With major UK political parties declaring their manifesto pledges ahead of the upcoming general election, the Liberal Democrats have committed to establishing a new independent regulator which would take the responsibility for racehorse welfare from the British Horseracing Authority.
The creation of the new welfare body, according to the Lib Dems, is to “prevent the abuse and avoidable deaths of racehorses.”
However, the policy, which was passed at the party’s 2018 conference, has faced a backlash from the BHA, which has emphasised that the new independent regulator would have no effect on improving the already “high horse welfare standards 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 announcement formed part of the Jo Swinson-led manifesto, which was released on Wednesday. Also included in the manifesto were proposals to ban the use of credit cards to place bets in a bid to crack down on problem gambling behaviour.
The proposal seeks to prevent the use of credit cards within retail betting shops as well as across online gambling sites, with further plans to make it illegal for operators to accept credit cards as payments for individual bets or accounts.
The party also suggested a compulsory levy on gambling firms which would go towards the treatment of problem gambling, as well as fresh advertising restrictions.