Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary, has made a commitment to crack down on puppy smuggling and to ban the import of puppies under six months
Though there was no detail given, but the promise was made in a statement he gave defending the government's decision to reject an amendment to the European Withdrawal Bill that would have recognised animal sentience.
It says directly in the statement that, 'EU rules... restrict us from cracking down on puppy smuggling or banning the import of puppies under 6 months. Article 13 has not stopped any of these practices - but leaving the EU gives us the chance to do much better. We hope to say more in these areas next year.'
Following the defeat of the amendment put forward by Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, there has been considerable uproar about what was seen as the government sliding back on its commitment to animal welfare.
A petition was launched and shared around a social media to reverse the decision and at the time of writing it had over 157,000 signatories - https://www.change.org/p/uk-parliament-repeal-the-government-decision-to-exclude-animal-sentience-in-the-eu-withdrawal-bill.
Mr Gove set out to defend the government's position, 'This Government is committed to the very highest standards of animal welfare. As the Prime Minister has set out, we will make the United Kingdom a world leader in the care and protection of animals.
'It has been suggested that the vote last week on New Clause 30 of the EU Withdrawal Bill somehow signalled a weakening in the protection of animals - that is wrong. Voting against the amendment was not a vote against the idea that animals are sentient and feel pain - that is a misconception.'
He makes a commitment to, 'ensure that any necessary changes required to UK law are made in a rigorous and comprehensive way to ensure animal sentience is recognised after we leave the EU.'
In addition he points out that the government, 'are already proposing primary legislation to increase maximum sentences for animal cruelty from six months to five years, and the creation of a new statutory, independent body to uphold environmental standards.
He concludes, 'This government will continue to promote and enhance animal welfare, both now and after we have left the EU.'