Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Animal Sentience and UK Law

17 January 2018

Categories: Homepage News, UK Wildlife News

Environment Secretary Michael Gove has published a draft Animal Welfare (Sentencing and Recognition of Sentience) Bill, on which comments are invited through a public consultation which ends on 31st January 2018.

This is your opportunity to make your voice heard on this vital issue.

During the seemingly endless Brexit debates in the latter part of 2017, the issue of animal sentience and how protections afforded by European Treaties might be implemented into UK law once we leave the European Union has become an important talking point.

Responding to public concerns, Mr Gove published a Written Ministerial Statement in November, promising that animal sentience would be recognised in UK law, and that the Government was committed to promoting and enhancing animal welfare. The draft Bill quickly followed.

The Bill contains very broad definitions of what it means by ‘sentience’ and ‘animals’. In essence, it proposes to:

  • Require Ministers to ‘have regard for’ the welfare needs of animals as sentient beings in formulating and implementing government policy; and
  • Increase the maximum sentences for certain offences under the Animal Welfare Act (2006) to five years in prison.

We welcome the Bill, although we will be asking the government to strengthen it by:

  • Requiring Ministers ‘and other relevant public bodies’ to ‘pay full regard to’ the welfare needs of animals;
  • Extending the proposed maximum sentences to Section 9 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006, which requires persons responsible for animals to ensure their needs are met; and
  • Calling for appropriate independent mechanisms to ensure Ministers uphold the requirements in the Bill and can be held to account.

You can have your say by:

by 31st January 2018.

You can find Born Free’s recent submission to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee in relation to this Bill here

Thank you for all you do for animals.

Born Free Foundation
Broadlands Business Campus, Langhurstwood Road
, Horsham, RH12 4QP, UK - Charity Reg. No. 1070906

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