Schedule 2 - Offences relating to primates: fixed penalty notices

Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:00 am on 16th November 2021.

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Amendments made: 77, in schedule 2, page 38, line 30, at end insert

“in the case of local authorities in England, or the Welsh Consolidated Fund in the case of local authorities in Wales.”

This amendment and Amendment 78, taken together, provide for sums received by local authorities in Wales under Schedule 2 to be paid into the Welsh Consolidated Fund, subject to deduction of investigation costs.

Amendment 78, in schedule 2, page 38, line 31, after “Fund” insert “or Welsh Consolidated Fund”—(Victoria Prentis.)

See the explanatory statement to Amendment 77.

Question proposed, That the schedule, as amended, be the Second schedule to the Bill.

Photo of Victoria Prentis Victoria Prentis The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The schedule allows a local authority to issue fixed penalty notices where it is satisfied that the person has committed an offence relating to the keeping, breeding or transferring of primates. Fixed penalty notices will allow local authorities greater flexibility in their enforcement of the offences outlined in part 1, and will alleviate some of the burden on them associated with pursuing prosecutions through the courts, which can take time and money. It also allows a more proportionate response to lower-level offending and will enable us to act quickly to ensure that primates are kept in appropriate conditions.

Photo of Daniel Zeichner Daniel Zeichner Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

Again, there is not a great deal to be said, other than, as with my earlier observation, that we are setting up a complicated system—understandably, if one assumes that the licensing system is likely to work. I wonder how many cases we will actually see processed through this system.

There is one point I do worry about: as I read it, if someone pays the fixed penalty notice within the relevant period of 14 days, it is a bit like a parking ticket, in that there is a 50% reduction, and there will be a fine of only £2,500. Given the costs and the scale at which some who keep primates might be operating, I wonder whether that is a sufficient deterrent. To some extent that touches on another piece of legislation in the Government’s animal welfare action plan, which is the private Member’s Bill on fixed penalty notices, which I believe will soon be going to Committee. In the Second Reading debate on that Bill, I raised the concern that although I understand the benefit to enforcement agencies of having an extra, more flexible tool in the box, there is a potential risk that one could end up diminishing the severity of the penalty for the more serious offences. I feel that that is beginning to creep in here. I do not want a situation in which people for whom £2,500 is not a great deal of money just feel that this fine is like a parking ticket—they do not really bother about it and can carry on doing what they are doing. That is cause for concern, and I would welcome the Minister’s comments.

Photo of Victoria Prentis Victoria Prentis The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

I will be brief. The fixed penalty notice as a tool in the toolbox is a very good description. I remind the Committee that, of course, if the ultimate offence, which we have just created and which is to keep a primate without a licence, is committed, the fine is unlimited.

Question put and agreed to.

Schedule 2, as amended, accordingly agreed to.