Search icon

Politicians clash on commitments to crackdown on cruelty to animals

News Section Icon Published 22/05/2024

Animal Hustings 2024
© Nacho Rivera

Yesterday (21st May), the four largest Westminster parties set out their animal welfare policies and commitments at a landmark 'Animals Matter' hustings event in Parliament.

With the next General Election expected later this year, we organised the event alongside the RSPCA, Humane Society International/UK and Four Paws. The hustings – hosted by the Rt Hon George Eustice MP – provided a platform for politicians to be directly questioned on their plans across many high-profile animal welfare issues.

Animal welfare, a voting priority

It’s clear animal welfare is of huge importance for voters with recent polling revealing that more than two-thirds of the British public feel that a political party announcing plans to 'pass more laws designed to improve animal welfare and protect animals from cruelty' would have the right priorities. In addition, one in ten British people rank animal welfare amongst the top five issues facing the country, and 71% believe that passing good animal welfare laws show compassion and concern for those who don't have the power to protect themselves.

Lively discussion

The panel, which was chaired by journalist and ITV new anchor Lucrezia Millarini, included Conservative MP Rebecca Pow, Labour's Ruth Jones MP, Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron, and SNP's Steven Bonnar MP. After opening speeches by the panel, questions and lively discussions followed on topics including the use of cages for hen and sows in UK farming, fur and foie gras imports and trade.

Representing the Liberal Democrats, Tim Farron MP committed to ending the cage age for hens saying, “we should ban it" adding that “if we set higher standards for our farmers, we need to be applying that also for imports coming into this country because we want to make sure we spread good animal welfare practice across the world”.

The SNP's Steven Bonnar MP commented: "The SNP knows that animals matter; to our climate, to our health, to our economy, and to all of us as sentient beings. The SNP is proud of its record on animal welfare and we are committed to maintaining our place as leading the way in progressing animal welfare standards across the UK. We will continue to adopt the highest possible standards, including shifting to entirely free range, woodland or barn chicken and egg production, and we will seek to protect Scotland’s exquisite produce while backing those who produce it for us."

Conservative Rebecca Pow said: “we're going to be supporting our livestock farmers using public funds to pay for health and welfare enhancements. We also want to make it easier for farmers to transition to the types of production systems that we know the public value. So for example, enabling them to move away from farrowing crates for pigs. We want our animals to be well kept and safe.”

Speaking about fur imports Ruth Jones from Labour said “royalty have said they don't wear it anymore. The public don't want it.” She went on to add that if elected, Labour would “build on our legacy and make animal protection a priority, including cracking down on smuggling of puppies and banning theimport of hunting trophies. All animals deserve to be protected against inhumane shipment and to be able to live a life of dignity.”

Concrete policies needed

James West, our Chief Public Affairs Manager, said: "The hustings was a huge success, providing political parties a platform to engage with voters on these critical issues that impact sentient beings and their welfare. With an election on the horizon, political leaders must step up and implement policies which will have a positive impact for animals. "

"Having such high-profile panelists shows that political parties recognise animal welfare as a voting priority. Voters will now be looking for them to translate warm words into concrete policies that will improve the welfare of millions of animals at home and abroad.”



You are using an outdated browser which we do not support. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience and security.

If you have any further questions regarding this, or any other matter, please get in touch with us at We aim to respond to all queries within two working days. However, due to the high volume of correspondence that we receive, it may occasionally take a little longer. Please do bear with us if this is the case. Alternatively, if your query is urgent, you can contact our Supporter Engagement Team on +44 (0)1483 521 953 (lines open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm).