Britain is a nation of animal lovers and I am proud to count myself among that number.
Liberal Democrats believe in the highest standards of animal welfare. We will ensure that animal cruelty offences are given stronger penalties, ban caged hens, clamp down on illegal pet imports, improve standards of animal health and welfare in agriculture and ensure that future trade deals require high safety, environmental and animal welfare standards.
In our manifesto, we out line how we will:
· Introduce stronger penalties for animal cruelty offences, increasing the maximum sentencing from six months to five years
· Bring in a ban on caged hens.
· Clamp down on illegal pet imports through legal identification requirements for online sales, and minimise the use of animals in scientific experimentation, including by funding research into alternatives.
· Continue to improve standards of animal health and welfare in agriculture by updating farm animal welfare codes and promoting responsible stewardship of antibiotic drugs.
· Ensure that future trade deals require high safety, environmental and animal welfare standards for food imports, including clear and unambiguous country of origin labelling for meat and dairy products.
Where fox hunting is concerned, I respect rural traditions and support the status quo which allows hunts to operate by following a scent and thus supports our rural economy but outlaws killing with hounds. I will, of course, consider carefully any Bill that is brought forward, on this and any other animal rights issue (including coarse fishing), and – as someone who believes in the principal that an MP is elected to support the interests of their constituency – I will consult widely and listen to my constituents on both sides of the argument, but I will never, ever vote to support fox hunting.