OneKind, Scotland’s animal campaigns charity, has welcomed a response from the Scottish Government to look for ways to protect animal welfare principles after Brexit.
Michael Russell MSP, Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe, said that the Scottish Government was continuing to consider how best to enshrine its commitment to the EU environmental and animal welfare principles in light of the UK Government’s decision to exit the EU.
He also stated:
“[…] I make this key commitment: to make sure that our clear commitment to considering the principles is on the face of the bill, which is what is asked for, I will work with members to lodge amendments at stage 3 that require us to consider the EU environmental principles and animal sentience when exercising the powers under sections 11, 12 and 13.”
The commitment to further amendments was made during two days of debate by the Finance and Constitution Committee on Stage 2 of the European Union (Legal Continuity) (Scotland) Bill. The Bill was drawn up by ministers to enshrine existing EU laws in Scotland after Brexit.
Stage 2 amendments covering animal sentience and welfare were lodged by Colin Smyth MSP, Mark Ruskell MSP and Tavish Scott MSP but were withdrawn in light of the Minister’s commitments.
Libby Anderson, OneKind’s Policy Advisor said:
“OneKind is delighted with the Minister’s commitment to lodge amendments to the Continuity Bill that will require the Scottish Government in future to consider animal sentience, as well as environmental principles, when making regulations after Brexit. We are grateful to the MSPs whose probing amendments secured this commitment.
“Scotland does have good animal welfare legislation, albeit with limited scope, but the sentience of animals needs to be more widely and explicitly recognised in both policy and law-making.
“This may sound all very dry and technical but at the heart of it are Scotland’s animals, whether wild or domesticated, and we know the public wants to see them given the protection they deserve. An understanding and acceptance that every animal is a sentient individual is the key to such protection.”
The principle of animal sentience has been recognised by the EU for 20 years and was incorporated into the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) in 2007. Article 13 of the Treaty recognises animals as sentient beings and requires governments, in formulating and implementing policies on agriculture, fisheries, transport, research and technology development, to pay full regard to the welfare requirements of animals.
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.
The Continuity Bill will now move onto Stage 3 and will be completed on 21 March.