MPs have voted to reject the idea animals can feel pain and emotion while debating the EU withdrawal bill.
The government caused uproar among campaigners when it voted to dismiss animal sentience from the Brexit bill last week.
The rule had originally been incorporated into EU law in 2009, via the Lisbon Treaty, after years of campaigning by activists.
The decision by Michael Gove‘s Environment, Food and Rural Affairs department to block the law has been labelled “shocking”.
“It’s shocking that MPs have given the thumbs down to incorporating animal sentience into post-Brexit UK law,” RSPCA head of public affairs David Bowles told Farming UK.
“In the EU, we know that the recognition of animals as sentient beings has been effective in improving animal welfare across the region,” he said. “If the UK is to achieve the Environment
Secretary’s objective of achieving the highest possible animal welfare post-Brexit, it must do the same.” Ministers claimed the clause is already covered by the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
But Mr Bowles rejected the suggestion, saying that domestic animals were only covered in the Act and the 2006 law does not cover sentience. Caroline Lucas calls for action Co-Leader of the Green Party Caroline Lucas MP (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images) Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas MP urged parliament to translate the EU law into British law, but had her pleas ignored.
Ms Lucas told parliament: “As a passionate animal rights and animal welfare campaigner, I obviously want the best possible animal welfare laws in this country and in all countries, and I will not diminish my commitment to that.”
Her amendment fell, with 313 MPs voting to block the measure compared with 295 voting to support it. Nick Palmer, head of policy at Compassion in World Farming, told the Independent: “How can the UK be seen as a leader in animal welfare when the repeal bill fails to guarantee that animals will continue to be regarded as sentient beings?
“We urge the Government to reintroduce the commitment into the Bill.” Petition launched in opposition to the vote (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images) Wildlife photographer Richard
Bowler has now launched an online petition against the vote. He posted on Facebook: “So MP’s have voted and in their wisdom, animals can no longer feel pain or emotions. “It really beggars belief that in this day and age, this shower of a government no longer recognises animals as sentient beings.
“None of them could have had a pet dog, greet them when they come home. But it’s not just domestic animals that show love and affection.”