September 2018: Your Local MP
Our community needs more protections for livestock welfare
One of the issues closest to my heart has been advocating animal rights. I have led a debate in Parliament on banning the Ivory Trade in the UK, served on the Environment Audit Select Committee, and provided unwavering support to plans to reduce the prevalence of single-use plastics which are harmful to both wildlife and marine life.
I have therefore recently met with the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Michael Gove MP, to discuss proposals to strengthen legal protections for domestic and farm animals.
Currently in the Government are in the process putting together a new Animal Welfare Bill, and so I took the opportunity to speak to Michael Gove about cases of animal neglect where someone who is undergoing criminal proceedings for the mistreatment of animals is still able to acquire new livestock. This gives animal abusers a window to carry out further acts of cruelty whilst awaiting sentencing. I have asked the Government to investigate the possibility of giving Courts the power to grant injunctions which prevent such people from acquiring new animals, during that period.
As an animal lover, protecting the welfare of all animals is of the utmost importance to me personally. Since becoming a Member of Parliament I have seen a number of deeply distressing cases, and it is vital that we do everything possible to prevent avoidable mistreatment. I was delighted to see that there are plans to extend the maximum prison sentence for those convicted of animal cruelty from six months, as it is currently, to five years, and this is a fantastic opportunity to go further.
Following the meeting, the Secretary of State has now confirmed that the Government are now officially considering these proposals, to become part of the Government’s new Animal Welfare Bill which is expected to be brought to Parliament in the coming months.
I am therefore delighted to see that Michael Gove will be giving genuine consideration to this vital issue. For too long, horrific cases of animal cruelty have been allowed to on, without the judicial system having the power to stop it. The new Animal Welfare Bill will give the Government a fantastic opportunity to address the genuine concerns that people have.
The issue of protection for livestock animals is of particular importance to people in rural communities in South Gloucestershire, and I am delighted to see significant progress being made. I look forward to seeing further developments as the new Bill is brought to Parliament.