Thank you for contacting me about animal sentience and animal welfare protections in our trade policy.
I do understand your concerns in relation to the time scales, like you I am keen there is no time lost implementing the new regulations, however there is no guarantee sadly that this legislation will be completed for 31st December 2020.
I am pleased that the Trade and Agriculture Commission has now been launched. The commission will ensure that the voices of the public and industry are heard, and that their interests are advanced and protected. It will advise the Government on how Britain can remain a world-leader in animal welfare and environmental standards, and how we can seize new export opportunities for our farmers.
There is also no place in this country for animal cruelty. I am therefore pleased that the Government has put together a package of measures which will protect animals in our homes, in agriculture, and in the wild. These measures include a proposal to limit the distance animals can be moved for slaughter.
Having left the EU, I am pleased that the UK will now have the opportunity to do even more. A consultation will shortly be carried out on restricting live animal journeys, requiring approval for longer journeys and bringing forward welfare conditions for these journeys when they are necessary.
This consultation follows a call for evidence in 2018 on improving animal welfare in transport and controlling live animal exports. The call for evidence lasted six weeks and sought views from across industry, charities and the general public on how the Government might raise standards of animal welfare during transport. It also follows on from expert advice from the Farm Animal Welfare Committee.
This consultation will be a further step in taking forward our manifesto commitment to end excessively long journeys for slaughter and I hope you will be able to take part in the consultation once it has opened.
More broadly, the Government is committed to further strengthening the UK's world-leading animal welfare standards. Ministers will bring in new laws on animal sentience, as well as on banning the keeping of primates as pets. The Government will also be increasing maximum sentences for animal cruelty, which is being taken forward as a Private Members Bill.
The Government is committed to making any necessary changes to UK law in a rigorous and comprehensive way to ensure animal sentience is legally recognised after the transition period and Legislation will be brought forward when Parliamentary time allows. This also includes ensuring the UK has an effective means of making sure animal sentience is reflected in future policy decisions. I understand that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is currently assessing how best to support Government departments in considering the welfare needs of sentient animals when they are developing and implementing Government policy, as well as continuing to engage closely with relevant organisations and authorities to enhance its policies on this issue further.
Encouraging action is being taken to improve animal welfare at home and abroad by increasing maximum sentences for animal cruelty, banning third party sales of puppies, and introducing one of the world’s toughest bans on ivory sales. I believe these very welcome steps demonstrate exactly how seriously this Government takes animal welfare.
Finally, I am pleased that the Government is also looking at proposals to ban the trade in pet primates, extending compulsory microchipping to cats and controlling the trade in hunting trophies from endangered animals.