Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill (March 2023)

Thank you for contacting me about the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill.

The UK has long led the way on animal welfare. Ministers are building on our world-leading standards with ambitious reforms, as outlined in the Action Plan for Animal Welfare. The Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill will introduce landmark protections for pets, livestock and kept wild animals. I look forward to supporting the Bill through Parliament.

Unfortunately, due to diary commitments, I was unable to attend the Westminster Hall debate on the Kept Animals Bill.

The Kept Animals Bill will strengthen domestic animal welfare protection for kept animals by delivering the Government’s manifesto commitments to end the export of live animals for fattening and slaughter, crack down on puppy smuggling, and ban the keeping of primates as pets. It will also update the Zoo Licensing Act, introduce a new pet abduction offence, and reform legislation covering to tackle livestock worrying. 

On the issue of puppy smuggling, the Bill reduces the number of pet dogs, cats and ferrets that can be moved under the pet travel rules that apply to non-commercial movements. This will prevent unscrupulous traders from exploiting pet travel rules, making it harder to import large numbers of puppies into Great Britain.

The Bill includes a power to make regulations about the importation of pet animals into Great Britain for the purpose of promoting animal welfare. This will enable Ministers to go further in the future and explore measures such as increasing the minimum age that dogs can be brought into Great Britain, prohibiting the importation of heavily pregnant dams as well as banning the importing of dogs which have been subjected to low welfare practices such as ear cropping or tail docking.

The Kept Animals Bill was carried over into this parliamentary session following the Queen’s Speech in May 2022. The Bill was due to have its Remaining Stages on 19 September, however due to the funeral of Her Majesty The Queen this was unable to happen. My ministerial colleagues I fully recognise that there is strong support for the Bill across Parliament and I am assured that it will return to the House as soon as parliamentary time allows.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.