ANIMAL SENTIENCE to be embedded in UK legislation as part of a package of measures which have been announced on key animal health and welfare issues.

The British Veterinary Association welcomed the proposals set out in the in the Government’s agenda, announced during the Queen’s Speech on October 14.

The action on sentience would mean that animals are recognised in domestic law as sentient beings, and that the welfare of sentient animals is taken into consideration in Government policy-making.

Over 1200 veterinary professionals have been part of the long running campaign to enshrine animal sentience in UK legislation, however the process was stalled due to demands on parliamentary time and ensuring there is the right legislative vehicle to introduce it.

The Queen’s Speech also reintroduced the Agriculture Bill - which pledges to reform agricultural policy and introduce schemes that support public goods including animal welfare, and the Immigration Bill.

BVA president Daniella Dos Santos, commented: “We’re pleased to see animal sentience back on the Government’s agenda and hope that this signifies the final push needed to get this fundamental principle of animal welfare over the line and into law.

“BVA and others were disappointed that sentience didn’t clear the hurdles to come into legislation ahead of Brexit after such a longstanding and concerted campaign backed by significant public and professional strength of feeling,” she continued. “ In setting out these proposals today (October 14), we hope that the Government will now grasp this golden opportunity to make the UK’s status as a global leader on animal welfare resoundingly clear and find the means to bring sentience into law without further delay. We look forward to reviewing the new proposals in detail to ensure that the new legislation carries weight and is tailored to deliver the best possible protections for all species.

“We’re also encouraged to see that the Agriculture Bill is being reintroduced. BVA will keep up the pressure to ensure that animal health and welfare are seen as public goods in future policy,” she assured. “This is a particularly crucial step for the UK to demonstrate its commitment to high animal welfare standards as it navigates the post-Brexit landscape and negotiates future trade deals.

“BVA also welcomes the reintroduction of the Immigration Bill and will be lobbying for post-study work visas for overseas graduates from UK vet schools and measures to ensure the UK has the veterinary workforce it needs,” she concluded.