The British coalition government of Conservatives and Liberal Democracts published last week its “Programme for Government.” I have extracted from the section, “Environment, food and rural affairs,” the following pledges related to animal welfare.

The Government believes that we need to protect the environment for future generations, make our economy more environmentally sustainable, and improve our quality of life and well-being. We also believe that much more needs to be done to support the farming industry, protect biodiversity and encourage sustainable food production.

  • We will introduce measures to protect wildlife and promote green spaces and wildlife corridors in order to halt the loss of habitats and restore biodiversity.
  • We will reduce the regulatory burden on farmers by moving to a risk-based system of regulation, and will develop a system of extra support for hill farmers.
  • We will investigate ways to share with livestock keepers the responsibility for preparing for and dealing with outbreaks of disease.
  • As part of a package of measures, we will introduce a carefully managed and science-led policy of badger control in areas with high and persistent levels of bovine tuberculosis.
  • We will promote high standards of farm animal welfare. We will end the testing of household products on animals and work to reduce the use of animals in scientific research. We will promote responsible pet ownership by introducing effective codes of practice under the Animal Welfare Act, and will ensure that enforcement agencies target irresponsible owners of dangerous dogs.
  • We oppose the resumption of commercial whaling, will press for a ban on ivory sales, and will tackle the smuggling and illegal trade on wildlife through our new Border Police Force.
  • We will bring forward a motion on a free vote enabling the House of Commons to express its view on the repeal of the Hunting Act.

Some of these measures are welcomed; however,they are primarily pre-existing initiatives carried over from previous governments. Of significant concern is the commitment to badger culling and the repeal of the Hunting Act.

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