The Scottish Animal Welfare Commission published its report on the welfare of greyhounds used for racing in Scotland on 9 March. The Government welcomes the publication of that report and we are currently considering the recommendations.
Further to that, we will shortly be launching a consultation on extending the animal licensing framework that was introduced in 2021; that will include greyhound racing and other animal care services. The responses to the consultation, along with the views of the Rural Affairs and Islands Committee, which is currently considering greyhound racing, and the Scottish Animal Welfare Commission’s report will inform our next steps regarding greyhound racing in Scotland.
The cabinet secretary will be aware that Shawfield stadium in my constituency is the only licensed greyhound racing track in Scotland, and no racing has taken place there since the start of the Covid pandemic. Given my concern about the welfare of greyhounds that have been raced at Shawfield previously, I hope that there is no return to racing.
Can the cabinet secretary confirm exactly when the consultation on extending the licensing legislation to animal care services will be launched and whether, as part of the consultation, the Government will consider a phase-out ban on greyhound racing?
I thank the member for asking the question and highlighting that important subject. Màiri McAllan, who was the Minister for Environment, Biodiversity and Land Reform at the time, confirmed in a debate in October last year that the licensing of racing would be considered as part of the animal care services consultation. On the timescale, we hope to bring forward the consultation shortly.
The committee is currently considering greyhound racing in Scotland, and it is important that we consider the evidence that it has taken. I believe that it has had a number of evidence sessions so far on the topic. Of course, the Scottish Government will carefully consider any recommendations that the committee makes before we set out our next steps. On the consultation, we welcome responses from everyone with an interest, and we will consider the next steps once we have completed that exercise and received the committee’s report.