Animal welfare - Scottish Government activity: Scottish Animal Welfare Commission review

Review of Scottish Government activity affecting the welfare of animals, as sentient beings, by the Scottish Animal Welfare Commission (SAWC).

4. Discussion

The specific commitments of the Programme for Government 2021-22 are commented on in section 1 of this report. In this section, SAWC gives a broader overview of progress to maintaining and enhancing the welfare of animals in Scotland through both legislative and non-legislative measures.

As was seen in the five Programmes for Government covering Session 5 of the Scottish Parliament, the number of specific commitments to animal welfare measures is growing and this is welcomed by SAWC. SAWC members are in no doubt that this reflects the high level of public concern about animal welfare and associated recognition of this by Scottish Ministers and Scottish Government officials.

As stated last year, SAWC welcomes the independence it has been accorded with regard to setting its agenda and has already been able to consider issues it considers important, in addition to those referred to it by the Scottish Ministers.

SAWC is aware of the constraints placed on government and parliamentary processes over the last two and a half years, due to the Covid-19 pandemic and congratulates the Scottish Government on following through its proposed programme of animal welfare measures. It is regrettable that the proposed Animals Abroad Bill has been dropped by the UK Government and that the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill has not made more rapid progress in the UK parliament – particularly when the view of the Scottish Parliament, expressed in the legislative consent motion, was that these matters required legislation.

A small number of commitments in the Programmes for Government for Session 5 are still outstanding at the end of the first year of Session 6. These include regulations to cover the use of animals in public display or performance and implementation of the Werritty recommendations on grouse moor licensing. As stated in section 2 above, however, the SAWC understands that consultations are to be expected shortly.

It is also welcome that the Hunting with Dogs (Scotland) Bill to advance the Bonomy recommendations on the use of dogs to control wild mammals is well under way. SAWC believes that the Bill offers comprehensive yet proportionate protections for foxes and other wild mammals in Scotland.

We repeat our recommendation from last year regarding the Prohibited Procedures on Protected Animals (Exemptions) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2017 and the potential value of follow-up monitoring to assess the net benefits or disadvantages for animals.



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