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Wednesday, 22 November, 2000, 10:13 GMT
Campaigners hail fur ban bill
Mink at fur farm
Mink farms will be outlawed under new legislation
A government Bill to ban fur farming has been hailed as a huge victory by the anti-fur lobby.

The Fur Farming (Prohibition) Bill, to outlaw the farming of animals in England and Wales for the value of their fur, was set to be approved in the House of Commons on Wednesday.

To keep animals in such conditions in the name of fashion is totally unacceptable in a civilised society

Mark Glover, Respect For Animals
But the fur farming lobby says the government has under-estimated the cost - in compensation - of imposing the ban.

Under the legislation a person guilty of an offence faces a fine of up to 2,000.

The Bill is likely to come into effect on 1 January 2003 and follows a 15-year-long campaign by pressure group Respect for Animals.

Cruel and unnecessary

Campaign director Mark Glover said: "Respect for Animals applauds the government for introducing this important and caring piece of legislation.

"It has recognised what we have thought for the last 15 years - that fur factory farming is cruel and unnecessary.

"To keep animals in such conditions in the name of fashion is totally unacceptable in a civilised society."

"We're the first country to introduce a national ban. It is a massive victory for us."

The Bill honours Labour's pre-election pledge to end fur factory farming.

Compensation scheme

MP Maria Eagle was responsible for introducing the private members' Bill in the Commons.

Her first attempt in 1999 was unsuccessful.

There are 11 UK fur farms spread around the country.

Location of fur farms
Isle of Wight
Lancashire (five)
South Yorkshire
West Yorkshire

They produce up to 100,000 mink skins each year.

No fur farms exist in Scotland or Northern Ireland although both countries have outline plans for a similar Bill.

Mr Glover added that in many ways the battle had only just begun.

"There are 30 million animals elsewhere in the world dying for their fur," he said.

"Denmark and the Netherlands are two of the biggest fur producers for the fashion industry, so that is where the battleground is now."

The Bill contains provisions for a compensation scheme for farmers.

'Bad for taxpayers'

But the British Fur Trade Association (BFTA) says the cost to British taxpayers of outlawing eleven fur farmers will be up to 10m in compensation - more than six times what the government has told parliament.

The association's executive officer, Robert Morgan, said: "The political animal lobby gave the Labour Party a pre-election donation of 1m in return for a fox hunting ban and other animal rights issues, but the eventual cost will be bad for British taxpayers".

He said: "We believe it is bad law making and morally questionable to apply the concept of 'public morality' to animal husbandry legislation. Fur farming harms no-one."

Mr Morgan said the ban could be the thin end of the wedge.

He said if the use of public morality bans on "unsubstantiated and vague grounds could lead to the criminalising of other farming activities for no good reason".

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