MPs have voted to reject the inclusion of a crucial clause that would transfer the recognition of animal sentience into UK law post Brexit in an eight-hour parliamentary debate on the EU (Withdrawal) Bill (15 November).
Green MP Caroline Lucas submitted an amendment clause (NC30), which sought to transfer the EU Protocol on animal sentience set out in Article 13 of Title II of the Lisbon Treaty into UK law, so that animals continue to be recognised as sentient beings under domestic law.
The New Clause was rejected with an 18 majority for the Government. 313 against, 295 in favour.
Responding to the decision, British Veterinary Association Senior Vice President Gudrun Ravetz said:
“It is extremely concerning that a marginal majority of MPs have voted-down this seminal clause. Enshrining animal sentience in UK law would have acknowledged that we consider animals as being capable of feelings such as pain and contentment and, so, deserving of consideration and respect. It is a founding principle of animal welfare science, and for the way that we should treat all animals.
“As an animal welfare-led profession, BVA has been calling on government to at least maintain current standards of animal health and welfare and public health. Yet actions speak louder than words, and this action undermines the Government’s previous promises that the UK will continue to be known for our high standards of animal health and welfare post-Brexit.
“There is now an urgent need for clarity from Government on how the provisions in Article 13 will be enshrined in UK law to ensure we do not fall short of the high standards we expect as a nation of animal lovers.”