Lib Dems pledge new regulator for racehorse welfare in election manifesto
The Liberal Democrats have pledged to strip responsibility for racehorse welfare from the BHA in what they claim would be a move "to prevent the abuse and avoidable deaths of racehorses".
The promise to create a new independent regulator was made in the party's general election manifesto, which was published on Wednesday.
But the BHA said the proposals would do nothing to improve the already "high horse welfare standards in place across British racing".
The Liberal Democrats first adopted their policy on racehorse welfare at their party conference last year.
The manifesto said the party believed "that all possible steps should be taken to promote animal welfare and prevent animal suffering, with better protection for animals, and full regard for animal welfare".
It added they would "establish an independent regulatory body for horse welfare to prevent the abuse and avoidable deaths of racehorses".
"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.”
Among their other policy announcements, the Liberal Democrats said they would bring in measures to combat problem gambling, including a ban on the use of credit cards to gamble, should they form the next government.
On the issue of gambling, the party said they would "introduce further measures to protect individuals, their families and communities from problem gambling".
Those measures include a "compulsory levy on gambling companies to fund research, education and treatment of problem gambling" and a ban on "the use of credit cards for gambling".
The manifesto also said the party would "restrict gambling advertising" and "establish a Gambling Ombudsman", the latter a policy that has also been proposed by the Labour Party.
The Labour Party is expected to launch its election manifesto on Thursday.
A review of the use of the whip in horseracing, which was announced as part of Labour's animal welfare manifesto in August, could feature.
The party has also previously called for a new Gambling Act to be introduced, although former deputy leader Tom Watson, who had driven Labour's policy in the area, is not standing for re-election on December 12.
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