Animals with a backbone will have a legal right to feel happiness and suffering in a Government drive to raise welfare standards in Tuesday's Queen’s Speech. An Animal Sentience Bill will enshrine in law that animals are aware of their feelings and emotions, and can experience joy and pleasure, as well as pain and suffering. "Sentience” will apply to “vertebrate animals - anything with a spinal cord", Environment secretary George Eustice told The Telegraph in an exclusive interview below. An existing committee of experts and civil servants in Defra will be tasked with ensuring Government’s policies take into account animal sentience. Ministers were criticised in 2018 when the duty was not carried across into UK law from the European Union after Brexit. The Government wants to make the UK a world leader in animal welfare and laws that protect animals form the centrepiece of this week’s Queen’s Speech. As well as an Animal Sentience Bill, an Animals Abroad Bill will ban the import of trophies from animal hunting. A third measure - a Kept Animals Bill - will stop live animal exports and ban families from keeping primates as pets. The Government will also publish an animal welfare strategy which will raise the prospect of banning fur imports, microchipping all domestic cats and calling time on the cruel killing of pigs by gassing them with carbon dioxide. Animal welfare is not at odds with caring about our rural communities The Conservative government has certainly come a long way since the party first won power in 2010 on a pledge to offer a free vote on legalising fox hunting, writes Christopher Hope. This week’s Queen’s Speech will see the Tory government publish draft laws that enshrine in law the right of animals to feel pain, as well as bans on live animal exports, importing hunting trophies and keeping primates as pets. A separate animal welfare strategy document will set the direction of travel, raising the prospect of banning fur imports, microchipping all cats and calling time on the cruel killing of pigs by gassing them with carbon dioxide. It is some journey from “hoodie hugging” when David Cameron was leader in the 2000s to “bunny hugging” under Boris Johnson in the 2020s. And it has been witnessed at first hand by George Eustice, a party press officer in the 2000s and now the Environment secretary. When we met in his office at the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs late on Friday, I asked him if he thinks this lurch towards saving animals rather than hunting them with packs of dogs will sit well with the party’s traditional voters.