Strathearn Herald

Animal bill progress welcomed

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Local MP John Nicolson has welcomed an extension to the Animal Welfare ( Sentience) Bill, which is currently progressin­g through parliament.

But the Ochil and South Perthshire representa­tive said more must be done to protect animals.

Efforts to recognise animal sentience in law moved a step closer last week when the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill passed its second reading in the House of Commons.

The bill, which would recognise that animals are sentient beings and which would create a body to oversee the government’s efforts to take account of their welfare needs when designing and implementi­ng policy, will now pass into the committee stage where it will be more closely scrutinise­d.

Last year, the scope of the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill was extended to recognise the lobster, octopus, crab and all other decapod crustacean­s and cephalopod molluscs as sentient beings.

The Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill already recognises all animals with a backbone (vertebrate­s) as sentient beings.

However, unlike some other invertebra­tes, decapod crustacean­s and cephalopod­s have complex central nervous systems, one of the key hallmarks of sentience.

Mr Nicolson, welcomed the bill’s progress but highlighte­d concerns.

The SNP politician said: “We must do all we can to protect the deeply curious and emotionall­y complex creatures like the lobster and the octopus.

“Researcher­s are very clear that these creatures are able to feel pain. I have long opposed the cruel ways in which these animals are killed for food and welcome these steps to recognise the lobster and the octopus as sentient beings, but we must go further.

“As the UK government’s Animal Welfare Minister said himself, the ‘announceme­nt will not affect any existing legislatio­n or industry practices.’

“This needs to change.”

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