Thank you for your recent email on animal welfare.
The Scottish Liberal Democrats are strong supporters of animal welfare and will continue to protect wildlife, pets and farm animals in the next parliament.
My colleagues at Westminster were able to make significant progress on improving animal welfare during the last government. Many of these achievements affect the whole of the UK, including the ending of housing hens in battery cages and tackling the smuggling and illegal trade of wildlife through the Border Force. Recently I have visited livestock farms in the Pentland Hills and seen best practice at work. I know that animals can be both treated well and see farmers with a fair deal.
Wildlife crime remains a significant problem and I am pleased that, as part of the last UK government, Liberal Democrats made the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) one of its wildlife crime priorities. However, further action is needed to ensure that penalties and properly applied and prosecutions, where necessary, are carried out.
From 6 April, it will become a legal requirement for dog owners to microchip and register their pets. I welcome this move and hope it will help promote more responsible dog ownership here in Scotland. Although microchipping will help, personally I would like to see the further clampdown on the practice of unlicensed breeders (puppy farms) and the illegal smuggling of puppies from the Republic of Ireland. Sadly this importation appears still to be an ongoing practice for puppy farmers here in Scotland.
As well as protecting animals, we need to ensure that their environment is safe too. I’m proud that here in Scotland, we have already passed legislation aimed at enhancing biodiversity. However, the powers of the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004 and the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 need to be used across government bodies to really deliver this goal. One of my professional skill-sets is being a certified marine mammal observer. I am particularly keen to strengthen and extend Scotland's existing system of Marine Protected Areas. During our time in government as part of the Scottish Executive, Liberal Democrats played a full role in consultations over the establishment of Marine National Parks for Scotland.
I am happy to support More for Scotland’s Animals’ and look forward to working towards this if I am successfully elected. I will therefore ask for your support in the upcoming elections. I am keen to work in cooperation with members of other parties in order to deliver better protection for Scotland's animals and environment.
Edinburgh Northern and Leith
Scottish Liberal Democrats.