Today (Thursday 1 February) the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee published its report, ‘Pre Legislative Scrutiny of the draft Animal Welfare (Sentencing and Recognition of Sentience) Bill.’

The Committee has commented on the draft Bill before its introduction to Parliament alongside a public consultation which closed on 31 January. The Committee recommends that the Government introduces a “separate piece of legislation on animal sentience’ which allows the ‘problematic concepts in the existing Clause 1 to be better defined”.

Neil Parish MP, Chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, said: “It is important that the Government considers the full implications of a bill before publishing it. It has failed to do so in this case. The Bill has been rushed and the legislation has suffered as a result.

“The UK urgently needs a new law focused on animal sentience but this law must be properly thought through and worked out. This legislation is not that”.

Countryside Alliance’s Chief Executive Tim Bonner commented: “We agree with the EFRA Committee that this Bill is the wrong way of addressing the right issues. If it were passed in its current form every crank with a few thousand pounds to spare would have the ability to drag the Government through the courts, requiring Ministers to prove that they have given enough consideration to animal welfare. The draft Bill would also provide a vehicle for campaigners to pursue practically every item on the animal rights agenda.

“The Government will attract broad support if it brings forward logical provisions to increase sentences for serious acts of animal cruelty, and to ensure proper consideration of animal welfare in policy development. What is quite clear, however, is that there is virtually no support for addressing these issues by means of this draft Bill.”