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CDB "Animal Welfare Bill" CAMPAIGN

Initial DEFRA Consultation Letter

"Animal Welfare Bill" CAMPAIGN

Return to main DEFRA Campaign Page

Initial DEFRA consultation paper

CDB Submission to DEFRA

DEFRA Press Release
30 April 2002

CDB Press Release
2 May 2002

Guide to lobbying

UK Vets For Docking Site

"Reform of Veterinary Surgeons Act" CAMPAIGN

CDB submission to DEFRA

The DEFRA site can be found at under "consultations"

about 3/4 down on the page

In case you cannot find the DEFRA site, the consultation letter is reproduced below:


1. Ministers wish to consider whether to introduce an Animal Welfare Bill to consolidate and bring up-to-date the legislation that exists in England and Wales to promote the welfare of farmed, domestic and captive animals. The purpose of this consultation is to find out what you would like to see included in such a Bill. The consultation does not seek to deal with the issue of hunting with dogs, animals in zoos, dangerous and unruly dogs legislation or the Council of Europe Convention on Pet Animals and we are not seeking views on them in this consultation exercise. Nor does it seek to deal with the welfare of animals in scientific research: that remains a Home Office responsibility.

The legislation that is being reviewed

2. This review is concerned only with legislation which might apply to animals kept by man for enjoyment, sport, companionship or farming purposes. There are separate consultations underway on the Dangerous Wild Animals Act and also in implementation of the Zoos Directive. Please also bear in mind that much farm animal welfare ground is covered by EU legislation.

3. The general principles of animal welfare are set out in the Protection of Animals Acts. The first Protection of Animals Act was passed in 1911. Since then there have been nine amendments to the Act. The Act covers domestic or captive animals. This includes farm animals. The Act makes it an offence to cause any unnecessary suffering to an animal.

4. Although the Act has been amended over the last 90 years it remains in many respects a product of the nineteenth century. This is reflected in the prominence that it gives to such things as forbidding the use of dogs for draught purposes (pulling carts, carriages etc) and the regulation of knacker's yards.

5. The laws protecting domestic or captive animals that we are specifically looking to consolidate and modernise are:

Protection of Animals Act 1911

Performing Animals (Regulation) Act 1925

Pet Animals Act 1951

Cockfighting Act 1952

Abandonment of Animals Act 1960

Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963

Riding Establishments Acts 1964 and 1970

Breeding of Dogs Acts 1973 and 1991

Protection Against Cruel Tethering Act 1988

Breeding and Sale of Dogs (Welfare) Act 1999

Why consolidate and modernise the legislation?

6. Since 1911 there has been an increasing public awareness that an animal does not suffer solely as the result of physical abuse caused by deliberate acts or neglect. There is equal concern about the quality of an animal's life and the need to have in place legislation that provides for animals' physiological and other needs.

7. Although it is felt by at least some animal welfare organisations that these needs have to an extent been addressed in the laws now in place for farm livestock, animals in transit, animals in scientific research and zoological collections, there appears to be a belief that the legislation for domestic or captive animals remains confusing, unwieldy and outdated.

8. The Defra ministerial team considers that these concerns need to be addressed and that there is considerable scope to modernise and improve the legislation. Following the creation of Defra most of the animal welfare laws are now under one roof. This provides a unique opportunity to make progress towards the consolidation and modernisation of these laws. We wish to start this process by consulting widely with organisations and individuals about the welfare of domestic or captive animals. This will give us the opportunity to hear what changes you would like to see.

What types of issues do we expect to be raised in the consultation?

9. We want the consultation on domestic or captive animals to be as wide ranging as possible and, apart from hunting, the control of dogs, the use of animals in scientific research and the Council of Europe Convention which are excluded, no limits have been set to the areas that can be suggested as suitable for inclusion in the Bill.

10. The other issues that have recently featured in correspondence to Defra from animal welfare organisations and the general public and on which we would expect to receive comment include:

Animals in circuses

Should there be a licensing system for circus winter quarters? What provision should be made for animals performing in circuses?

Pet fairs

Should there be greater regulatory control over public and private pet fairs?

Pet shops

Should the minimum age at which children can buy pets be raised?

The welfare of captive pheasants that are being bred for sport shooting

Does the existing law provide adequate protection?

Keeping exotic or dangerous animals as pets

In recent years there has been an increase in the number of exotic or dangerous animals kept as pets. Sometimes their owners do not understand the type of care that these animals need or that they have the potential to inflict serious injury or cause illness. Should there be greater controls over the buying and selling of exotic or dangerous animals?

Tail Docking

Should the docking of tails be banned?

The creation of a new offence of 'likely to cause unnecessary suffering'

Does the requirement in the 1911 Act to show that an animal has suffered before an offence is committed meet present day needs?

Increasing the powers available to the police when investigating allegations

Should the powers of entry, search and seizure in the 1911 Act be extended or changed?

Powers of arrest

Should the power of arrest in the 1911 Act be extended to include a person who, without reasonable excuse, is present when animals are placed together for the purpose of fighting each other?

Increased sentences

Are the maximum sentences provided for in the 1911 Act adequate?

Increasing the time allowed for proceedings to be brought before a court

Should the time allowed in the 1911 Act for proceedings to be brought before a court be increased from six months to two years?

Providing the Secretary of State with the power to make Codes of Recommendation to promote animal welfare

Should the Secretary of State be empowered to make Codes of Recommendation to cover issues such as the tethering of horses or the care of exotic animals?

Animal sanctuaries

Should animal sanctuaries be licensed?

Livery Stables/Yards

Should Livery stables/yards be licensed?

Using electronic prods for training

Should electronic prods be banned?

The mis-use of bio-technology in animal breeding

Science now makes it possible to produce genetically modified animals This may be necessary for scientific research or medical purposes. However, should it be an offence for breeders to produce an animal which will not be used for scientific research or medical purposes that is likely to be genetically defective in some way?

11. This list is not exhaustive and the topics have not been placed in any order of priority.

Who is being consulted?

12. This letter is being sent to animal welfare organisations, representatives of those who use animals for commercial purposes and representatives of local authorities, the courts and the police. A list of the organisations that are being consulted is at the end of this letter. The letter will also be placed on the Defra web site.

When is the Animal Welfare Bill likely to be considered by Parliament?

13. The purpose of this consultation is to seek views on what an Animal Welfare Bill could cover. It is therefore the first step in a lengthy process. The comments that we receive in response to this consultation will be analysed and assessed. Ministers will then decide on whether to proceed and, if so, a draft Bill will be prepared.


14. Comments on the proposals or any questions that you want to make should be addressed to Phil Alder, Branch F, Animal Welfare Division, Defra, room 606, 1A Page Street, London SW1P 4PQ. Telephone: 020 7904 6756, Fax: 020 7904 6961 or email

Responses should be sent to Branch F by no later than 30 April 2002.

15. Representative groups when replying should provide a summary of the groups and organisations they represent.


16. Responses may be made public unless confidentiality is specifically asked for.