“We are deeply committed to animal welfare- and those who suggest otherwise are making mischief” – that’s the robust response from Redditch MP Rachel Maclean to those who doubt the Conservative stance on animal sentience.
In a vote at Westminster on Monday, November 20, MPs – including Mrs Maclean for Redditch and Sajid Javid for Bromsgrove – chose to reject the inclusion of animal sentience (that animals have the capacity to feel emotion and pain) into the EU Withdrawal Bill.
The vote was to decide whether to transfer the EU Protocol on animal sentience set out in Article 13 of Title II of the Lisbon Treaty into UK law, so that animals continue to be recognised as sentient beings under domestic law.
The majority of Labour MPs voted in favour of this motion, and the majority of Conservative MPs chose to reject it.
The move has been criticised by animal rights activists, many of whom have argued that the rejection by certain MPs is a denial that animals can feel emotion and pain.
Mrs Maclean, whose column in last week’s edition of the Redditch Standard focused on animal welfare and preservation, said: “The whole story of MPs voting against animal sentience is utterly ridiculous.
“Of course animals have feelings and there is no MP from any party who doesn’t believe this. I myself am an animal lover as proved by our beloved family rescue dog Phoebe.
“This amendment wasn’t the right way to do things and we’ve already got laws protecting animal sentience, as well as a raft of new measures protecting animals delivered by this Government. Our laws go well beyond EU laws already. And we will be able to have better laws outside the EU.
“We are deeply committed to animal welfare and our planet, and those who suggest otherwise are making mischief, pure and simple.”
Animal sentience was incorporated into EU law in 2009 via the Lisbon Treaty, following years of campaigning by animal rights activists.
The UK Government is tasked with adopting EU laws directly after March 2019 but has dismissed animal sentience.