Today was a missed opportunity for the secretary of state who should have announced that he is enacting legislation without delay to stay true to his public commitments and protect animals post-Brexit.
Michael Gove, the environment secretary, yesterday addressed a Parliamentary reception calling for a #BetterDealForAnimals after Brexit, vowing "I will continue to make sure we have the strongest legal protections in place for our animals.”
But he has so far failed to introduce legislation despite more than 50 MPs and peers and 36 animal protection organisations demanding action at the event. Animals will lose vital legal protections post-Brexit, unless Gove introduces protections before departure from the EU.
Thirty-six welfare organisations have come together to call for a law that will create a duty for all Ministers in the UK to fully regard animal welfare in policy-making and ensure that animal sentience laws are not weakened once we leave the EU. Alesha Dixon and animal welfare campaigners have launched a petition calling for immediate action.
Gove said after the event: “Animals are sentient beings who feel pain and suffering, so it is absolutely right that we recognise this in UK law after we leave the EU. I was delighted to attend this important Parliamentary reception and hear from the many charities involved about how we can maintain and enhance our reputation as a leader on animal welfare.
“Our plans to increase protections for animals include raising the maximum sentence for animal cruelty from six months to five years and banning third-party sales of puppies and kittens. I will continue to make sure we have the strongest legal protections in place for our animals.”
A petition, hosted on the UK Government and Parliament website, launched today follows a major event in Parliament yesterday which saw 50 MPs and Peers attend to sign a pledge and back the #BetterDealForAnimals campaign. Attendees included Sue Hayman MP, shadow secretary of state for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, David Rutley MP and Zac Goldsmith, the Conservative MP and former owner of The Ecologist.
Animal sentience is currently enshrined in EU law but has not been carried across into UK law. As Brexit fast approaches, the petition calls on the UK Government to ensure this will be explicitly enshrined in law and for any future legislation or government policy to fully consider its impact on the welfare of animals.
Sonul Badiani-Hamment, #BetterDealForAnimals event organiser and external affairs adviser for World Animal Protection, said: “Time is running out for animals and we need action now.
"Today was a missed opportunity for the secretary of state who should have announced that he is enacting legislation without delay to stay true to his public commitments and protect animals post-Brexit. If he really wants the UK to be a world leader in animal welfare, it’s time to act before animals become victims of Brexit.”
A BetterDealForAnimals spokesperson said: “A nation of animal lovers will not stand-by while our decision makers threaten animal protections. We must speak up for animals who can’t speak for themselves.
"With eighty six percent of the UK Government’s own voters saying they want animal welfare laws maintained or strengthened, Ministers must heed this message and live up to its promises to protect our treasured animals. Acknowledging in law that animals have the capacity to feel pain and suffering is vital to protect them.
“That is why we have launched a petition urging members of the public to put pressure on the governments in the UK to take action for animals. Yesterday’s event in Parliament was a great success and highlights the cross-party support in Westminster for the demand to fully recognise animal sentience in UK law before we leave the EU.”
Animal welfare organisations are also calling for a new independent Animal Welfare Advisory Council to provide advice to all government ministers at the UK and devolved level. This body would support governments in fulfilling their duties to animals, ensuring decisions are underpinned by the best scientific and ethics expertise.
This article is based on a press release from #BetterDealForAnimals. You can support this campaign by signing the petition here.