Leading animal protection charity OneKind has called on Holyrood to take urgent action after Westminster MPs voted yesterday against maintaining the legal principle that animals are sentient beings.
MPs voted 313 to 295 against Green MP Caroline Lucas’s amendment on Clause 30 of the EU Withdrawal Bill, with SNP MPs voting in favour. The amendment would have transferred the EU legal principle that animals are sentient beings into UK law
OneKind Director Harry Huyton said
“This has been a principle of EU law for twenty years. Its introduction was a landmark moment for animal protection in Europe as it recognised that all animals are sentient beings and that the European Union had a duty to “pay full regard to the welfare requirements of animals” when developing and implementing policy.
This has become a bedrock for animal protection across Europe and is a key legal principle. Its loss as a result of Brexit would be a major backwards step for animals and would send a strong message that the UK is willing to sacrifice animal welfare for economic gain.
Whilst Westminster might be willing to take this step backwards, we can’t believe that the Scottish Parliament would. Today we’re therefore calling on the Scottish Government to urgently bring forward a proposal that would enshrine the principle of animal sentience in Scottish law.”
Notes to editor
- OneKind is a Scottish animal protection charity working to end cruelty to Scotland’s animals.
- Article 13 of the European Treaty reads: “In formulating and implementing the Union’s agriculture, fisheries, transport, internal market, research and technological development and space policies, the Union and the Member States shall, since animals are sentient beings, pay full regard to the welfare requirements of animals, while respecting the legislative or administrative provisions and customs of the Member States relating in particular to religious rites, cultural traditions and regional heritage.” Sentience is the capacity to feel, perceive, or experience subjectively. Recognising animals as sentient beings means recognising their capacity to, for example, feel joy, fear or misery, to think and make choices, and to enjoy the company of others.
 Official Journal of the European Union C 115, 09.05.2008