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Sentience and Welfare of Animals — [Sir Roger Gale in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:48 pm on 16th March 2020.

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Photo of Sir David Amess Sir David Amess Conservative, Southend West 4:48 pm, 16th March 2020

My right hon. Friend made that point far better than I could, and I totally agree. It is unacceptable that animals are kept in appalling conditions and that the evidence that they experience fear and pain is ignored. As a matter of urgency, industries such as farming must recognise the sentience of animals. They are trying to recognise that and adjust their practices accordingly, but perhaps in the next debate I will be able to enlarge upon that.

Stephanie Peacock said that we are a nation of animal lovers. Of that there is no doubt. Colleagues on my side of the House have found that people power is influencing our views—the general public feel strongly about this. Although the Animal Welfare Act 2006 acknowledged that animals experience pain and suffering, it did not explicitly recognise animal sentience. Now that we have left the European Union, that should be introduced into legislation. The Minister might argue that it is not necessary, but I remain to be persuaded.

Many parliamentarians were delighted to meet Finn the dog for Finn’s law part two, or the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill, which will increase the maximum sentence for animal cruelty from six months to five years. Finn’s law came into force in June 2019 and put in place protections for service animals, such as police dogs and horses, from violent attacks. It is that sort of legislation that gives the United Kingdom its proud position of leading the way on animal welfare issues. That is why I want us to lead the way and enshrine animal sentience in law.

We have a very high standard in this country, but if we do not take action to legislate on animal sentience, we will put that proud record in jeopardy. I am glad that we have left the European Union, but I want the United Kingdom to influence the rest of the world through our already high standards.