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Animal Welfare: Brexit

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN HL13000, tabled on 4 February 2021

To ask Her Majesty's Government what legislation is in place that expressly recognises animals as “sentient beings” and requires Government to pay full regard to animals as sentient beings in formulating and implementing policy, now that Article 13 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU no longer applies in UK law.

Answered on

18 February 2021

Now that we have established a new relationship with the European Union, we have a unique opportunity to shape future animal welfare policy in the UK to ensure our already high animal welfare standards are maintained and enhanced.

There has never been any question that this Government's policies on animal welfare are driven by the fact that animals are sentient beings. We have committed to bringing in new laws on animal sentience. Any necessary changes required to domestic legislation will be made in an effective and credible way and will be brought forward when parliamentary time allows.

The Government will ensure that animal sentience is not only recognised in domestic law, but that we will have an effective and proportionate means of taking animal sentience into account in policy making.

Here in the UK, we are already improving animal welfare standards without EU input and beyond the scope of Article 13. The Government is committed to taking action to improve animal welfare at home and abroad, including by increasing maximum sentences for animal cruelty, banning third party sales of puppies, and introducing one of the world's toughest bans on ivory sales. We have also made CCTV mandatory in slaughterhouses and we are planning other reforms. These steps show how seriously this Government gives regard to animal welfare.