Henry Smith MP has spoken in the House of Commons (on Monday, 25th October) to support the second reading of the Government’s Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill, and to pay tribute to the life of Sir David Amess, who supported legislation which the Crawley MP has introduced to further improve animal welfare provisions.
“It was heartening in the Commons to see MPs on all sides seeking to improve animal welfare standards, and I welcome the Government bringing forward this Bill to enhance protections for kept animals.
“The Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill improves standards through a range of measures for pets, farmed and kept wild animals, which includes a ban on keeping primates as pets.
“The UK has long-been a world leader on animal welfare and now Brexit has taken effect we can go further. For many years I’ve campaigned for an end to live animal exports for slaughter and fattening and this Bill addresses this issue.
“This debate was also a poignant occasion, where many MPs paid tribute to a great animal welfare advocate, our late colleague Sir David Amess.
“Both Sir David and I were Patrons of the Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation, and his last contribution in the House of Commons was in support of my Hen Caging (Prohibition) Bill. This legislation seeks to stop egg-laying hens being placed in so-called enriched cages, and I was delighted when Sir David became a formal sponsor of this Bill.”
Speaking in the debate; on the Government’s Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill, Henry said;
“It has been really heartening this evening to hear people from across the House, the political divide and the United Kingdom supporting the Bill. Yes, there have been some nuanced differences on some of the provisions proposed by the Government, but the unifying aim of this House has been to significantly advance and improve animal welfare standards. I hope that those differences can be worked out in Committee and on Report, as well as when we listen to the Minister’s response in a few minutes’ time.”
On livestock worrying, Henry said;
“I am particularly pleased that livestock worrying is being addressed, although I have some sympathies with what has been said. The fines and the action proposed could perhaps be improved and sharpened up further still to make this a really effective piece of legislation. I am Vice Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Animal Welfare, which has been looking at the issue for some time, and I am pleased that it is very much central to this Bill.”
On the banning of live animal exports for slaughter and fattening, Henry said;
“Principally, I welcome the ban in the Bill on live animal exports for slaughter and for fattening. This is something my late mum was a great campaigner on many years ago, and it is so heartening that now that we have left the European Union, we are able to introduce this ban. To reflect the comments of hon. and right hon. Members from across the House, there is a potential loophole in the export of animals to the continent through Northern Ireland; it is important that we look to address that.
“Reducing the journeys of animals is also good for our environment and carbon footprint, and we have heard about the economic benefits. The ban on the live export of animals does not cover poultry, and I would be grateful if the Government looked at that.”
Paying tribute to Sir David Amess, Henry said;
“I mention poultry deliberately, because on 22 September I had a ten-minute rule Bill, the Hen Caging (Prohibition) Bill, which is known as Beatrice’s Bill after a rescued hen. This is really very poignant for me, because our late, dearly loved colleague from Southend West, Sir David Amess, was a co-sponsor of that Bill. He sat about here on these Benches as I presented that Bill to the House, in support, and his last comments in this House on the record in Hansard were, very typically of his character, kindly supportive of the measures in that Bill to end so-called enriched cages.
“Battery farming for hens was banned in this country in 2012, but enriched cages are not much bigger, and they present many animal welfare concerns. The hens are not able to display their natural behaviour. Millions of hens still live in those conditions, despite many of our main retailers, wholesalers and other suppliers moving to a commitment to 100% free-range eggs. I therefore find it poignant to mention the importance of those provisions, something that Sir David—our dear friend—cared about so much, as he did about so many other subjects that we have heard about in the last week. Last Monday, I did not have an opportunity to pay my respects and tributes to him, and I am grateful for the opportunity to do so now.”
Please click here for the full text and video of Henry’s speech.