Animal cruelty is a vile crime, and there is no place for it in this country. We must ensure that those who abuse animals are met with the full force of the law, and I was proud to stand on a Conservative manifesto that included a commitment to introducing tougher sentences for animal cruelty.
I am pleased to report that the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill, which was brought forward by one of my Conservative colleagues as a private member’s bill, passed second reading in the House of Commons in October. The Government supports the Bill, and will do all it can to ensure it passes through the Commons and Lords and becomes law as soon as possible.
The Bill will increase the maximum sentence for animal cruelty from six months to five years, allowing tougher prison sentences for the most serious perpetrators of animal abuse, including cases of dog fighting, abuse of puppies or kittens, or gross neglect of farm animals. The maximum five-year sentence will be one of the toughest in Europe, strengthening our position as a global leader on animal welfare, and sending a clear message that this behaviour will not be tolerated.
More broadly, I am proud of this Government’s record on animal welfare. In 2018, ministers modernised the regulation of dog breeding, pet sales, animal boarding, horse riding and performing animals. More recently, a new welfare code for pigs was published, commercial third-party puppy and kitten sales in England were banned, and a national communications campaign was launched to help people to make more informed choices when sourcing a new pet.