I have recently received hundreds of emails from constituents regarding the Minimum Standards for the Protection of Farm Rabbits (2016/2077(INI)) vote, scheduled at the Strasbourg Plenary session next week.

In general, I am not in favour of the EU legislating on affairs that the UK government or Welsh Assembly have competence over. Especially in light of Brexit, I feel more than ever that we need to be preparing for our elected representatives to legislate over affairs such as animal welfare.

Animal welfare is something that I care about and I am alarmed to hear that at present, 99% of farmed rabbits in the EU are kept in small cages.

With Amber, my Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

I plan on abstaining on this vote, as I don’t believe that we need any more ineffective legislation coming top-down from the EU, however, I may support any last minute amendments that are presented before the vote.

Regarding animal welfare in general, there is a lot of legislation already out there, the problem is one of enforcement. Attitudes to animal welfare vary across the EU, but, in the UK the subject is taken very seriously, with not only Trading Standards enforcing the rules, but also the RSPCA.

Legislation is not the only tool in the toolbox. A far more effective method of achieving change can be to ‘name and shame’ those retailers who trade with meat produced in appalling conditions. Animal welfare activities could demand higher standards and insist that a realistic price is paid to the suppliers to reflect the increased cost in achieving these standards.

If you have any further questions, concerns or suggestions, please do not hesitate to contact me at nathan.gill@europarl.europa.eu.