As you may know, under EU law, animals are recognised as sentient and therefore receive a certain degree of protection and consideration when it comes to Government policy making. However, post-Brexit, animals in the UK no longer have this safeguard.
Before we left the EU, I supported efforts to enshrine animal sentience in UK law. For example, in 2019, I supported the ‘Animals (Recognition of Sentience) Bill 2017-19‘, however, the Bill was not backed by the Government and was therefore unable to pass through Parliament before the General Election.
Despite not taking this opportunity, the Conservative Party stood, and was elected, on a manifesto which included a commitment to recognise animal sentience in law. However, since the election, the Government has not brought forward any legislation to make this a reality, not even as part of the Environment or Agriculture Bills.
Instead, for over a year, the Government has repeatedly said that it will bring forward legislation on this issue when Parliamentary time allows. This was repeated as recently as 8 February 2021, fourteen months after the 2019 general election.
It is clear that animal sentience is not a priority for the Government, and it is becoming increasingly likely that it will not introduce animal sentience legislation at all.
I have therefore written to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, George Eustice, and asked him to bring forward legislation to recognise animal sentience without further delay. I have posted a copy of this letter below for you to see.
I can assure you that I will continue to support efforts to recognise animal sentience in law.