Thank you for sending me the CWIF letter about animal sentience. First and foremost, I believe animals are sentient beings who can feel pain and suffering, and I would like to reassure you that strong action is being taken to reduce their risk of harm.
The Government is committed to making any necessary changes to UK law in a rigorous and comprehensive way to ensure animal sentience is legally recognised after the transition period and Legislation will be brought forward when Parliamentary time allows. This also includes ensuring the UK has an effective means of making sure animal sentience is reflected in future policy decisions. I understand that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is currently assessing how best to support Government departments in considering the welfare needs of sentient animals when they are developing and implementing Government policy, as well as continuing to engage closely with relevant
Having left the EU, I am pleased that the UK will be able to do even more. A consultation will shortly be carried out on restricting live animal journeys, requiring approval for longer journeys and bringing forward welfare conditions for these journeys when they are necessary. The Government is also looking at proposals to ban the trade in pet primates, extending compulsory microchipping to cats and controlling the trade in hunting trophies from endangered animals.
Turning to animal welfare standards and the UK’s trade policy, all animals deserve to be respected and cared for throughout their lives, so I welcome the Government’s clear commitment that future trade agreements will uphold our country’s high animal welfare standards. These standards will not be watered down in pursuit of any trade deal.
To provide continuity in our country’s existing trade relationships, the Government is transitioning existing EU trade agreements, to which our country is party, into UK law. As these trade agreements will be transitioned on the closest possible terms as each original agreement, this process will not have an impact on animal welfare standards. Outside the EU, the UK will remain party to bodies such as the World Organisation for Animal Health, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species and others, and will continue to promote improved animal welfare standards internationally.