Labour vows to ban puppy farms and animal circuses in new election manifesto

Hunting wild animals with dogs has been banned since 2005 Credit: PA

Puppy farms, badger culls and wild animal circuses will be banned under new proposals by Labour unveiled today.

On the 10th anniversary of the hunting ban, a raft of new measures to safeguard animal welfare have been promised by Labour as part of its manifesto ahead of May's general election.

At the top of a list of six pledges, contained in a document entitled Labour Protecting Animals, was defending the ban on hunting with dogs.

Speaking as she launched the policies, shadow environment secretary Maria Eagle warned that a Conservative victory in the election could lead to the ban being repealed, with the Tories' manifesto widely expected to contain a promise of a free vote on the ban in the House of Commons.

She said if they win, Labour was committed to banning wild animals in circuses, ending the "ineffective and inhumane" programme of badger culls, reducing animal cruelty on shooting estates and would review regulations on dog and cat breeding and sales.

She said the party would "lead the fight" against animal cruelty on a global scale.

Labour has vowed to defend the hunting ban if it comes to power in May Credit: PA

Labour leader Ed Miliband echoed the sentiment.

It comes as the League Against Cruel Sports called for three key reforms to the Hunting Act, as they claim pro-hunting groups are using loopholes in the existing law to continue using dogs.

They want to see the use of dogs below ground - often said to be 'flushing out' foxes - banned, and provisions to ensure the killing of wild animals during a trail hunt cannot be explained away as an accident.

They also want the level of punishment available to the courts to be increased.