Race horse welfare

I am aware there have been calls for a ban on the use of the whip in racing, except for safety purposes. It is vital that the racing industry follows high animal welfare standards for all horses and that whips are used with minimal force and on minimal occasions.

As you know, the sport’s governing body, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) will give further consideration to the use of the whip as part of their development of an industry wide welfare strategy. I await the outcome of this review.

As you may be aware, animal welfare is a devolved matter for the Scottish Parliament. Racehorses are protected under the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006, which places a duty of care on pet owners and others responsible for animals to ensure that the welfare needs of their animals are met. Under this Act it is also an offence to cause a protected animal unnecessary suffering.

In March 2019 the Scottish Government stated that it currently has no plans to hold an inquiry into animal welfare in the horseracing industry in Scotland.

I believe we should seek to improve practice and animal welfare conditions of animals in sport. That is why, at the last general election, I stood on a manifesto that set out a vision for the UK to lead the world with high animal welfare standards in the wild, in farming and for domestic animals.