Pudsey MP Stuart Andrew has voted against an amendment which would have recognised that animals are sentient beings and can feel pain.
The Conservative MP voted against a motion by Green Party MP Caroline Lucas to include the EU Protocol on animal sentience within the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill.
The clause would have enshrined into UK law the recognition that animals feel pain and emotion, an admission currently covered by EU law.
The move was controversially rejected by a majority of 18 for the Government.
Mr Andrew has issued a comment on his Facebook page in an attempt to clarify his position. He said:
“Can I make it very clear that I absolutely believe that animals are sentient beings. Of course they have feelings, emotions and feel pain – any pet owner, like myself, will know that first hand.
“I did not vote that animals cannot feel pain. We said the exact opposite. Minister Dominic Raab said in the debate. “Animals will continue to be recognised as sentient under domestic law”. This has been the case since 2006 and will continue to be so.
“A specific amendment to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill was not deemed to be right, but the Government will deliver the same result using a different route.
“I am proud and pleased that the UK has higher animal standards than any other country in Europe and in the past four months we have announced an Ivory ban, CCTV in slaughter houses, increased the maximum sentence for animal cruelty and are banning microbeads. EU law is no panacea: you can keep animals in unspeakably cruel conditions without breaking a single EU law.
“On 18th October, there was a meeting with Greener UK (thirteen of the UK’s leading environmental NGO’s have come together to form Greener UK), to discuss this issue and how we can enhance and improve animal welfare following Brexit. All the MP’s in attendance felt this could best be achieved with separate legislation – not via amendments to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill.”