DEFA Minister Clare Barber has said the Animal Welfare Bill is still a high priority for her dept.

A previous bid to bring in a new Bill was rejected by MHKs before the election, with DEFA’s previous attempts being labelled ‘half-hearted’ by Garff MHK Daphne Caine.

In response to a question from Douglas South MHK Sarah Maltby, Mrs Barber has said that since her appointment as Minister, she has had ‘a number of conversations with parliamentary colleagues, Department Officers and key stakeholders, with regards to the imminent progression of an Animal Welfare Bill’.

She added: ‘I have asked Miss Tanya August-Hanson, Honourable Member of Legislative Council, to assist in progressing a suitable and effective Animal Welfare Act that provides animals the respect, care and protection they deserve. Miss August-Hanson, has already held meetings with relevant officials from my Department to ensure every effort is being made for a successful and effective Animal Welfare Bill for the Island to be approved.

‘It is expected that the new Animal Welfare Bill will be introduced to the House of Keys to commence its legislative passage in early 2022 with clarity around timeframes for secondary legislation and for appropriate animal welfare codes to be introduced over the next two years.’

Mrs Barber said that while the Animal Welfare Bill is the main priority for the dept, it isn’t currently looking to review the Cruelty to Animals Act (1997). She added: ‘The provisions in the new Animal Welfare Bill will complement the Cruelty to Animals Act and in many cases enable animal welfare issues to be dealt with before they become an act of animal cruelty.’

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