Launch Of The Draft Animal Welfare Bill
most comprehensive modernisation of laws on domestic and captive
animals for a century was introduced in draft today by Ben Bradshaw,
the Animal Health and Welfare Minister.
new law will introduce a new duty of care on pet owners to look
after their pets properly, in accordance with good practice, and
will, for the first time, define what constitutes cruelty. It will
consolidate and modernise over 20 pieces of animal welfare legislation
relating to farmed and non-farmed animals
* Strengthen and amend offences relating to animal fighting, for
which provision is currently made in the Protection of Animals Act
Modernise and re-define the offence of cruelty, which is already
a substantive offence under the 1911 Act;
Impose a duty of care to ensure the welfare of animals on owners
of animals and those responsible for them based upon existing good
similar provision already exists to protect farmed animals;
Extend powers to make regulations in respect of both farmed and
non-farmed animals. This will enable action to be taken as welfare
needs arise. It will also facilitate compliance with EU and international
obligations on animal welfare;
Improve the way that activities are regulated, where there is a
need to ensure animal welfare standards are met.
This will involve bringing together many common provisions on licensing
that exist in separate pieces of legislation, with a focus on improving
the quality of inspections. Licensing will be required for both
new and currently regulated activities but will be required only
where necessary to ensure animal welfare standards;
Impose a ban on mutilations - such as the tail docking of dogs -
subject to limited exceptions only where there are welfare or good
management reasons for the mutilation;
Increase the effectiveness of animal welfare law enforcement. This
will include the provision of additional powers for inspectors from
central and local government and the police where it has become
apparent that this is necessary. It should make it more difficult
to circumvent a disqualification order made by the court; and
Increase the range of sentences available to the courts when dealing
with the various offences in the Bill.
"This is the most comprehensive review of the law on pets for
a century and will set the framework for the next century.
recognise that the existing animal welfare legislation does not
allow effective action to be taken where a pet, although not currently
suffering, is being kept in such a way that suffering will probably
occur at some future point. This is clearly not satisfactory.
draft Bill extends a duty to promote animal welfare - currently
present in farmed animal legislation - to all animal keepers. This
will mean that all domestic or captive animals must be cared for
in accordance with best animal management practices. This is a major
improvement to current welfare laws which are often based on the
that good welfare is about taking action after an animal has suffered.
Bill also introduces into our law a clear definition of cruelty
against an animal and provides those responsible for enforcing the
law with the powers needed to deal effectively with people who ill
treat or neglect animals in their care.
Bill will also provide powers to introduce secondary legislation
and Codes of Practice to protect the welfare of non-farmed kept
animals. This enabling power is already available for farmed animals
and our aim is to ensure that in future all domestic and captive
animals will be protected by legislation that can be easily revised
to take account of changing welfare needs and increased scientific
this Bill does not do is threaten a gardener who kills a slug or
steps on a snail with a £20,000 fine! As a keen gardener,
I am a regular drowner of slugs in beer. This Bill applies to vertebrates
only and only to vertebrates in the care of man."
Bradshaw said that he would be introducing a Bill that would last
at least another 100 years. Previous legislation tended to be inflexible
and rooted to an age that had to rely on horses for transport and
farming. The law was unable to move with the times and we are not
going to repeat that mistake.
January 2002 Defra began a review of existing animal welfare legislation
with a public consultation exercise on the possible contents of
an Animal Welfare Bill. The consultation generated a lot of interest
and a number of ideas which have been invaluable in preparing the
House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs select committee
has decided to conduct pre-legislative scrutiny of the draft Animal
Welfare Bill and has made arrangements to enable the public to contribute
their views and comments.