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

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:55 pm on 16th March 2020.

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Photo of Patricia Gibson Patricia Gibson Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Consumer Affairs) 4:55 pm, 16th March 2020

I thank the hon. Lady for sharing those points. I say to Chris Loder—I will not call him a new Member because we have said that enough—that I have been calling for maximum penalties of five years since I was first elected in 2015, so I have got a wee bit of a head start on him. We support each other in these efforts, because, quite simply, that is the right thing to do.

Another new measure in the Scottish Government’s programme for Government is on slaughterhouses. In Scotland, 80% of slaughterhouses have CCTV fitted, but that will become a requirement for all slaughterhouses under the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Bill. Indeed, the first independent animal welfare commission to be set up will look specifically at how the welfare needs of sentient animals are being met and what legislative and non-legislative measures can be implemented to make improvements, where required, and for animal welfare to proceed on an evidential basis.

I do not think there is any dispute about animals being sentient beings; no one would deny, or seek to deny, that. Therefore, there is a responsibility on all Governments to recognise that comprehensively in policy and practice through legislation. It is as simple as that. I hope the Minister will seek to match the good work undertaken by the Scottish Government in this area, especially as we negotiate trade deals post-Brexit. That is the kind of reassurance that she knows our constituents are looking for.