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British celebs send open letter to PM demanding a better Brexit deal for animals

The #BetterDealForAnimals campaign launches inparliament with backing from Michael Gove, Sue Hayman, Tim Farron and Caroline Lucas as cross-party group of MPs join World Animal Protection and 35 animal welfare groups call on Government to commit to legislation on animal sentience.

27 February 2019

Michael Gove today addressed a Parliamentary reception calling for a #BetterDealForAnimals after Brexit but failed to introduce legislation despite over 50 MPs and Peers and 36 animal protection organisations pushing for action at the event.

As it stands, deal or no deal, animals will lose vital legal protections post-Brexit, unless Michael Gove introduces protections before departure from the EU. Alesha Dixon and animal welfare campaigners have launched a petition calling for immediate action.

Thirty-six welfare organisations [listed in Appendix 1 below] 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.

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 Michael Gove, David Rutley, Zac Goldsmith and Sue Hayman.

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: “Whilst we welcome the many assurances from Government, and again today from Michael Gove at the reception, 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.”

This event was sponsored by Nic Dakin MP (Lab), Zac Goldsmith MP (Con), Tim Farron MP (Lib Dem), and Deidre Brock MP (SNP). Sue Hayman MP (Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) addressed MPs and Rt. Hon. Michael Gove MP gave the key note address. Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: “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.”

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.

You can support this campaign by signing the petition. Get involved in the online debate: #BetterDealForAnimals

Ends

Notes to editors

Press contact: George White, Communications Manager, World Animal Protection T:+44 (0)20 7239 0634; M:+44 (0)7814 695 298

The UK Government and Parliament petition can be found at: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/242239

1.The 36 organisations backing these calls are: Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, Animal Aid, Animal Defenders International, Animal Equality United Kingdom, Animal Protection Agency, Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, Badger Trust, Born Free Foundation, Catholic Concern for Animals, Cats Protection, Change for Animals Foundation, Christian Vegetarian Association, Compassion in World Farming, Cruelty Free International, Crustacean Compassion, Dogs Trust, Four Paws, the Humane League, Humane Society International, International Animal Rescue, IFAW, League Against Cruel Sports, Mayhew, Naturewatch Foundation, OneKind, PDSA, PETA, Quaker Concern for Animals, RSPCA, The Donkey Sanctuary, Save Me Trust, Shellfish Network, Whale and Dolphin Conservation, Wild Welfare, Wildlife and Countryside Link, and World Animal Protection.

2. In November 2017 MPs voted against an amendment to the Withdrawal Bill which would have recognised animals as sentient in UK law. After the following media and public backlash, the Government rapidly produced a draft Animal Welfare (Sentience and sentencing) Bill, with the aim of recognising animal sentience and maintaining animal protections currently provided by EU law. Following some feedback from the Environment Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee (EFRA) the Government then withdrew the Bill in Spring 2018 in order to put further thought into the detail of sentience part of the text. The options available for to Government to now pass into law recognition of animal sentience, and a duty to pay all due regard to animals’ welfare needs in policy making, are to return to a stand-alone Animal Welfare (Sentience and Sentencing Bill), or to pass the measures as amendments to an existing Bill (e.g. Withdrawal, Environment, or Agriculture Bill).

3. Animal sentience legislation is vital to properly recognise the scientific evidence that many animals are sentient, can experience the world around them and can feel pain, suffering, and pleasure, and are not mere objects or commodities.