Draft Animal Welfare (Sentencing and Recognition of Sentience) Bill 2017 | February 2019

I have received numerous letters regarding the Draft Animal Welfare (Sentencing and Recognition of Sentience) Bill 2017.
The Government is committed to raising animal welfare standards once the United Kingdom has departed from the European Union, with the draft Bill having two main objectives: the recognition of animal sentience in UK domestic law and the incorporation of animal welfare needs when formulating and implementing policies. It has been made clear by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs that there has never been any doubt that animal welfare policies formulated by the Government are grounded in the fact that animals are indeed sentient beings. The current draft Animal Welfare (Sentencing and Recognition of Sentience) Bill increases the maximum prison sentence for animal cruelty to five years in prison and, as stated, recognises animal sentience in UK domestic law.
The decision not to include in UK law Article 13 of the Treaty on the Function of the European Union (TFEU) is because it has not delivered the progress which the Government has desired. Article 13 only applies to the implementation and formulation of EU-level policy and has had minimal impact even on those areas since its inception. As a result, the draft Bill is a significant improvement, as it both recognises animal sentience as well as clearly outlining a duty which the state has in protecting and upholding animal welfare. The failure of Article 13 is evident from the fact that cruel and painful practices to animals have failed to be prevented across the European Union.
As a result, the draft Bill improves animal welfare in the UK without EU input and in a manner which goes far beyond the scope of Article 13. For example, the draft Bill will ensure that CCTV is mandatory in all slaughterhouses; this is a requirement that goes beyond current EU law. The draft Bill also contains sections which would combat elephant poaching, as it contains a complete ban on the ivory trade and thus goes further than any current EU legislation.
February 2019

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