New Clause 27 - Rearing of non-native game birds: review and consultation

Part of Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 2:30 pm ar 18 Tachwedd 2021.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Daniel Zeichner Daniel Zeichner Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) 2:30, 18 Tachwedd 2021

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

You will be glad to hear, Mr Davies, that this is our final new clause. I return to an issue that has long been a focus of Labour’s work on animal welfare as part of ending the cage age. New clause 27 seeks to establish a review of the rearing of non-native game birds, with a particular focus on the welfare of the birds and the use of cages.

I am advised that around 50 million pheasants and partridges are mass produced in the UK every year to be used for sporting purposes. I am grateful to the Labour Animal Welfare Society for commissioning its recent report from Professor Stephen Harris—it makes for fairly grim reading. Animal Aid estimates that tens of thousands of partridges and pheasants are confined in cages in England. It argues that the birds inside these cages suffer from feather loss, scalping and injuries inflicted by their stressed cage mates. It also reports that birds may have masks and other devices fitted to try to stop them inflicting injuries, and that large numbers of breeding birds are confined for most of their lives in so-called raised laying cages, which are left outside and exposed to the elements.

Such practices clearly pose significant welfare concerns for the game birds involved. The current code of practice for the welfare of game birds reared for sporting purposes is not legally binding. I am told that the code was due to be reviewed in 2016, but apparently that did not take place. The Minister has indicated in responses to parliamentary questions, however, that the Government are examining the use of cages for the breeding of partridges and pheasants—a lot of examining is going on in the Department. I am in no doubt that every member of the Committee wants to ensure that we end the suffering of kept animals. It really is time to end the cage age.