Animal Aid

Official: Lib Dems are most animal-friendly party at Westminster - Animal Aid surveys MPs' track records

Posted 15 April 2005

With animal welfare issues set to play a significant part in the coming General Election, a new survey of MPs' voting records has revealed that the most animal-friendly of the three main parties at Westminster is the Liberal Democrats.

National Campaign group Animal Aid studied how MPs responded to the opportunity to endorse a series of statements of principle and calls for action known as Early Day Motions (EDMs). The 15 EDMs in question were all animal welfare related.

MPs earned a point for each EDM they signed, with a bonus point for the MP who actually tabled the motion. When their comparative numerical strength in the House was taken into account, Liberal Democrat MPs were 10 times more likely to support the proposed welfare measures than the Conservatives, and were also significantly more animal-friendly than Labour.

Topping Animal Aid's league table of individual MPs was Liberal Democrat Mike Hancock, followed by Labour's David Drew - with Tony Banks, Bill Etherington and Dr Rudi Vis in joint third place. Liberal Democrat Norman Baker also deserves a special mention by tabling three of the 15 EDMs.

Although the tories had an extremely poor overall record, three members of the party stood out as showing a commitment to animal welfare - Anne Widdecome, Andrew Rosindell and Peter Bottomley.

EDMs invariably attract cross-party support and sometimes the sentiments expressed run counter to the official party position of the MPs who sign them. The 15 covered in Animal Aid's survey urged action on issues such as animal experimentation, battery chicken farming, the use of snares, dolphin hunting and intensive pheasant breeding.

Says Andrew Tyler, Director of Animal Aid:

"The treatment of animals is an important issue for a large percentage of the population. MPs and their parties often rattle off easy promises in the run-up to the election, but our survey shows how they have performed in Parliament itself."

"The ban on hunting was secured as a result of the determination and principled stand of backbench MPs. It was no thanks to the Government, nor any other party machine, that this key victory was achieved. The history of that fight makes clear the importance of getting animal-friendly MPs into the house, as opposed to party hacks. Meeting that objective would be made immeasurably easier by the introduction of a proportional representation (PR) voting system. The Liberal Democrats and the Green Party are committed to this constitutional change."

ALTHOUGH THE LIB DEMS FARED BETTER THAN THE OTHER TWO MAIN WESTMINSTER PARTIES, THE GREEN PARTY HAVE CONSISTENTLY PROMOTED THE MOST ANIMAL-FRIENDLY POLICIES OF ANY MAJOR POLITICAL PARTY.

Notes to Editors

  • For full background, including top 12 MPs and party statistics, click here.
  • Also pushing animal issues onto the national political agenda is the Protecting Animals in Democracy initiative by Uncaged Campaigns. Visit www.vote4animals.org.uk
  • More information from Andrew Tyler or Chris Anderson on 01732 364546.
  • We have an ISDN line for broadcast-quality interviews.
  • Animal Aid does not endorse any political party, but provides this information to inform voters.

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