Amendment 23

Part of Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill [HL] - Report (Continued) – in the House of Lords at 9:30 pm on 6th December 2021.

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Photo of Lord Benyon Lord Benyon The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 9:30 pm, 6th December 2021

No, I do not include the noble Lord, Lord Robathan. Both Houses lack the kind of expert rigour that we need in decision-making. I thank my noble friend Lord Moylan for his Amendments 23 and 35 concerning the academic rigour of the committee. We will ensure that the animal sentience committee is comprised of members with the right expertise. They will be best placed to decide what the committee’s priorities should be and, in doing so, they can consult others. I reassure my noble friend that the annual work plan of the committee will be made publicly available. This will ensure that its priorities and approach are fully transparent. As the draft terms of reference for the committee show, we fully intend to appoint members through a rigorous procedure of fair and open competition.

Of course, peer-reviewed evidence from academic journals has a role in informing the committee’s work. However, I do not believe it is necessary for the committee’s reports themselves to be published in academic journals. It is critical that the committee should be able to advise in a timely way—this is the key point—on policies that are being developed. To require the committee’s recommendations to undergo the full academic peer-review process would cause considerable delays in enabling Parliament to hold government to account. This amendment would severely compromise its role. I hope with those few words I have reassured my noble friend, and he will be content to withdraw his amendment.