As I understand it cat declawing in England and Wales is illegal under section 5 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 (AWA). This section is headed "mutilation". Section 5 allows tail docking, sadly. The Irish veterinary association, Veterinary Ireland (VI), support a complete ban on the docking of puppies' tails, incidentally.
It is also unethical under VI regulations to declaw cats. This is what they say:
"While commonly performed in the USA it is not performed in Ireland and any Veterinary Practitioner performing this act would clearly be open to disciplinary action by the Veterinary Council of Ireland."
Although the VI seek:
"a complete and specific ban on all other acts of mutilation in animals"
This I presume refers to legislation.
What is interesting is that there is absolutely no mention of cat declawing on the British Veterinary Association (BVA) website. Or if there is it is very well hidden or their custom search engine can't find it."Britain" means England, Wales and Scotland.
Section 5 of the AWA states that an appropriate national authority can override the effective parts of section 5.
"the appropriate national authority may specify by regulations"
I will presume that the BVA may be such an authority. So on the basis that I have not missed something cat declawing is banned in England and Wales under the AWA - section 5 referred to above. Laws passed in parliament only have jurisdication over England and Wales. So what of Northern Ireland and Scotland?
The veterinary association of NI makes no reference to declawing. The relevant legislation is probably: Welfare of Animals Act (Northern Ireland) 1972. This makes no specific references except to animal cruelty.
I believe that cat declawing does not take place in NI at all. It is not part of the culture and that is probably the best protection for cats.
Animal welfare is governed by The Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act (AHWA). Section 20 prohibits declawing as it is a "procedure which involves interference with the sensitive tissues or bone structure of the animal" and it is not "carried out for the purpose of medical treatment of an animal".
The law in Scotland is very similar to that in England and Wales and may have preceded the English law.
I hope this helps people who want to make comparisons with the USA. What is very interesting is that in the USA there is no restrictions except for the specific city laws recently passed that have been made explicitly to ban declawing. It would be nice to think that these brave and enlightened city councils started the process of the creation of national laws drafted in general terms that effectively banned cat declawing in the USA (see for example, The Paw Law). There are many posts on declawing cats on this site.