Reality TV star Pete Wicks has joined campaigners in calling on the Government to deliver its proposed ban on fur imports amid concern action has stalled.
Fur farming has been banned in the UK for 20 years, and the Government began consulting on potential changes to commercial import rules in May 2021.
But the Animals Abroad Bill, which it was proposed would have included a stricter import ban and other measures, has yet to materialise.
Wicks, a star of The Only Way Is Essex and Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins, joined campaigners from Four Paws UK and Humane Society International in Parliament to urge the Government to implement a ban.
Campaigners present raised concerns that progress on some animal welfare issues has stalled, and Labour urged the Government to deliver on a ban.
In a pre-recorded vide, comedian Ricky Gervais said: “The UK was the first country in the world to ban cruel fur farming, but 20 years later, the UK still has blood on its hands by importing fur from overseas. My message to the UK government is simple – end this double standard and ban fur imports.”
Speaking to the PA news agency, Wicks said: “The ask is that we stop importing fur into the UK. Although 20 years ago we banned fur in the UK, we’re still importing it from other countries, and the problem with that is that we’re still justifying it all over the world.
“A high majority of people don’t want us to be doing that. We still are doing that. And I don’t understand why.”
He added: “There’s absolutely no reason (to delay), and I don’t understand why it is being stalled. There’s certainly nothing to look at, all the proof is in the pudding, so we just need to get on and get it passed.”
Asked if he wants to see greater urgency from the Government on the issue, he said: “100% I want to see greater urgency.”
Wicks told the gathering: “We simply cannot call ourselves a nation of animal lovers for as long as that cruelty is still being imported here, and while it’s still legal to be sold in our shops.”
Shadow environment minister Daniel Zeichner said: “It really is time for the Government to get on with this.”
“I’m afraid it’s not just this piece of legislation,” he said, going on to reference the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill, and asking: “Where on earth is it? We keep on being promised it. It’s time to get on with it. These issues enjoy cross-party support. It could be done – quickly.”
Claire Bass, UK senior director of campaigns and public affairs at Humane Society International, said: “There is no such thing as humane fur. We’re either ordering in cruelty from overseas or we’re shutting up shop on the fur trade. There’s no middle ground.”
She told the gathering: “We’re concerned about the recent stalling of progress on the Government’s much lauded action plan for animal welfare that it published in 2021.
“And Daniel very rightly alluded to the Kept Animals Bill which has now been waiting 14 months for its report stage and is missing in action. We really need that back, those manifesto commitments.”
She added: “Fur is in the action plan, we need to see the next steps on that, we need the call for evidence result released.”
Conservative MP Elliot Colburn (Carshalton and Wallington) said: “The UK does refer to itself as a nation of animal lovers. But there are still glaring omissions in our parliamentary process which still allow things like this to carry on. And it’s our responsibility to call for that to be ended.”
He said: “We will continue to press Government. At the moment, we’re waiting for that all-important response to that call for evidence… We’re really looking forward to seeing a strong response to that and a strong ban that comes out as a result of that. We will be calling for that.”
Four Paws UK country director, Sonul Badiani-Hamment, said: “By implementing a nationwide ban on the import and sale of fur, we can help save the lives of millions of animals who are needlessly killed.”
The Government said in its action plan for animal welfare, published in May 2021: “Whilst there are existing import restrictions on seal, cat and dog fur, it is still possible to import other fur from abroad, so we will explore potential action in this area.”
A Government spokesperson said: “We are working to meet our commitment to better understand the fur sector in Great Britain, as set out in our action plan for animal welfare.
“We published a formal call for evidence in 2021 to gather evidence and are carefully examining the 30,000 responses we received to establish next steps. A summary of responses will be published in due course.”