Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs First Report

1  Introduction

Our examination of the draft Bill

1. The Government published its draft Animal Welfare Bill on 14 July 2004.[1] We decided to examine the draft Bill and, on 14 July, we invited interested parties to submit written memoranda to us by 25 August 2004.

2. We received 187 memoranda from a wide range of interested organisations and individuals. In the course of our examination, 26 of the organisations and individuals who had initially submitted memoranda sent us 33 supplementary memoranda. We also received a great deal of correspondence from interested parties on the progress of our examination of the draft Bill. We wish to thank all those who submitted written evidence and assure them that, in reporting to the House, we have endeavoured to take into account the wide range of points raised in their evidence.

3. In taking oral evidence, we sought to hear from witnesses who represented the wide range of views expressed in written evidence. Although we took a great deal of oral evidence, we were conscious that the Government had expressed its hope that we would report to the House as soon as possible, and preferably before the end of the 2003-04 parliamentary session. This timeframe restricted the amount of oral evidence that we were able to take; we regret that we were unable to hear from any of the organisations who wrote to us during the course of our examination, seeking to be heard by the Committee. We are very grateful to all those who gave oral evidence or otherwise assisted with our inquiry.

4. We took oral evidence from 51 organisations or individuals. They were: the Minister for Nature Conservation and Fisheries, Mr Ben Bradshaw MP, and officials from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra); the RSPCA; the Companion Animal Welfare Council; the Kennel Club; the Pet Advisory Committee; the Pet Care Trust; Pets at Home; the Federation of British Herpetologists; the International Fund for Animal Welfare; the BioVeterinary Group; the Captive Animals' Protection Society; BirdsFirst; Mr Duncan Davidson, veterinarian; Animals in Mind; the Council of Docked Breeds; the Anti-Docking Alliance; the Farm Animal Welfare Council; the Meat and Livestock Commission; the National Farmers' Union; the Farmers' Union of Wales; the National Sheep Association; the Rare Breeds Survival Trust; the British Wildlife Rehabilitation Council; the Sea Fish Industry Authority; the National Anglers' Alliance; the Shellfish Network; the National Gamekeepers' Organisation; Animal Aid; the Federation of Zoological Gardens; the Born Free Foundation; the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust; the National Equine Welfare Council; the International League for the Protection of Horses; Redwings Horse Sanctuary; the Association of Circus Proprietors of Great Britain; Performing Animals Welfare Standards International; the British Greyhound Racing Board; Greyhounds UK; the Society of Conservative Lawyers; the Association of Chief Police Officers; the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health; the Local Authorities Co-ordinators of Regulatory Services; Ms Paula Williamson, Solicitor, Worcestershire County Council; the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons; the British Veterinary Association; Mr Mike Radford, Reader of Law, University of Aberdeen; the Country Land and Business Association; the Countryside Alliance; Advocates for Animals; the League Against Cruel Sports; and the Self-Help Group for Farmers, Pet Owners and Others Experiencing Difficulties with the RSPCA. To conclude our taking of evidence, we heard further evidence from the RSPCA and from the Minister for Nature Conservation and Fisheries.

1   The draft Bill is available at  Back

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Prepared 8 December 2004