Animal welfare groups call for a #BetterDealForAnimals
Michael Gove today addressed a Parliamentary reception calling for a #BetterDealForAnimals after Brexit, but failed to introduce legislation. This is despite a cross-party of MPs and 36 animal welfare organisations pushing for action at the event.
As it stands, deal or no deal, animals will lose vital legal protections post-Brexit, unless Michael Gove introduces protections before leaving the EU. Alesha Dixon and animal welfare campaigners have launched a petition calling for immediate action.
New animal sentience petition launched
Thirty-six welfare organisations have come together to call for a law that will create a duty for all Ministers in the UK to fully regard animal welfare in policy-making and ensure that animal sentience laws are not weakened once we leave the EU.
A petition, hosted on the UK Government and Parliament website, launched today following a major event in Parliament yesterday which saw 50 MPs and Peers attend to sign a pledge and back the #BetterDealForAnimals campaign. Attendees included Michael Gove, David Rutley, Zac Goldsmith and Sue Hayman.
Animal welfare needed in UK law
Animal sentience is currently enshrined in EU law but has not been carried across into UK law. As Brexit fast approaches, the petition calls on the UK Government to ensure this will be explicitly enshrined in law and for any future legislation or government policy to fully consider its impact on the welfare of animals.
Sonul Badiani-Hamment, external affairs adviser for World Animal Protection said:
Whilst we welcome the many assurances from Government, and again today from Michael Gove at the reception, time is running out for animals and we need action now. Today was a missed opportunity for the Secretary of State who should have announced that he is enacting legislation without delay to stay true to his public commitments and protect animals post-Brexit. If he really wants the UK to be a world leader in animal welfare, it's time to act before animals become victims of Brexit.
Act now whilst there's still time
David Bowles, our head of public affairs, said:
A nation of animal lovers will not stand-by while our decision makers threaten animal protections. We must speak up for animals who can't speak for themselves. With 86 percent of the UK Government's own voters saying they want animal welfare laws maintained or strengthened, Ministers must heed this message and live up to its promises to protect our treasured animals.
Acknowledging in law that animals have the capacity to feel pain and suffering is vital to protect them.
Yesterday's event in Parliament was a great success and highlights the cross-party support in Westminster for the demand to fully recognise animal sentience in UK law before we leave the EU.
Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said:
Animals are sentient beings who feel pain and suffering, so it is absolutely right that we recognise this in UK law after we leave the EU.
I was delighted to attend this important Parliamentary reception and hear from the many charities involved about how we can maintain and enhance our reputation as a leader on animal welfare.
Our plans to increase protections for animals include raising the maximum sentence for animal cruelty from six months to five years and banning third-party sales of puppies and kittens. I will continue to make sure we have the strongest legal protections in place for our animals.
Animal welfare organisations are also calling for a new independent Animal Welfare Advisory Council to provide advice to all government ministers at the UK and devolved level. This body would support governments in fulfilling their duties to animals, ensuring decisions are underpinned by the best scientific and ethics expertise.