The DEFRA site can be found at
about 3/4 down on the page
In case you cannot find the DEFRA site, the consultation letter is reproduced
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?
Should there be greater regulatory control over public and private pet
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?
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
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?
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
Should animal sanctuaries be licensed?
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 AW_Consultation@defra.gsi.gov.uk
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