The MP for the Cotswolds has slammed a new law that recognises animals as sentient beings.

Conservative MP Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown has voiced fears over the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill, claiming it gives animal rights’ groups “another weapon” to “damage both government and those who live and work with animals”.

He told the Commons: “Shooting, conservation and angling are highly important to the UK economy. Shooting contributes about £2 billion to the GDP and supports the equivalent of 74,000 full-time jobs.

“Angling is estimated to be worth £4 billion to the UK economy and responsible for upwards of 40,000 jobs.

“We need to make sure that the animal sentience committee set up by this Bill does not have any unforeseen or perverse consequences and that this Bill is not introduced simply as a PR exercise to meet the demands of activist groups and the tabloids.”

The bill recognises animals as sentient beings, able to feel pain and joy, and creates a body to ensure UK ministers take account of their welfare needs when drawing up and implementing policy.

However, several MPs from rural constituencies, like Sir Clifton-Brown, have not taken kindly to it.

Environment Secretary George Eustice told MPs at second reading: “This is a succinct Bill that offers clarity and avoids creating a wide avenue for judicial review of Government decisions, but which ensures animal welfare is properly considered as Government’s formulate policy.”