Labour plans to phase out animal testing as part of manifesto promise

Labour would gradually phase out animal testing and ban trophy hunters from selling their spoils in the UK as part of the party’s animal welfare manifesto.

After consultations with the public, the party would also carry out a review into the use of whips on race horses by jockeys, forbid electric pulse fishing and prohibit the sale and use of snares and glue traps, which are used to catch animals.

Labour would pledge, if in government, to review the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 with a long-term commitment to phase out animal testing completely.

The British Horseracing Authority has strict rules on the use of whipping, with jockeys limited to a maximum of seven times in a flat race or eight times in a jump race and the horse must be “in contention or clearly winning at the time” the force was applied. Jockeys disobeying such rules face suspension.

The shadow environment secretary, Sue Hayman, confirmed that, under a future Labour government, the party would look to review whether the use of whips in horse racing should be further restricted.

It was one of the top priorities raised in a consultation with members, animal rights groups and the public, said the party.

Hayman said Labour wanted to “bring Britain’s animal welfare policy into the 21st century” and protect animals both in the UK and around the world, amid heightened speculation over an early election.

Hayman said: “After consulting with the public and groups involved with research, it’s clear that we need to focus minds and resources on alternatives to animal testing by declaring our intention to phase it out.

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“It is not only harmful to the animals, but very often ineffective as a means to develop medical treatments for humans.

“Labour urges the government to categorically rule out the prospect of duplicate animal testing [in the event of a no-deal Brexit] and to commit to the long-term phase out of the use of animal testing in collaboration with researchers, medical professionals and animal welfare experts.”

In 2018, 3.52m experimental procedures involving living animals were carried out across the UK including more than 100,000 cases where animals suffered severely and about 90,000 where the animal died, according to Home Office figures.

More than 90% of animal tests fail to lead to treatments for humans, Labour said. The majority used mice, but fish and rats are also often used. Cats, dogs, horses and monkeys were used for the first time in experimental procedures in 2017.

Other measures Labour would propose include ensuring the maximum sentence could be handed out if a defendant was found guilty of animal cruelty against a wild animal, and working internationally to stop the return of commercial whaling.

More than 6,000 responses were received in response to the consultation, with the use of whips in horse racing one of the top priorities raised by members, animal rights groups and the public.

The party said the manifesto would also reiterate Labour’s commitment to strengthening the Hunting Act 2004, ending the badger cull, giving tenants the right to keep pets, enshrining animal sentience in law and ending the live export of animals for slaughter. Last week it committed to a total ban on monkeys being kept in cages.

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