by David Bean

  • The Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill is only six clauses long. It would establish an Animal Sentience Committee, with members appointed by the Secretary of State for the Environment. This Committee ‘may’ produce a report in relation to “any government policy’ that ‘is being or has been formulated or implemented’. The report will set out the Committee’s views on ‘whether, or to what extent, the government is having, or has had, all due regard to the ways in which the policy might have an adverse effect on the welfare of animals as sentient beings’. These reports are to be published and the Secretary of State must respond and share that response with Parliament. The Bill remains unamended to date.
  • However, both at Second Reading and in Grand Committee there was widespread concern that the legislation was completely silent on the membership of the Committee, how the Committee might be structured, operate and be resourced.
  • It is also unclear from the Bill how this new statutory Committee, required to report to Parliament, is to relate to existing non-statutory committees advising on animal welfare but which do not have the same powers to act and advise on their own initiative, as the Sentience Committee is empowered to do.

You can read the full briefing note here.

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