Real Fur Sales

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 5:30 pm on 14th September 2021.

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Photo of Martyn Day Martyn Day Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Public Health and Primary Care) 5:30 pm, 14th September 2021

It is a pleasure to take part in the debate, and I am grateful to Christian Wakeford for securing it, for the way in which he opened it and for his activity on this issue to date, leading up to it.

This has been a genuinely positive debate, with speakers from all parties in the House in common cause on banning fur imports. With regard to fur sales, my own attitude can quite simply be summed up as, “I just dinnae like it”, and I wholeheartedly agree that fur sales should be banned.

The process of fur farming can too often lead to unacceptable and cruel conditions for far too many animals. As fur imports in the UK are currently a reserved matter, it is incumbent on the UK Government to introduce a ban on the import of fur products. I know that view is shared by many of my constituents and indeed by many people throughout these isles. Indeed, several opinion polls in recent years have shown that a ban on fur imports would be overwhelmingly supported by the public.

So it will come as no surprise that I was delighted to be one of more than 100 MPs and peers to have signed the cross-party letter to the Environment Secretary organised by the hon. Member for Bury South, and to have been a signatory both to early-day motion 193, on “The fur trade in the UK”, which was tabled on 14 June 2021, and early-day motion 267, on “Real fur imports”, which was tabled on 9 March 2020. Indeed, many of my colleagues in the Scottish National party have also supported these calls. Animal welfare is an issue that we take extremely seriously and we support the steps to strengthen animal welfare legislation in the Scottish Government’s programme for government. As I have said, international trade is a reserved matter, and until we have the power to determine this matter for ourselves in Scotland we will continue to urge the UK Government to make the right decision, to listen to the people and to morally end the import of new fur products.

As we have heard, fur farming across the UK was banned in 2003 because of the related cruelty and suffering, and the importation of cat and dog fur has been illegal since December 2008. The import, export and sale of cat and dog fur, and of seal pelts, is already banned in the European Union. However, the UK Government continue to be guilty by proxy of that cruelty and suffering, with the equivalent of fur from around two million animals being imported to the UK each year.

Investigations show that the physical and mental abuse suffered by animals kept in barbaric conditions, which the industry professes to be humane, include the use of leghold traps and keeping animals for their entire lives in cages that are 1 metre square. Their deaths are equally horrific, with animals being beaten to death or even skinned alive, as we have heard from a number of speakers today.

Banning fur farming across the UK was world-leading and, with almost 20 European countries following suit, it showed what good leadership can achieve. The UK Government’s response to an e-petition calling for a fur import ban back in 2018 said that such a ban would be unlikely while Britain was a member of the EU. Now, it will not have escaped anyone’s attention that we are no longer a member of the EU, so I wonder whether the Minister can tell us what excuse the UK Government have now. Even the former chief executive of the British Fur Trade Association and director of standards at the International Fur Federation accepts that nothing

“would ever change the reality of these animals being stuck in tiny wire cages”.

In conclusion, although we have missed the chance to lead the world by banning the sale of fur across the UK—Israel has passed an amendment to its wildlife protection law to ban the sale of wild animal fur from any source and so has the state of California—can we not at least be among the front-runners in bringing an end to this brutal and inhumane industry?

I look forward to hearing the Minister’s response.