100 Days in Government: 100 Days of Failing Animals

Posted on the 18th August 2010

Since the Coalition government came to power, there has been a significant erosion of animal protection measures on several fronts, according to animal protection group, Animal Aid.

Some of the steps taken – such as markedly reducing veterinary cover in ‘livestock’ markets – have fallen under the convenient banner of ‘cost-cutting’. Others are clearly designed to reduce the regulations placed on bloodsports industries.

Within weeks of taking office, the Hunting and Shooting Minister, Jim Paice, withdrew a Code of Practice for ‘game bird’ production. The Code was introduced in the final weeks of the Labour government and effectively banned the use of battery cages for breeding pheasants. The Code was the product of years of evidence-gathering and public consultation, and the cage ban even had the support of Britain’s leading pro-shooting lobby group, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation. But Jim Paice swept all this aside, scrapping the Code and replacing it with a watered-down version, which allowed the cages to remain, albeit in their so-called ‘enriched’ form.

Mr Paice also wasted little time in overturning the policies designed to deal with bovine TB in wild populations. Where the Labour government opposed a badger cull on scientific grounds and instead introduced a trial vaccination of badgers in six areas, the current government has stated that it plans to start culling badgers in the summer of 2011. It has also scaled back the trial vaccination programme to just one area.

Other areas where the Coalition has abandoned previous animal protection measures include: scrapping plans to prosecute slaughterhouse workers and operators using undercover footage; deregulating the animal farming industry; failing to make an announcement on the use of wild animals in circuses and the plan to repeal the Hunting Act.

Says Animal Aid Director, Andrew Tyler:

‘In just 100 days, the Coalition government has set about removing a raft of popular measures that provided important protection for farmed and wild animals. The appointment of the first-ever Hunting and Shooting Minister was an unmistakable clue as to the new government’s intentions, and it seems the Lib Dem element can’t or won’t rein in the Tories. The commitment to repealing the Hunting Act is the most high profile part of the government’s anti-animal welfare package. But badgers, animals at markets, ‘game’ birds and animals in circuses are also under threat.’

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