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The Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill 2021-22 was introduced in the House of Commons on 8 June 2021 as a Bill to make provision about the welfare of certain kept animals that are in, imported into, or exported from Great Britain. Second Reading took place on Monday 25 October 2021. Committee stage took place between 9 and 18 November 2021.  The Bill was carried over to the 2022-23 parliamentary session and is awaiting a date for Report stage.

The Bill aims to address commitments made in the Conservative Party 2019 Manifesto in a single legislative step. The five overarching animal welfare issues addressed by the Bill are:

  • Keeping primates as pets
  • Dogs attacking or worrying livestock
  • Export of livestock
  • Importation of dogs, cats and ferrets
  • Zoos

The measures on primates aim to prevent these animals being kept as pets. Where primates are kept in captivity, the Bill would introduce new licensing requirements to ensure that their welfare needs are being met.

Under the Bill, police will have new powers to provide greater protection to livestock from dangerous and out of control dogs. Additional species, such as llamas, ostriches and game birds, will also be given protection.

The Bill includes proposals to ban the export of live animals for slaughter and fattening. However, the measures would not cover poultry.

Under the Bill, restrictions on the number of pets (dogs, cats and ferrets) imported on a non-commercial basis would be implemented. The Bill includes further restrictions on importing animals that are pregnant, under a certain age, or which have undergone mutilations such as cropped ears and tails.

The Bill would amend the Zoo Licensing Act with the aim of improving zoo regulations and trying to ensure that zoos are doing more to contribute to conservation.

The Bill also includes powers to amend, or revoke retained direct EU legislation related to animal welfare.

Animal welfare is a devolved matter. The measures in the Bill vary in their territorial extent within Great Britain, however none of the measures would apply to Northern Ireland.

During Committee stage there were a number of Government amendment and no successful opposition amendments. Government amendments included the addition of a new offence of taking a pet without lawful authority and extending the proposals on the keeping of primates to Wales.

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