A new bill banning the export of livestock for slaughter cleared Parliament this week, with campaigners hailing it as a landmark moment for animal welfare.

The bill will now head for royal assent before becoming law.

The UK will become the first European country to implement a ban on live animal exports, joining countries like New Zealand, Australia, and Brazil in phasing out or ending the trade.

The Animal Welfare (Livestock Exports) Bill, originally put forward by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson has successfully passed its final stage in Parliament, fulfilling the government’s longstanding pledge to halt the export of animals for slaughter and fattening overseas.

During his time in office, the former Prime Minister repeatedly said “the opportunity of Brexit” would allow the Conservative government to “champion animal welfare” and ban live shipments after Brexit. A pledge which has now materialised after Parliament’s upper chamber, the House of Lords, passed the bill, meaning it will now head for royal assent before becoming law.

Animal Aid say the significance of this legislation cannot be overstated. They state: “After over 50 years of tireless advocacy, live animal exports will finally be consigned to history where they belong.”

For decades, millions of animals have endured harrowing long-distance journeys in overcrowded, unsanitary conditions, enduring extreme temperatures and deprivation of food and water for days or even weeks.

Many have ended up in circumstances that violate UK laws, such as confinement in veal crates where young calves are isolated and unable to move freely.

Iain Green, Director of Animal Aid, expressed joy at the news, noting the widespread public support for the ban and urging swift enshrinement into law ahead of the General Election to prevent further animal suffering. He said:

“We’ve seen a series of broken promises from the Government on the issue of animal protection, so we’re delighted by the news of a ban on live animal exports following widespread public support. 

“We’re hopeful that this Bill will be enshrined into law quickly, ahead of the General Election, in order to prevent the suffering of millions of animals.”

Emma Slawinski, Director of Policy, Prevention and Campaigns at the RSPCA animal charity, described it as “an extraordinary achievement” that activists had campaigned on for 50 years. She said:

“Back in the 90s we had more than a million animals going out from the UK. It’s an abhorrent trade. The suffering is intense and it goes on for a long time.”

“Some of those journeys were measured in days, not in hours, and they’re never going to happen again.”

The Compassion in World Farming animal welfare group called it a “truly momentous day” for farmed animals.

The bill will now head for royal assent.

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