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General Election 2019

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On 12th December, the UK will go to the polls to elect a new government. We need to ensure now, more than ever, that farm animal welfare is at the heart of the political agenda.

What we are doing

Compassion has sent a letter to the leaders of all political parties, calling on them to introduce and support policies that will:

  • Ban UK live exports for fattening and slaughter
  • Ban the use of cages for all UK farm animals
  • Protect British farming against low-welfare imports, such as chlorine-washed chicken and beef from hormone-fed cows 
  • Reform subsidy systems to support higher welfare farmers
  • Ban the routine preventative use of antibiotics that props up cruel factory farming
  • Introduce mandatory method of production labelling for all UK meat and dairy products
  • Introduce a UK law that recognises that animals can suffer and feel pain

What are the parties saying?

As the manifestos of parties across the UK are released, we will update this page to highlight the commitments each one is making to improve farm animal welfare. Be sure to check back regularly for the latest information.

We are neutral in party politics, but committed to keeping supporters informed about what each party has promised for animal welfare, so that you can, if you wish, take this into account when deciding how to vote.

We have analysed the manifestos so far published in full, and you can find our detailed assessments below (in alphabetical order by party name). We will update it when additional manifestos are published. We have not taken into account any past statements which have not made it into the manifestos and associated documents.

For easy reference, here is an overview of what the main UK-wide parties have so far committed to doing for farm animals. Where a commitment covers part of our proposals or makes closely-related statements without explicitly promising them, we are recording it as “Probably” or “Partly”, as appropriate.

In addition to these parties, the policies of the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish Parties are discussed in a separate section below.

  Brexit Party Conservative Green Labour Liberal Democrats
End Live Exports No Probably1 Yes Yes No
Ban Cages No No Yes Yes Partly2
Prevent Low Welfare Imports No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Subsidies For Welfare No Yes Probably4 Yes Probably3
Ban Routine Antibiotics No No Yes No No
Method of Production Labelling No No Yes No No
Recognise Sentience No Yes Yes Yes Yes

 


1. “End excessively long journeys”
2. Caged hens banned, no reference to farrowing crates
3. Promote a range of environmental subsidies, welfare not mentioned
4. Promote more sustainable farming methods, welfare not mentioned

Alliance Party logo

Live exports

  • Oppose the live export of animals and fattening for slaughter

End the Cage Age

  • Phase out the use of caged systems in farming and ban the building of any new caged systems on UK farms.

Protecting animal welfare in trade deals

  • UK farming to continue to meet high standards of production such as food safety, environmental protection and animal welfare. These high standards need to be considered when negotiating any future trade deals.

Reforming farm subsidies

  • Greening the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) with increased responsibility given to the devolved nations. In the event of Brexit, we will push for the same emphasis on the environment

Antibiotics

  • End the overuse of antibiotics in farming

Labelling

  • Improve food labelling and traceability in relation to welfare standards

Sentience

  • NOT MENTIONED

Other

  • Alliance has always prioritised animal welfare and sought to tackle cruelty against animals. People who show such brutality are not only a danger to the animals involved, but potentially to our society as a whole

You can read the full Alliance Party manifesto  here.

Brexit Party Logo

Live exports

  • NOT MENTIONED

End the Cage Age

  • NOT MENTIONED

Protecting animal welfare in trade deals

  • NOT MENTIONED

Reforming farm subsidies

  • Maintain subsidies and grants paid by the EU to UK businesses such as farmers

Antibiotics

  • NOT MENTIONED

Labelling

  • NOT MENTIONED

Sentience

  • NOT MENTIONED

Other

  • Invest in the Environment: in addition to planting millions of trees to capture CO2 we will promote a global initiative at the UN.

You can read the Brexit Party’s ‘Contract’ here.

Conservative Party logo

Live exports

  • We will end excessively long journeys for slaughter and fattening
  • Abolishing the cruel live shipment of animals

End the Cage Age

  • NOT MENTIONED

Protecting animal welfare in trade deals

  • In all of our trade negotiations, we will not compromise on our high environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards.

Reforming farm subsidies

  • Once we have got Brexit done, we will free our farmers from the bureaucratic Common Agricultural Policy and move to a system based on ‘public money for public goods’
  • To support this transition, we will guarantee the current annual budget to farmers in every year of the next Parliament
  • In return for funding, they must farm in a way that protects and enhances our natural environment, as well as safeguarding high standards of animal welfare

Antibiotics

  • Turn our attention to the great challenges of the future such as… solving antibiotic resistance

Labelling

  • NOT MENTIONED

Sentience

  • We will bring in new laws on animal sentience

Other

  • Raise standards in areas like workers’ rights, animal welfare, agriculture and the environment
  • Encourage the public sector to ‘Buy British’ to support our farmers and reduce environmental costs
  • Lead the world in the quality of our food, agriculture and land management – driven by science-led, evidence-based policy
  • We will introduce tougher sentences for animal cruelty.

The Conservative manifesto can be found  here

DUP logo

Live exports

  • NOT MENTIONED

End the Cage Age

  • NOT MENTIONED

Protecting animal welfare in trade deals

  • The DUP will not support trade agreements that allow the UK market to be flooded with products that do not meet the high standards of food safety, environmental and animal welfare standards that are demanded of our farmers

Reforming farm subsidies

  • Currently direct support for farms under the CAP is linked to land holding. We believe that this should change and that future government policy needs to reflect the national need for food security and rewarding productive, sustainable farming systems and proven environmental benefit Antibiotics
  • UK contributions to CAP are greater than what UK farmers receive. That additional funding should, in the first instance, be ring fenced for agriculture and be directed at delivering efficiencies, adapting to changes in markets, increasing profitability on family farms and delivering high environmental and animal welfare standards

Antibiotics

  • NOT MENTIONED

Labelling

  • NOT MENTIONED

Sentience

  • NOT MENTIONED

Other

  • Government must also do more in terms of encouraging British people to buy British through more and better advertising campaigns and revisiting Government procurement priorities
  • We will support a new fisheries bill for the UK which will ensure that we take back control of our territorial waters, secure fair quota arrangements through annual fisheries agreements, prioritise access to UK inshore zones to UK fishing vessels and deliver an environmentally responsible and sustainable fisheries management regime
  • Northern Ireland to lead on animal protection in the United Kingdom with new offences and tougher sentences matched by public education

You can read the full DUP manifesto  here.

Green Party Logo

Live exports

  • Reduce transportation times for animals, including the halting of all live animal exports from the UK
  • Enforce tougher regulations on animal transportation, including a maximum limit of eight hours travel for animals in transit and an end to all live exports from our shores

End the Cage Age

  • Implement a complete ban on cages and close confinement

Protecting animal welfare in trade deals

  • Commit that any future trade deals will maintain and enhance environmental and food standards and workers’ rights, minimise the environmental footprint of trade
  • Make trade terms explicitly subject to environmental and human rights commitments
  • Not undermine the implementation of existing or new national and international commitments (including over protections for vital global ecosystems and habitats such as the Amazon, and for indigenous people)
  • Ensure trade democracy by assessing the development impact of all trade and investment agreements and guaranteeing Parliament a vote on them

Reforming farm subsidies

  • Champion reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, so that it promotes more sustainable farming methods
  • Introduce new support for small- scale family farms and for new entrants to farming. This support, including increased security of tenure for farmers, will help develop sustainable farming methods

Antibiotics

  • Prohibit the routine use of antibiotics for farm animals

Labelling

  • Help shoppers choose cruelty free food, with mandatory method of production labelling for meat, milk and dairy products

Sentience

  • Guarantee the principle of animal sentience. This will mean that that regard for the welfare needs of animals as sentient beings is uppermost in formulating and implementing relevant government policy
  • Create a new Commission on Animal Protection, responsible for overseeing all rules designed to protect animals from cruelty. This Commission will ensure that the highest standards of animal welfare are applied to companion animals, farm animals and wildlife. This will ensure that the right of all sentient beings not to be subject to undue suffering is always respected

Other

  • Advocate for European legalisation to end factory farming
  • Press for a review of the Common Fisheries Policy in order to increase its sustainability
  • Develop a soil health monitoring programme for England, to match those in Scotland and Wales, to assess and understand changes in the health of soil over time
  • Immediately ban the most harmful pesticides (including glyphosate) and introduce new rigorous tests for pesticides. Only pesticides that pass this test, and demonstrably don’t harm bees, butterflies and other wildlife, will be approved for use in UK
  • We will work to minimise all stress-causing practices during production of animal-based food products
  • Implement a complete ban on the deliberate mutilation of farm animals

You can find a comprehensive list of Green Party animal welfare policies here.

The Green Party General Election 2019 manifesto can be seen in full here.

Labour logo

Live exports

  • Ban live exports

End the Cage Age

  • Phase out both laying hen cages and sow farrowing crates

Protecting animal welfare in trade deals

  • Uphold the highest environmental and social regulations in all our trade relations, and will never downgrade standards as ‘barriers’ to trade
  • Not trade our environment in pursuit of trade agreements
  • Secure robust and legally binding protections for workers’ rights, consumer standards and environmental protections, and ensure level-playing field protections are maintained
  • Introduce legislation to ensure transparency and parliamentary scrutiny of trade and investment agreements
  • Reject any trade agreements that undermine labour standards or environmental protections

Reforming farm subsidies

  • Labour government will maintain agricultural and rural structural funds but re-purpose them to support environmental land management and sustainable methods of food production

Antibiotics

  • NOT MENTIONED

Labelling

  • NOT MENTIONED

Sentience

  • Enshrine the principle of animal sentience in law to prevent practices that expose both wild and domestic animals to cruel and degrading treatment, and to ensure that government and public bodies must have due regard to animal sentience.

Other

  • Introduce an animal welfare commissioner to ensure consideration of animal welfare in all legislation
  • Ensure everyone has access to healthy, nutritious, sustainably produced food
  • Put farmers, fishers, food producers and workers at the heart of our plans for delivering healthy food locally
  • Set maximum sustainable yields for all shared fish stocks, redistribute fish quotas alongside social and environmental criteria and, if people vote to leave the EU, require the majority of fish caught under a UK quota to be landed in UK ports
  • Support sustainable local food and agriculture markets in the fight against climate change
  • Kick-start a Green Industrial Revolution that will create one million jobs in the UK to transform our industry, energy, transport, agriculture and our buildings, while restoring nature
  • Introduce mandatory standards for NHS in-patient food

Labour has a comprehensive, 50 point, animal welfare manifesto, that can be seen here.

The full Labour General Election Manifesto can be seen here.

Liberal Democrats Logo

End the Cage Age

  • Improve standards of animal health and welfare in agriculture, including a ban on caged hens

Live exports

  • NOT MENTIONED

Protecting animal welfare in trade deals

  • Work within the EU to ensure that future trade agreements require high environmental and animal welfare standards
  • Strengthen climate and environmental goals in EU trade and investment agreements and refuse to enter any trade agreements with countries that have policies counter to the Paris Agreement

Reforming farm subsidies

  • Reduce basic agricultural support payments to the larger recipients and redeploy the savings to support the public goods that come from effective land management, including restoring nature and protecting the countryside, preventing flooding and combating climate change through measures to increase soil carbon and expand native woodland

Antibiotics

  • Promote the responsible use of antimicrobials

Labelling

  • NOT MENTIONED

Sentience

  • Enshrine the principle of animal sentience in UK law to ensure that due regard is paid to animal welfare in policy making.

Other

  • Introduce a National Food Strategy, including the use of public procurement policy, to promote the production and consumption of healthy, sustainable and affordable food and cut down on food waste
  • Introduce a general duty of care for the environment and human rights – requiring companies, financial institutions and public sector agencies to exercise due diligence in avoiding specified activities… or specified products such as commodities produced with deforestation, in their operations and supply chains, and to report on their actions
  • Introduce a Nature Act to restore the natural environment through setting legally binding near-term and long-term targets for improving water, air, soil and biodiversity, and supported by funding streams of at least £18 billion over five years
  • Invest in large scale restoration of peatlands, heathland, native woodlands, saltmarshes, wetlands and coastal waters, helping to absorb carbon, protect against floods, improve water quality and protect habitats, including through piloting ‘rewilding’ approaches
  • Ensure that sustainability lies at the heart of fisheries policy, rebuilding depleted fish stocks to achieve their former abundance. Fishers, scientists and conservationists should all be at the centre of a decentralised and regionalised fisheries management system

The full Liberal Democrat manifesto can be seen here.

Plaid Cymru Logo

Live exports

  • NOT MENTIONED

End the Cage Age

  • NOT MENTIONED

Protecting animal welfare in trade deals

  • Demand that future trade deals seek to strengthen rather than weaken animal welfare legislation
  • Publish a set of trade negotiation principles, including for labour and environment standards

Reforming farm subsidies

  • A Plaid Cymru government will retain a direct payment. We can also protect this funding and Welsh farmers by remaining in the EU

Antibiotics

  • NOT MENTIONED

Labelling

  • NOT MENTIONED

Sentience

  • NOT MENTIONED

Other

  • We will support greater transition to organic and other sustainable farming systems
  • Protect and grow the Welsh brand, building on the highest environmental and animal welfare standards
  • Support a GMO-free Wales and the continuing moratorium on GM crops in the EU
  • Believe that there should be tougher sentences for those who abuse animals and that there should be an Animal Abuse Register for Wales

You can read the full Plaid Cymru manifesto  here.

SDLP logo

Live exports

  • NOT MENTIONED

End the Cage Age

  • NOT MENTIONED

Protecting animal welfare in trade deals

  • Ensuring the maintenance of EU standards, including on animal welfare, will form a key part of our work in Westminster and we will not support a race-to-the-bottom for any agricultural standards in any post-Brexit scenario

Reforming farm subsidies

  • Work with farming organisations to explore alternative methods of subsidy which prioritise public goods including carbon sequestration, forest management and flood plain development

Antibiotics

  • NOT MENTIONED

Labelling

  • NOT MENTIONED

Sentience

  • NOT MENTIONED

Other

  • SDLP MPs were previously active in Westminster in defending animal welfare

You can read the full SDLP manifesto  here.

Sinn Fein Logo

Live exports

  • NOT MENTIONED

End the Cage Age

  • NOT MENTIONED

Protecting animal welfare in trade deals

  • NOT MENTIONED

Reforming farm subsidies

  • NOT MENTIONED

Antibiotics

  • NOT MENTIONED

Labelling

  • NOT MENTIONED

Sentience

  • NOT MENTIONED

Other

  • NOT MENTIONED

You can read the full Sinn Fein manifesto  here.

SNP Logo

Live exports

  • NOT MENTIONED

End the Cage Age

  • NOT MENTIONED

Protecting animal welfare in trade deals

  • SNP MPs will never engage in a race to the bottom and will seek to prevent the sell-out of Scotland’s environment to any dodgy trade deal.

Reforming farm subsidies

  • SNP MPs will fight to ensure funding over agriculture and rural policy is repatriated to Scotland if we are dragged out of the EU against our will.

Antibiotics

  • NOT MENTIONED

Labelling

  • NOT MENTIONED

Sentience

  • NOT MENTIONED

Other

  • SNP MPs will press for all relevant UK government departments and agencies to apply for and achieve the Food for Life catering award and to purchase more quality Scottish food produced to current farm assurance standards.

You can read the full Scottish National Party manifesto here.

UKIP Logo

Live exports

  • UKIP would end the export of live animals for slaughter. Exemptions would be made for the export of live animals from Northern Ireland across the border to neighbouring counties in the Republic of Ireland

End the Cage Age

  • UKIP will end the practice of keeping egg-laying hens in so-called ‘enriched’ cages which are little better than battery cages. All UK produced eggs should be free-range or organic

Protecting animal welfare in trade deals

  • Cut tariffs on goods imported from non-EU countries. We will aim to unilaterally cut these import tariffs in half, particularly on agricultural goods from the Commonwealth, such as bananas, which do not compete with UK producers.
  • We will not, however, sign Free Trade Agreements that would cause severe negative externalities such as large-scale deforestation, a reduction in working conditions at home or abroad, or a collapse in key UK industries

Reforming farm subsidies

  • We will move from a system which subsidises large landowners to one that supports food producers, environmental protection and food safety

Antibiotics

  • Offer a wide range of grants with tackling anti-microbial resistance as a major priority

Labelling

  • Legislate for food labelling to show country of origin, method of production, transport and slaughter
  • All meat and meat products must be clearly labelled with the method of slaughter

Sentience

  • NOT MENTIONED

Other

  • All farm animals should have space to move about while they are alive. There should be an end to factory farming where animals are kept in confined conditions for their whole lives. Ultimately, all farm animals should be free-range or organic.
  • UKIP would introduce a Modern Food Act to ensure traceability and origins of raw materials
  • Create a National Agricultural Council to ensure ‘joined-up thinking’ between different Government Departments for food, farming and environmental matters
  • After leaving the EU, we will uphold high environmental standards that protect our air quality, waterways, woodlands, farmland and other habitats
  • Existing laws and sentencing guidelines regarding punishments for cruelty to animals on farms and in slaughterhouses should be reviewed with a view to strengthening them and making enforcement easier
  • UKIP would go a step further and ban the practice of non-stun slaughter being carried out in the UK. The import of such meat products, frozen or refrigerated, into the UK would continue to be permitted, subject to strict labelling requirements
  • [Not animal welfare, but for interest] UKIP will defund the “third sector”, comprising thousands of NGOs and QUANGOs - many of which are openly political in nature. A great number of these organisations should be subject to free-market principles: if they cannot raise money in the private sector for their activities, they should not be kept afloat by government subsidies.

The UKIP Manifesto can be found   here.

Smaller parties

Where parties are only standing in a small proportion of the 650 seats across the country (or across their region, in the case of Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish parties) but several Compassion supporters ask about them, we will add them in alphabetical order and link to their manifestos here. We aren’t planning to include parties standing only in a single seat.

What you can do

Whatever the outcome of the election and Brexit, we will continue to press the next Government, and all political parties, to ban live exports for slaughter and fattening, end the use of all cages in farming, reward farmers who deliver genuinely higher standards and protect UK domestic producers from lower welfare products.

In the meantime, if you are a UK resident and haven’t already done so, please contact your Prospective Parliamentary Candidates and urge them to commit to backing these policies if elected as your MP.

You can find the responses received so far in each constituency here. If candidates in your area haven’t yet responded, do encourage them to say what they think about these policies for animals.

Would your friends and family like to hear about what animal welfare policies political parties are committing to?

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Together, we will keep up the pressure to make the UK a global leader in farm animal welfare.