It has been suggested that the vote on New Clause 30 of the EU Withdrawal Bill somehow signalled a weakening in the protection of animals - that is wrong. Voting against the amendment was not a vote against the idea that animals are sentient and feel pain - that is a misconception. I specifically sought clarification and confirmation of this from the Prime Minister herself at PMQs as below. Subsequently, Environment Secretary Michael Gove has confirmed that the sentience of animals will continue to be recognised and protections strengthened when we leave the EU in a Ministerial Statement.
At Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday 22nd November, Fiona asked:
"Will the Prime Minister reassure people that this Conservative Government are committed to maintaining the United Kingdom’s strong commitment to the highest standards of animal welfare, both now and post-Brexit?"
Theresa May, the Prime Minister replied:
"I am happy to give my hon. Friend that commitment. As she and others will know, we already have some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world, and as we leave the EU, we should not only maintain, but enhance them. We have already set out our proposals to introduce mandatory CCTV in slaughterhouses; to increase sentences for animal cruelty to five years; to ban microbeads, which damage marine life; and to ban the ivory trade to help bring an end to elephant poaching. We also recognise and respect the fact that animals are sentient beings and should be treated accordingly. The Animal Welfare Act 2006 provides protection for all animals capable of experiencing pain or suffering which are under the control of man. But I reaffirm to her that we will be ensuring that we maintain and enhance our animal welfare standards when we leave the EU."
You can watch the video of Fiona’s PMQ on the BBC News website at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-politics-42083452/pmqs-bruce-asks-may-about-looking-after-animal-welfare
Furthermore, you can read Michael Gove's (Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) statement on the issue here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/environment-secretary-confirms-sentience-of-animals-will-continue-to-be-recognised-and-protections-strengthened-when-we-leave-the-eu