13 May 2021
Sharma welcomes Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill

Alok Sharma, the Member of Parliament for Reading West, has today welcomed the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill.

The UK has consistently led the way on animal welfare. Indeed, in 1876, the Cruelty to Animals Act was the first legislation in the world to regulate scientific experiments on animals. The UK was also one of the key EU members that lobbied for the recognition of animal sentience in Article 13 of the Lisbon Treaty in 2009. In addition, the Animal Welfare Act (2006) recognised in law that animals can feel pain and suffering.

Now that the UK has left the EU, there is an opportunity to remake laws and go further to promote animal welfare by making sure that all Government departments consider animal sentience in policy, covering all vertebrate animals from farm to forest. The Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill, introduced in Parliament today, enshrines that recognition that animals are sentient in domestic law. It also creates a proportionate accountability mechanism to help reassure that central government policymaking takes this into account.

The Bill achieves this by creating an Animal Sentience Committee. These experts will produce reports on how well policy decisions have paid all due regard to the welfare of animals. The relevant Minister must then respond to reports via statements to Parliament. From now on, Ministers will need to be ready to show that the needs of animals have been considered in relevant policy decisions.

It will also underpin the Government’s Action Plan for Animal Welfare, which was launched yesterday.

Alok Sharma said:

“The Government is committed to maintaining the very highest standards of animal welfare and I am delighted to welcome be introducing this momentous piece of legislation.”

Rt Hon George Eustice MP, Environment Secretary said:

“I look forward to working with colleagues of all parties, in both Houses, to take this forward and build on the UK’s global leadership on animal welfare issues.”