Animal Sentience Bill rears its head again

So, here we are then. Despite a monstering in the Lords and near-universal condemnation across the press, the Animal Sentience Bill has reared its ugly head once more, returning to the Commons today for its Second Reading. The flagship legislation, which Mr S has covered extensively, is designed to protect helpless creatures and recognise they can feel pain by creating a new super-committee to judge the effects of government policies. Proposed amendments mean that shellfish are to be included; hapless ministers forced to defend them are not. As Steerpike has pointed out repeatedly, animal welfare has been recognised in British law for 200 years The government has been caught between

Defra’s trophy-worthy blunder

The Sunday People is not normally top of Steerpike’s reading list but Mr S was intrigued to see it yesterday trumpeting an exclusive. The newspaper has declared victory in its long-running campaign for an end to the import of hunting trophies. For George Eustice is now backing its bid to end the trade in such objects, with the Environment Secretary quoted as promising ‘one of the toughest bans in the world.’  It breathlessly reports that there will be up to seven years in jail for those caught smuggling skins, heads and other body part ‘souvenirs’ to Britain, with the ban to cover some 6,000 animals deemed under threat from the trade, including the ‘big five’ of lions,

Defra keeps it in the family

Who is in charge at Defra? Technically, it’s the environment secretary George Eustice. But in recent weeks there have been whisperings of the growing influence of the Goldsmith clan. Zac Goldsmith is a minister in the department as well as a close friend of both Boris Johnson and his fiancé Carrie Symonds. Just this weekend, a No. 10 source came out to deny claims from the farming lobby that Symonds and Goldsmith had teamed up in a bid to tie up farmers in red tape to protect the environment. It’s something of a family affair at the department with Goldsmith’s brother Ben a board director at Defra despite breaking his own department’s rules over the