The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee publishes its report, ‘Pre Legislative Scrutiny of the draft Animal Welfare (Sentencing and Recognition of Sentience) Bill.’
The inquiry was held following an invitation from the Secretary of State on 12 January 2017. The Committee was asked to comment on the draft Bill before its introduction to Parliament conduct pre-legislative scrutiny alongside the wider public consultation.
- Notes that: “[Animals] deserve better than to be treated in a cavalier fashion yet the impression given to us is one of haste. It appears that this draft Bill has been presented to the public - and Parliament - in a far from finished state.”
- Welcomes the Government’s decision to accept a predecessor EFRA’s Committee recommendation on the introduction of a 5-year maximum sentence for animal cruelty, but raises concerns that the vagueness of other aspects of the legislation will, “impede and delay the introduction of this measure”.
- Questions why the Government “has not taken this opportunity to increase sentences for other breaches of animal welfare” as a, “A true "gold standard" in animal welfare will require the introduction of legislation which will increase sentencing across the board.”
- Reccomends that the Government seperates Clause one of the draft Bill and “proceed with the Bill as the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill”.
- Recommends that 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.
“I am strongly in favour of the increased sentencing provisions in the Bill, but if the UK wants to set a ‘gold standard’ in animal welfare then the punitive measures for crimes against animals must include a greater range of offences.
“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”.