With major UK political parties announcing their manifesto pledges ahead of the forthcoming general election, the Liberal Democrats have committed to setting up a new independent authority that would assume the British Horseracing Authority’s responsibility for racehorse welfare.
According to the Lib Dems, the creation of the new welfare body is to “prevent the abuse and avoidable deaths of racehorses.” However, the proposal introduced at the party’s 2018 conference faced a backlash from the BHA, which stressed that the new independent regulator would have no effect on improving the already “high standards of horse welfare in place across British racing.”
Responding to the announcement, a BHA spokesman said: “The manifesto proposal from the Liberal Democrats – which is not new and was first adopted by the party at its 2018 conference – would not help to further advance the already high horse welfare standards in place across British racing.
“The BHA is the regulator for equine welfare in British racing and complies with the Code for Sports Governance in respect of its independence. The sport has a clear track record in delivering improved welfare outcomes for our horses. British racing’s evidence-based approach has already significantly reduced avoidable risk – an approach endorsed by Defra – and we have a clear ambition to reduce this further through our investment in a predictive risk model.
“In addition, the sport’s Horse Welfare Board, independently chaired by the former president of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons [Barry Johnson], is developing a comprehensive welfare strategy to further raise welfare standards across the sport and lifetime of the racehorse.”
The statement was part of the manifesto that was published on Wednesday, written by Jo Swinson. Proposals to prohibit the use of credit cards to place bets in an attempt to tackle problem gambling activity were also included in the manifesto.
The proposal aims at preventing the use of credit cards in retail betting shops and online gambling sites, with more plans to make it illegal for operators to accept credit cards as payments for individual bets or accounts.
The group has imposed a mandatory levy on betting companies to tackle problem gambling as well as limits on fresh advertising.