Rachel Maclean, MP for Redditch, today (Thursday) pressed the Environment Secretary on what steps the Government is taking to strengthen protections on animal welfare and animal sentience as the UK prepares to leave the EU.

During Environment, Food and Rural Affairs questions, Rachel took the opportunity to raise the issue with Michael Gove after residents contacted Rachel following the vote on new Clause 30 of the EU Withdrawal Bill. The vote against the amendment was widely misinterpreted as it was not an attempt to weaken the protection of animals in the UK.

Laws are already in place protecting animal sentience, as well as a raft of new measures protecting animals delivered by the Conservative Government.

But Rachel asked the Environment Secretary what is being done to ensure the Government goes above and beyond in strengthening animal welfare laws as we leave the EU.

In response to Rachel’s question, Mr Gove said: “My hon. Friend has been a clear and consistent advocate for higher standards of animal welfare, both before and since she entered this House.

“It is absolutely the case that we are committed to ensuring not just that we recognise the principle of animal sentience, but that we provide appropriate and stronger protection in UK law. We will shortly be bringing forward proposals on the appropriate legislative vehicle for that protection.”

Rachel said: “I was grateful to have the opportunity to question the Environment Secretary on the issue of animal sentience after many constituents contacted me on the matter.

“The whole story of MPs voting against the animal sentience amendment was completely blown out of proportion. It was ridiculous to suggest MPs believed animals do not have feelings.

“As an animal lover myself, and the owner of my beautiful rescue dog Phoebe, I am committed to making sure the UK retains the highest animal welfare standards as we leave the EU.

“I’m glad in responding to my question the Environment Secretary reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to strengthening animal welfare laws in the UK above and beyond current EU standards.”