Thank you to everyone who has emailed me regarding animal sentience and its future after we leave the European Union, and asked me to sign EDM 2070. Unfortunately, my role as an opposition whip prevents me from signing EDMs, but I am very happy to set out my views on this.

I agree it is vital that the principle of animal sentience is enshrined in domestic law as the UK leaves the European Union, covering all policy areas to prevent practices that expose animals to cruel and degrading treatment.

In 2017 I stood on a manifesto which pushed for the UK to be a world leader on high animal welfare standards in the wild, in farming and for domestic animals. My Labour colleagues and I maintain this position and believe it is key that animal sentience is protected in UK law following our exit from the EU.

In August 2018, the Government said it would legislate separately to increase maximum sentences for animal cruelty offences and would continue to engage with stakeholders to refine proposals on animal sentience. Ministers stated that they would ensure any necessary changes required to UK law are made in a rigorous and comprehensive way so that animal sentience is recognised after the UK leaves the EU.

With just over three weeks to go before we are due to leave the EU, there is no indication from the Government as to when it will bring forward this promised piece of legislation enshrining animal sentience in UK domestic law.

Thank you once again to everyone who has contacted me regarding this issue. I can assure you that my Labour colleagues and I will continue to press the government on this.

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