Animal sentience bill could be ‘hijacked’ by activists, Tory donors warn

·2 min read
Some Tories fear activists could open up avenues for activists to block infrastructure projects - PA
Some Tories fear activists could open up avenues for activists to block infrastructure projects - PA

Tory donors have written to the Prime Minister to criticise a new law which will recognise the sentience of animals over fears it will be “hijacked” by activists.

Party donors, Conservative MPs and countryside groups have raised concern that the animal sentience bill will pave the way for infrastructure projects to be blocked if they damage areas populated by wildlife.

The billionaire Tory party donor, Lord Spencer of Alresford is among those opposed to the bill.

Lord Spencer, who raised an estimated £100 million for the party while serving as its treasurer, said he was “ opposed to the bill in its current very poorly drafted form.”

The bill will recognise in law that animals are sentient and therefore feel pain. If the bill becomes law it will see the creation of an animal sentience committee which will assess if ministers had considered “the welfare of animals as sentient beings” in policy decisions.

The legislation which is currently being debated in the House of Lords, was introduced by the animal welfare minister Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park, a close ally of the Prime Minister’s wife Carrie Johnson who is a vocal animal welfare campaigner.

The bill was introduced by Lord Goldsmith, an ally of Carrie Johnson, the PM's wife - EDDIE MULHOLLAND
The bill was introduced by Lord Goldsmith, an ally of Carrie Johnson, the PM's wife - EDDIE MULHOLLAND

Critics of the bill have also expressed concern that activists could “hijack” the bill in an effort to ban the extermination of vermin on farms, game shooting and kosher and halal meat slaughter.

Peter Hargreaves, who donated £1 million to the Conservative party’s 2019 election campaign is not a signatory to the letter but is reportedly dismayed by the proposed laws.

Tory backbench MPs including Bill Wiggin, James Gray, Sheryll Murray, Greg Smith and Richard Drax, have also privately expressed concerns, according to The Times.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: “Formally recognising in law that animals are sentient and experience feelings in the same way humans do is just the first step in our flagship Action Plan for Animal Welfare.”

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