Animal Welfare Bill gets second reading

UK - The biggest animal welfare reform for nearly a century has its second reading in the House of Commons yesterday, Tuesday 10 January.
calendar icon 11 January 2006
clock icon 3 minute read

The Animal Welfare Bill will simplify animal welfare legislation for enforcers and animal keepers. It applies to farmed and non-farmed animals, and introduces a positive duty to ensure the welfare of companion animals. This means that level of protection they get will equal that of farmed animals.

The Bill outlines a duty to take reasonable steps to ensure that animals have a suitable environment, a suitable diet, the ability to express normal behaviour, and freedom from pain, suffering, injury and disease.

Other key features of the Bill include:

  • strengthening and amending current offences relating to cruelty
  • increasing the minimum age at which children can buy animals
  • prohibiting giving pets as prizes to unaccompanied children under the age of 16
  • increasing the effectiveness of law enforcement for animal welfare offences
  • banning mutilation of animals, with certain specified exemptions

Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Margaret Beckett acknowledged the substantial contributions made to the Bill by:

  • members of the public, who responded in large numbers to a consultation in 2002
  • stakeholders who have helped Defra refine the policy and improve the drafting of the Bill
  • the House of Commons Select Committee for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, who had carried out pre-legislative scrutiny on the Bill

She said:

“I am pleased with the positive reaction to this Bill which is designed to safeguard the welfare of companion animals who give so much pleasure to millions.

“For the first time, there will be powers to act before a pet suffers – a radical change as now it can take up to 25 visits by RSPCA inspectors before enough evidence is gathered to prove animal cruelty.“

Source: Defra - 10th January 2006

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