Animal welfare

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Content published before December 2016

This page highlights some of the current parliamentary material available on animal welfare. This includes select committee reports, briefing papers on current legislation and other subjects produced by the parliamentary research services, and the latest Early Day Motions put down by MPs. Additional material on animal experiments is available.

Commons Briefing Papers

31.08.2016Badgers: Culls in England
The UK Government is committed to eradicating bovine TB and takes the view that badger culling in areas with high incidence of TB in cattle in England is an effective part of this strategy. Controlled shooting of badgers was trialed in Gloucestershire and Somerset in 2013 and 2014. In 2015, a badger cull continued in these two areas and was extended to a third area in Dorset. The Government has announced that badger control will take place over a wider number of areas in England in 2016. However, badger culling as a means of controlling TB in cattle remains a contentious policy.
11.08.2016Dangerous Dogs
An overview of dangerous dogs legislation.
29.04.2016Wild Animals In Circuses
This policy briefing provides information on the licensing scheme for wild animals in circuses, and proposals to legislate to ban the use of wild animals in circuses in England. The paper also outlines policy developments in the Devolved Administrations.
18.01.2016Animal Experiment Statistics
In 2014 3.8 million procedures were completed on regulated living animals representing a decrease of 6% compared to 2013. This note summarises and analyses trends in data, including the growth of universities as the dominant seat of research on animals, the decline of research for toxicological purposes, and the growth in animal procedures for cancer research.
03.11.2015Dog Meat Trade
13.07.2015Amending The Hunting Act 2004
Hunting with dogs was banned in England in 2004 under The Hunting Act. In July 2015 the Government announced that it intended to amend the legislation to amend the legislation.
18.02.2015Religious Slaughter of Animals
Religious slaughter of animals for food without pre-stunning is currently permitted in the UK for Muslim (Halal) and Jewish (Shechita) methods in line with permitted exemptions to EU slaughter regulations which require pre-stunning. In practice, around 80% of halal meat in the UK is from animals that have been pre-stunned. The UK Government has said that it would prefer all animals to be pre-stunned before slaughter on welfare grounds but it observes the rights of religious communities. However, animal welfare groups, including the British Veterinary Association and RSPCA are calling for an end to non-stun slaughter. All parties in the debate would like to see labelling of meat which provides more consumer information on the slaughter methods used.
13.01.2015Control of Horses Bill 2014-15
There are proposals to update fly-grazing legislation. This note covers the private Members' bill put forward by Julian Sturdy MP.
09.07.2014Beak Trimming Ban
Beak trimming is used to improve welfare in laying hen flocks. There are welfare concerns and the Goverment plans to ban the practice in 2016. Farmers are calling for the ban to be postponed
11.06.2014Badger Culling : Alternatives
TB vaccination of badgers and cattle: Policy in England and Wales and progress in developing useable vaccines

Lords Library Notes

12.05.2016Queen's Speech 2016 Day 4: Economic Affairs, Energy, Environment, Local Government and Transport
The House of Lords is due to debate the Queen's Speech over four days between 19 and 25 May 2016. This briefing is one of four prepared by the House of Lords Library to cover the themes of each day of debate.


16.01.2014Livestock emissions
This POSTnote examines current policy and prospects for further reductions in emissions.
12.04.2013Livestock Vaccines
This POSTnote examines the use of vaccines and outlines the pros and cons of using vaccination in livestock.
12.10.2011Improving livestock
This note describes current technologies used in livestock breeding, research into future technologies and how the improvement of livestock can contribute towards future food security.
12.10.2011Livestock disease
This POSTnote examines disease threats to UK livestock, outlines prevention and control measures, and looks at factors likely to contribute to future disease.
01.01.2010Pets, families and interagency working, January 2010
This POSTnote examines the evidence base for the assumption that organisations that work with animals should be included in the safeguarding children agenda, and the rationale for cross-reporting between different agencies.
01.02.2009Wild deer, February 2009
This POSTnote examines the current status of wild deer in the UK, their ecological, economic and social impacts and legislation on their management.

Select Committee Reports

19.07.2011Welfare of laying hens directive - implications for the egg industry.
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee report [Commons]

Early Day Motions

That this House notes with concern the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs' (DEFRA) decision to withhold access to the inspection reports on circus establishments carried ...
That this House condemns the departure of the Japanese whaling fleet for Antarctica with the intention of killing almost 1,000 whales; believes that whaling is cruel and unnecessary ...
That this House, recalling its support for the motion approved at the backbench debate held on 23 June 2011, directing the Government to use its powers under section 12 of the Animal ...
That this House deplores the shooting of hares throughout their breeding season as cruel and unnecessary; notes that in Scotland the brown hare and mountain hare now have close seasons ...
That this House believes that the use of wild animals in travelling circuses is fundamentally wrong because their welfare and well-being is continuously compromised by confinement in ...


  • Commons Briefing Papers (CBP) Papers providing in-depth and impartial analysis on every major piece of primary legislation and on other topics of public and parliamentary concern. Regular statistics papers are also published.
  • Early Day Motions (EDMs) - formal motions submitted by MPs in the House of Commons
  • POSTnotes (POST PN) - proactive four-page policy briefings from the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology based on reviews of the research literature, interviews with stakeholders and peer review, commissioned by the POST Board
  • Lords Library Notes (LLN) - authored publications by the research section of the House of Lords Library that provide analysis of Bills, subjects for debate in the House and other issues of interest to Members.
  • Select Committee Reports - papers produced by all select committees of both Houses