Animals as sentient beings

I’m grateful to Crawley residents who have taken the time to contact me in recent weeks over animal welfare matters.

In June I was re-elected by MPs across the political spectrum as Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare following which I was pleased to continue my work pursuing with Government the importance of policy to reflect animals as sentient beings.

The Environment Secretary has confirmed that the ‘Government’s policies on animal welfare are driven by our recognition that animals are indeed sentient beings and we are acting energetically to reduce the risk of harm to animals – whether on farms or in the wild. The vote against New Clause 30 [of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill] was the rejection of a faulty amendment, which would not have achieved its stated aims of providing appropriate protection for animals.’

The clarification is welcome – it follows my raising this matter in the House of Commons in July, and following up in writing with the Environment Secretary to seek such assurances.

EU rules on animals as sentient beings allow bullfighting, veal farming, foie gras ‘production’, live exports for slaughter and cruel fur product imports – these are issues I will continue to campaign to ban and are just a few of my many reasons in voting for Brexit.

I’ve also campaigned to stop puppy smuggling and banning the import of puppies under six months – EU rules also restrict us from ending this cruel trade.

Previously I secured and led a House of Commons debate calling for the mandatory introduction of CCTV in slaughterhouses to aid animal welfare and am delighted that the Environment Secretary has recently confirmed this is to become law across England. I was pleased to lead this campaign in Parliament and welcome the result.

There will additionally be Government legislation in the months ahead to ensure a ten-fold increase to five years in prison for sentences regarding animal cruelty offences. I’m grateful to local supporters of organisations such as Battersea Dogs & Cats Home for their continued campaigning on this issue.

Henry Smith MP