New Clause 22 - Review of cat breeding licencing

Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 2:15 pm ar 18 Tachwedd 2021.

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“(1) The Secretary of State must carry out a review of the appropriate licencing arrangements for cat breeders.

(2) In conducting this review the secretary of state must—

(a) consider the appropriate licencing arrangements for cat breeders;

(b) consider the maximum permitted litters per cat in a 12-month period;

(c) consider the maximum permitted litters per cat across a cat’s lifetime;

(d) consider restrictions on keeping cats for breeding, when it can reasonably be expected, on the basis of its genotype, conformation, behaviour or state of health, that breeding from a cat could have a detrimental effect on its health or welfare or the health or welfare of its offspring; and

(e) consult the public and such persons as the Secretary of State considers appropriate on the licencing of cat breeding.

(3) The Secretary of State must bring forward legislation based on the findings of the review within 12 months of the date of Royal Assent to this Act.

(4) For the purposes of this section ‘cat breeders’ are individuals who have bred 2 or more litters of cats in a 12 month period.”—

This new clause would require the Secretary of State to carry out a review of the appropriate licencing arrangements for cats.

Brought up, and read the First time.

Photo of Olivia Blake Olivia Blake Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

We probably will not press this new clause to a vote, but I think it is important enough to discuss it in Committee. Despite regulations being in place for dog breeding, there are currently none governing cat breeding. That is not the case across the country; regulations on cat breeding came into force in Scotland in September 2021. It is inconsistent in terms of cat welfare for cats to be protected in that way in one part of the UK but not another. The Bill presents an opportunity to have alignment and to ensure that good breeding welfare is in place for cats and kittens in England.

Cats Protection has raised valid concerns that cats are being bred with conformations that could affect their health and welfare and that of their offspring. In cats such as the Scottish Fold and Munchkin, an inherited disorder is specifically bred for, with the breed’s characteristics being produced by a gene mutation. The inherited disorder is detrimental to the cat and negatively affects its quality of life. Other breeds rely on this too, such as flat-faced Persian cats and other brachycephalic cats, which often experience breathing difficulties, as we have discussed for dogs, as well as eye problems, skin infections and difficulty eating as a result of their skull conformation.

Reviewing the licensing arrangements for cat breeders, and bringing forward legislation to license cat breeding, is the only way we can ensure better enforcement of the welfare of cats across the UK from birth. To be clear, we will not push this new clause to a vote.

Photo of Victoria Prentis Victoria Prentis The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

I thank the hon. Lady for her comments on this important issue and for confirming that she will not push the new clause to a vote. That is sensible. There are significant issues that we need to look at, which I intend to do in our review of the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018. We will review and report on those issues fully before 1 October 2023. We are already collecting evidence to inform that review. I encourage the hon. Lady and others, if they have evidence, to please send it to us. We are proactively working with partners, including local authorities. The scope of this exercise very much includes cat breeding. We will consider the case for extending the breeding regulations more widely during the review. We will then be in a position to assess the case for introducing new legislation.

Clause, by leave, withdrawn.