Devolution, Law Making and Brexit
April 24, 2017
Following the onset of devolution, powers relating to animal health and welfare were increasingly devolved to Wales. Further to the results of the referendum on March 3rd 2011, animal welfare officially became a matter of the Assembly’s concern, excluding hunting and animal experimentation. The Animal Welfare Act 2006 is the primary vehicle for animal welfare legislation in Wales.
The way in which legislation is made in Wales can have a significant impact upon both animal welfare and the work of RSPCA Cymru.
Amending secondary legislation
Secondary, or subordinate, legislation is vital to the work of the RSPCA; and plays a hugely important role in dictating the standards of care and welfare which must be delivered for animals.
Despite this, unfortunately, under current arrangements, these statutory instruments are not subject to amendment; hampering the ability of Assembly Members and other stakeholders to scrutinise and develop key legislative proposals.
RSPCA Cymru is campaigning for this system to be changed; thus offering opportunities for better law-making and enhanced scrutiny of legislative proposals brought forward by the Welsh Government.
Consultative procedures should play a key role in the development of legislative and policy proposals.
To this end, RSPCA Cymru’s supporters often take a considerable interest in Welsh Government proposals impacting upon the welfare of animals; and we may facilitate opportunities for them to participate in consultations.
As these individuals have made a conscious choice to participate, it is disappointing that the Welsh Government regularly fails to recognise such input, dismissing them with terms such as “generic responses … circulated via social media”.
EU legislation has had a significant impact on the welfare of animals in Wales, covering domestic pets, wildlife and farmed animals. RSPCA Cymru will continue to look at European Union directives and regulations that have an impact on animal welfare in Wales and will work to ensure that the welfare of animals is not forgotten during the negotiations between the United Kingdom and the European Union.
RSPCA Cymru believes that there are opportunities to improve animal welfare following the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, including restricting the time allowed for animals to be transported, improving the living conditions and slaughter of animals and abolishing Pillar One payments and putting funding into a reformed Pillar Two scheme.
Reforming local government
The Welsh Government conducted a consultation on the proposed reforming of local government in Wales, looking at if and how councils should merge or share services between each other.
RSPCA Cymru responded to the consultation looking at the role of local authorities in ensuring animal welfare standards, and whether or not regional working could be detrimental to the services provided. Ultimately, the reforming of local government needs to ensure consistency, viability and stability of statutory services such as stray dog provision and animal establishment licensing. The full response can be read here.