The first petition, with over 100,000 signatures, is part of CIWF’s ‘End the Cage Age’ campaign to ban the use of cages for all farmed animals. The petition states, “across the UK, millions of farmed animals are kept in cages, unable to express their natural behaviours” and “this causes huge suffering”. It urges the Environment Secretary to “bring forward legislation that amends the Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2007 to prohibit the use of:
a) barren and enriched cages for farmed animals including cages for laying hens, rabbits, pullets, broiler breeders, layer breeders, quail, pheasants, partridges, guinea fowl;
b) farrowing crates for sows;
c) individual calf pens”.
The second petition is called ‘Recognise animal sentience & require that animal welfare has full regard in law’. It has received over 100,000 signatures. The petition states: “EU law recognises animals as sentient beings, aware of their feelings and emotions. Animals are at risk of losing these vital legal protections, post-Brexit.” It calls for “a law that creates a duty for all Ministers in the UK to fully regard animal welfare in policy making”.
Both these petitions have received over 100,000 signatures and was scheduled to be debated in parliament on 9th September. You may be aware that due to prorogation this debate was postponed, and no new date has yet been confirmed.
I agree we must seek to end this ‘cage age’ of outdated farming practices that cause animals distress and restrict natural behaviours. I support ending the use of cages on British farms by 2025, allowing producers time to plan and make necessary changes. I also support a phased ban on sow farrowing crates with a reasonable phase out period, replacing them with safe, free-farrowing systems.
The Government responded to the petition on cages by saying it has already banned cages where there is clear scientific evidence that they are detrimental to animal health and welfare. This claim has been disputed by Compassion in World Farming (CIWF).
I agree it is vital to enshrine the principle of animal sentience in law to prevent practices that expose both wild and domestic animals to cruel and degrading treatment, and to ensure that government and public bodies must have due regard to animal sentience.
The Government says it is committed to making any necessary changes required to UK law in a rigorous and comprehensive way to ensure animal sentience is recognised after the UK leaves the EU. However, nearly two years on, the Government has yet to bring forward this promised legislation.
I urge the Government to introduce legislation to enshrine animal sentience in law or to support the Bill introduced by my colleague, Kerry McCarthy MP, which would require the Government to recognise the welfare needs of animals as sentient beings.