UK Tories drop animal welfare protection plan – POLITICO

LONDON — A bill to boost animal welfare and championed by Boris Johnson has been shelved, the UK government confirmed on Thursday – prompting immediate ire from some of its own MPs.

Ministers have faced allegations of backsliding – including from the Tory benches – after a minister said the UK would drop its kept animals bill and instead seek only to other means of introducing some of its measures.

Promised by former Prime Minister Johnson – who introduced other protective measures including a bill recognizing animals as sentient beings – the legislation would have imposed new restrictions on puppy imports and ended export live animals for fattening and slaughter. The bill had already been blocked once and was reintroduced in the Commons last May.

Announcing the move in the House of Commons on Thursday, Environment Minister Mark Spencer insisted the government would still deliver on commitments in the Conservative 2019 animal welfare manifesto. But he said the move was necessary to prevent the measures from becoming “bogged down in a political game”.

“The bill risked being stretched well beyond the initial manifesto and action plan commitments,” he argued.

But the announcement angered the opposition and some Green Conservative MPs.

Tory MP Theresa Villiers, a former environment secretary, said she felt “a sense of frustration” that the Bill would not make it back to Parliament, while Tory backbench MP Giles Watling said to the Spectator that he was “profoundly disappointed to learn that this bill which I have been calling for, for a long time now, can be dropped for apparently no good reason.”

The conservative Animal Welfare Foundation – whose members include Tory lawmakers – immediately denounced “the missed opportunity to further improve animal welfare and protection across the UK”.

The group warned in a statement: “Almost 14 million people elected this government on a platform that promised to deliver for animals.

“More recently, the continuation of this bill was promised by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in 2022 during his leadership campaign. It is these promises that we call on the government to honor today and ensure that provisions to improve the lives of large numbers of animals set out in the Kept Animals Bill are implemented in legislation.”

Alex Sobel, Labor’s shadow nature minister, said the announcement was “a huge step backwards for animal welfare”.

The Humane Society, a non-profit promoting an end to animal suffering, called the move “a stunning betrayal of both animals and public trust.”


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