Animal Cruelty: Prison Sentences

Oral Answers to Questions — Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 18th October 2018.

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Photo of Diana R. Johnson Diana R. Johnson Labour, Kingston upon Hull North 12:00 am, 18th October 2018

When he plans to bring forward legislative proposals to increase the length of prison sentences for animal cruelty.

Photo of Michael Gove Michael Gove The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The Government will increase the custodial maximum penalty for animal cruelty from six months’ to five years’ imprisonment. The legislation needed to implement the increase will be introduced as soon as parliamentary time allows.

Photo of Diana R. Johnson Diana R. Johnson Labour, Kingston upon Hull North

Ten months ago, the Secretary of State told me that he would examine proposals to expedite legislation to introduce an increase in the sentence for animal cruelty. Given cross-party support, the support of the general public and the brilliant campaigning of Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, can the Secretary of State now give us a timetable for when that will actually happen?

Photo of Michael Gove Michael Gove The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

I know that the Leader of the House, who will be here shortly, will have heard that eloquent plea from the hon. Lady, and I add my voice to hers.

Photo of Scott Mann Scott Mann Conservative, North Cornwall

Animal cruelty extends to the way in which an animal is slaughtered. When will there be legislation to ensure that halal meat is properly labelled in supermarkets?

Photo of Michael Gove Michael Gove The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

My hon. Friend raises an issue of great concern to many. One of the things that we are doing is consulting religious communities and others to establish what changes, if any, may be required.

Photo of Angela Smith Angela Smith Labour, Penistone and Stocksbridge

There is a fairly simple way of ensuring that this measure is implemented: introducing and then supporting a private Member’s Bill. Will the Secretary of State support any Member who introduces such a Bill?

Photo of Michael Gove Michael Gove The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

That decision is above my pay grade—it would be made by the Chief Whip and the Leader of the House—but, as I indicated to Diana Johnson, I am passionately keen to see an end to animal cruelty.