We are united in the Government’s commitment to upholding our world leading standards in animal welfare. The Government’s Action Plan for Animal Welfare sets out the Government’s vision to introduce a range of world-leading reforms to improve the welfare and conservation of animals at home and abroad.
Fur farming has been banned in the UK for 20 years. As well as this, there are already restrictions on some skin and fur products which may never be legally imported into the UK. The UK has established controls on fur from endangered species protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and does not allow imports of fur from wild animals caught using methods which are non-compliant with international humane trapping standards.
I appreciate that there is considerable support for banning all imports of fur products. However, while there are existing import restrictions, it is still possible to import other fur from abroad. I therefore welcome the Government’s decision to seek views on animal welfare through a recent call for evidence. This will be published soon and will be used to inform any future decisions on the fur trade.
I know that the analysis of recent tests conducted on a fake fur fabric commissioned by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) showed that the fake fur fabric met only one of the five requirements to be considered as a viable alternative for ceremonial caps. While it met the basic standard for water absorption, I understand that it showed unacceptable rates of water shedding and performed poorly on visual assessment. As the ceremonial cap is worn throughout the year and in all weathers, I am aware that the Ministry of Defence has no plans to take this man-made fabric forward.
Turning to the import of foie gras, I am clear that the production of foie gras from ducks or geese using force feeding raises serious welfare concerns. I am glad that this method of production has been banned in the UK for over 15 years following the introduction of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 which brought forward a legal requirement to provide for an animal’s welfare needs, such as supplying a suitable diet and protecting the animal from injury and disease. Under this legislation, it is a criminal offence to cause any unnecessary suffering to an animal. I would like to assure you that ministers are united in their commitment to upholding our world-leading standards in animal welfare.
Regarding the sale and import of foie gras, I welcome that the Government’s Action Plan for Animal Welfare sets out the Government’s vision to introduce a range of world-leading reforms to improve the welfare and conservation of animals at home and abroad. Through this Action Plan, my ministerial colleagues have committed to building a clear evidence base to inform decisions on the import or sale of foie gras.