I have been awarded Cruelty Free International MP of the month.
I have been a strong advocate of animal welfare, working closely with Cruelty Free International on a number of issues including our EU cosmetics campaign and our ‘Vote Cruelty Free’ General Election initiative.
I gave the following interview to Cruelty Free International.
How did you become interested in animal protection?
I’ve had a lifelong interest in animals being treated properly. When elected, I took over from an MP who had done lot of work on animal welfare so it wasn’t surprising when I was asked to support the charity FRAME in drawing together the All Party Group for the Reduction, Replacement and Refinement of Animals in Research. I became the Chair of this Group.
How important is this issue among your constituents?
Local people are always getting in touch to share their concerns about animal welfare issues. Some of the biggest issues in my electronic mailbag have been opposing any return to hunting with dogs, concern about the transportation of animals and the treatment of badgers.
Do you share your home with any animals?
No. As a child I kept many animals, including lizards, guinea pigs, hamsters and rabbits.
We are pleased to have your support for reducing the use of primates in experiments. Why do you feel this issue is important to you?
During debates on the transposition of the EU Directive on Animal Experiments during the last parliament, I was successful in working with colleagues across party to ensure that the issues of main concern were respected in the way it came into UK law. In particular, we were successful in having it stated clearly that Great Apes could not be used for research. Likewise we got the government to rule out the use of stray cats and dogs in research. I hope we can see further progress in these areas soon.
What action would you like the current Government to take on animal experiments?
The government needs to have better inspection regimes and robustly challenge the industry to continually reduce the use of animals in experimentation with the goal of eradicating the use of animals at the earliest opportunity. Unfortunately there is a bit of a culture of using animals because we’ve always used animals. The science has moved on and the culture needs to move with it.