Last Thursday Michael Gove MP, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, stated that the government intends to keep existing animal welfare standards as a minimum once Britain leaves the EU. Whilst taking oral questions in the House of Commons, Gove said, “There will be no compromise on our standards.”
Gove confirmed that article 13 of the Lisbon Treaty, which recognises animals as sentient beings, would be part of the Repeal Bill, but stated, “Before we entered the European Union, we recognised in our own legislation that animals were sentient beings.”
When questioned about reports of an increase in US-style mega farms by the Guardian and Bureau of Investigative Journalism, Gove remarked, “I do not want to see, and we will not have, US-style farming in this country.”
When asked what steps the government was taking to improve animal welfare, Gove said there were plans in place to reform pet sales and licensing, make changes to live exports and slaughter regulations. He also said other animal welfare measures were being considered.
Gove also stated that he was “actively reviewing” issues around low penalties for animal cruelty offences. Gove said, “I am not someone who will automatically reach for stronger criminal sanctions as the only route to dealing with a problem, but there are particular cases of animal cruelty where we may well need to revisit the existing criminal sanctions in order to ensure that the very worst behaviour is dealt with using the full force of the law.”