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Government ‘makes good on its promises’ with draft Bill on animal sentience

12 Dec 2017

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Responding to the campaign to enshrine Article 13 of the Lisbon Treaty into UK law, the Government has published a draft Bill, which sets out that the government “must have regard to the welfare needs of animals as sentient beings in formulating and implementing government policy”.

The draft Bill goes further than Article 13 as it applies to all areas of government policy, rather than specified areas of policy. If passed, the law would apply to the whole of the UK.

Responding to Michael Gove’s announcement, British Veterinary Association (BVA) President John Fishwick said: “Vets have been clear in our calls that the duty on the state to have due regard for animal welfare - as captured in Article 13 of the EU Lisbon Treaty - must be enshrined in UK law.

"This Bill captures the substantive obligation that Article 13 currently puts on the national government to consider animal welfare, as well as explicitly recognising animals as sentient beings.

“Today’s draft Bill lays out in black and white the Government making good on its promises, to ensure the UK remains a global leader in animal welfare post-Brexit.”

BVA has been campaigning on the issue of Article 13. Mr Fishwick added: “BVA has been at the forefront of this conversation, speaking out for our members on BBC Radio 4’s agenda-setting Today programme, coordinating a 1200-strong Open Letter to the Daily Telegraph with the British Veterinary Nursing Association as well as having behind-the-scenes conversations with MPs and civil servants.

"This is a real win at national level for the veterinary professions.”

The new law will also increase the maximum prison sentence for animal cruelty tenfold, from six months to five years, in England and Wales. 

Subject to consultation on the draft Bill, the Government will legislate to deliver both aims.

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