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Animal Sentience Bill approved by Parliament

Published on April 8, 2022

UK law recognises animals have feelings –  Animal Sentience Bill approved by Parliament.

Our animal protection community is rightly celebrating this week as parliament formally recognised that animals have emotions and feelings.

The Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill passed its final hurdle in the House of Lords on Thursday. Once the Bill receives Royal Assent, the new law will be known as the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Act 2022.

Animal Free Research UK is a member of the Better Deal for Animals, an alliance of the UK’s leading animal protection organisations, which has been campaigning for reinstating the recognition of animal sentience in UK law. Animal sentience is recognised in EU law but was the only piece of legislation not transposed into UK law following Brexit.

Carla Owen, CEO of Animal Free Research UK said “As a nation of animal lovers, the public knows animals have feelings and should be treated with compassion and respect. This once again being recognised in UK law is cause for us all to celebrate.”

Leading the celebrations, our patron Joanna Lumley, said “Anyone lucky enough to share their life with an animal knows what rich emotional lives they can lead, and how much our actions can affect their wellbeing, for better or worse. I am delighted that this new law will mean that sentient animals will be treated with greater respect and care.”

The move comes exactly 200 years since the UK’s first animal welfare law was passed and will see the formation of an Animal Sentience Committee which will scrutinise whether government policy has taken animals’ welfare needs into account. The Minister with responsibility for that policy area then has a duty to give Parliament a written response within three months.

This is an important milestone in ensuring animals have strong legal protection. The new Animal Sentience Committee will be able to shine an expert spotlight on opportunities for public policy to improve the lives of animals and create a kinder society.

Animal Free Research UK and our colleagues will continue to monitor the situation and ensure the new Committee prioritises its limited resources carefully, and that the Government follows its advice so that future policy reduces suffering and enhances protection of animals.




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