Kept Animals Bill (Scrapped)
As an animal lover, Laurence is a keen animal rights and wellbeing advocate, and consistently supports measures to protect or extend Animal welfare. Laurence continues to meet regularly with campaign groups on this and surrounding matters.
Laurence proudly supported the Conservative manifesto commitments on animal welfare and wellbeing, such as the banning imports of hunting trophies, and the Action Plan for Animal Welfare.
Since the publication of that Action Plan, the Government have passed: the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Act; the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Act; made cat microchipping compulsory; and announced the extension of the Ivory Act to cover five endangered species (hippopotamus, narwhal, killer whale, sperm whale and walrus).
In addition to these measures, the Government have supported numerous Private Members Bills surrounding animal welfare, such as: the Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill, and the Animals (Low Welfare Activities Abroad) Bill. Both of which are currently under scrutiny in the House of Lords.
Specific to your concern, the Kept Animals Bill, started nearly two years ago, was designed to implement several of the Government’s ambitions. This included banning the live exports of animals, seeking to prevent pet theft, and new measures to tackle livestock worrying.
Regrettably, legislative issues surrounding the Bill recently became apparent to the Government who feared that the “multi-issue nature” of this Bill would cause considerable “scope-creep” through the legislative process. The Bill thus risked being stretched far beyond the original spirit and intentions of the Government’s Bill.
The bills and regulations already passed by this Government towards the manifesto commitments on animal welfare demonstrate the significant progress which the Government has already taken. The Government have said that they intend to take forward the measures in the Kept Animals Bill individually during the remainder of the Parliament through “single-issue legislation.”
Laurence understands how passionately many of his constituents feel on this issue and recognises the confusion caused by the Governments recent announcement.
He would however highlight that the Government remain committed to delivering the manifesto commitments on animal welfare through “single-issue legislation;” the Government emphasise that their new approach is now the surest and the quickest way of ensuring the actualisation of animal welfare in the UK.
The use of animals in science supports the development of new medicines and the safety of our environment, for the benefit of humans and animals, and is only permitted when there are no alternatives.
Numerous petitions have been brought to the House over the past couple of years, such as ‘Ban commercial breeding for laboratories. Implement reform to approve & use NAMs’, and ‘calling for laboratory animals to be included under the Animal Welfare Act.’
The annual number of procedures has been falling steadily since 2015, a year in which 4.1 million procedures on animals were carried out. The number in 2021 was 26% or around a quarter lower than this. Numbers peaked in the 1970s, at around 5.6 million per year, before falling to around 2.7 million per year in the 1990s and early 2000s. Therefore, through scientific advancement the industry is heading towards the direction of such campaigners who advocate for non-animal methods (NAMs) in scientific study and research.
The Government is clear that the current legal framework, implemented by the Home Office Regulator, requires that animals are only ever used in science where there are no alternatives, where the number of animals used “is the minimum needed to achieve the scientific benefit, and where the potential harm to animals is limited to that needed to achieve the scientific benefit.”
The Government actively supports and funds the development and dissemination of the ‘three Rs’ (Replacement, reduction, and refinement). This is achieved through funding UK Research and Investment who fund the National Centre for the ‘three Rs’ and research through Innovate UK, the Medical Research Council and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council into the development of alternatives.