Animal Sentience

Thank you for contacting me in relation to animal sentience.

Please be assured that this Government is committed to the very highest standards of animal welfare. No MP believes that animals do not have feelings.

The vote against this amendment was not a vote against the idea that animals feel pain, it was simply the rejection of a faulty amendment, which would not have achieved its stated aims of providing appropriate protection for animals.

It is unclear whether Article 13 of the Lisbon Treaty has made any practical difference to the protections animals enjoy across the EU. It must be noted that the UK has higher standards for animal welfare than any other country in Europe. In the Animal Protection Index the UK is rated highest for its formal recognition of animal sentience (grade A), unlike, other Lisbon Treaty signatories such as France, Italy and Spain who have received grade C.

EU Law is no ‘panacea’ for animal rights. Under EU Law you can keep farm animals in terrible and cruel conditions. Currently, EU rules prevent us from restricting or banning the live export of animals for slaughter; limit us from cracking down on puppy smuggling or banning the import of puppies under 6 months. Article 13 has not stopped any of these practices, in fact under this protocol outdated and cruel practices such as bullfighting, cock fighting, goat throwing, foie gras, and donkey torture are legal in some EU countries which are covered by the Lisbon Treaty.

Once the UK has left the EU there will be an opportunity to go further and do better in relation to animal welfare.

I hope that you find this information helpful and of interest.