Animal Welfare

Steven Bonnar Excerpts
Monday 7th June 2021

(2 years, 11 months ago)

Westminster Hall
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Steven Bonnar Portrait Steven Bonnar (Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill) (SNP)
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It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Mundell, and I congratulate the hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Elliot Colburn) on bringing this important debate before us.

Historically, the UK was the foremost leader when it came to animal welfare and it is the first island of nations in the world to implement legislation protecting animal rights, but today we have witnessed this Tory Government turn their back on the opportunity to implement the very highest standards of animal welfare.

The Scottish National party has always had a steadfast commitment to initiate the steps that strengthen animal welfare legislation and will continue on this progressive path in this new parliamentary term. Indeed, the Scottish Government have undoubtedly led the way in developing policies that keep animal health and welfare at the forefront of any new legislation.

It has been especially heartening to see those decisions prompt debate and considerable movement on crucial pieces of legislation across the other nations of the UK. That includes banning the use of wild animals in circuses and an effective ban on the use of electric shock collars, paving the way for the rest of the UK to follow suit and highlighting issues that are emblematic of our position that animals under the care of our Government deserve the very highest possible protections in future legislation.

Since the pandemic, there has been an unprecedented demand for puppies, which has led to a devastating increase in the prevalence of abuse on puppy farms. The increase in price due to increased demand has only further fuelled criminality. The introduction of Lucy’s law in Scotland has helped crack down somewhat on this scandalous trade, and it means that puppies and kittens in Scotland can no longer be sold by third-party sellers such as pet shops and commercial dealers, unless they have bred the animals. Instead, anyone seeking to buy or adopt a puppy under six months old must deal directly with either the breeder or the animal rehoming centre. The move has been warmly welcomed by animal charities such as the Kennel Club, which has described it as a crucial step in advancing animal welfare regulations.

I saw the positive effects of Scotland’s approach on a visit to the Scottish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals rehoming centre in Lanarkshire just last week, and I place on the record the fact that the work carried out by its outstanding team is nothing short of incredible. They are, indeed, a credit to their sector and provide a lifeblood to the animals that depend so much on their care. They noted that the regulations introduced in Scotland are far more effective, fairer and far more straightforward than their English counterparts, simply by not repeating the mistakes made in the parallel regulations, which we already know have been embarrassingly ineffective in tackling poor breeding practices.

That proves again that Scotland is leading the UK—not for the first time, of course, and not only in this specific area. Indeed, unlike the Government who operate from this place, the Scottish Government create animal welfare legislation based on independent scientific and ethical advice by the Scottish animal welfare commission, a body of leading animal welfare experts and vets who are responsible for helping develop evidence-led recommendations on issues relating to animal welfare and sentience.

Today, in the name of my constituents in Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill, many of whom have signed the three petitions, I am further calling on the Government to prohibit the importation of shark fins, ban the exploitative import of young puppies, end the sale of electric shock training devices on pet collars, and stop the increasing number of ear-cropped dogs being imported into the UK. The Government must work to ensure that regulations are in place to protect the welfare of all animals. Although much of the legislation has been devolved, the Scottish Government are always willing to support strengthening animal welfare legislation within the UK and achieving better standards internationally. If the UK Government need a precursor, they need look no further than to Edinburgh and the Scottish Parliament.