Undo vote 'that animals cannot feel pain or emotions' into the Brexit bill
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MPs have voted to reject the inclusion of animal sentience – the admission that animals feel emotion and pain – into the EU Withdrawal Bill.
The move has been criticised by animal rights activists, who say the vote undermines environment secretary Michael Gove’s pledge to prioritise animal rights during Brexit.
The majority of animal welfare legislation comes from the EU. The UK Government is tasked with adopting EU laws directly after March 2019 but has dismissed animal sentience.
The Government said during the debate before the vote that this clause is covered by the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
The RSPCA disputed the Government’s claim.
"It’s shocking that MPs have given the thumbs down to incorporating animal sentience into post-Brexit UK law," RSPCA head of public affairs David Bowles told Farming UK.
He added that domestic animals were only covered in the Act, and the 2006 law does not cover sentience.
“In the EU, we know that the recognition of animals as sentient beings has been effective in improving animal welfare across the region,” he said.
“If the UK is to achieve the Environment Secretary’s objective of achieving the highest possible animal welfare post-Brexit, it must do the same.”
Nick Palmer, head of policy at Compassion in World Farming, said: "How can the UK be seen as a leader in animal welfare when the repeal bill fails to guarantee that animals will continue to be regarded as sentient beings?
"We urge the Government to reintroduce the commitment into the Bill."
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