I am aware that there is high feeling and concern over New Clause 30 to the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill and I wanted to set out my position.
As part of our domestic law [Animal Welfare Act 2006] if an animal is capable of experiencing pain and suffering, it is by definition sentient and protected under that domestic law. This is clearly right and proper and I am proud that the UK already goes further than many other European countries in terms of animal welfare. I believe that New Clause 30 was simply a duplication of a protection already afforded in law in this country. My vote therefore was based on that belief; and absolutely not due to a disregard for animal welfare, on which I hold strong opinions. Last week’s vote was simply the rejection of a faulty amendment, which would not have achieved its stated aims of providing appropriate protection for animals.
I look forward to having the opportunity to further strengthen our laws in this regard once we leave the EU, but would reiterate that I support the fact that domestic law already recognises the legal status of animals as sentient beings.