Baroness speaks out against peers' fur robes

Peers called on to give up rabbit fur
Peers called on to give up rabbit fur

By Alex Stevenson

Peers should lead by example and stop using rabbits' fur on their ceremonial robes, a baroness has said.

Independent crossbencher Lola Young told politics.co.uk that she wanted to see synthetic furs used on all Lords robing in the future.

Her call was backed by animal welfare group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta), which claimed that rabbits grown for fur "scream during slaughter" after spending their lives in filthy, cramped cages.


"It's symbolic," Baroness Young explained.

"There's lots of opportunity for us as parliamentarians to lead by example. I don't think many people, especially in contemporary society, would get their binoculars out and look closely at our robes and say 'wait, that isn't ermine'."

When she was ennobled in 2004 there was only 'vegetarian' robe, formerly used by Tony Banks. Now Ede and Ravenscroft, London's oldest tailor and robe maker, has a small number of robes available with synthetic fur.

"It's about demand, which is part of the wider issue," Baroness Young continued.

"As many peers as possible, when they come to consider their robe for the state opening of parliament, could actually say 'I prefer the synthetic fur'. And then those will have to be produced, and the old ones gotten rid of."

Fur trimmings on peers' robes were switched from ermine to rabbit recently, despite the fact that one poll suggested 95% of Britons would not consider wearing fur coats or any other fur garments.

"It is inexcusable and an act of sheer indifference to public opinion that as representatives of the British people, peers should wear a garment that so conflicts with British values," Peta said in a statement.

"The ermine which traditionally trimmed ceremonial robes has been replaced with rabbit fur, but the suffering and pain endured by rabbits is terrifying and agonising.

"We urge all peers who have not already done so to follow the compassionate example of the baroness and opt for robes lined with faux fur immediately."

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