Clause 32 - Section 31: supplementary

Part of Animal Welfare Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:00 am on 26 January 2006.

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Photo of Bill Wiggin Bill Wiggin Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) 9:00, 26 January 2006

I shall speak only to amendments Nos. 179 and 131. The former would add to the Bill a list of ways in which an animal may be disposed of. My concern is that animals be disposed of in a way that is in their best interests. Subsections (3) and (4) make no mention of how an animal is to be disposed of and instead focus predominantly on protecting its value. In my opinion, we should predominantly be concerned with protecting the animal’s welfare first. Its value is also important, but should be secondary.

The amendment would restrict the persons into whose care a court could dispose of an animal. We would not want an animal to be disposed of to a person whose animal welfare credentials, although not questionable, were still unproven. For example, if a court is to dispose of a cat in the context of its being re-homed, and even if another cat owner would like to take possession of it, the first person who should take care of the animal should be an accredited animal carer. That would unquestionably preserve the animal’s best interests, which is what this brief amendment is designed to do.

Amendment No. 131 is similar and supports the arguments that I have made for amendment No. 179. We need to ensure that the Bill states that we are acting in the animal’s best interests. I hope that the Minister accepts this helpful addition to his drafting.