arch Model studio of puppet maker Andy Gent, the film features HSI’s campaign spokesbunny Ralph, as he goes through his daily routine as a “tester” in a lab. HSI’s #SaveRalph campaign tackles the disturbing issue of animal testing in an original and unexpected way—using the story of one bunny to shine a light on the plight of countless rabbits and other animals suffering in laboratories around the world, engaging viewers to help ban animal testing for cosmetics. The English-language film features a star-studded cast including Oscar winner Taika Waititi as Ralph, along with Ricky Gervais, Zac Efron, Olivia Munn, Pom Klementieff and Tricia Helfer. Save Ralph was also produced in French, Portuguese, Spanish and Vietnamese, and subtitled in multiple other languages, to support HSI’s efforts to reach hearts and minds of consumers and lawmakers in Canada, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Southeast Asia and beyond.
“Nominees like Save Ralph are setting the standard for innovation and creativity on the Internet,” said Claire Graves, president of The Webby Awards. “It is an incredible achievement to be selected among the best from the 13,500 entries we received this year.”
“We are absolutely thrilled that Save Ralph is being recognized by the Webby Awards. This nomination provides a fantastic opportunity for Ralph to continue shining a global spotlight on the cruelty of cosmetic testing on animals to a new audience and the need to ban this practice around the world,” said Donna Gadomski, Save Ralph executive producer and HSI senior director of external affairs.
“Save Ralph has had a tremendous impact on Humane Society International’s efforts to end cosmetic testing on animals globally since its premiere last April,” said Troy Seidle, Save Ralph executive producer and HSI vice president of research and toxicology. “This film has motivated millions of people around the world to sign HSI’s petition to outlaw this cruel and obsolete practice, propelling Mexico to become the first North American country to ban cosmetic testing on animals, and is helping advance our legislative efforts in several other countries. We’re excited that the Webby recognition may help continue this momentum.”
As a nominee, Save Ralph is also eligible to win a Webby People’s Voice Award, which is voted online by fans across the globe. From now until April 21st, Save Ralph fans can cast their votes at Webby Awards People’s Voice .
Winners will be announced on Tuesday, April 26, 2022, and honored in a star-studded show at Cipriani Wall Street. Winners will have an opportunity to deliver one of The Webby Awards’ famous 5-Word Speeches. Past 5-Word Speeches include: Steve Wilhite’s “It’s Pronounced “Jif” not ‘Gif’; NASA’s “Houston We Have A Webby”; and Solange’s “I Got Five On It.”
Media contact: Cassie Bodin-Duval, international coordinator in media relations: firstname.lastname@example.org
Alesha Dixon and Joanna Lumley join 50 animal protection organisations in celebrating new law recognising animals have feelings, and a new Committee to protect their welfare.
Humane Society International / United Kingdom
LONDON—Animal protection organisations and celebrities are today celebrating the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill passing its final hurdle in the House of Lords. Once the Bill receives Royal Assent, the new law will be known as the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Act 2022.
The passage of the Bill is welcomed by the Better Deal for Animals, an alliance of 50 of the UK’s leading animal organisations, including the RSPCA, Humane Society International/UK, Compassion in World Farming, FOUR PAWS UK and Wildlife and Countryside Link, which was formed in 2019 to campaign for reinstating the recognition of animal sentience in UK law. Animal sentience was the only piece of EU legislation that was not transposed when the UK formally left the EU on 1st January 2021.
Alesha Dixon, whose petition secured over 100,000 signatures in the campaign for a sentience Bill back in 2019, said: “Animals enrich and improve our lives in so many ways, so it is only right that we give them our full respect in law. From the smallest mouse to the largest whale, our decisions can have a huge impact on the welfare of animals, and I’m thrilled that this new law will now mean all government departments will have to show how they’re giving animals the consideration and protection they deserve.”
Joanna Lumley, who signed a letter with 21 other celebrities urging government to put animal sentience into law, said “Anyone lucky enough to share their life with an animal knows what rich emotional lives they can lead, and how much our actions can affect their wellbeing, for better or worse. I am delighted that this new law will mean that sentient animals, including beautiful sea creatures like lobsters and octopus, will be treated with greater respect and care.”
The new law will see the formation of an Animal Sentience Committee which will have the freedom to scrutinise the extent to which any government policy has taken animals’ welfare needs into account, and is empowered to publish reports on its findings. The Minister with responsibility for that policy area then has a duty to lay before Parliament a written response to the Committee’s reports within three months.
Claire Bass, executive director of Humane Society International/UK said: “It’s exactly 200 years since the UK’s first animal welfare law, so the Sentience Act is a fantastic anniversary gift to animals. This legislation has enormous public support, and we’re delighted and relieved to see it complete its journey through Parliament. We look forward to the new Animal Sentience Committee being able to shine an expert spotlight on opportunities for the government to improve the welfare of all animals.”
Chris Sherwood, Chief Executive of the RSPCA said: “The Sentience Bill becoming law is an important milestone in ensuring animals have strong legal protections and are recognised as sentient beings who have emotions and feelings. We are pleased that the new Animal Sentience Committee will be able to influence public policy to improve the lives of animals and create a kinder and more compassionate society.”
Welcoming the law, campaigners stressed that the new Animal Sentience Committee would have a huge scope of policies it could scrutinise, and will need to prioritise its limited resources carefully.
James West, Senior Policy Manager at Compassion in World Farming, said: “We welcome the final passage of the Bill that will once again enshrine animal sentience in UK law. However, the Animal Sentience Committee still has a big job to do! It’s critical that they prioritise those policies that have the potential to cause the greatest suffering to the largest number of animals, including of course, the millions of animals facing welfare problems on Britain’s farms.”
Sonul Badiani-Hamment, FOUR PAWS UK Country Director, said: “Today is a victory for animals as they are finally granted the recognition and protection they deserve in UK law. The British public are proud to call themselves a nation of animal lovers and have strong expectations of the UK Government to deliver on their commitments in the Action Plan for Animal Welfare. In passing this Bill the government has taken one huge step forwards towards truly being considered a global leader for animal welfare.”
Richard Benwell, Wildlife and Countryside Link CEO, said: “It’s great to see MPs come together from all parties to recognise the sentience of animals. This consensus reflects clear public opinion—animals are sentient and should be treated as such. This applies to companion animals, farm animals and wild animals. The same consensus must hold to ensure that the advice of the new Animal Sentience Committee is followed by Government, so that future policy reduces suffering and enhances the welfare of animals.”
Claire Bass, executive director, Humane Society International/UK: email@example.com
New poll shows 87% of British public want the Government to maintain or increase its level of action on animal protection, but bills to enshrine sentience and ban live exports are almost out of time, and sources suggest promised Animals Abroad Bill may be scrapped altogether
Humane Society International / United Kingdom
LONDON—Thirty-two of the UK’s leading animal protection organisations have written urgently to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to express alarm and opposition to reports that the Government has in mind to de-prioritise animal welfare and put at risk legislation to ban live exports, imports of hunting trophies, fur and foie gras, amongst other critical measures and manifesto commitments. The letter shares the results of a new YouGov poll, which affirms the strong public support for animal welfare, with almost two-thirds (63%) of respondents wanting the Government to increase its level of action on animal protection.
The letter is signed by CEOs from the UK’s leading animal protection organisations, including the RSPCA, Humane Society International/UK, Compassion in World Farming, and FOUR PAWS UK. It was sent the day after the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill had its final Commons stages in Parliament, but was further delayed from becoming law by an amendment from 27 Conservative backbenchers, which was supported by the Government. The bill will now have to return to the House of Lords, with little time left this session. Animal sentience was the only piece of EU legislation that was not transposed when the UK formally left the EU on 1st January 2021.
In an opinion piece in The Daily Telegraph on 9th March, politics editor Christopher Hope reported on a conversation with a minister who told him there is likely to be “a bit more focus on what matters to our constituents and a bit less of the peripheral stuff. The party does care about [the environmental agenda] but it is a question of getting priorities right.”
Claire Bass, executive director of Humane Society International/UK, said:“The notion that animal welfare doesn’t matter to voters simply does not chime with public opinion. Even with all the other important government priorities at this time, including supporting Ukraine, almost 90% of Brits think the government should maintain or increase action for animals. Support is equally as strong (89%) amongst Conservative voters at the last election. The public want to see real progress for animals, including bans on imports of cruel fur and foie gras, so Number 10 will appear tone deaf if it waters down ambitions for animal welfare, or tries to quietly dispose of the promised Animals Abroad Bill. Reneging on manifesto commitments and promises from its 2021 Action Plan on Animal Welfare would be a betrayal of both animals and the British public.”
James West, senior policy manager at Compassion in World Farming, said: “We are disappointed not to see animal sentience once again enshrined in UK law by now, and trust that the Government will ensure the Sentience Bill quickly passes through Parliament. We are deeply concerned that numerous other legislative and policy pieces which the Government promised have not been delivered – are the high hopes generated by the Government’s Action Plan for Animal Welfare going to be shattered? We urge the Government to ensure that they give animal welfare the same importance that the majority of the British public does. In particular, we call for swift progress on legislation banning live exports and the sale or import of foie gras, as well as significant steps to End the Cage Age in farming.”
Introduced into the Commons in June 2021, the Kept Animals Bill hasn’t been seen in Parliament since 9th November. Campaigners stress that if the government is going to deliver a number of manifesto commitments such as a ban on live animal exports, they must ensure it is given time to become law as soon as possible.
Emma Slawinski, director of advocacy and policy at the RSPCA, said:“The Government promised the public that they would ban live exports, stop the illegal puppy trade and deliver animal sentience when they put these into their 2019 manifesto. This new polling shows the public desire to get these delivered has not diminished and as we approach the first anniversary of the Government’s animal welfare action plan we need to see a new resolve from the Government and urge them to deliver on their promises.”
Sonul Badiani-Hamment, UK country director at FOUR PAWS UK, said: “After years of Brexit stagnation, last year the Government brought forward an ambitious policy agenda with the Animal Welfare Action Plan. With promises of progressive legislation such as the fur, foie gras and trophy hunting import bans, the UK would finally be a global leader in animal welfare whilst delivering on the wishes of the overwhelming majority of the British public. To see them now backing away from their commitments in the face of political opposition by a small minority, is nothing short of cowardice.”
A change.org petition set up by Chris Packham urging the government ‘#DontBetrayAnimals suffering for fur and foie gras’ now stands at over 125,000 signatures since it was launched three weeks ago. The petition was set up after it was reported by the BBC that some cabinet ministers were opposed to the bans because they restrict personal choice, in spite of strong public support. A YouGov poll on 22/23rd February reveals 73% of the public back a fur import ban, including 59% of Conservative voters at the last election, who strongly support a ban, up almost 20% since a 2018 poll.
Media contact: Mathilde Dorbessan, HSI/UK media and communications manager: +44 (0)7341 919874
Humane Society International / United Kingdom
Support a ban on the import and sale of fur from animals trapped in the wild