In My View - 14th December 2017

Good news from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs this week relating to an issue that I know many people have had concerns about. The Government has published a draft Bill about animal welfare which gives explicit recognition of animal sentience in UK law. It states that the Government, ‘must have regard to the welfare needs of animals as sentient beings in formulating and implementing Government policy.’ Although some legal experts argue that the concept of sentience is already covered by the notion of suffering as detailed in the 2006 Animal Welfare Act there was a feeling that we could do further and it is right that we now do so.

The new Bill goes further than the EU legislation which only recognises sentience in six policy areas. It will enshrine the concept across the board; in all areas of policy. Upon leaving the EU we can take action on practices like exporting live animals which we cannot currently ban. On another note, I have signed the Blue Belt Charter which promotes our place as a world leader in protecting ocean habitats and marine life.

This week sees more voting on the EU Withdrawal Bill including on whether MPs will get to vote on any deal offered. I am all for restoring sovereignty to the House of Commons but I still think we need to focus less on amending legislation and less on the terms of a transitional period and more on getting the final agreement right for the UK. The issue of the Irish border is a complex one and it may be that there is not a solution that is completely to everyone’s liking but it is not something that should bind our future regulations or allow the EU to exert undue influence over those after we have left. I raised the issue in the House of Commons on Tuesday and have done so with the Prime Minister. I understand that there is a wide range of strongly held views on this issue but if we are to have regulations which are specifically tailored to give us every possible advantage in the world then we must have full control over those.

As we move into the festive season I am very much looking forward to visiting local health and care facilities. It is always striking how the kindness and warmth of those facing challenges can be an example to us all. I will also be paying my regular visit to the Royal Mail sorting office. In the internet age this place still helps to make all our Christmasses special.

My office will be open throughout the holiday period so please do get in touch if I can be of any help or if you would like to book an appointment at one of my regular advice surgeries please do call 01935314321 or email