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CDB "Animal Welfare Bill" CAMPAIGN

Animal Welfare Bill Updates

"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

Update March 2007

The Animal Welfare Act 2006 comes into force in Wales on 31st March 2007, England on 6th April 2007 and Scotland from 30th April 2007. Tail docking will be effectively banned from the above dates. An exemption for certain working dogs only applies to those being docked in England or Wales. The exemption appears unworkable as so few vets will be likely to continue to dock under its administrative requirements and pressure from the RCVS, who continue to discipline vets who dock within the law. The CDB cannot and will not condone law breaking, so sadly concludes that those UK breeders who wish to continue breeding any of the traditonally docked breeds, abides by the law and leaves tails undocked from the above dates, or stops breeding.

Draft Statutory Instrument Released

The Docking of Working Dogs' Tails (England) Regulations 2007

The DEFRA consultations have concluded and the Draft Statutory Instrument has been released. The Regulations have now been laid before Parliament in draft form for approval. They will be debated in both Houses in due course, and are intended to come into force on 6 April 2007, they can be read below;


Update November 2006

Royal Assent was granted on 8 November and the Bill becomes the Animal Welfare Act 2006 which will be enacted on 6 April 2007

Commons Consideration of Lords Amendments took place on 6 November

The Third Reading took place in the House of Lords on 1 November

The Report stage in the House of Lords took place on 23 October

Update 19 July 2006

As of today, there are no formal moves listed for the Animal Welfare Bill between now and 13th October, so the Bill will sit in the Lords at least until that date.

The Report Stage is next and the Third Reading usually follows almost immediatly. Following the Third Reading, the Bill will then be passed back to the Commons.

Update 24 May 2006

Tail Docking was "debated" in the Grand Committee 23rd may for just 30 minutes. The outcome was that there should be no changes to the Bill as proposed by the Commons so far as tail docking is concerned.

The Grand Committee ran out of time on the 24th and set the date of 14th June to continue discussing other parts of the Bill. Once the Grand Committee has finished, the Bill then goes to report stage where other Lords might be inclined to debate the matter further. The Report Stages will be the last chance for any Lord to raise issue with the currently proposed Bill. The Report Stage is unlikely to happen before the first week in July.

CDB members are urged to contact Lords from whom they have previously received a positive response, to encourage them again to raise and support the status quo as originally supported by the Government.

The full text of the Grand Committee debate on tail docking can be downloaded in pdf format below:

pdf version of Grand Committee meeting

Update 4 May 2006

It has been announced that day one of the Lords Committee will be TUESDAY 23 MAY – 3.30PM and day two on WEDNESDAY 24 MAY – 3.45PM

It is not known at this stage if matters will be concluded in those two days or if further sittings will be required.

Update 28 April 2006

The AWB has received its first and second reading in the Lords and now goes to Committee. On 26th April the agenda of the "Grand Committee" was agreed.

The Committee has unrestricted membership - all Lords are free to attend and participate. A Grand Committee works in the same way as Committee of the Whole House, but no votes can take place. This procedure is frequently used for less contentious bills with a view to saving time.

As of today's date, the date of the Grand Committee has not been announced. It certainly cannot be before 4th May and it does not appear provisionally up to 19th May (but this could change). The Lords does not sit between 25th May and 5th June or between 25th July and 9th October.

Lords Stages and Amendments

 The legislative process in the House of Lords is broadly similar to that in the House of Commons. Important differences are:

(a) after Second Reading, bills are usually committed to a Committee of the whole House.

(b) there is no guillotine and debate on amendments is unrestricted.

(c) amendments can be made at Third Reading as well as at Committee and Consideration stage.

The Lords and Commons must finally agree a text of each bill. If the Lords have not amended a Commons bill they inform the Commons of the fact.

If the Lords amend a Commons bill, their amendments are printed and considered by the Commons. Here, the Commons can do three things – firstly, they may agree to the Lords amendments, secondly, they may agree to them with amendments, or, thirdly, they may disagree to them.

If the Commons agree to the Lords amendments, but with amendments of their own, they ask the Lords to agree to those amendments. If they disagree to the Lords amendments, they send a Message giving the reasons for their disagreement and the Lords consider the matter further.

Update 14 March 2006

The Animal Welfare Bill received its third reading in the Commons today, and now moves to the Lords.

Update 9 January 2006

The Second Reading debate of the Animal Welfare Bill is scheduled for the afternoon of 10th January. This will be the first time the Bill has been debated on the floor of the House. The Second Reading is high profile, but the debate will only deal with the principles of the Bill - this is not the point when decisions are taken.

The Animal Welfare Bill has now entered its Committee stage, and will return for discussion by the full House of Commons within the next few weeks. While the Government has indicated that it would prefer there to continue to be freedom of choice over the docking of dogs’ tails, it plans to leave the final decision to Parliament. No date for a vote on docking has yet been set, but it could be before the end of February.

Update 15 October 2005

The Bill, published yesterday, will ban ‘mutilation’ of animals, but will allow for a range of specified exemptions which will be listed in subsequent Regulations. Details of these Regulations have not yet been published. However, in the Regulatory Impact Assessment which accompanies the Bill, the Government has stated: “Sincere views were held by those who both support and oppose a ban on cosmetic docking and our preference is that there should continue to be freedom of choice.”

We warmly support this statement, and we have expressed our support for it directly to the Animal Welfare Minister, Ben Bradshaw MP. Even the veterinary world cannot agree on the welfare arguments associated with docking, and the available scientific opinion is inconclusive. It is absolutely right, therefore, that breeders, owners and handlers of our traditionally docked breeds should be able, in consultation with their veterinary advisors, to exercise their own judgement in the matter of docking.

However, Defra has indicated that the docking issue is one for Parliament to decide. That means it is absolutely essential that MPs are fully aware of the weight of opinion within the dog world over this important matter.

What happens next?

The Bill will have a Second Reading (i.e. a full debate) in the House of Commons, and will then go into Committee, where amendments may be tabled. It is then presented to the Commons a final time in its amended state (Third Reading) before it goes to the Lords, where all these steps are repeated. When the Lords have finished with it, the Bill then goes back to the Commons for Royal Assent.

If readers have not written to their MP on this subject we ask them to do so now, and if they have written in the past, then we urge them to do so again, and to do so immediately. A debate in Parliament is close at hand. MPs’ constituency addresses may be found in the local telephone directory. Otherwise they may be contacted at the House of Commons, London W1A 1AA

Freedom of choice is very precious. It has enabled generations of breeders to produce and develop their own breeds in the way that they want to, with the dogs’ welfare and best interests at heart. We want that state of affairs to continue, so that our traditional breeds may flourish.

Make no mistake, loss of the freedom for breeders to make their own choice over docking would prove devastating for some of our best loved dog breeds, but history has taught us that freedom is easily lost. Please write now to your MP. The future is in your hands.

The press release from DEFRA can be found here:

10 th October 2005

Scottish docking ban ‘will stir up anger’

Scottish Ministers appear intent on forcing through a ban on the docking of dogs’ tails, despite the fact that the weight of opinion favours maintenance of the status quo, says the Council of Docked Breeds.

Clause 18 of the Animal Health and Welfare ( Scotland ) Bill, which was introduced to the Scottish Parliament last week, prohibits the ‘carrying out of a procedure, otherwise than for the purpose of medical treatment of the animal, which involves interference with the sensitive tissues or bone structure of the animal’. The Scottish Executive has confirmed that it is their intention to prohibit the docking of dogs’ tails ‘for cosmetic and breed standard reasons’.

However, the docking of ‘working (gun or sniffer) dogs’ is expected to be exempt from the prohibition under the terms of a statutory instrument which is yet to be published.

“Despite the huge body of opinion, both from the dog world and elsewhere, in favour of freedom of choice over docking, Scottish Ministers are apparently determined to force through this ban,” said Ginette Elliott, Secretary of the Council of Docked Breeds. “The Bill is a great disappointment to us, as it will be to our many Scottish members and to the docked breed owners and breeders with whom we have worked so closely over these past few months,” said Mrs Elliott.

“The Scottish Executive clearly recognise that their decision will be a highly controversial one, and they can be quite certain that they are stirring up a great deal of anger amongst the dog world in Scotland .

“So far as the proposed exemption is concerned, we await the detailed wording of the Statutory Instrument. However, the loose indication that it will exempt working ‘gun and sniffer dogs’ poses as many questions as it answers. For example, will working terriers be exempt, and what about dogs used for falconry? So far as ‘sniffer dogs’ are concerned, what exactly is a dog expected to sniff before it benefits from the exemption?” commented Mrs Elliott.

She urged Scottish docked breed owners and breeders to contact their MSPs immediately and register the strength of feeling against the docking ban.

Update 16 October 2002

The press release from DEFRA can be found here:

The analysis of the replies to the consultation paper can be found here:

The one sided "Review of the scientific aspects and veterinery opinions " paper
is reproduced as a pdf file below the original link for you to view or download.
The paper is riddled with inaccuracy and inconsistency. It relies on comparisons with farm animals
and highly partisan opinions which have not been subject to proper scientific peer review,
and fails even to understand the current law on docking

click to view pdf file

Dog owners have reacted with dismay to an announcement by DEFRA Minister Elliot Morley that he intends to introduce regulations to ban the docking of dogs' tails. The legislation is proposed as part of a new Animal Welfare Bill, and follows a public consultation conducted earlier this year.

However, Mr Morley appears to have paid scant attention to views expressed by those who responded to the consultation process:

  • More than half of the 33 vets who responded on docking said it should not be banned
  • All 113 dog breed clubs which responded, representing 12,744 members, said docking should not be banned
  • 1590 members of the public commented on docking, 82% of whom opposed a ban on docking

It is very disappointing indeed that Mr Morley has not taken more seriously the strongly held views of so many dog owners, breeders and veterinarians, and is intent on a ban.

The 'scientific' evidence which DEFRA offered to support a docking ban was riddled with inaccuracy and inconsistency. It relied on comparisons with farm animals and highly partisan opinions which had not been subject to proper scientific peer review, and failed even to understand the current law on docking.

We welcomed the acknowledgement by the Government that there are occasions when tail docking is necessary for welfare reasons.

Mr Morley has said that these will be dealt with on a case by case basis. We are aware of many cases in which the failure to dock has resulted in serious tail damage, and there will be many situations in which it may be anticipated that dogs will be exposed to potential future trauma which could avoided by docking.

We will be arguing strongly for the maintenance of the docking option and the right of dog breeders and their veterinary advisers to decide on those breeds and those situations.

No date has been set for the proposed new legislation.

Update 1 May 2002

The Council of Docked Breeds has responding robustly to a Government consultation paper which suggests a ban on tail docking as one element in a possible future Animal Welfare Bill.

The CDB brought this consultation paper to the attention of the media and its members in January 2002 and urged members to get writing by 30 April. The CDB has made a detailed representations to Government and was pleased to hear that over 1200 owners, breeders and handlers of Britain’s 59 docked breeds also responded directly to the animal welfare officials at DEFRA with their own submissions.

You can read the full submission from the CDB here.

Update 2nd May 2002

To be or not to be?

Quote from initial consultation letter from DEFRA 2nd January 2002:

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.

Then on 30 April 2002 the day the consultation period closed, a press release from DEFRA quoted Mr Morley:

"Now would be a good time to look again at the Convention. It is too early to speculate on where we go from here - but a review, tying in with our own consultation would seem logical."

The Convention was one of four matters which was expressly excluded from the Animal Welfare consultation. If Ministers were considering signing up to the Convention, why expressly preclude it from a public response?

No doubt Ministers knew that the advice they would have received would not have been to their liking.