Rishi Sunak Abandons Tory Leadership Pledge To Pass Animal Welfare Bill

Rishi Sunak has abandoned his Tory leadership pledge to pass a key piece of animal welfare legislation.

The Conservative 2019 manifesto promised to bring in new laws to protect animal welfare, including tougher sentences for animal cruelty.

Boris Johnson announced the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill following his election victory.

The legislation was designed to meet the manifesto pledge by banning the live transport of animals, placing restrictions on the keeping of primates as pets and ending the importation of puppies with cropped ears.

It also included other pro-animal measures such as dealing with pet theft.

But speaking in the Commons on Thursday, environment minister Mark Spencer confirmed the bill was being scrapped.

He told MPs while “animal welfare has been a key priority of the government” the legislation “risked being extended far beyond the original commitments in the manifesto”.

Spencer said some aspects of the bill would be passed “individually” during the remainder of this parliament in order to not break the manifesto promise.

During last summer’s Conservative Party leadership campaign, Sunak was asked if he would support the bill completing its passage through the Commons.

He said: “The simple answer is of course, yes.”

Jim McMahon, Labour’s shadow environment secretary, said the decision to ditch the bill was “further proof that you can’t trust the Tories to deliver on animal welfare”.

“Labour is the party of animal welfare and we have long called for the Kept Animals Bill to be brought back to the House at the earliest opportunity,” he said.

Lib Dem energy spokesperson Wera Hobhouse said: “I am appalled by the government’s decision to drop the Kept Animals Bill.

“This is a clear signal that the they do not see animal welfare as a priority. Now it’s back to the drawing board. But scrapping and bringing in new legislation will cost time and prolong animal suffering.”

The Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation said it was “disappointed” at the move.

“We believe this represents a missed opportunity to further enhance the welfare and protection of animals across the United Kingdom,” the group said.

The Humane Society International said the “betrayal” showed the “low priority that government places on animal welfare”.