The Co-Founders of Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation believe that the legal recognition of animals as sentient beings must be incorporated into UK law when leaving the EU.
Lorraine Platt, Co- Founder said:
“The recognition of animals as sentient beings is one of the cornerstones of EU law on animal welfare. A failure to bring it into UK law would represent a significant dilution of our legislation in this area. The recognition in law of animals as sentient beings is of iconic significance for many members of the public who will feel let down if our exit from the EU leads to the loss of this legal recognition.
Article 13 in current EU law, places a specific duty on the Government and other public bodies to pay “full regard” to the welfare requirements of animals when (i) formulating and (ii) implementing policies on agriculture, transport, fisheries, research and technological development.
It is fundamentally different from anything in the Animal Welfare Act 2006. The 2006 Act regulates how individuals treat animals e.g. they must not be cruel, they must take care of their animals. Article 13 places a duty on public bodies regarding the formulation and implementation of policy in certain areas. Article 13 also expressly recognises animals as sentient beings. It may be argued that the Animal Welfare Act 2006 implicitly recognises the sentiency of animals, but it does not do so expressly. The Animal Welfare Act has limitations, for example, it does not apply to wild animals living in a wild state and laboratory animals.
It was the UK that took the lead in pressing the EU to recognise animals as sentient beings in the Treaty. We do urge that now we are leaving the EU, we will find a way to bring the important sentient beings wording clearly into UK legislation either in a Environment Bill or another Bill, or by amending the Animal Welfare Act 2006 to include that public authorities shall pay full regard to the welfare requirements of all animals as sentient beings.
We welcome clarification on how the provisions of Article 13 will be enshrined in UK law when we leave the EU.