A debate will take place in Westminster Hall on 4 June 2018 on a petition calling for a ban on the sale of animal fur in the UK.
The petition expresses concern that much of the fur sold in the UK comes from countries that have either “weak or no animal welfare laws”. The Government’s view, set out in its response to the petition, is that national bans are less effective than working at an international level on animal welfare standards.
Fur farming is banned in the UK and EU regulations ban the placing on the market and the import or export from the EU of cat and dog fur, and products containing their fur. In addition, EU regulations covering textile labelling require textiles containing less than 20% fur to be labelled as “contains non-textile parts of animal origin”.
Sale of Fur
According to the British Fur Trade Association, the majority of exporting fur farms are located in Europe and North America and wild fur is produced in North America and Russia. A campaign by the Humane Society International sets out their concerns about suffering in animals used for fur as follows:
Fur from dogs, cats and seals are not allowed in, but we’re still allowing imports of millions of pounds of other animals’ furs each year from countries such as Poland, Finland, China and France. Animals killed for their fur suffer terribly. Whether they are caught in leg-hold traps in the wild or raised in cramped wire cages on factory farms, raising and killing animals for frivolous fashion accessories is cruel and unacceptable.
The FurEurope website includes details of the industry’s work to improve welfare, including the Welfur standard and states that “it is scientifically evident that it is possible to house fur farmed species in ways which secure the animals good animal welfare and a positive experience of their own life”
A number of retailers in the UK have committed not to sell fur. In addition, in the last year both Camden Market and Spitalfields Market in London announced a ban on the sale of fur products. In the United States, San Francisco approved a ban on the sale of all fur products in March 2018, effective from 2019.
The Environmental, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee is currently running an inquiry into the Fur trade in the UK. This was launched in February 2018 in response to reports, including from Bromley Trading Standards, that items containing real fur were not labelled as such. This included many items sold by on-line retailers. The Committee announced the inquiry as follows:
There have been recent high-profile cases of fur being sold as fake fur by major high-street and online retailers. This “fake faux fur” was made from a variety of animal including rabbit, fox and chinchilla. The Committee wishes to examine the current fur trade and how the industry can be made more transparent for the consumers. Longer-term, Brexit may provide an opportunity for the UK Government to look at legislation around the import of fur.
Retailers have a duty of care to their customers who have the right to know what they are buying. Our inquiry will determine where responsibility lies for the increase in illegal fur sales, and identify the steps that need to be taken to stop it in its tracks.
The submissions to the Committee and the transcript of evidence sessions are available on the Committee website. An article by the Chief Executive of the British Fur Trade Association supported the inquiry, stating that “fur labelling falls significantly short of what consumers expect”.