I am currently receiving a large number of emails from constituents who are concerned about the plans to diminish our food standards as the UK Government seeks trade deals in the post-Brexit era. Inherent in these concerns are fears over animal welfare.
Recently I participated in a debate on the prohibition of caging animals. The caging of animals instinctively feels wrong, and images of huge colonies of battery farmed hens which we have all seen, are horrifying and unnatural.
This debate came only a week after The Animals and Wildlife (Penalties, Protections and Powers) (Scotland) Bill was debated in the Scottish Parliament, which has been warmly welcomed by the Scottish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA). This Bill will speed up process of making permanent arrangements to take animals into possession to protect their welfare and will not require a court order to do so. I was also pleased to point out that SNP MEPs voted to demand new laws to protect animals, and called on national governments to roll back on intensive battery farms and financially reward farmers who use pens instead.
Consumers are very important at driving change when it comes to animal welfare, with 60% of eggs laid in Scotland now being free-range, and Morrisons becoming the first major supermarket to sell only free-range eggs. In the end, as consumers, we can help to drive the change we wish to see. This will, in the end, improve the quality of the lives of our animals. A ban on the caging of animals would be a hugely significant step in improving animal welfare.
However, The UK Government’s Internal Market Bill threatens the progress made in the Scottish Parliament on this issue, and the Tories have shown they cannot be trusted to protect animal welfare and food standards, having consistently voted against protecting them from being lowered in post-Brexit trade deals.
You can watch my contribution below.