The draft bill sets out that the government “must have regard to the welfare needs of animals as sentient beings in formulating and implementing government policy”.
The announcement comes after Government ministers first insisted that animal sentience was covered in UK law, before admitting that such claims weren’t correct.
Caroline Lucas, the Green MP who originally tabled the animal sentience amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill, said:
I’m really proud that my work with campaigners on the issue of animal sentience has been so successful. After insisting that sentience was covered by UK law already, the Government performed a screeching u-turn and has now put forward a sensible piece of legislation that will ensure that future legislation enshrines the principle of animal sentience.
The draft Bill goes further than Article 13 as it applies to all areas of government policy, rather than specified areas of policy. If passed, the law would apply to the whole of the UK.
Responding to Michael Gove’s announcement, British Veterinary Association (BVA) President John Fishwick said:
Vets have been clear in our calls that the duty on the state to have due regard for animal welfare – as captured in Article 13 of the EU Lisbon Treaty – must be enshrined in UK law. This Bill captures the substantive obligation that Article 13 currently puts on the national government to consider animal welfare, as well as explicitly recognising animals as sentient beings.
Today’s draft Bill lays out in black and white the Government making good on its promises, to ensure the UK remains a global leader in animal welfare post-Brexit.
Source: BVA and UK Parliament