I have been a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Animal Welfare since I was first elected to Parliament in 2005, and this week went along to its meeting on the fur trade, which constituents had asked me to attend. The last Labour Government banned fur farming on ‘public morality’ grounds, but imports are still permitted. There is concern that many people are unwittingly buying products with real fur trim, assuming it is fake because it is cheap, and calls for better labelling. Although I would support this, the real scandal is that the fur trade is allowed to continue.
A speaker from the British Fur Trade proclaimed himself to be an animal lover and tried to convince us that we should only be concerned about welfare, not the fur trade per se, his argument being that “the animals don’t care how they’re used once they’re dead, as long as they’ve led happy lives.” He spoke of what is being done to improve animal welfare on fur farms, which he somewhat cringingly referred to as ‘welfur’. He also said that the 80% who would not, according to surveys, wear fur should not infringe upon the personal freedom of the 1 in 5 who want to do so.
There were some parliamentarians at the event who said we should not be talking about morality, as it’s the APPG for Animal Welfare, not Animal Rights, but others joined me and the actor Peter Egan in saying that how we treat and use animals is a moral issue, and we should be taking a stronger stance.