Fringe Box



Animal Welfare Act – The First Enacted Private Members Bill By a Guildford MP

Published on: 20 Sep, 2023
Updated on: 20 Sep, 2023

In what is reported to be the first Private Members Bill to have been successfully taken through Parliament and passed by a Guildford MP in recorded history the Animals (Low-Welfare Activities Abroad) Act passed into law yesterday (September 18).

A  young elephant, hobbled, undergoing training in Sumatra.Wikimedia

The legislation – which was introduced Angela Richardson and Lord Black of Brentwood, supported by the government – allows the government to bring forward a ban on the advertising and sale of specific unethical activities abroad where animals are kept in captivity or confinement, subjected to cruel and brutal training methods, forced to take selfies or are ridden, drugged and de-clawed.

A spokesperson for Ms Richardson’s private office said: “According to our research, this is the first Private Members Bill to have been successfully taken through Parliament and passed by a Guildford MP in recorded history.”

Independent evidence on the treatment of animals used in the tourist trade shows they are often subjected to harsh treatment to ensure obedience. A study by Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit published in 2015 concluded that up to 550,000 animals worldwide suffered for tourist entertainment.

Brutal training methods are often used to “break in” Asian elephants to make them safe to be near tourists and partake in unnatural activities like playing football, painting, tourist rides and excessive bathing.

Angela Richardson speaking in the House of Commons.

Conservative MP Richardson said: “I am thrilled that the Animals (Low Welfare Activities Abroad) Act has received Royal Assent this week.

“This legislation is a world first and will work towards greater protection of vulnerable animals in low welfare settings from being exploited as tourist experiences.”

Duncan McNair, CEO of Save The Asian Elephants, said: “The measures, resolutely implemented and enforced, will help protect endangered and vulnerable species across the world from extreme exploitation, harm and death in tourism. They will also save many lives of humans too, turned on by maddened elephants and other creatures provoked by torture.

“Save The Asian Elephants is hugely appreciative of all who have supported our campaign for these changes, of our government, our Parliament across the party divide, the charity sector and the public. All must now set our hand to starting the transition from brutal and dangerous practices to ethical sanctuaries and wildlife reserves.”

The Act – applicable in England and Northern Ireland – means the government, through secondary legislation, can ban the advertising and offering for sale of these cruel experiences and protect these special creatures from unnecessary harm.

The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) already has published guidelines and a list of activities which they classify as unacceptable. According to the guidance reputable and responsible tour operators should not be offering activities that support poor animal welfare.

This new legislation is part of a wider Government effort to build on existing world-leading animal welfare standards. Since publishing the Action Plan for Animal Welfare in 2021 we have brought in new laws to recognise animals sentience, introduced tougher penalties for animal cruelty offences, brought forward a ban on glue traps, and introduced tougher penalties for hare coursing.

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