OneKind, Scotland’s animal campaigns charity, has welcomed the Scottish Parliament’s unanimous support for an Amendment to the European Union (Legal Continuity) (Scotland) Bill in the Scottish Parliament today (21 March 2018), recognising the sentience of non-human animals and the need to pay regard to their welfare.
Libby Anderson, OneKind’s Policy Advisor said:
“We are delighted that Members of the Scottish Parliament have made their commitment clear to maintaining and, indeed, improving, protection for Scotland’s animals after Brexit. Recognising sentience means recognising that every single animal is an individual, whose quality of life and state of welfare are affected by our actions. We can build on this to ensure modern, progressive attitudes to the animals that share our environment.”
Amendment 39 in the name of Claudia Beamish, supported by Colin Smyth, requires Scottish Ministers to observe guiding principles relevant to the environment and animal welfare, when making regulations under the Bill.
The animal welfare provision in the amendment is derived from Article 13 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), which requires EU member states to pay full regard to the welfare requirements of animals, “since animals are sentient beings”. Article 13 was introduced to offset other provisions of EU law that treated animals as “goods”.
The new provision in the Continuity Bill establishes the importance of considering animal welfare when legislating in relevant fields. Similar amendments to the equivalent UK Withdrawal Bill at Westminster have previously been rejected, causing a public outcry about the UK government’s commitment to protecting animals. The UK Government has since introduced domestic legislation to recognise animal sentience and welfare. The Minister in charge of the Continuity Bill, Michael Russell MSP, announced today that that Scottish Government had agreed in principle that this could extend to Scotland.
Speaking in support of the amendment, Mark Ruskell MSP underlined the importance of seeing animals as sentient beings, and “not just simple commodities to be traded across boundaries”. Colin Smyth MSP stressed the need to create an “unequivocal statutory basis” for the sentience principle.
OneKind launched a campaign on animal sentience last year which saw over 8000 emails sent to MSPs asking them to maintain the animal sentience principle in Scotland after Brexit.
Notes to editor:
- OneKind is a Scottish animal protection charity working to end cruelty to Scotland’s animals.