Under Regulation 5(2)(b) of the Scottish Animal Welfare Commission Regulations 2020, one of the functions of the Commission is to provide advice on any matters concerning the welfare of protected animals on which the Commission considers it should offer its advice.
At its inaugural meeting in March 2020, the Scottish Animal Welfare Commission agreed that, in addition to its obligation under Regulation 14 of the 2020 Regulations to report on its own activities to the Scottish Ministers and Scottish Parliament, it would be desirable for the Commission also to review relevant activity by the Scottish Government.
The Commission believed that such a review would facilitate its provision of advice to promote the welfare of animals in Scotland. It would also go some way towards replacing the requirement, previously placed upon the UK government (and thereby, the four administrations) by Article 13 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), to pay full regard to animal welfare.
Article 13 states that:
"In formulating and implementing the Union's agriculture, fisheries, transport, internal market, research and technological development and space policies, the Union and Member States shall, since animals are sentient beings, pay full regard to the welfare requirements of animals, while respecting the legislative or administrative provisions and customs of the Member States relating in particular to religious rites, cultural traditions and regional heritage."
The Commission has reviewed the activities of the Scottish Government over the past five years including its legislative proposals and delivery. In this first report SAWC has taken a broader remit to consider the whole of Session 5 and set the context for further reports. In future the Commission intends to publish an annual review to comment on the delivery of animal welfare commitments in the Programme for Government of the previous year, as well as other relevant policy and legislation events.
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