I was glad to see the Government finally introduce the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill last year, which would have increased the maximum custodial penalty for animal cruelty from 6 months to 5 years imprisonment. The current maximum for animal cruelty pales in comparison to 5 years for fly tipping and 7 years for theft.
This Bill was long overdue and came as a result of years of campaigning by animal rights activists and animal welfare organisations.
On 10 July, the Bill passed its crucial Second Reading without the need for a vote, which shows the level of cross-party support for this endeavour.
However, the Bill could not complete its passage through Parliament before the general election on 12 December 2019 and the opening of a new Parliamentary session, so it has fallen, and the process must begin again.
I am deeply disappointed by this turn of events, especially as the Bill had unanimous support in Parliament.
The Government was elected on a manifesto which included a commitment to introduce tougher sentences for animal cruelty, and I hope it will restart the process soon. Indeed, I have already submitted a written question to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, asking for the Bill to be reintroduced:
‘To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether he has plans to reintroduce the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill.”
I can assure you that I will continue to support the introduction of tougher sentences for perpetrators of animal cruelty, and the passage of an Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill.