General election 2017: veterinary issues and politics

23 May 2017

Our General Election manifesto calls on policymakers and politicians to provide a clear pathway to improve animal health and welfare.

Veterinary surgeons are on the frontline caring for animals, detecting and treating disease, and undertaking pioneering research into animal and public health. As such, vets are in a unique position from which to offer the Government evidence-based and informed advice and policy recommendations.

Read our manifesto for 2017 in full to find out what we're asking the next Government to deliver.

We've collated a snapshot of key commitments from the main political parties’ manifestos affecting animal health and welfare issues and other issues of interest to the veterinary profession.

This list will be updated periodically. Further analysis of the Green Party, UKIP, SNP and Northern Ireland parties’ manifestos will be completed as they are launched.

Securing a successful outcome for animal health and welfare after Brexit

1. Guarantee working rights for non-British EU vets and VNs working and studying in the UK, and for British vets and VNs working in the EU, at the existing level with no time limit to ensure the need for veterinary services can be met.

The Conservative Party 

Will control immigration and secure the entitlements of EU nationals in Britain and British nationals in the EU. It will toughen the visa requirements for students.

Democratic Unionist Party (DUP)

Rights of British citizens in the EU and those from EU member states living here safeguarded. 

Green Party

Will immediately guarantee the rights of EU citizens to remain in the UK and urgently seek reciprocal arrangements for UK citizens in the EU.

Labour

Will immediately guarantee existing rights for all EU nationals living in Britain and secure reciprocal rights for UK citizens living in EU countries.

There will be a new migration system based on economic needs, balancing controls and existing entitlements. This may include employer sponsorship, work permits, visa regulations or a tailored mix.

The manifesto commits to allowing EU workers employed across farming, fishing and food manufacturing to remain in the UK, and reinstate the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme.

The Liberal Democrats

Protection of rights for EU citizens and UK citizens: The Liberal Democrats will press for the UK to unilaterally guarantee the rights of EU nationals in the UK, ending their ongoing uncertainty. We will urge the government, and use our influence with Liberal leaders in European countries, to secure the same rights for UK citizens living in European Union countries.

Hold an annual debate in parliament on skill and labour market shortfalls and surpluses to identify the migration necessary to meet the UK’s needs.

Plaid Cymru

Will guarantee the rights of all Europeans currently living and working in Wales.

SDLP (Social Democratic and Labour Party)

Those working on a cross board basis must be protected in respect of any conditions of employment and work, at the levels which are currently in place.

SNP

Will continue to call on the UK government to guarantee EU nationals’ right to remain in the UK as a matter of urgency. If the UK government chooses not to give EU nationals the certainty they deserve, then immigration powers should be devolved so that Scotland can do so. We will also seek guarantees for permanent residence from the UK government for the 3,000 EU nationals working in fish processing. We will continue to make the case for the reintroduction of a Post-Study Work Visa scheme for Scotland, to enable international students who come here to study to then stay and contribute to our society and economy after they graduate.

UKIP

Will allow law-abiding EU citizens living in the UK before Article 50 was triggered the right to stay here indefinitely. UKIP expects the same concession to be granted to British citizens living overseas within the EU.

2. Maintain current animal health and welfare standards and prioritise them in all trade negotiations to develop a unique, high standard of animal health, welfare and food hygiene as a selling point for the UK.

The Conservative Party

Commit to taking early steps to control the export of live farm animals for slaughter.

The party would ensure that future trade deals required high safety, environmental and animal welfare standards for food imports, including clear and unambiguous country of-origin labelling for meat and dairy products.

Democratic Unionist Party (DUP)

Strong protections for agri-food to guard against vulnerabilities to cheap inferior imports.

Green Party

Will end factory farming and live exports.

Labour

Will actively support international negotiations towards an Environmental Goods Agreement at the World Trade Organisation.

The Liberal Democrats

Would continue to improve standards of animal health and welfare in agriculture by updating farm animal welfare codes…

After EU exit, Britain would continue to have the highest standards of food quality and animal welfare.

Plaid Cymru

To avoid irresponsible trade deals that mean Wales will be flooded with cheap imported food, harming the Welsh farm industry and the rural communities built around them, Plaid Cymru requires the UK Government to seek the endorsement of each UK country before any trade deal can be signed, in order to protect Welsh farmers.

SDLP

The island of Ireland is a single biogeographic unit with coordinated cross-border action required on freshwater and marine habitats as well as other areas; upholding EU standards is necessary for such co-ordinated action. They will champion the agri-food sector and work to ensure the environmental standards and frameworks guaranteed by the EU are not diluted.

SNP

EU regulation over animal and plant health and environmental and food safety gives Scotland access to export markets around the world. SNP MPs will support the Scottish Government‘s efforts to maintain all these current standards and regulations.

UKIP

Will ban the export of animals for fattening and slaughter.

3. Commit to maintaining a single standard for meat produced for both domestic and export markets based on current standards of food hygiene legislation and enforcement, including veterinary certification and controls.

Labour

Labour will reconfigure funds for farming and fishing to support smaller traders, local economies, community benefits and sustainable practices.

The Liberal Democrats

Believe that any deal negotiated for the UK outside the EU must ensure that trade can continue without customs controls at the border, which smooths trade between the UK and the continent by providing a common ‘rule book’ for businesses and a common mechanism to ensure that everyone abides by the rules.

4. Guarantee the UK veterinary profession ongoing access to all existing veterinary medicines licensed through the EU regulatory systems in order to meet animal health requirements, whilst continuing to play a leading role in tackling antimicrobial resistance internationally.

The Liberal Democrats

Would continue to improve standards of animal health and welfare in agriculture by promoting the responsible stewardship of antibiotic drugs.

SNP

Will call on the UK government to stay part of the European Medicines Agency so that access to vital drugs is maintained. We will also call on the UK government to devolve responsibility for medicine and medical product regulation to the Scottish Parliament.

UKIP

Will consider transferring some support to those livestock producers who commit to farming without antibiotics.

5. Ensure any public money to replace the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is used to support and incentivise public goods, including animal health and welfare, disease surveillance, biodiversity and environmental stewardship. 

The Conservative Party

The manifesto commits to setting up new frameworks for supporting food production and stewardship of the countryside. 

Democratic Unionist Party (DUP)

An appropriate support programme for our farmers should continue after we leave.

Ability to opt-in to EU funds where proven to be cost-effective and add value.

Green Party

Will refocus public funding for the rural economy towards restoring biodiversity, sustainable land management and farming, improving animal welfare, and tackling climate change.

The Liberal Democrats

Would continue their campaign to reform agricultural subsidies - rebalancing away from direct subsidy and refocusing support towards the public benefits that come from effective land management including countryside protection, flood prevention, food production and climate-change mitigation.

Plaid Cymru

Will fight to ensure that every penny of European funding, including farming payments, is replaced by the UK government.

UKIP

Will introduce a UK Single Farm Payment (SFP) that operates in a similar way to the present EU system. UKIP’s SFP will end EU discrimination in favour of larger, intensive farms, and support smaller enterprises.

Support farming and wildlife though grant schemes prioritising the preservation of natural habitats.

SDLP

Press the Government to urgently detail its plans on how it will replace the EU Single Farm Payment, transitional arrangements to replace CAP and other supports provided by the EU.

SNP

Will press for clarity and certainty over existing farm funding. We should have full control of EU agricultural funding following Brexit.

6. Develop a regulatory and legislative framework to ensure the UK continues to be a globally attractive place for research and development (R&D) and ensure reciprocal surveillance data sharing with Europe to detect new and emerging diseases. 

Conservative Party

We will deliver this and ensure further growth so that overall, as a nation, we meet the current OECD average for investment in R&D – that is, 2.4 per cent of GDP – within ten years, with a longer-term goal of three per cent. We will increase the number of scientists working in the UK and enable leading scientists from around the world to work here. We will work hard to ensure we have a regulatory environment that encourages innovation.

Democratic Unionist Party (DUP)

Continued participation in funding programmes that have been proven to be of benefit and are open to non-EU members e.g. research funding.

Labour

A Labour government will ensure that the UK maintains our leading research role by seeking to stay part of Horizon 2020 and its successor programmes and by welcoming research staff to the UK. They commit to investing more in R&D – and aim to meet the OECD target of 3 per cent of GDP spent on research and development by 2030. 

Liberal Democrats

Research is vital for our long-term prosperity, security and wellbeing – but the Leave vote has already started to affect existing and proposed research programmes. We will campaign against any reduction in investment in UK universities and for their right to apply for EU funds on equal terms.

SNP

The benefits delivered by EU funding for Scotland are significant and wide-ranging – including funding research at our universities. SNP MPs will demand urgent clarity from the UK government on long-term funding arrangements after the UK leaves the EU, and ensure that current funding levels are matched.

Safeguarding animal health

7. Protect the UK from exotic disease through maintaining a robust and coordinated surveillance network and, specifically, through reforming the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) to reintroduce tick treatments for dogs and cats alongside tapeworm treatments for cats.

8. Support vets and farmers to combat endemic livestock diseases across all species and maintain a comprehensive approach to tackling bovine TB using all evidence-based measures and investing in further research.

Green Party

Will continue to push for science-led control of bTB, where the culling of badgers clearly has no place. 

Labour

Will cease the badger cull, which spreads bovine TB.

The Liberal Democrats

Would develop safe, effective, humane and evidence-based ways of controlling bovine TB, including by investing to produce workable vaccines.

9. Introduce measures to ensure the internet sale of medicines is safe, responsible and accredited, and continue to support the responsible use of antimicrobials to safeguard their future use in animals and humans.

Labour

Will seek to maintain membership of (or equivalent relationships with) European organisations which offer benefits to the UK such as Euratom and the European Medicines Agency.

Promoting animal welfare

10. Improve the welfare of millions of animals by requiring all animals to be stunned before slaughter to ensure they are insensible to pain. In the short term the Government should reduce the welfare harm of non-stun slaughter by introducing immediate post-cut stunning and clearer labelling of meat as stunned or non-stunned to allow consumers to make an informed choice.

UKIP

Will insist all meat labelling identifies the method of slaughter.

11. Introduce mandatory CCTV use in all approved slaughterhouses and ensure Official Veterinarians (OVs) have unrestricted access to slaughterhouse CCTV footage.

The Conservative Party

Will make CCTV recording in slaughterhouses mandatory.

Green Party

Will introduce mandatory CCTV in slaughterhouses.

UKIP

Will install CCTV in every abattoir and deal severely with any animal welfare contraventions.

12. Introduce mandatory method of production labelling with welfare outcome safeguards to enable consumers to purchase products that support a good life and humane death for farmed animals.

13. Overhaul legislation on the sale of pets to ensure it is fit for purpose for the internet age and update dog breeding.

The Conservative Party

Will implement proposed reforms on pet sales and licensing and will prohibit the third-party sale of puppies.

Green Party

Will tighten the law regulating the breeding and sale of companion animals.

Labour

Labour will prohibit the third-party sale of puppies.

14. Introduce domestic legislation on Equine Identification to update the current horse passport system, including a fully operational central equine database and retrospective microchipping of all horses. 

15. Ban the use of wild animals in travelling circuses, bring forward legislation to stop the keeping of primates as pets, review legislation and guidance on the sale and ownership of exotic species to ensure their health and welfare needs can be met, and support calls for an EU-wide ban on the importation of wild-caught reptiles and amphibians to be kept as pets.

Green Party

Will ban the import of animals for the exotic companion animal trade. We will end the trade and keeping of primates as companion animals.

Will end the use of all animals in circuses.

Labour

Support the ban on wild animals in circuses.

16. Provide adequate resources to local authorities to enforce animal welfare, animal disease and food safety legislation effectively.

Green Party

Will guarantee funding for a dedicated Wildlife and Animal Crimes Unit in every police force.

The Liberal Democrats

Will develop a government process to deliver greater devolution of financial responsibility to English local authorities and any new devolved bodies in England will be established.

Recognising the vital role of veterinary surgeons

17. Maintain and promote veterinary expertise within government departments and agencies, for example, the Animal and Plant Health Agency, the Food Standards Agency and Home Office, recognising the value of veterinary input to both policy development and implementation.

18. Review the implementation of tendering arrangements for OV (official veterinarian) services to ensure the system does not negatively impact upon the UK’s veterinary practice infrastructure creating black holes of service provision.

19. Ensure that allied professionals working in the animal care sector are well regulated and are working alongside veterinary surgeons as part of the veterinary-led team to protect animal health and welfare.

20. Embrace partnership working between government and the veterinary profession, recognising the unique skills, knowledge and expertise of veterinary surgeons across animal health and welfare and public health. 

Other animal health and welfare, and public health commitments

Conservatives

Introduce new agri-environment system in the following parliament.

Produce a comprehensive 25-year plan for the environment that will chart how we will improve the environment as we leave EU and take control of environmental legislation.

Leave Common Fisheries Policy and withdraw from the London Fisheries Convention.

Democratic Unionist Party (DUP)

Local input into new UK agriculture and fisheries policies which can offer sustainability and new growth opportunities. 

Particular importance of agri-food sector to Northern Ireland economy recognised and reflected.

Ease of trade with the Irish Republic and throughout the European Union. 

Maintenance of the Common Travel Area.

Particular circumstances of Northern Ireland with a land border with the EU fully reflected Frictionless border with Irish Republic assisting those working or travelling in the other jurisdiction.

Higher and further education continuing to attract international expertise and collaboration.

Green Party

Will ban the manufacture, sale and use of snares.

Will transfer the EU Habitats and Birds Directives into UK legislation and oppose any attempts to weaken them.

Will take coordinated action to tackle wildlife crime both in the UK and across the globe, recognising its link to global crime networks.

Will introduce a register of convicted animal abusers to help address associated crimes such as child abuse, and encourage programmes to prevent re-offending.

Will immediately end toxicity testing on animals, the use of primates and address late-stage failure of new pharmaceutical products by overhauling drug-development and test rules.

Will introduce much tougher welfare rules and more monitoring of animal racing, stop the use of the whip in horse racing and end greyhound racing.

Regarding Government policy-making, would aim to create an Animal Protection Commission to ensure that animals aren’t forgotten in the decision-making process.

Labour

Establish a science innovation fund that will include support for our small-scale fishing fleet

Consult on ways to ensure better enforcement of agreed standards for animal husbandry.

Liberal Democrats

Work with the industry and other stakeholders to develop a national plan for sustainable fisheries.

Ban caged hens.

Plaid Cymru

All animal health and welfare, or relevant environmental commitments, captured in the manifesto comparison above.

SDLP

Will advocate sustainable export markets for Northern Ireland agriculture products as a key to growing this sector further.

Will seek to develop a comprehensive fishing development plan for the onshore fish processing industry, through devolution of fishery policy

Will vote against any attempts to overturn the foxhunting ban.

SNP

Will continue, in all circumstances, to demand the scrapping or fundamental reform of the Common Fisheries Policy and support Scottish control of Scottish fisheries. We will press for EU fisheries funding to be matched and transferred to Scotland in full.

Will expect all powers over agriculture and rural policy to be repatriated to Scotland when the UK leaves the EU.

UKIP

Scrap tuition fees for science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine students.

Tightly regulate animal testing, and continually challenge companies concerned regarding its necessity.

BVA Media Office