A lot of people have emailed in about the issue of horse tethering so I would like to take a moment to set out what I have been doing on this important issue. I have raised this issue with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Secretary of State Michael Gove. I asked the below question;
“… whether his Department plans to review its policy on the tethering of horses, donkeys, ponies and their hybrids; and what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of (a) making guidance on tethering enforceable by Environmental Officers, (b) introducing a time-limit on tethering and (c) making it an offence to tether an animal in a location that poses a danger to the animal or the public.”
He responded that;
“Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 (the 2006 Act) it is an offence to fail to provide for an animal’s welfare or to cause it any unnecessary suffering. The 2006 Act is backed up by the statutory Code of Practice for the Welfare of Horses, Ponies, Donkeys and Their Hybrids (the Code). The Code provides owners and keepers with information on how to meet the welfare needs of their horses and includes a specific section on how to tether a horse. Local authorities have powers under the 2006 Act to investigate allegations of cruelty or poor welfare. In addition, welfare organisations such as the RPSCA and World Horse Welfare (WHW) may also investigate such matters. If anyone is concerned about the way a horse has been tethered they should report the matter either to the relevant local authority or to the RSPCA or WHW who can investigate.”
While his response was disappointing I will continue try and raise this issue in Parliament. Treating animals properly is a very important issue and one that I feel very strongly about. I absolutely agree with the guidance that you point to from the Department that “tethering is not a suitable method of long-term management of an animal.” There is clearly more work to be done to provide legal clarity on this point.
Since you elected me in 2015, I have been a strong advocate for animal rights. I have :-
- Signed the League Against Cruel Sports Manifesto that called for robust enforcement of animal rights law, and a legal requirement for large landowners to be proactive in enforcing the law as well as more funding for non-hunting country amateur sport
- Supported an increase in the maximum sentence for animal cruelty to 5 years
- Voted in favour of keeping animal sentience in UK law after we leave the EU
Since 2017 I have backed several motions in the House of Commons on animal welfare including;
Early Day Motion 437 that demanded the end of animal testing for cosmetics globally
Early Day Motion 345 asking for a ban on the importing of animal fur clothes
Early Day Motion 11 that recognised the risk of extinction to African elephant and demanded the Government take action to stymie the ivory trade
The Labour Party has a proud record of standing up for animal rights. In Government we delivered the Hunting Ban in 2004 as well as the Animal Welfare Act in 2006. I am very proud of this Act which made animal welfare law much more proactive in the protection of animals. The Welsh Government has also been proactive – for instance by looking at a ban on grouse shooting on public land in Wales.
In contrast, the Conservative Government has voted against animal sentience (the idea that animals can feel pain and distress), they have dragged their heels on implementing a ban on the trade in ivory, and at the last election the Prime Minister said she supported bringing back fox hunting.
Unlike the Tory Government that has to be pushed to do anything to protect animals, we are looking for big and bold ideas on animal welfare. Which is why last year we launched our animal welfare plan with over 50 new policies for animal welfare. These would include appointing a Commissioner for Animal Welfare to enforce the Government’s responsibilities under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and provide the Government with the most up to date research and evidence on animal welfare and animal sentience.
The full list of policies can be found at the website below below;
As your MP I will continue to promote animal welfare, including on the practice of tethering horses.