20 September 2023

Joanna Lumley asks PM to show ‘true leadership’ on banning live animal exports

20 September 2023

Dame Joanna Lumley has asked the Prime Minister to show “true leadership” after delivering a petition to Downing Street to ban live animal exports.

The actress delivered a box with 95,000 signatures to 10 Downing Street, urging the Government to reconsider its decision to withdraw the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill.

The Bill, which was expected to ban live animal exports, was scrapped by the Government in May, having already suffered long delays since it was first introduced in June 2021.

Dame Joanna told the PA news agency that the Government must “stand by its commitment” to banning live animal exports.

She said: “(The withdrawal of the Bill) was just a huge shock to all the people who believed it would go through.

“We’re here to ask the Government to stand by its commitment to end the trade, end live exports, we have gathered over 95,000 signatures we have handed to the Prime Minister to please show true leadership on animal welfare.

“Stand by this Bill that you promised, that you said would remain permanent, we can’t understand why it’s going back, so we are saying please Prime Minister… do the right thing.”

Ministers have previously insisted the Government will keep its promises on specific animal welfare issues using other means, including by supporting private member’s Bills.

But campaigners say tens of thousands of animals have suffered as a result of Government “dithering” on the issue.

Animal welfare organisation Compassion in World Farming (CIWF), which worked with Dame Joanna on the petition, said other countries have “banned or begun to phase out the trade”, however the Government has not made progress.

James West, CIWF’s chief public affairs manager, said: “We are outraged that having introduced legislation which easily passed its initial stages and had broad cross-party support, the UK Government dithered for 18 months then abandoned the Bill.

“We are therefore continuing to keep up the pressure to ensure legislation that results in a live exports ban remains high on the UK political agenda.

“We believe animals should be fattened and slaughtered as close as possible to their place of birth; the exportation of live animals for those purposes is simply unnecessary and must be banned by the Government without further delay.”

The Government has been contacted for comment.

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