The UK government announced back in 2017 that it did not intend to transfer the hard won EU animal sentience regulation into (UK) national law as a result of leaving the EU (Brexit).
British animal welfare campaigners were outraged with this – so it was time to turn up the heat with the British government, who always talk loudly about animal welfare issues. Why suddenly, on leaving the EU, would UK animals NOT still be covered by laws that gave them some protection as an EU member state ?
Battle lines were drawn between the campaigners and the government. The campaigners won, and by the end of the year the UK government was forced into a major U turn.
Despite words from the government, legislation did not materialise. In 2019, a coalition of more than 40 animal welfare organisations joined together, along with over 100,000+ signatures from British activists on a Parliamentary petition, asking Ministers to:
(Note – it has to be remembered that under UK law, if a petition exceeds 100K signatures, then the issue concerned (whatever it is about) has to be debated in the British Parliament, London).
Demands from the people included;
- Impose a legal duty on governments to pay all due regard to the welfare needs of animals as ‘sentient beings’.
- Recognise animal sentience when formulating and implementing policies.
- Ensure clear, consistent processes for for all Ministers to deliver against their animal sentience duties.
- Create an Animal Welfare Commission to monitor the government performance against animal sentience law.
As stated, with over 100k signatures on the petition, the petition was debated in Parliament as it had to be. The result being that Victoria Prentis MP (Defra) stated that the government would introduce the necessary legislation on animal sentience as soon as they could.
The people had won with their campaigning ! – efforts had resulted in victory.
But they still had to keep up the pressure for over a year longer to get the legislation. In the Queens Speech on 11th May 2021, defining the schedule for government legislation in the next parliamentary session, the government finally announced legislation would exist under UK law to recognise animals as thinking, feeling (sentient) beings.
The ‘Animal Welfare Sentience Act’ was introduced to parliament 2 days later, and will:
- Formally recognise animals as sentient beings under UK law.
- Establish and ‘Animals Sentience Committee’, or ASC, to ensure that across all government departments, policy making and implementation considers animal sentience.
- Requires Ministers to respond to reports from the ASC, to ensure that they remain politically accountable.
This new law ensures that all farm animals are treated with respect and kindness, and that their experiences and feelings DO matter. This new law is a critical step towards the final goal of ending factory farming and replacing it with sustainable, compassionate alternatives, such as organic and free range farming.
The new legislation is currently working its way through parliament at this very time to become law.
What do we learn ?
Victory is never delivered on a plate.
As with the sentience Bill; the Brits had to work and fight hard to get it; but they did, and they achieved result. Brits are generally good animal welfare people; (II am one of them) – tell them that sentience does not matter and they will probably manhandle you out to the nearest airport, and put you on a one way ticket flight to a distant land.
But importantly, as we always ay in the UK, ‘politicians work FOR YOU’; they are not gods; as they can be put out to pasture whenever the electorate feels the need. So activists everywhere; keep on with your fights, whatever issue it is for, and in the end you will achieve. Personally, I have fought live exports in the UK for over 32 years; but only now, this year, 2021, have we seen the government listen to us and make first moves to get a ban on. Never give up; unite and fight the fight; good (us) always overcomes evil (them) in the end.
I take inspiration from wonderful Jill at Animals Asia (video above), and the multitude of other excellent campaigners dotted all over the globe; unsung heroes who fight endlessly for better welfare and the rights of animals – you all have my greatest admiration and respect. Look at the fur industry – it is on its knees and desperately hanging on in there attempting to survive much because the good, normal people have said ‘No’ to the disgusting abuses that are placed before them by the fur rabble humans.
It is a victory of the people, by the people, for the people but very much for the animals also.
Fight the fight and never give up – YOU WILL WIN.