A backbench proposal to recognise animal sentience in UK law today (Wednesday, April 3) is being welcomed by 39 animal welfare groups.
MP Kerry McCarthy is bringing forward the Animal Sentience Bill because, although Westminster had committed to bringing forward legislation itself, it has still has not acted, with potentially only weeks to go until the UK leaves the EU.
Kerry, MP for Bristol East, said: “It’s now over 500 days since the Government promised to recognise animal sentience in UK law before our departure from the European Union. Yet here we stand with the clock ticking down and no legislation in sight. That’s why I’m introducing my Animals (Recognition of Sentience) Bill on Wednesday to acknowledge that many animals are capable of feeling pleasure, pain and suffering.
“The Government said it was looking for a vehicle to bring forward the legislation. I’ve provided it, now they should back it.”
The animal welfare collation warns that, with research showing that more than eight out of 10 British people (81%) believe that animal welfare laws should be maintained or strengthened post-Brexit, the government risks an outcry if it doesn’t uphold its promise.
“It’s time for the Westminster government to act on its commitment to introduce meaningful animal sentience legislation so animals have the same or better protection post-Brexit than they do now.”
The warning follows the launch of the #BetterDealForAnimals campaign in February, to make sure that animals don’t become victims of Brexit. The campaign is calling for animal sentience to be explicitly enshrined in UK law, as it is in the EU, and for any future legislation or Government when formulating and implementing policy, to fully
take into account its impact on the welfare of animals.
Sentience is the ability to perceive and feel things. It is commonly described as the capacity to feel pleasure and pain. An animal is said to be sentient if it is capable of being aware of its surroundings, its relationships with other animals and humans, and of sensations in its own body, including pain, hunger, heat or cold.