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.
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