I believe we have a moral duty to treat the animals we share our planet with in a humane and compassionate way, and I agree that leaving the EU must not lead to any watering down of existing standards on animal welfare.
As you know, Article 13 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union protects the legal status of animals as sentient beings. The Government has made assurances that the Repeal Bill will convert existing EU environmental and animal welfare law into UK law.
However, despite indicating that the Repeal Bill would incorporate Article 13, the Bill as currently drafted, will not ensure its preservation in UK law. I share your concern about this and I know there is widespread support from animal welfare organisations in Ipswich and across the country for proposals to ensure the provisions are preserved in UK law after exit day.
On 15 November, during consideration of the Bill in a Committee of the whole House of Commons, I supported New Clause 30 which sought to retain the rights and obligations contained in Article 13. I also support Amendment 350, which has been tabled by the Official Opposition and which would ensure the UK Government is held to the animal welfare standards enshrined in Article 13 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
Unfortunately, when New Clause 30 was pressed to a vote on 15 November, it was rejected by the Government and defeated. The Minister argued that animals are already recognised as sentient beings under domestic law and that this will continue to be the case.
As the Repeal Bill progresses through Parliament, I can assure you that I intend to support amendments that aim to ensure there is no weakening of EU-derived rights – including on environmental protections and animal welfare standards – as a result of Brexit.
I will therefore continue to press for existing standards on animal welfare to be transposed into British law and strengthened where necessary.