Government delivers manifesto commitments on animal welfare

Animal welfare to be enhanced with launch of the Animal Sentience Committee and consultation on penalty notices

  • Five new members will be appointed to form the first-ever Animal Sentience Committee
  • Committee’s establishment ensures animal welfare remains at the heart of government policy
  • Government also launches consultation on expanding enforcement  mechanisms for animal health and welfare offences

The first-ever animal sentience committee was formally launched today with the appointment of five new members, the government has announced (25 May 2023).

The Animal Sentience Committee is fully independent and will support Parliament in assessing how well policy decision-making across Government effectively considers animal welfare. The appointment of the five new members marks the next step in the delivery of a key government manifesto commitment to legislate for sentience and builds on the government’s strong track record on animal welfare.

The government is also launching an eight-week public consultation on introducing penalty notices to bolster enforcement for animal health and welfare offences – meaning those who commit offences such as importing illegal animal products could face fines of up to £5,000.

Giving enforcement bodies the option to issue penalty notices provides a middle-ground enforcement option between the current routes of giving out advice and guidance, and pursuing prosecution. Bridging this gap means a fairer and more consistent approach to protecting animals from harm.

Farming Minister Mark Spencer said:

“In this country, we pride ourselves on our high standards of animal welfare, and we have introduced powerful laws to maintain them.

“We are delivering on our manifesto promises and continue to explore ways to enhance our position as a global leader on animal welfare.”

Commenting on the appointments, the Chair of the Animal Sentience Committee, Michael Seals, said:

“The establishment of the Animal Sentience Committee is an important moment for animal welfare in this country.

“Our five new members will collectively bring a range of varied and valuable experience across veterinary and animal welfare, playing a key role in helping to bring these considerations to the forefront of policy decision making.

“We have bold plans to improve animal health and welfare and I look forward to working closely with the Committee to deliver these ambitions.”

The UK has some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world and we are fully committed to delivering our manifesto commitments on animal welfare, building on the action we’ve already taken including increasing animal cruelty sentences, recognising the sentience of animals in law, banning glue traps and extending the Ivory Act.

Alongside these new measures, we are also supporting Private Members’ Bills currently before Parliament banning the import of detached shark fins, banning the import of hunting trophies and banning the advertising and offering for sale here of unacceptably low animal welfare activities abroad.

For more information on the penalty notice consultation and to respond, visit:

For more information on the appointments to the Animal Sentience Committee, visit: The Animal Welfare (Sentience) Act 2022 (Commencement) Regulations 2023 (

Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs
The Rt Hon Mark Spencer MP