Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:11 pm on 10th July 2019.

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Photo of Angela Smith Angela Smith Independent, Penistone and Stocksbridge 2:11 pm, 10th July 2019

I take that point entirely, although it is not the fault of Opposition Members that we are up against it in the way that we are, with, I hope, the Session due to end at some point soon and the Queen’s Speech on its way. We do need to get on with this, and we should keep it simple.

The measure is supported by all the major animal welfare charities. I pay tribute to the work on this issue by Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, Blue Cross, the Dogs Trust and the RSPCA, all of which are worthy charities that I have worked with over a significant number of years. I also wish to mention World Horse Welfare, which of course feels strongly about this issue and needs to be included in any list of tributes to the animal welfare sector for the campaign to increase the sentencing powers.

It is right that the situation in England and Wales comes into line with that in the rest of the UK and in other western countries. I repeat that the current limit of six months, which is often reduced by a third if the defendant pleads guilty, is clearly not adequate and does not act as a deterrent, as shown by the fact that many of the associations that deal with animal cruelty have reported increases in cruelty, especially of the most serious types, despite the Animal Welfare Act being on the statute book.

I conclude by saying again: can we please just get on with this and get it implemented? Let us give the courts the powers that they need.