Michael Gove has criticised attacks made on social media on MPs regarding a vote on EU laws dealing with animal “sentience”.
British MPs voted last week not to include within the EU Withdrawal Bill a portion of an EU treaty that recognizes that animals also feel emotion and pain.
Green Party leader Caroline Lucas proposed the amendment, under which the EU protocol would have transferred to domestic law provisions related to animal sentience. But ministers opposed the move stating that UK law already incorporated recognition of animal sentience, and rejected the amendment.
This vote however drew sharp attacks on MPs over social media.
“Raw And Authentic” Social Media Voice “Believed More” Than News Outlets
Speaking to Radio 4, Gove pointed out that social media users suggested that MPs had voted against the principle of animals having sentience, but “that did not happen, that is absolutely wrong.”
He further noted that there was an “unhappy tendency” for people to believe more the “raw and authentic voice of what’s shared on social media” than media outlets like the Hansard or the BBC.
Gove also highlighted that the trend on social media was to believe that Britain’s democratic institutions “can’t do better” than when within the EU, adding that such notions needed to be challenged. He also suggested that there was a need to stand up against how “social media corrupts and distorts both reporting and decision making.”
The criticisms against the vote by the MPs come from several quarters including campaign groups, prominent explorer Ben Fogle, comedian Sue Perkins and TV host Rachel Riley.
No Gap in Animal Welfare Provisions In UK Law
Gove has assured that there would be no gap in animal welfare provisions after exiting EU as the government will be ensuring that “stronger protection is written into law”. He further argued that the EU legislation was “poorly designed” .
But Lucas however called Gove’s response “backpedalling” as she had been assured before the vote that there was no difference between the amendment and the provisions of the 2006 Animal Welfare Act.
Wide Difference Between EU And British Law
However British Veterinary Association senior vice president Gudrun Ravetz has said that there was a “significant difference” between the UK law provisions and the Article 13 EU protocol. The EU law lays down the duty on the state authorities to pay regard to animal welfare while developing and implementing policies, while in UK’s 2006 Animal Welfare Act, the duty is on the owner.
She pointed out that the EU law was “explicit” regarding “animal sentience”, but the UK laws are “implicit about sentience of animals “. Ravetz said that while the duties of the owner and keeper are covered under the Animal Welfare Act, the duty of the state is yet to be added in explicitly.