Thank you to all of my constituents who have recently contacted me about the use of cages to rear birds for shooting and Animal Aid’s campaign.

I believe we have a moral duty to treat animals in a humane and compassionate way and I agree that animals should not suffer unnecessarily or be kept in inappropriate conditions.

In 2006, the UK Government introduced the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) which embedded in statute, for the first time, clear standards relating to the welfare of animals. This Act makes it a criminal offence to subject an animal to unnecessary suffering and imposes a duty of care on any person who has responsibility for an animal.

While the AWA applies to both England and Wales, animal welfare is a devolved matter and the AWA gave the Welsh Government the power to create codes of practice on animal welfare issues. In January 2011, a Code of Practice was issued in Wales for the Welfare of Gamebirds Reared for Sporting Purposes.

The Code states that breeding, rearing house or pen systems should be designed and managed in such a way to minimise aggressive behaviour, and that all gamebird breeders and rearers should register with a veterinary practice. It also states that, when installing any new systems and equipment, gamebird breeders or rearers should assess whether they meet the requirements of the Code and if they or existing systems cannot, then they should not be used.

The Code is clear that barren raised cages for breeding pheasants and small barren cages for breeding partridges should not be used in Wales. It further states that all laying systems used for the housing of birds should be designed and managed to ensure the welfare of the birds, and any system should be appropriately enriched.

I can assure you I have long supported action to reduce animal cruelty and at the 2017 General Election I stood on a manifesto which committed to lead the world with high animal welfare standards.I also signed my name to EDM 402 in 2015 which noted the concern of the House on the use of cages to rear birds for shooting. I will therefore continue to support the highest possible standards of animal welfare and efforts to improve the welfare of gamebirds, both in Wales and across the UK.

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