Animal Welfare

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 10th June 2021.

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Photo of Baroness Hayman of Ullock Baroness Hayman of Ullock Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park on 12 April (HL14638), when they intend to publish the Review of the Evidence for Sentience in Decapod Crustaceans and Cephalopod Molluscs; and whether the date of publication will allow its findings to be incorporated into the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill [HL].

Photo of Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

There is clear evidence that animals with a backbone (vertebrates) are sentient and this is reflected in the Government’s Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill introduced to the House of Lords on 13 May 2021. However, the Bill also gives the Secretary of State a power to extend the recognition of sentience to particular invertebrates in future on the basis of evidence.

Defra has commissioned an independent review of the available scientific evidence on sentience in decapod crustaceans such as crabs and lobsters, as well as sentience in the class, Cephalopoda, which includes octopus, cuttlefish and squid. The review will report shortly. We look forward to receiving its conclusions, which we will respond to as part of our ongoing work to protect the welfare needs of animals.

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