UK Parliament Passes Landmark Bill to Ban Live Animal Exports

UK Parliament Passes Landmark Bill to Ban Live Animal Exports
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On May 14, the Animal Welfare (Livestock Exports) Bill successfully passed its third reading in the UK Parliament, marking a significant milestone in animal welfare legislation. The bill, which awaits Royal Assent to become law, aims to prohibit the export of cattle, horses, sheep, goats, and pigs for fattening and slaughter from and through England, Wales, and Scotland.

This legislation stems from a speech delivered by UK King Charles on November 7, 2023, outlining the government’s agenda for the upcoming political year, which prominently featured the bill.

The decision to introduce such a bill follows a 2020 consultation that garnered overwhelming support for ending live animal exports. An impressive 87% of respondents agreed that livestock should not be subjected to the stresses of long-distance journeys for fattening and slaughter purposes.

For decades, millions of animals have endured grueling journeys lasting days or even weeks, often facing extreme temperatures and inadequate access to food and water. Furthermore, upon arrival, many animals find themselves in conditions that contravene UK welfare standards, such as confinement in veal crates where calves are unable to move freely.

Once enacted, the bill will position the UK as the first European country to ban live animal exports, joining the ranks of nations like New Zealand, Australia, and Brazil, which have either abolished or committed to phasing out this trade. This move may also exert pressure on the EU, currently the largest exporter of live animals, ahead of upcoming elections.

Campaigners, including Compassion for World Farming and Kent Action Against Live Exports (KAALE), have hailed the bill’s passage as a triumph for animal welfare. Dame Joanna Lumley, a patron of Compassion for World Farming, expressed gratitude towards the government for addressing this long-standing issue and praised supporters for their unwavering dedication.

Yvonne Birchall, representing KAALE, recounted the years of protests outside UK ports, where activists witnessed animals being loaded onto vessels bound for Europe, describing the experience as “heartbreaking.”

Iain Green, Director of Animal Aid, voiced hope that the bill would swiftly become law to prevent further suffering among millions of animals. He paid tribute to Jill Phipps, an animal rights advocate who tragically lost her life while protesting live veal exports in 1995, emphasizing that this victory belonged to her and countless others who tirelessly campaigned for change.

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