Labour unveils raft of animal welfare proposals

A ban on exporting animals for slaughter, an end to the badger cull and expanding affordable vet care for pet owners on low incomes have been proposed by Labour.

A 50-point animal welfare draft policy document also sets out plans to strengthen the Hunting Act to prevent illegal fox hunting, and enshrine the principle that animals are sentient in law as the UK leaves the European Union.

As well as working with organisations such as PDSA to expand accessibility to affordable vet care, the proposals include exploring the potential for elderly and disabled people who move into care homes to keep their pets.

Other measures proposed by Labour include mandatory labelling of domestic and imported meat including country of origin and production and slaughter methods, as it seeks to set out its position as the "party of animal welfare".

Proposed policies also include:

- Consulting landlords on giving tenants a default right to own pets unless there is evidence they are causing a nuisance;

- Requiring motorists to report accidents where an animal has been injured;

- Reviewing animal testing to improve practices, limit animal suffering and increase transparency;

- Establishing an independent zoo inspectorate to draw up revised standards of animal welfare;

- Designing post-Brexit farm subsidies to move away from intensive factory farming and poor environmental practices and ending routine preventative use of antibiotics for livestock;

- A total ban on imports of foie gras;

- Prohibiting third-party sales of puppies and tackling puppy smuggling by reintroducing rabies tests before entry to the UK;

- Introducing a "blue belt" to protect and enhance the marine environment around the UK and its Overseas Territories;

- A total ban on ivory trading, measures on the fur trade and curbs on hunting trophy imports.

Shadow environment secretary Sue Hayman said: "From bringing in the ban on fox hunting to tightening the rules on the transport of live animals, Labour has always been consistent in our leadership on matters of animal welfare.

"Today we're making proposals for real, long-term progress.

"Our vision is one where no animal is made to suffer unnecessary pain and we continue to drive up standards and practice in line with the most recent advances and understanding."

She said: "With new trade deals on the horizon and the UK no longer subject to EU-wide rules on animal welfare, we want to ensure there is a comprehensive legislative agenda in place so that the UK becomes a world leader on animal rights."

The proposals have been backed by the League Against Cruel Sports, conservation charity WWF And Compassion in World Farming.

Conservative MP Steve Double said: "Labour are belatedly playing catch-up with the huge progress made by this Government on animal welfare.

"However, Labour wouldn't even be able to deliver some of these promises because they want to keep following EU rules after Brexit.

"From introducing mandatory CCTV into slaughterhouses to increasing the maximum sentence for animal cruelty 10-fold, the Conservatives will continue taking the action needed to ensure animals receive the proper protection they deserve."