I believe that the humane treatment of all animals should be a benchmark for any civilised society and it is important that we send out a strong and powerful message that animal cruelty must stop.
I am pleased that, following pressure from the Labour Party and organisations based outside of Parliament, the Conservative Government recently announced that it will bring forward new legislation to increase the maximum sentence for animal cruelty to five years in prison.
During the last Parliament, my Labour colleague Anna Turley MP secured a Private Members Bill on this issue. She tabled new legislation to increase the maximum sentences available to the court for animal cruelty offences. The Bill was scheduled to be debated in Parliament on Friday 24th February 2017 but earlier bills in the session were talked out by Conservative backbench MPs, leaving no time for Anna's bill to be heard.
Following the General Election in June 2017, Conservative Ministers have decided to act upon the Bill originally presented by Anna Turley MP. They have adopted Anna’s pledge to "increase the maximum sentences available to the court for specified offences related to animal cruelty” and have agreed to act on the issue of animal cruelty.
The Environment Secretary, Michael Gove MP, has agreed with the Labour policy that animal abusers who commit the most heinous crimes should face up to five years in prison. It was pledged that the Government "will announce plans to bring forward new legislation that will increase that tenfold, sending a clear signal to any potential offenders that there is no place for animal cruelty in England". It was claimed that "the new legislation will also enable courts to deal more effectively with ruthless gangs involved in organised dog fights".
The draft legislation is due to be published for consultation next year and I will continue to press the Conservative Government to implement this policy.