Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:20 pm on 10th July 2019.

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Photo of Sir David Amess Sir David Amess Conservative, Southend West 2:20 pm, 10th July 2019

Embarrassingly, my right hon. Friend recognises that I am susceptible to flattery, but as I am on the Panel of Chairs, I do not think that I can also serve on the Committee, much as I would like to.

Let me go back to the Protection Against Cruel Tethering Act 1988. When my right hon. Friend the Member for Rayleigh and Wickford was a councillor in Basildon, we opened the horse and pony sanctuary in Pitsea. It is tragic that this big event has been completely whitewashed and here we have legislation and it is not even being enforced. That is very disappointing.

Controversial lady though my good friend Ann Widdecombe is, she and I introduced a ten-minute rule Bill for endangered species some time ago. I am very glad that the Animal Welfare Act 2006—she was still here then—has been as effective as it has.

In 2017, the RSPCA investigated all these complaints. My final point is that there have been only 1,492 prosecutions, so we have a huge number of complaints—more than 1 million phone calls—but very few prosecutions. I hope that my hon. Friend the Minister will address that. It is very good that we are increasing sentences from six months to over two years, but is there a problem with resources? Do we not have the enforcement officers with local authorities? I am told that the cost of everything that we are putting in place today is about £500,000, which I realise is an awful lot of money.