Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:36 pm on 10th July 2019.

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Photo of Anna Turley Anna Turley Labour/Co-operative, Redcar 2:36 pm, 10th July 2019

The right hon. Gentleman is right. As I said in my introductory comments, as human beings we have a duty of care, love and protection towards animals who have been bred alongside us for thousands of years and that we have cared for, protected and nurtured. That is our responsibility to them. I hope that this legislation will send out the message and that anyone who cannot understand it will be dealt with severely.

I also thank my community in Redcar and Teesside who have shown their compassion and given the Bill so much support—signing petitions and responding to the terrible acts with a determination to help change the law.

I take on board everything that has been said about getting the Bill through as quickly as possible and I have no wish to slow its progress, but before I finish I want to bring an issue to the Minister’s attention, as I will throughout the Bill’s progress, to make the most of the opportunity. It concerns the trend of filming animal cruelty with the aim of sharing and uploading videos to social media. As I said, Baby’s aggressors deliberately filmed their despicable acts for entertainment. There are many examples on social media of video clips of cruelty going viral—people kicking cats or tormenting small animals. The perpetrators are not content simply with inflicting injury on animals; they are motivated by the prospect of the films going viral, getting hits and being shared. That is grotesque and demonstrates a greater level of malicious intent, which possibly requires a specific deterrent. I urge the Government to consider the possibility of an aggravated sentence for those who film themselves undertaking such acts. I will table an amendment in Committee and ask the Government to support it.

Finally, I want to say a word about Baby and Scamp, because it is in their names that I sought to change the law. We will probably never know the full level of cruelty and torture that those silent and defenceless animals endured. We can only begin to imagine the pain experienced and the fear that they felt. We cannot undo the suffering caused to them, but we can show each other that such cruelty has no place in our communities, and that such depraved behaviour will face the punishment that it deserves. I wholeheartedly welcome this Bill—Baby’s Bill—and I thank the Minister for bringing it forward. I look forward to voting it through, to put right the injustice and send a message that our society will not tolerate cruelty to our best friends.