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Sentience Bill’s Final Steps to Become Law

The Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill is due to complete its passage through Parliament next week as MPs will have their final chance to debate its contents.

Last month a group of MPs took part in line-by-line consideration of the Bill during Committee Stage. None of the proposed amendments were agreed, so the unchanged Bill returns for Report Stage on Monday 14 March.

This is the last chance for MPs to suggest changes to the Bill, and several have been tabled already. These include areas that the newly-formed Animal Sentience Committee should examine – such as animals used in experiments or the effect of river pollution on animals – and the scope of who might be allowed to sit on the Committee.

Pleasingly there has been very little discussion about the decision to expand the scope of the Bill to include decapod crustaceans. A sign that following the publication of the report by the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) the sentience of these animals is now settled amongst politicians, as it is amongst scientists.

Commenting on the progress of the Bill so far, Claire Howard of Crustacean Compassion said: “We’re delighted that after the excellent report by the LSE there has been acceptance of the sentience of decapod crustaceans across the House of Commons. The passage of the Bill will be a significant moment towards the protection of crabs, lobsters and other decapods.”

The government has indicated it’s unlikely to support any amendments, which means late on Monday evening there will be a short debate – known as Third Reading – for MPs to have their final say on the general principles of the Bill.

Given the level of consistent cross-party support the Bill has received, it’s highly probably that on Tuesday morning the only remaining stage for this historic legislation will be the formality of being given Royal Assent.


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