Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee

Session 2003-04
14 July 2004 Written evidence on the Government’s draft Animal Welfare Bill

14 July 2004 Written evidence on the Government’s draft Animal Welfare Bill

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee has decided to examine the Government’s draft Animal Welfare Bill, which was published today. The draft Bill is available at http://www.official-documents.co.uk/document/cm62/6252/6252.htm.

The key provisions of the draft Bill can be summarised as follows:

Definition of “animal”

For the purposes of the draft Bill, “animal” would be defined as meaning all vertebrates other than humans.

Specific offences

The draft Bill would clarify the offence of cruelty to animals and would strengthen and amend offences relating to animal fighting. It would also introduce a duty of care, whereby a keeper of an animal would commit an offence if he or she failed to take reasonable steps to ensure the animal’s welfare. This is intended to bring the protection for companion animals into line with the level of protection currently given to farm animals.  The draft Bill also proposes to ban all mutilations unless they can be justified.

Regulation-making powers

The draft Bill proposes to provide the Government with extended powers to make regulations and to modernise existing powers to make regulations.


The draft Bill would provide the police and inspectors of central and local government with additional enforcement powers and would enable authorities to protect an animal’s welfare in an emergency. It would also increase sentences for the most serious offences, provide the courts with more effective powers and strengthen the definition and enforcement of disqualifications for people who are convicted of offences.

All interested parties are invited to submit written evidence which addresses the provisions of the draft Bill. The deadline for the submission of evidence is Wednesday 25 August 2004. Due to time restrictions, late submissions may not be considered by the Committee.  Please read closely the guidelines about the format of submissions, set out below.

At this stage, the Committee expects to take oral evidence on the draft Bill during the weeks of 6 and 13 September.

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Evidence should be submitted in Word or WordPerfect formats, and should be sent by e-mail to [email protected]. The body of the e-mail must include a contact name, telephone number and postal address. The e-mail should also make clear who the submission is from.

Submissions should be as brief as possible, and certainly no more than 3,000 words. Paragraphs should be numbered for ease of reference, and the document should include a brief executive summary. Those submitting evidence are reminded that evidence should be original work, not previously published or circulated elsewhere. Once submitted no public use should be made of it, but those wishing to publish their evidence before it is published by the Committee are invited to contact the Clerk of the Committee to obtain permission to do so.