Shadow Environment Minister and MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, Luke Pollard has called for the British Horse-racing Authority to commit to halving the number of horse deaths in horse racing within 5 years.
The Plymouth MP said in Mondays’ debate on Racehorse Protection “being a jockey is a voluntary occupation, being a racehorse is not.” The debate responded to the petition raised by Animal Aid and signed by 100,000 people, calling for the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) to be replaced by an independent body. Over 100 people from across Plymouth had signed the petition.
While Labour did not directly back a new body, the Plymouth MP called for major commitments from the BHA to improve horse welfare looking at use of the whip, wastage breeding, looking after horses when they are retired and making longer courses safer.
Luke Pollard MP said during the debate:
“Today, this House has spoken: every horse matters. In their welfare, their health, their conditions and their life from birth to death—before racing, during racing and once their racing days are over—every horse should matter. If every horse matters, as we have heard today, then we need robust and constantly improving equine welfare regulation to ensure that that happens.”
“I am sure there is agreement across the House that animals should not suffer for our entertainment. What separates horse-racing from banned sports such as foxhunting, cockfighting and dogfighting is that it does not include unnecessary pain or suffering to the animals used. That is the heart of the social contract on the basis of which horse-racing is permitted.”
“The social contract is changing. We need to look at it and in particular at the number of deaths. At the moment, the deaths of 0.2% of runners is too high, equating to roughly one in 500 racehorses. The only reason that it is accepted is because they are horses. Were they humans, that level of fatality in a sport would not be accepted. We have to ask whether, if we applied the same standards to animal welfare as we do to human welfare, as is increasingly the case in animal welfare policy, we would accept the same number of deaths in cricketers or rugby players.”