Introduction of the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill as part of the Government's Action Plan for Animal Welfare
Published 13 May 2021
Launching the Bill, Animal Welfare minister Lord Goldsmith said:
The UK has always led the way on animal welfare and now that we’ve left the EU we are free to drive for the highest standards of animal welfare anywhere in the world.
Formally recognising in law that animals are sentient and experience feelings in the same way humans do is just the first step in our flagship Action Plan for Animal Welfare which will further transform the lives of animals in this country and strengthen our position as a global leader.
Claire Bass, Executive Director of Humane Society International/UK said:
45 of the UK’s most respected animal protection organisations have been united in calling for this Bill, which recognises that animals have the ability to experience feelings, including pain, joy and fear, and that their emotions and welfare deserve consideration and protection when laws are made.
The formation of an Animal Sentience Committee is a very welcome step; it must though be designed with the right expertise, independence, resourcing and access to information to enable it to provide robust and constructive scrutiny. We hope that it will support government’s delivery of a progressive welfare strategy built on respect for the needs of sentient animals, who enrich and improve our lives in so many ways.
James West, Senior Policy Manager, Compassion in World Farming, said:
Compassion in World Farming warmly welcome today’s publication of legislation that recognises animals as sentient beings – capable of experiencing joy, pain and suffering. We applaud this initiative that will apply to policies being developed across all UK Government departments.
We look forward to the newly established Committee being effective in ensuring that Ministers pay all due regard to animal sentience when formulating and implementing policy. As a nation of animal lovers, we should not expect anything less than granting sentient beings the legal recognition they unequivocally deserve.
The UK has a long history of improving the lives of animals, being the first country in the world to pass legislation to protect animals in 1822 with the Cruel Treatment of Cattle Act and later the landmark Protection of Animals Act in 1911.
The Government has continued to uphold this tradition of high welfare standards over the years through many reforms, ranging from banning the use of battery cages for laying hens and introducing compulsory CCTV in slaughter houses and most recently raising the maximum sentence for animal cruelty from six months to five years.