We campaigned as part of coalition of animal welfare organisations backing a parliamentary petition which called on the Government to end the use of cages for UK farmed animals. Since animal welfare is a devolved matter, any UK government legislation would only affect animals in England, but the principle extends right across the UK.
We have also campaigned for the inclusion of sentience in UK legislation alongside 37 other animal welfare organisations.
On Monday, Members of Parliament debated these two crucial animal welfare issues – animal sentience and the use of cages for farmed animals.
Sentience debate highlights
Kerry McCarthy MP (Labour) began the sentience debate commenting that the recognition of sentience in animals should not just ensure that these animals don’t experience pain & suffering, but should also ensure they have happy and fulfilled lives.
OneKind fully supports this message and has continuously campaigned for animals not just to have lives worth living, but also for them to have the opportunity for positive experiences.
Crustaceans and decapod cephalopods
We were delighted that both Kerry McCarthy MP (Labour) and Luke Pollard MP (Labour) stressed the importance of the inclusion of decapod crustaceans and cephalopods under animal sentience legislation.
We have been campaigning for the Scottish Government to amend Scotland’s animal welfare legislation, Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006, to include these animals. Currently, these animals have no legal protection in Scotland. Will you help us to change that by writing to Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment, Mairi Gougeon, to ask for her support? Please use our letter-writing template here.
MPs ‘inundated’ with animal welfare letters
It was so encouraging to hear two MPs comment on how much support there is for animal welfare from their constitutents. In fact, Patricia Gibson MP (SNP) confirmed that she receives more emails about animal welfare than about any issue from her constituents in the 5 years since she’s been an MP. This just goes to show how important writing to and emailing MPs and MSPs is and we are so grateful for all our supporters who continue to take this action on behalf of Scotland’s animals. If you’d like to help us lobby MPs, please join our OneKind Animal Advocates programme here.
She also stated that “animal sentience is a self-evident truth.”
Similarly, Stephanie Peacock MP (Labour), commented:
“It is unsurprising that I have been inundated with emails and letters from constituents regarding animal sentience. We are a nation of animal lovers. I am calling on this government to enshrine animal welfare stands in UK law.”
The dairy industry and live exports
Allan Dorans MP (SNP), highlighted the cruel link between the dairy industry and the live export trade, while arguing for the sentience of animals:
“Anyone who has been in the presence of a cow being separated from her calf as she hurls herself repeatedly at the door to try get to her baby knows full well that animals are sentient beings.”
We are so close to our target for our open letter urging Cabinet Secretary, Fergus Ewing, to support a ban on live exports. You can add your name here.
Conclusion to the sentience debate
Defra Minister Victoria Prentis MP concluded the debate by confirming that there is no guarantee that the Sentience Bill will be introduced this year due to existing business. This would mean a gap in important animal welfare law, as Article 13, which recognises animal sentience in EU law, will stop applying from 1 January 2021.
“It’s never been in dispute that animals are sentient beings… We will introduce this legislation as soon as we can, but am unable to say when this will be.” Victoria Prentis MP
Cages ‘detrimental to welfare’
MPs were in agreement that cages for farmed animals were a welfare concern and should be phased out. Kerry McCarthy MP began the debate by referring to the wealth of scientific evidence that proves that “enrichment cages for hens and farrowing crates for sows are detrimental to welfare”.
Sir David Amess MP (Conservative), declared farrowing crates as “cruel beyond belief” and enrichment cages “a grim reflection on our society”.
Patricia Gibson MP tied the sentience debate and #EndTheCageAge debate together very effectively by commenting:
“Now we’ve established and agreed that animals are sentient beings, by definition we should be repulsed by the idea of keeping them in cages.”
You can sign our petition calling for a ban on these cages in Scotland here.
Labour Shadow Minister talks of his rescue chicken
Daniel Zeichner, Labour Shadow Minister, spoke of his rescue chicken, who he saw transform from a caged bird into a bird displaying its natural characteristics.
He declared Labour’s support for an end to the use of cages and challenged the minister about their position, stating:
“I challenge the Minister to explain why the suffering should be allowed to continue: why she thinks we should end the cage age one day, but not yet.”
Conclusion to the #EndTheCageAge debate
Defra Minister Victoria Prentis MP (Conservative) announced that the UK Government is examining the future use of cages for farmed animals.
“…the Government are currently examining the future use of cages for all laying hens.”
“The Government have made it clear that we remain completely committed to the ambition that farrowing crates should no longer be used for sows.”
Next steps in Scotland
We currently have a live petition calling on the Scottish Government to ban enriched cages for egg-laying hens and farrowing crates for pregnant sows has 4,957 signatures, just 43 signatures away from our target of 5,000! Add your name here.