UK Government blocks attempts to reinstate Kept Animals Bill

21 June 2023


Today in Parliament, MPs voted against resurrecting the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill.

Born Free is disappointed that MPs have voted against reinstating the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill. The Opposition Day Debate which took place this afternoon, 21 June, forced a binding vote to reintroduce an identical version of the previously scrapped Bill. If it had been successful, the 12th of July would have been allocated as a day to pass the Bill through the House of Commons.

In anticipation of the debate, Born Free wrote to a number of MPs urging them to support the revival of the Bill and outlining our concerns in relation to the keeping of primates as pets and the future of zoo licensing reform if the Bill did not return. We also joined 18 NGO’s in signing a joint letter calling on MPs from all parties to support any and all attempts to reintroduce the Bill.

First introduced in June 2021, the Bill received cross-party support and appeared to be on the journey to becoming law until progress stalled after November 2021, as the Government underwent a series of changes. The news that the Bill had been dropped was finally announced on 25 May 2023.

The five overarching animal welfare issues addressed by the Bill were:
•    Keeping primates as pets
•    Dogs attacking or worrying livestock
•    Export of livestock
•    Importation of dogs, cats and ferrets
•    Zoo licensing reform

A number of these issues formed part of the Conservative Party’s 2019 manifesto and/or were featured in Defra’s 2021 Action Plan for Animal Welfare.

Born Free has long campaigned for the tightening of zoo legislation and the review of exotic pet ownership. Since the Bill’s introduction in June 2021, Born Free, along with partners at Wildlife Countryside Link, have consistently pushed for its progression through Parliament and its passing into law.

Born Free’s Captivity Research Officer, Chris Lewis, stated, “It’s incredibly disappointing that attempts to revive the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill have been denied. These issues must not be kicked into the long grass and forgotten about. The UK Government must now proceed in announcing how they intend to separately proceed with tackling each animal welfare issue originally in the Bill without delay.”

You can help

Please consider writing to your local MP, urging them to push for the reform of the Zoo Licensing Act 1981 and the introduction of legislation to ban the keeping of primates as pets.