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Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill


“Animal sentience” is the capability of an animal to perceive or feel things. Animal sentience is enshrined in European law but this was not retained in domestic law before the Transition Period ended on 1 January 2021, following the UK’s departure from the European Union.

On 13 May, the Government’s Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill received its First Reading in the House of Lords. If passed, the Bill will apply to vertebrate animals (except humans) and establish an Animal Sentience Committee (ASC).

This inquiry will consider the proposed ASC, and ask whether it will ensure that animal sentience is properly taken into account in both new and existing Government policy in England. The inquiry will also examine whether there are sufficient safeguards to ensure that the proposed ASC will be independent, and have the necessary expertise and powers to be effective. The inquiry will look at whether the requirement for the Government to respond to a report of the ASC will be sufficient, and how the proposed ASC compares to similar bodies elsewhere. The inquiry will also ask if the Government is correct to limit the scope of the Bill to vertebrate animals.

Read the call for evidence for more information about this inquiry.