Animal Welfare Bill Continues Unopposed [25/01/2006]
The arguments over certain aspects of the Animal Welfare Bill currently going through Parliament have resurfaced this January. The Bill progressed, unopposed, to the next stage of the parliamentary process, having received cross-party support in the House of Commons on Tuesday 10 January 2006. This second reading of the Bill, and the comments of the MPs involved have sparked a response from the many organisations that have petitioned MPs on this legislation. Although all of the organisations lobbying ministers regarding the Animal Welfare Bill are broadly in support of the legislation there are still conflicting views within the detail of the Bill.
Non-therapeutic tail docking appears to be the most contentious part of this debate, and the argument over this emotive issue stepped up a level when Ben Bradshaw MP and Animal Welfare Minister, indicated that opinion within the Commons committee debating the Bill was moving towards a full ban on the practice.
Countryside groups, many breeders and the Kennel Club have presented evidence to support their claim that selective tail docking of certain breeds is necessary, while the RSPCA, Dogs Trust and others have presented equal amounts of evidence to support their claim that the practice is cruel and unnecessary. Veterinary opinion seems to be divided fairly equally and with so many strong emotions surrounding this issue, it is hard to envisage an outcome, which will satisfy all parties.
Other aspects of the Bill, which are still to be confirmed are a ban on wild animals in circuses, and on commercial pet fairs. There are also concerns over the welfare of racing greyhounds, and about the weakening of the animal fighting offence, which as it stands, would not make it an offence to possess paraphernalia associated with dog or cock fighting.
A standing committee of cross-party MPs will now consider all the arguments and opinions. Once the amendments to the current draft are added there will be a third reading of the Bill in the House of Commons before it is passed to the House of Lords for their approval in spring. The hope is that the Bill should be enacted by Summer 2006.
Many thanks to the RSPCA for use of their image.