UK Politics

Labour makes animal welfare election pledges

A badger Image copyright PA

Labour has pledged to fight animal cruelty by measures including a ban on wild animals in circuses and ending the "inhumane and ineffective" badger cull.

The policies, unveiled ten years after the ban on hunting with dogs in England and Wales, include a vow to reduce cruelty on shooting estates.

Labour also promised to defend the Hunting Act, saying the Conservatives might legalise hunting with dogs.

The Tories are committed to a free vote on the issue in the next Parliament.

Shadow environment secretary Maria Eagle said: "The last Labour government achieved much to end the cruel and unnecessary suffering of animals: the banning of hunting with dogs, securing an end to cosmetic testing on animals, banning fur farming and introducing the Animal Welfare Act.

"The next Labour government will continue to lead the way on animal welfare, starting with six key commitments that build on our previous achievements at home and abroad."

Labour pledged to:

  • review the rules on breeding and selling dogs and cats
  • ban wild animals in circuses
  • end the badger cull, which has been taking place in parts of Gloucestershire and Somerset for the last two years in an effort to stop the spread of bovine TB
  • defend the Hunting Act
  • reduce animal cruelty on shooting estates
  • lead the fight against global animal cruelty

Further details of the policies have not yet been released.

Party leader Ed Miliband said: "Our Labour values tell us that we have a moral duty to treat the animals we share our planet with in a humane and compassionate way.

"No other major political party has such a proven track record of decisive action for animals at home, on farms and in the wild."

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Since the 2005 legislation, hunts have had to follow a pre-laid trail instead of live foxes

Claire Bass, of Humane Society International, said: "We urge all parties to make acting for animals a priority, and encourage voters to ask their candidates for their views on animal welfare."

The 2010 Conservative manifesto said the Hunting Act was "unworkable" and promised a free vote by MPs on its repeal.

The party says it remains committed to this if it wins a parliamentary majority in May.

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