03 APR 2018
Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about the welfare of horses.
I realise you would like me to sign EDM 1138, however like many MPs I do not sign any EDMs no matter how worthy the cause. This is because EDMs now cost a huge amount per year to administer and have no chance of changing the Law. They are in effect petitions which only MPs can sign. They have also been superseded by online petitions which can be on any issue for which the Government or Parliament is responsible and any which receive 10,000 signatures will receive a response from the Government. Those petitions which reach 100,000 signatures will almost always be debated in Parliament – unless it is an issue which has recently been debated. There are also concerns that EDMs may give a false impression that action is being taken.
Nonetheless, I hope the following information on this topic from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is of interest:
By granting local authorities and landowners further powers to rescue and re-home fly-grazed horses, and making those responsible liable for any costs incurred, this Act will go a long way towards safeguarding the welfare of horses.
In addition to the Control of Horses Act, it remains illegal to be cruel to an animal, so the Animal Welfare Act can still be used to prosecute someone for abandoning a horse. Owners or keepers must ensure their horses have an adequate diet and are protected from pain or injury. This legislation is reinforced by the Code of Practice for the Welfare of Horses, Ponies, Donkeys and their Hybrids, which is frequently used in court to demonstrate neglect.
Enforcement of welfare laws is the responsibility of local councils, which are also responsible for upholding the horse passport regulations more generally, mostly through their Trading Standards or Animal Health Officers.
As you might be aware, all horse passports issued since July 2009 must include a microchip number. Recent reforms have included a new requirement for a central database. The Equine Sector Council described these efforts as "a triumph for Britain's horse sector and Defra."
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