Leaving the European Union must not lead to any watering down of the existing standards on animal welfare. I believe we have a moral duty to treat the animals we share our planet with in a humane and compassionate way and this should be enshrined in our laws.
Currently, Article 13 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union protects the legal status of animals as sentient beings. The Conservative Government has made assurances that its Great Repeal Bill will convert these existing EU environmental and animal welfare laws into UK law when the UK leaves the EU.
However, despite indicating that the Repeal Bill would incorporate Article 13, the Bill as currently drafted, will not ensure its preservation in UK law. I am concerned about this and I know there is widespread support from British farmers and animal welfare organisations for proposals to ensure the provisions are preserved in UK law after exit day.
On 15 November, during consideration of the Bill in a Committee of the whole House of Commons, Labour supported New Clause 30 which sought to retain the rights and obligations contained in Article 13. Unfortunately, it was rejected by the Conservative Government and defeated by their votes.
Nevertheless, as the Bill continues to be scrutinised, I will support Amendment 350, which has been tabled by the Labour Party and which seeks to ensure that the UK Government is held to the animal welfare standards enshrined in Article 13 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
As the Repeal Bill progresses through Parliament, Labour will support amendments that aim to ensure there is no weakening of EU-derived rights - including on environmental protections and animal welfare standards - as a result of Brexit.
I and my Labour colleagues will continue to press for existing standards on animal welfare to be transposed into British law and strengthened where necessary.