Richard Graham MP has welcomed a government drafted Bill on animal sentience published this week. The Bill follows government commitments to enshrine animal sentience in law and to increase the maximum sentence for animal cruelty from six months to five years. 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”.
Richard said, “This Bill continues the government’s positive record in committing to ban microbeads, ivory and bee-killing pesticides, which I entirely support. It should also bring to an end a disgraceful campaign of fake news on animal sentience against Conservative MPs, for which two national newspapers have now apologised. It was particularly unpleasant for those of us who have been long term dog and cat owners, and I’m sorry some constituents joined in: but everyone will now be better informed.”
RSPCA Head of Public Affairs David Bowles said: “This is potentially great news for animals post-Brexit. To include the recognition of animal sentience as well as increasing animal cruelty sentencing to 5 years into the new 2018 Animal Welfare Bill is a very bold and welcome move by the Government. Even better, the legislation explicitly rejects the kind of exemptions for activities that the European Union deemed acceptable – such as bull-fighting and producing foie gras – which will offer even stronger protection than Article 13 of the EU Treaty could ever do. We warmly welcome measures to evaluate government policy against animal sentience and we await further detail.”
Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: “As we leave the EU we will deliver a Green Brexit, not only maintaining but enhancing animal welfare standards. Animals are sentient beings who feel pain and suffering, so we are writing that principle into law and ensuring that we protect their welfare. Our plans will also increase sentences for those who commit the most heinous acts of animal cruelty to five years in jail. We are a nation of animal lovers so we will make Brexit work not just for citizens but for the animals we love and cherish too.”
The Bill is currently open to consultation, the public can contribute via the gov.uk website: https://consult.defra.gov.uk/animal-health-and-welfare/consultation-on-the-animal-welfare-bill/