The Tories have rejected all scientists and voted that animals don't feel pain as part of the Brexit Bill https://t.co/CMxUxItl0E
— The Independent (@Independent) November 20, 2017
I’d read Guido’s tale of the Independent and various other media outlets spinning a gigantic lie about the government not thinking that animals are ‘sentient’ and can feel pain and suffering gaining a willing and gullible audience, including a large number of lobby groups and organisations, who hyped the story as much as possible. So it was with interest I listened to the Today programme…first their ‘what the papers say,’ and you’d be hard pressed to know what the story was about, they mentioned ‘fake news’ but what was it about? They then gave the impression that the Independent was the victim almost of whatever was going on…this approach was set in stone at 08:10 as Webb interviewed Gove [who I have to say not totally impressed with…too eager to please and not got the killer facts to slamdunk what is a very stupid story]. Webb told us this was a story whipped up by ‘social media’ which the MSM got dragged into…not true as far as I can see…the Independent were pretty forthright in their story….as was George Osborne’s Evening Standard [which has deleted one, in fact several seem to have gone awol, of their guilty tweets about this…if they deleted everything they misled readers on about Brexit that would leave a few cartoons and the sports pages]. Webb worked hard to twist the story so that the Independent was almost right and the Government wrong…Webb, rather than seeking truth, sought to prove the Independent story was right. Trouble is it wasn’t. Far from it and very easy to demonstrate….literally 10 minutes on Google gets you a very full picture…certainly one more informative and insightful than the BBC’s flagship current affairs programme brings us. Then again the BBC’s own report is far from innocent on this…and it’s own follow up still tries to suggest the government is somehow guilty of not caring about animal suffering.
For a start the Independent had already retracted the story last night…though remarkably it finds little fault with its own reporting.
Here is their initial headline….pretty clear what their sensationalist message is and what it is attempting to do….
The Tories have already decided to scale back huge parts of what makes Britain the country we’re proud of – today it’s animal sentience, and tomorrow it could be something far worse
Oh but hang on….rapid retraction….of a sort…
Animal rights campaigners, politicians and journalists are involved in an argument about whether the Government believes animals are sentient. But what’s the truth?
Some claimed the vote showed that the Government didn’t care about animals. Supporters of the Government claimed that it was the result of “fake news”.
The Government appears concerned that the reports will damage their popularity. Campaigners are worried that the law now protects animals less than it should.
MPs did not vote that animals are not sentient creatures. But neither did they vote for a law that would have recognised them as such.
‘Some claimed’!!!! And get the last sentence…..suggesting there is no law that protects animals as ‘sentient’ beings.
Trouble is…there is. And, if the BBC had done its work it could have read the House of Commons Library briefing paper on this subject published yesterday…so Webb could have had a copy. He obviously didn’t or ignored it.
First it tells us how the EU defines ‘sentient’….
‘An EU Commission publication on the Animal Welfare Strategy 2012–2015 states that sentience means that animals are “capable of feeling pleasure and pain ”.’
The HoCL tells us that the Animal Welfare Act 2006
…makes it an offence to cause unnecessary suffering to any animal. ‘Animal’ is defined in Section 1 to include all (non-human) vertebrates and may be extended by regulation to include invertebrates on the basis of scientific evidence that “animals of the kind concerned are capable of experiencing pain or suffering”. While the legislation does not specifically mention the word ‘sentient’, the Explanatory Notes for Section 1 mention that the Act applies to vertebrate animals as they are “currently the only demonstrably sentient animals”.
Animals can feel pain, ipso facto they are ‘sentient’ and recognised as such under British law even without expressly using the term except in the expalantory notes.
And the ‘appropriate national authority‘ can extend the definition to include invertebrates if it is felt necessary.
There are many pieces of animal welfare legislation that protects animals and the vote did not lessen that protection at all…and indeed was intended to enable the government to strengthen the protection going beyond that offered already, legislation at present blocked by the EU.
It has been suggested that the vote last week on New Clause 30 of the EU Withdrawal Bill somehow signalled a weakening in the protection of animals – that is wrong. Voting against the amendment was not a vote against the idea that animals are sentient and feel pain – that is a misconception. Ministers explained on the floor of the house that this Government’s policies on animal welfare are driven by our recognition that animals are indeed sentient beings and we are acting energetically to reduce the risk of harm to animals – whether on farms or in the wild. The vote against New Clause 30 was the rejection of a faulty
EU rules prevent us from restricting or banning the live export of animals for slaughter. EU rules also restrict us from cracking down on puppy smuggling or banning the import of puppies under 6 months. Article 13 has not stopped any of these practices – but leaving the EU gives us the chance to do much better. We hope to say more in these areas next year.
All very emotive from the campaigners and exploited by the cnical anti-Brexit mob like Osborne. Ben Fogle is very BBC-like isn’t he? Classic BBC. Except for one thing…he admits it when he is wrong….
British law quite clearly recognises that animals can feel pain and suffering and thus are ‘sentient’. What’s so difficult about that that the BBC can’t admit it without all sorts of qualifictions and whatifferies?
Will Justin Webb be doing a mea culpa on tomorrow’s show?
At least Laura Kuenssberg has put some effort in…
— Laura Kuenssberg (@bbclaurak) November 22, 2017