Welsh Govt urged to work with UK Govt as King’s Speech confirms live export ban

The RSPCA want a new animal welfare law to apply to Wales too

The Welsh Government has been urged to work with the UK Government to ensure plans announced in the King’s Speech for a ban on the live export of animals extend to Wales.

Today’s (7 November) King’s Speech set out the UK Government’s agenda for the coming political year and, following RSPCA campaigning, plans for a ban on the export of animals for further fattening and slaughter – via an Animal Welfare (Livestock Exports) Bill – were announced.

However, with animal welfare being a devolved competency, the RSPCA is urging Welsh Ministers to work closely with their UK Government counterparts to ensure the ban applies in Wales.

The RSPCA has campaigned to outlaw live exports for more than 50 years.

Today, around 1.6 million farm animals – cattle, sheep, pigs and horses – are transported huge distances across Europe annually, some for slaughter, others for further fattening, on gruelling journeys that can last tens of hours, exhausting the animals and causing suffering and even death.

The last export to leave the UK was on 31 December 2020, but with no law in place this could start again at any time which is why a ban is so crucial.

The unnecessary risk of suffering for animals who are transported in long, crowded journeys abroad includes mental exhaustion, physical injury, hunger, dehydration and stress from the extremes of heat or cold, all while access to food and water is not just a challenge but sometimes impossible. They often also involve overstocking, vehicle or ship malfunctions and journeys involving animals too sick or injured to be exported in the first place.

Previously, plans to ban the live export of animals were included in the UK Government’s Kept Animals Bill – previously the cornerstone of this UK Government’s animal welfare agenda. 

At that time, the Welsh Government proposed a legislative consent memorandum, which, if passed by Senedd Members, would have paved the way for elements of the Kept Animals Bill – including the ban on live exports – to apply to Wales too. 

However, the Bill was later dismantled by UK Ministers amidst a litany of broken promises for animal welfare as the UK Government failed to deliver on 14 of their animal welfare pledges – leaving these plans in tatters. 

The RSPCA is now urging the Welsh Government to make their intentions clear – and to bring forward a legislative consent motion that would allow the Animal Welfare (Livestock Exports) Bill to apply to Wales.

RSPCA Cymru’s senior public affairs manager Billie-Jade Thomas said: “It’s great news for animal welfare that a ban on live exports was included in the King’s Speech.

“The suffering these animals have to endure is unnecessary and needs to be stopped, prevented and – crucially – outlawed.

“But despite the strength of public feeling, the UK Government has been dragging its feet on bringing in a ban – so today is potentially a really historic day for animals.

“However, we need to make sure this ban applies to Wales too.

“We were all disappointed when the UK Government dropped the Kept Animals Bill – but we now urge Welsh Ministers to liaise with the UK Government and bring forward a new legislative consent motion so the Animal Welfare (Livestock Exports) Bill applies here too.”

The King’s Speech also included other policies which will impact animal welfare – including plans for a Renters Reform Bill, which would prevent landlords in England from introducing blanket bans on pet ownership in private rented properties. Also included are plans that could lead to a ban on disposable vapes, which – when discarded – can cause issues for wildlife.

Billie added: “Renting accommodation shouldn’t be a barrier to owning a pet – but too many face a blanket ban on bringing their animals with them, or getting a new pet.

“We continue to urge the Welsh Government to act and ensure a fairer deal for those in the rented sector here. With action likely in England, we fear prospective pet owners in the rented sector in Wales could be left behind.

“Disposable vapes, too, can be a real menace for animals. We hope a ban will be forthcoming in Wales – to better protect wildlife. Animals are in danger in Wales by digesting the liquid from discarded, disposable vapes; while strewn devices can also impact habitats – so the time has come to deal with this in Wales.”

Animal welfare advocates can take action on the RSPCA website and ask their Member of Parliament to urge the UK Government to liaise with the Welsh Government and ensure a new live exports law applies to Wales.

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