7 January 2002
Government targets animal welfare

By Adrienne Francis

THE government has unveiled wide-ranging plans to tighten up animal welfare rules, which it believes are out of date.

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is calling for submissions on 11 animal welfare acts by 30 April, 2002.

Animal Welfare Minister Elliot Morley said the department planned to consult widely to reflect the needs of the 21st century.

“This will be a lengthy process, but we need to get it right so that any resulting changes stand the test of time,” he said.

“We need to have legislation that protects animals against physical abuse, [and] recognises quality of life and physiological needs.”

Farmers, animal welfare groups, local authority representatives, legal experts and the police are being consulted during the review process.

The creation of a new offence of “likely to cause unnecessary suffering”, has been suggested by Defra.

The department is also considering the possibility of a new animal welfare bill, although a final decision will follow the consultation.

The existing Protection of Animals Act dating back to 1911 covers domestic and captive animals, such as livestock on farms.