Parliament: Bill foresees end of the mink industry in two years

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MINISTERS WERE attacked yesterday for "bowing to emotional pressure from the animal rights lobby" after publishing legislation to ban fur farming in England by the end of 2002.

The British Fur Trade Association said the Government was ending an "accepted and legal farming activity purely on emotion and not scientific evidence". Britain's remaining 13 fur farms kill 100,000 to 150,000 young mink a year for their pelts. Ministers and animal campaigners said the mink are not domesticated and have to live in small cages. Many show symptoms of stress before being gassed and skinned.

Breeders will be compensated and expected to run down stocks and give notice to employees. Fines of up to pounds 20,000 can be levied on anyone guilty of an offence under the Bill.

Elliot Morley, the countryside minister, said: "The Government believes it is wrong for animals to be farmed and slaughtered for their fur." He said the Scottish Executive would introduce a separate Bill to extend the ban to Scotland.

Mark Glover, campaign director of the animal rights group Respect for Animals, said: "If the Government's Bill to ban fur farming is successful, Britain will become the first country in the world to enact a national ban on such farms, placing our country in a position of moral leadership in the campaign to end this barbaric practice."