Leaving the EU: Care and Protection of Animals

Oral Answers to Questions — Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – in the House of Commons on 17th January 2019.

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Photo of Desmond Swayne Desmond Swayne Conservative, New Forest West

What steps his Department plans to take to maintain standards on the care and protection of animals after the UK leaves the EU.

Photo of David Rutley David Rutley Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), The Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury

The Government have made it clear that our exit from the EU will not lead to a lowering of our high animal welfare standards. Our regulatory system will offer the same level of assurance of animal welfare following our departure from the EU as it does now. The European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 will ensure that existing EU standards are maintained once we leave the EU, and we are actively exploring options for strengthening the UK system in the future.

Photo of Desmond Swayne Desmond Swayne Conservative, New Forest West

How will the Minister crack down on puppy farming?

Photo of David Rutley David Rutley Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), The Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury

The ban we announced on 23 December will make sure that there is a ban on third-party sales of puppies and kittens, which will mean that unscrupulous breeders and puppy farmers will no longer be able to hide. This is an important piece of legislation and it shows that we have got into a much higher gear on animal welfare legislation.

Photo of Clive Betts Clive Betts Chair, Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee, Chair, Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee

The International Trade Secretary has been touring the world negotiating trade deals in the past few months. Will the Minister say precisely what involvement DEFRA Ministers have in ensuring that animal welfare issues are contained in any agreement that that Secretary of State is concluding?

Photo of David Rutley David Rutley Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), The Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury

DEFRA leads on agricultural issues in these trade deals and there is a clear intention that our standards will not be watered down.

Photo of Gregory Campbell Gregory Campbell Shadow DUP Spokesperson (International Development), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Cabinet Office)

Can the Minister lay to rest some of the vile scare stories that have been emanating in the past few months about how, in certain circumstances in which we may leave the EU, there will be a diminution in animal care standards? Can he confirm that whatever the circumstances after 29 March we will retain the highest possible standards?

Photo of David Rutley David Rutley Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), The Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury

The hon. Gentleman makes a good point, and I assure him that we will make sure the existing regulations come over and we will maintain those high standards.

Photo of Melanie Onn Melanie Onn Shadow Minister (Housing, Communities and Local Government) (Housing)

Inside or outside the EU, Boohoo, the online retailer, has been found to be advertising clothing as “faux fur” when in fact it has contained animal fur, including rabbit. So may I ask what checks are in place and what action the Government are prepared to take to ensure that there is no animal cruelty in the clothing industry?

Photo of David Rutley David Rutley Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), The Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury

The hon. Lady raises an important point. This is a clear trading standards issue and, as I understand it, action has been taken, as it should be in those circumstances.