Brexit accidentally threatens animal welfare laws, warns RSPCA

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Brexit accidentally threatens animal welfare laws, warns RSPCA

Laws protecting animals in the UK are at risk of being scrapped because of Brexit, the RSPCA has warned.

The ban on battery hens, testing of cosmetics on animals and farm animal growth promoters are among the 44 animal welfare measures to be transferred from the EU.

But they will be lost if the government runs out of time to incorporate them into UK law.

In total, almost 2,500 laws are to be assessed by the end of next year – a tight schedule – and any that are not enforced will be dropped by default.

Around four out of five UK animal welfare laws were passed when the UK was a member of the EU.

The RSPCA says the threat stems from the EU Legislation Retention (Revocation and Reform) Bill, which establishes a screening process to determine whether EU legislation should be retained. The bill passed its second reading in the House of Commons on Tuesday.

The laws will be repealed by the end of next year unless ministers actively save them.

Over time, anyone who is not registered will be lost.

RSPCA public affairs chief David Bowles said: “If the bill is passed, the clock will start to turn on animal welfare standards in the UK.

“If the new administration’s inertia or lack of commitment means that time is running out before the process of filtering out these 44 key pieces of animal welfare legislation can take place, these laws will automatically disappear in the tunes.

“It would be a tragedy. Not only would this be a huge step backwards for animals, but the UK government would have reneged on its commitment to maintaining high standards of animal welfare after Brexit.

“We call on the new Secretaries of State in the Ministries of Business and Environment to drop the Bill altogether as it serves no purpose.

“If they wish to proceed regardless, we ask them to confirm an extension of the deadline to 2026, as permitted by the bill.

“The government should also clarify the screening process and confirm which animal welfare laws will be safe and which will be reviewed or removed.”

The charity said it feared the budget cuts would make it more difficult for the environment department to work on upholding the laws, as it was responsible for the largest number of laws withheld by the EU.

The laws protect farm and wild animals, those of science and pets.

The Independent asked the government to respond.

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