EU Protocol on animal sentience

Part of European Union (Withdrawal) Bill – in the House of Commons at 9:45 pm on 15th November 2017.

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Photo of Caroline Lucas Caroline Lucas Co-Leader of the Green Party 9:45 pm, 15th November 2017

I thank all right hon. and hon. Members for what has been an interesting and good debate, albeit sadly too short.

I am disappointed by the Minister’s response to new clause 30. It is not good enough to claim that animal sentience is already covered by UK law by virtue of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 since the protocol is not even explicitly included or referred to in that Act and the word “sentience” does not appear anywhere in it. The Act applies only to companion animals—domestic pets. It does not apply to farm animals, wildlife or laboratory animals. For those reasons, I intend to press new clause 30 to a Division.

On the environmental principles, Sir Oliver Letwin made very interesting and exciting points. I have long called for an environment Act, but I still do not see why that has to be at the expense of getting something in this Bill. That is important, because essentially the protections need to be in law from day one of Brexit. My worry is that I do not share his optimism about how quickly we could get an environment Act through the House. I would love to think we could do it in that time, but I am not convinced we will. I shall therefore press new clause 30 to a vote.