The current legislation and guidance provides the right safeguards and powers in respect of horse tethering. The code of practice for the welfare of horses, ponies, donkeys and their hybrids provides information on acceptable standards of tethering. We want every owner to follow that guidance.
In my beautiful constituency of Harlow, we sadly see many horses tethered by the roadside and in dangerous locations. These horses often have no water and are left for days on end. Sometimes the tether breaks, causing danger for the horses and passing cars. Will my hon. Friend consider introducing not only tougher measures to penalise individuals who mistreat their horses and break the code of practice for the welfare of horses, ponies, donkeys and their hybrids, but a mandatory duty on local councils to implement a licensing system to ensure that horses are monitored and receive regular vet checks, and that the highest animal welfare standards are upheld?
My right hon. Friend, from his beautiful constituency, has long campaigned on this important issue. People who mistreat their horses face prosecution under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. The good news is that the maximum penalty under the Act increases this month to five years’ imprisonment. Anyone who has concerns about inappropriate tethering should report the matter to their local authority. Local authorities have powers under the 2006 Act to take action where a horse is suffering.