MPs unanimously support Sentience Bill in House of Commons
Last week MPs had their first chance to discuss the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill during the Second Reading debate in the House of Commons. During the debate, which covered the general principles of the Bill, many MPs welcomed the expansion of the scope of the Bill to include decapod crustaceans.
MPs from across different parties spoke in support of the Bill. All frontbench spokespeople welcomed the amendment made in the House of Lords to expand the scope of the Bill to decapod crustaceans and cephalopods – with the Secretary of State for DEFRA, George Eustice recognising that the report by the London School of Economics and Political Science had shown the animals “capable of experiencing pain or suffering”.
Amongst backbench MPs there were some concerns raised with other aspects of the Bill, including the level of resourcing the Animal Sentience Committee would receive and the practicalities of how the committee will operate. The issue of including decapod crustaceans in the Bill appears to be a settled matter, however, with even those MPs who raised issues with the Bill appearing to accept the science behind their inclusion.
The campaigning work that we have done together in the past on this issue was also recognised by MPs during the debate. Labour MP Kerry McCarthy described the inclusion of decapod crustaceans as “a significant win” while Conservative MP Tracey Crouch said “I warmly welcome the inclusion of those species within the scope of the Bill and pay tribute to the numerous charities and campaigners, such as Crustacean Compassion, who worked so hard to have this included in the Bill”.
After around three hours of debate MPs agreed to allow the Bill to continue its passage without the need for a vote. The Bill will now go to a Committee of MPs who will examine it line by line. This is expected to take place at the start of February before the Bill comes back to the House of Commons for further consideration.
There is still time to contact your MP and ask them to support the Bill and ensure that the landmark recognition of decapod crustacean sentience make it into law in the Spring, so take action now: