New Clause 17 - Regulation of online animal sales

Part of Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:45 pm on 18th November 2021.

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Photo of Victoria Prentis Victoria Prentis The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 12:45 pm, 18th November 2021

The Government take this issue seriously and have recently taken several steps to strengthen pet breeding and selling regulations, including banning the third-party sale of kittens and puppies. We are also encouraging the responsible sourcing of pets via the national “petfished” campaign.

The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 introduced a wide range of real welfare improvements for pet breeding and pet sales. The object of the regulations was to update and improve the existing welfare standards. They also provided a template for adding further activities in future, when necessary. The regulations make numerous requirements of pet sellers and dog breeders who are licensed relating to the keeping of records and advertising. Any licensed pet seller or dog breeder advertising animals for sale will need to include their licence number in the advert and specify the local authority that issued the licence. Additional requirements relating to adverts include a requirement for the age of the animal to be displayed alongside a recognisable photo. That said, we are always looking to make improvements where possible. We will review the regulations before October 2023.

Our regulations aim to ensure that sellers and breeders become responsible, but I understand that the hon. Member’s concerns are about online platforms used by sellers; that is what the new clause covers. It may be helpful to outline the work that the Government are doing. We support the work of the pet advertising advisory group—PAAG—created in 2001, which aims to combat concerns regarding the irresponsible advertising of pets for sale, rehoming and exchange. It comprises various animal welfare organisations, trade associations and vet bodies. It has been engaging with online marketplaces in the UK to help them to distinguish appropriate adverts and take down those that are not.

DEFRA has backed a set of minimum standards developed by PAAG. Encouragingly, several of the UK’s largest classified websites have now agreed to meet those standards. I look forward to working closely with PAAG. I therefore ask the hon. Member not to move the new clause.