Animal sentience legislation must go ahead, say vets

Posted On: 
1st February 2018

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) is calling on the Government to ensure that legislation to enshrine animal sentience in UK law goes ahead before the UK leaves the EU.

The call comes in response to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs select committee report, which recommends that Clause 1 covering animal sentience in the draft Animal Welfare (Sentencing and Recognition of Sentience) Bill be removed from the draft and calls for a new “Animal Sentience Bill”.

The draft Bill was introduced in response to the campaign for Article 13 of the Lisbon Treaty to be included in the EU (Withdrawal) Bill which would recognise the sentience of animals and impose a duty on the state to have regard for animal welfare when developing and implementing certain policies.

Commenting BVA President John Fishwick said:

“The veterinary profession has been a strong champion for the concept of animal sentience to be enshrined in UK law post-Brexit, and for measures to ensure the government has a duty to have regard for animal welfare in policy making.

“EfraCom remains fully in support of the principles, but has raised a number of concerns with the drafting of the legislation, which could delay its implementation. The critical issue for BVA is that these principles must be brought into UK law before we leave the EU.

“Defra has committed to maintaining animal welfare standards post-Brexit. The Government must ensure that we enshrine the principles of Article 13 in UK law before March 2019, whether through this Bill or other legislation. To fail to do this would risk weakening our global reputation for animal welfare.”