Ben Bradshaw MP, Minister for Animal Welfare, has been branded the most ineffectual minister in the Government. Animal welfare group Viva! claims that the sum total of his first year's ministerial brief is the addition of four minor amendments to a single piece of legislation - in contrast, he has actually vetoed important recommendations to end suffering at slaughter. As a consequence the group has demanded that Mr Bradshaw repay his minister's salary into the public purse or donate it to an animal welfare group, who will actually use it to help end animal abuse.
Mr Bradshaw took over responsibility for animal welfare at Defra (Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) on June 19 last year. Of over 450 press releases issued by Defra in the ensuing 12 months, only eight mention Mr Bradshaw and animal welfare. They consist only of expressions of concern, welcomes for EU measures, encouragement of voluntary action or the initiation of research projects. The only substantive measure introduced by Mr Bradshaw consists of minor additions to slaughter regulations.
These minor changes have been far overshadowed by the Government's inadequate response to last year's Farm Animal Welfare Council report on welfare at slaughter. Mr Bradshaw has rejected the Council's recommendation to outlaw religious slaughter without prestunning, despite accepting that it is likely to cause "very significant pain and distress". He has also refused to act on other slaughter recommendations that would have helped substantially to reduce suffering.
Viva! campaigner Alistair Currie says: "I've met Ben Bradshaw and he seems like a nice man. Judged on his results, however, he is also utterly ineffectual. To be Minister for Animal Welfare yet do nothing to improve conditions for animals seems to makes him a remarkable underachiever - unless, of course, that is what he was put in the post to do by senior Ministers utterly indifferent to the issue.
"Animal suffering is high on the list of people's concerns and yet they have received nothing in return for paying his generous minister's salary. Viva! would like to see Mr Bradshaw acknowledge his failure by repaying his wasted salary into the public purse or donating it to those of us who are genuinely working to improve animal welfare. For the future, he could do worse than pick up a few tips from the Conservatives, who did far more to improve conditions for farmed animals than Labour has."
Contact: Alistair Currie on 0117 944 1000.
Notes for Editors
The Conservative Government banned the use of sow stalls and veal crates in the UK; banned the use of the Weinberg pen for Jewish Shechita slaughter and created the Farm Animal Welfare Council - whose recommendations Mr Bradshaw has just ignored.