Animal Welfare legislation has been hitting headlines again this week as Labour produce their own ‘Animal Welfare Plan’ into which they will include policies designed to improve practices that affect domestic pets, farm animals, animals in sport and wild animals.
The plan also includes enshrining the principle of animal sentience into UK law and is now in a period of public consultation.
Animal sentience made headlines last year after MPs voted not to take through a statement recognising animals as sentient into UK law after Brexit. In response to the following media and public backlash the Government swiftly wrote a ‘Draft Animal Welfare Bill’ which included this sentience recognition for animals. However, a review of the Bill published in January has suggested it was written in ‘haste’ and recommended that the Bill move forward without the Clause enshrining animal sentience into law. This move was criticised, and it has been suggested that improvements could easily be made to keep it in.
FRAME – Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical Experiments, have advised the Government in the past in relation to the creation of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. FRAME acknowledges that the UK have some of the strongest legislation protecting animals in the world, however there is still room for improvement. Whilst the current scrutiny and attention on UK law protecting animals is welcomed, there is concern that removal of this recognition of sentience moving forward is a weakening in legislation.
Scientific understanding of animal emotions and behaviour is constantly improving, and legislation has evolved to reflect this. This recognition of animal sentience should remain enshrined in UK law after Brexit, improvements and amendments can follow afterwards. Therefore, here at FRAME we will be keeping an eye on the progression of the EU withdrawal Bill and the potential development of new Animal Welfare legislation and encourage others to do the same.
Amy Beale, Scientific Liaison Officer with FRAME, has written for the blog looking in detail at the history of animal sentience in law and the development and concerns with the ‘Draft Animal Welfare Bill’. To read more click here: Animal Sentience.