Race horse owners and jockeys will be forced to justify why whipping of horses should continue to be allowed under plans to be unveiled by Labour this week.

In the face of protests from the horse racing industry Jeremy Corbyn is to press ahead with a review of the practice following widespread complaints about unnecessary cruelty to the animals.

The move is part of a radical package to be announced this week which party spokesman Sue Hayman said is a blueprint to “bring UK animal welfare policy into the twentieth century”.

It will include strengthened rural police squads to tackle rising cases of cruelty. Illegal hare-coursing run by “hardened criminals” will be targeted with tough new penalties.

Other measures in the plan include the phasing out of animal testing, starting with a new, lower legal definition of “severe” pain to ease animals suffering.

Increased numbers of dedicated officers in rural and wildlife crime teams will protect badgers, foxes and birds of prey.

 

Dedicated officers in rural and wildlife crime teams will protect badgers, foxes and birds of prey

 

New laws, for the first time covering all domestic and wild animals, will carry sentences for cruelty of up to five years in prison.

A new animal welfare czar will be created to enforce protection in all international trade deals involving animal products and in all decisions taken across Whitehall departments.

At the centre of the plan is the creation of a greater public awareness of “animal sentience”, or sensitivity. The principle of understanding animal feelings will be enshrined in law to prevent degrading treatment of any living creature.

Ms Hayman said: “This is the most comprehensive and ambitious agenda on animal welfare ever. We want to see a world where no animal is made, or allowed, to suffer unnecessary pain and degradation.

“We will aim to drive up standards in line with the latest scientific evidence. Conviction rates for wildlife crime and hunting are too low, with unpunished fox killings and continued training of hounds to kill wild animals.

Accusing the Tories of a “relaxed approach” to animal cruelty, she said: “No ifs, no buts, this has to stop.”





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