Earlier this year I was delighted to be re-elected as Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare by MPs from across the political spectrum. In that role I work hard to promote the well-being and protection of animals.
A key issue I’ve been pursuing is the recognition of animals as sentient beings. It’s a subject I’ve raised in the House of Commons and have followed up with the Environment Secretary. This was before elements of the media and other political parties sought to use this important matter as a political football.
A vote last week on this topic was cynically used to try and wreck the EU (Withdrawal) Bill. The fact is EU rules on animals as sentient beings allow bullfighting, veal farming, foie gras ‘production’, live exports for slaughter and cruel fur product imports. British animal welfare laws are the highest globally and on Brexit we’ll be free to strengthen them further still.
Indeed, there are significant possibilities for improving and enhancing environmental as well as animal welfare standards after Britain’s EU exit. I have spoken in Parliament on a number of occasions on how Brexit is an opportunity to strengthen standards. I am also seeking to secure a parliamentary debate calling for a ban on foie gras imports, not possible whilst Britain is an EU member; just as banning live exports for slaughter is impossible because of our current membership.
EU rules also restrict us from cracking down on puppy smuggling or banning the import of puppies under 6 months – both are causes I’ve campaigned to stop. Leaving the EU gives us the chance to do much better. The Environment Secretary wrote to me yesterday to reiterate that the Government aims to say more on these subjects next year.
The reality is that it’s this Government which is to introduce a ten-fold increase in prison sentence length for animal cruelty offences – from six months to five years.
I previously secured and led a House of Commons debate calling for the mandatory introduction of CCTV in slaughterhouses to aid animal welfare and am delighted that the Environment Secretary has recently confirmed this will now become law across England. I was pleased to lead this campaign in Parliament and welcome the result.
If any Crawley residents are interested in finding out more on my work on animal welfare issues, please email me directly at: email@example.com
Henry Smith MP