The cross-party group of 102 parliamentarians has written to Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Rt Hon George Eustice, calling on the Government to ban the import and sale of animal fur in Britain.
The Humane Society International/UK (HSI UK), which heads the Fur Free Britain campaign, coordinated the letter and is also urging the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Defra) to disclose its analysis of the 30,000 responses submitted to its Call For Evidence on the fur trade earlier this year.
Fur farming was banned in Britain in 2000, with the last remaining fur farm closing in 2003 (along with the sale of certain furs such as domestic dog, cat, and seal), but HSI UK claims that since then, £800 million worth of fur has been imported from countries such as Finland, China, France, and Poland, where animals are often kept in battery cages.
The MPs want to draw attention to the fact that while Britain prohibits fur farms, it allows the sale of items made from animals raised in fur farms in other nations. Previously, the UK government has argued that a ban would be impossible while the country was still a member of the EU.
In the letter, the MPs point out that the argument is no longer valid, that is the Government has previously said that a sales ban would be incompatible with their membership of the European Union and, as a result, no action could be taken at that time. Following the request for evidence on the fur trade earlier this year, the UK government now has the chance to act as a worldwide leader in moral standards by extending current fur trade prohibitions (for cat, dog, and seal fur) to all animals, removing unjustified protections for certain species over others. A prohibition would have little impact on companies, since the great majority of UK high street retailers are already fur-free, and a thorough and acceptable phase-out time would guarantee that the few firms still centered on fur could shift to alternate materials.
Many well-known businesses and designers, like Gucci, Versace, Chanel, Burberry, Tom Ford, Canada Goose, Diane von Furstenberg, and Michael Kors, have either done so or have stated that they would do so in the near future.
Last October, Defra Minister Lord Goldsmith indicated that the government was supportive of a ban on fur sales and that the issue will be addressed after the EU withdrawal was completed. At that time, he said that fur farming has been illegal in their nation for over two decades, and once the [Brexit] transition period is through, they will be able to properly examine ways to elevate their standards even further. The government is extremely interested in doing that.
Conservative MP Christian Wakeford said in today's letter that the UK has started a new chapter in its trade relationship with the rest of the world: prohibiting fur sales will send a clear statement that they want to utilize this new beginning to set themselves apart. Nearly 20 years ago, they were pioneers in banning fur farming, and now Brexit has given them the opportunity to set a worldwide example on animal care once more. There has never been a more important moment to stop their affiliation with this cruel, outmoded, and needless practice, and he hopes that the strength of bipartisan sentiment on this subject motivates the Government to enact a ban as soon as possible.
Labour’s Maria Eagle said that prohibiting the sale of fur might help avoid future pandemics by lowering demand for fur farms, which are thought to function as "reservoirs" for emerging viruses. The coronavirus epidemic should compel governments all around the globe to rethink how we grow, keep, and interact with animals. Exploiting fur-bearing wild species in filthy, overcrowded, and inhumane industrial farms is not only cruel but also puts the public's health at risk.
HSI UK executive director, Claire Bass, said that furs from over two million tortured animals are imported into the UK each year, and there is tremendous public and political support for Britain to end this trade in cruelty. This letter demonstrates a broad cross-party political desire for the government to ban fur imports and sales.
Bass added that they're also pushing the government to release its analysis of the 30,000 answers to its recent Call for Evidence from members of the public and industry. If opinion surveys are to be believed, the great majority of individuals who respond will be in favor of a ban and want to see Britain lead the world in putting an end to this cruel, outdated, and useless business. They remain shamelessly involved in the misery and death of millions of fur-bearing animals for the sake of frivolous fashion as long as fur is traded in Britain.
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