Examination of Witnesses

Part of Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:11 am on 23rd July 2019.

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Mike Schwarz:

I would like to think the points I make are sound in principle and therefore one does not need a great deal of evidence in order to have that review. I am not being vain about it, but there are flaws in the structure of the Bill which, if recognised, merit a review. Having said that, I would not dismiss evidence or views, particularly from the judiciary.

You mentioned how the judges might be grappling with this. Suppose the Bill were passed today, the first prosecutions might come about in the next six to 12 months, particularly they were Crown court cases. After 12 months, there might be some instances where problems—or lack of problems—emerge. I see that there were about 700 or 800 prosecutions in 2018 under the Animal Welfare Act. During that year, there was likely to be a significant proportion of helpful cases. Soundings could be taken of the judiciary and it could be advised after the Bill passes that Parliament would be assisted by view.

It would take perhaps a year, if one attaches importance to evidence, but sooner if it is accepted that, as a matter of principle, the absence of a level playing field needs to be addressed earlier.