Real Fur Sales

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 5:40 pm on 14th September 2021.

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Photo of Rebecca Pow Rebecca Pow The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 5:40 pm, 14th September 2021

Of course I will, Ms Rees. I thank my hon. Friend Christian Wakeford for bringing this debate, and all other hon. Members who have spoken today. It is obvious from the speeches and all those interventions that there is great strength of feeling on this topic. I spoke on it myself as a Back Bencher when I was in the all-party parliamentary group for animal welfare. Similarly, the support for the early-day motion that my hon. Friend Tracey Crouch has tabled shows the strength of feeling.

We know that we are a nation of animal lovers. We were the first country in the world to pass legislation to protect animals, and we have developed a lasting legacy of improving and enhancing animal health and welfare. I do not think anyone in this room would deny that. Since 2010 we have banned the use of conventional battery cages for laying hens, made CCTV mandatory in slaughterhouses, modernised our licensing system for dog breeding and pet sales, introduced the popular Finn’s Law, banned the commercial third-party sales of puppies and kittens and led work to implement humane trapping standards. However, we do have the opportunity to do more and go further. Animal welfare is an absolute priority of the Government, as I think that raft of measures demonstrates.

We have outlined our aims and ambitions for improving animal welfare in our action plan, published on 12 May. We have introduced landmark legislation in this Session that will recognise animals as sentient beings in UK law, and we are establishing an expert committee to ensure that animal sentience is considered as part of policy making. We have launched the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill, which will introduce new powers to crack down on puppy smuggling, a ban on the live export of animals for fattening and slaughter, a ban on keeping primates as pets, and new powers for police to provide greater protection to livestock from dangerous and out of control dogs. I think Members will agree that it is an impressive list.

As Members know, fur farming has been banned in England and Wales since 2000 and in Scotland and Northern Ireland since 2002. There are also restrictions on some skin and fur products that cannot be legally imported into the UK. Those include fur and products from cats and dogs and sealskin products from commercial hunts. There is a small exemption there for subsistence seal farming by individual groups. We have established controls on fur from endangered species protected by the convention on international trade in endangered species—CITES—and we do not allow imports of fur from wild animals caught using methods that are not compliant with international humane trapping standards.

However, it is still possible to import other types of fur from abroad. In our action plan for animal welfare, the Government committed to exploring further action in this area, which we are free to do now that we have left the EU. I wanted to stress that point particularly, and it has been mentioned by a number of Members today. Bear in mind, as well, that some nations in the EU still have fur and mink farming and so on. We are building a strong evidence base on which to inform any future policy, noting information from a range of sources, including industry associated with the fur trade and notable retailers who have recently gone fur free. A list was mentioned just now, but they include the likes of Adidas, H&M, Lacoste, Mango, Marks & Spencer, charities and other organisations, as well as a range of fashion designers including Stella McCartney, Vivienne Westwood, Prada, Armani, Burberry and Chanel. I am sure lots of hon. Members and hon. Friends are wearing some of those brands today, because it is Second Hand September; I am.