Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill

Elliot Colburn Excerpts
Monday 5th December 2022

(1 year, 2 months ago)

Westminster Hall
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Elliot Colburn Portrait Elliot Colburn (Carshalton and Wallington) (Con)
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I beg to move,

That this House has considered e-petition 619442, relating to the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Hollobone. The prayer of the petition states:

“Hundreds of thousands of people signed numerous petitions calling for actions that the Government has included in the Kept Animals Bill. The Government should urgently find time to allow the Bill to complete its journey through Parliament and become law.

The Government promised to find time to take this bill through the next parliamentary stages so it can receive Royal Assent and become law, yet we are still waiting. For the Government to live up to its claims to be leading the way in animal welfare there must be no further delay to this legislation becoming law.”

The petition received over 107,000 signatures, which include nearly 100 from my Carshalton and Wallington constituency. I thank the petition creator, Jordan, whom I had the pleasure of meeting last week. We have met on a number of occasions as he is responsible for a number of the animal welfare petitions that we have debated in this place. I also thank the Petitions Committee staff for their excellent work in engaging with the public and petitioners in advance of today’s debate as well as the range of animal welfare charities and organisations that briefed me, and I am sure many other Members, before the debate.

The petition is one of many on animal welfare that the Petitions Committee has considered in recent years. The Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill brings together many of those topics under one umbrella, and I, and I am sure many other colleagues, consider it an extremely important piece of legislation. I have bored colleagues in the House many times before by discussing what I think one could call my menagerie of animals, so the issue is very close to my heart.

Let me bring Members up to speed. The Bill was introduced in the House of Commons in June 2021. It received Second Reading in October 2021, and went through Committee in November ’21. It did not make any further progress in the 2021-22 Session, and was carried over and reintroduced in May ’22. The Bill is awaiting Report stage. Both in their reply to the petition and many times in the House the Government have stated that they intend to continue the Bill’s passage through the Commons when parliamentary time allows.

In November ’22, when the Petitions Committee decided to schedule the debate, we wrote to the Environment Secretary for confirmation of when the Government plan to allocate further time for the Bill, to inform the Committee’s decision about whether to schedule a debate. I do not believe that we have had a response, but the Minister will correct me if I am wrong. I am grateful that the Minister is here to update us on the Bill’s progress.

The Bill is so important because, in a single legislative step, it addresses several commitments that the Conservative party made in our 2019 manifesto.

Tracey Crouch Portrait Tracey Crouch (Chatham and Aylesford) (Con)
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Like my hon. Friend, I thank the Petitions Committee and the petitioners for introducing this important debate. Many of our constituents will have signed the petition, and from the number of colleagues in the Chamber today, I hope that the Minister can see that his Back Benchers are committed to the Bill going through. Given that the action plan for animal welfare, published in May 2021, was wildly praised by the whole sector, does my hon. Friend agree that it is disappointing that there has been such stagnation from this Government? Will he, like me, urge the Government to bring it forward as soon as possible?

Elliot Colburn Portrait Elliot Colburn
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I am grateful for the intervention of my hon. Friend, who has been a doughty champion of animal welfare issues in this place over many years. I agree: it is disappointing that the Bill has not made it into law, and I hope that we send the message that we are keen to see it progress.

The overarching animal welfare issues addressed in the Bill include, but are not limited to, the end of export of live animals for fattening and slaughter, cracking down on puppy smuggling, updating the Zoo Licensing Act 1981, banning the keeping of primates as pets, introducing a new offence of pet abduction following the work of the pet theft taskforce and reforming legislation to tackle livestock worrying.

Virginia Crosbie Portrait Virginia Crosbie (Ynys Môn) (Con)
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This is a really important debate, and I am glad my hon. Friend has secured it. The Bill has great significance to my Ynys Môn constituents, and I have received many letters urging the UK Government to bring it into law. I fully support the Bill, especially its goals of banning live exports and cracking down on puppy smuggling, which my hon. Friend mentioned. I am particularly keen to support the many farmers across the UK who are impacted by livestock worrying; indeed, I introduced a ten-minute rule Bill to amend and upgrade the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. I think this important Bill should progress through Parliament as soon as possible, and I hope the Minister will refer to livestock worrying in his answer.

Elliot Colburn Portrait Elliot Colburn
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My hon. Friend makes a really important point on behalf of her Ynys Môn constituents. I want to touch very briefly on each of these overarching areas.

Roger Gale Portrait Sir Roger Gale (North Thanet) (Con)
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Mr Hollobone, I have explained to you that unfortunately, I have to leave early; I wish I did not have to. Before my hon. Friend moves on, a few moments ago he said “including, but not exclusively”. On behalf of the Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation, which wholeheartedly supports the legislation, may I make it absolutely plain on the record that we do not see the Bill as a Christmas tree? There is no question of Conservative Members trying to amend it to include things that the Government do not want, so if that is a block to the Bill, it no longer needs to be.

Elliot Colburn Portrait Elliot Colburn
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I am very grateful to my right hon. Friend for his intervention. I hope that the Minister has heard that representation loud and clear: if that is a block, I hope my right hon. Friend’s remarks have made clear that it should not be.

First, let me delve into live animal exports in a bit more detail. Live animals are exported to EU countries from the UK for breeding, fattening and slaughter. The concern from many is that during that process, animals undergo dehydration, starving and exhaustion and often end up as the victims of very cruel actions that are already illegal in the UK. Our departure from the European Union makes it possible to ban live animal exports. I am aware that there are mixed feelings about the proposals in the farming community, and I am sure that that has added to the delay. Concerns about the impacts that the ban could have on trade and business are, of course, valid, but I hope the Minister will be able to share some of the work his Department has done to address those concerns, and some of the mitigation measures that could be introduced to ensure we improve animal welfare while protecting businesses.

George Howarth Portrait Sir George Howarth (Knowsley) (Lab)
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I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on securing the debate. I am sure that he, like me and many other Members, will have had representations from his constituents on the specific issue of the export of animals for slaughter. Does he agree that the strength of feeling on the issue is such that it needs to be dealt with as a matter of some urgency?

Elliot Colburn Portrait Elliot Colburn
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I absolutely agree with the right hon. Gentleman. I have certainly had that correspondence, and I am sure many colleagues will speak about the level of correspondence they have received from their constituents who feel so passionately that live animal exports are a cruel practice that should not be taking place.

Next, I want to move on to puppy smuggling. We have had debates in the Chamber about that topic and, as many colleagues will be aware, campaigners have been calling to an end to puppy smuggling and other dubious practices for many years. It has been debated, Ministers have answered parliamentary questions, there has been a major Committee inquiry and multiple drop-in events and campaign emails have been organised on the subject.

Christine Jardine Portrait Christine Jardine (Edinburgh West) (LD)
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I congratulate the hon. Member on securing the debate, because, as he has said, the subject has evoked an enormous response in my constituency. One of the main issues is puppy smuggling. I have visited the Dogs Trust in West Lothian, and, over the period of the pandemic, the number of puppies they had to take into care escalated beyond belief. Some 2,000 smuggled dogs have been taken into care in the past two years, and the cost of living crisis is making the situation even worse. Does the hon. Member agree that delays to the Bill are helping criminals by keeping the puppy smuggling trade alive through a lack of legislation?

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Elliot Colburn Portrait Elliot Colburn
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I join the hon. Member in commending the Dogs Trust and many other animal welfare charities on their amazing work. I agree with her concerns about what delay means for those animals.

On puppy smuggling, more than 66,000 dogs were commercially imported into the UK in 2020 alone, according to Animal and Plant Health Agency figures. Evidence also shows a recent rise in low-welfare imports and smuggling activity, with border authorities seeing a 260% or so increase in the number of young puppies being intercepted for not meeting the UK’s import rules—from 324 in 2019 to 843 in 2020. There was a further 11% increase in commercially imported dogs from 2020 to 2021.

Research has discovered that a shocking 38% of people said that they would buy a dog smuggled from another country. People are more willing to support that trade than we might think. Illegal puppy trafficking is not only a concern for the welfare of animals, which are usually treated appallingly, but it is also a concern for the safety of our constituents. I am sure I am not the only Member who has received multiple representations from constituents about dog theft. Puppy smuggling and organised crime have been proven to go hand in hand and an investigation in 2017 discovered that an illicit puppy smuggling market operated in parallel to legal trade.

I am grateful that the Government have consulted on ending puppy smuggling, as well as pledging to introduce a new pet abduction offence following the work of the pet theft taskforce, which is included within the scope of the Bill. The section of the Bill dealing with the importation of dogs, cats and ferrets has two main parts. The first limits the number of these animals that can be moved on a non-commercial basis. The second sets restrictions on the condition of animals that can be brought into the country. Those proposals have been on the cards for some time with cross-party support, so I hope we can move forward with the Bill to tackle the scourge of puppy smuggling as soon as possible.

On zoos, the Bill states that the Zoo Licensing Act 1981 will be amended to improve zoo regulations and ensure that zoos are doing more to contribute toward conservation. That includes removing the exemption under the definition of zoos that means wild animals exhibited in circuses do not need to be licensed. It comes in addition to provisions in the Wild Animals in Circuses Act 2019 and similar legislation in devolved Administrations. The provisions would mean that no vertebrate animal not normally domesticated in Great Britain could be used in travelling circuses.

The Bill also amends the 1981 Act to allow the Secretary of State to specify standards for conservation for zoos and removes existing standards. It allows different conservation standards to be set for different types of zoos and would make it a licence condition for those standards to be met. It allows those with specialist expertise in certain species of animal that are kept in a zoo to be added to the list of possible inspectors for zoos, setting out that they could be used for periodic zoo inspections. It also amends provisions for appeals and the level of fines for offences.

I want to talk specifically about primates. The Animal Welfare Act 2006 makes it a crime to cause any unnecessary suffering to kept animals. However, primates are highly intelligent animals with complex needs and require specialist care. It is not enough to legislate against suffering to kept animals when so many kept primates in the UK are kept in horrific conditions because of their special needs. The primate trade, though little talked about, is out of control according to Monkey World, who are inundated with requests to rescue primates who have been neglected by people who cannot manage them. Fully banning the trade of primates in the UK for personal pets is long overdue, and animal rights campaigners across the world are applauding the Government for taking steps to achieve that.

The final issue I want to touch on is livestock worrying. Results from the latest National Sheep Association survey found that on average each respondent experienced seven cases of sheep worrying in the past year, resulting in five sheep injured and two sheep killed per attack. Estimated financial losses through incidents of sheep worrying of up to £50,000 were recorded, with an average across all respondents of £1,570. However, most respondents received no or very little compensation.

The Bill would repeal the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 and set out new increased powers for the police under the broader scope of livestock species and locations covered under the Bill. Improved powers would enable the police to respond to livestock worrying incidents more effectively, making it easier for them to collect evidence and in the most serious cases to seize and detain dogs to reduce the risk of further incidents.

I commend the work that the Government have already done to implement reforms on animal welfare, including passing the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Act 2022 and working on an animal sentience committee to advise the Government on policies that impact the welfare of animals; announcing that they will make cat microchipping compulsory, as it is for dogs; introducing new powers for police and courts to tackle the illegal and cruel sport of hare coursing through the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022; protecting elephants by passing the Ivory Act 2018; and backing Bills to increase the maximum penalties for animal cruelty from six months to five years’ imprisonment, to introduce penalties for animal welfare offences and to ban glue traps, all of which have received Royal Assent.

Henry Smith Portrait Henry Smith (Crawley) (Con)
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I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to this very important debate. May I add to that list of legislation? I am very grateful the Government have supported the Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill, which I am pleased to say completed its Second Reading in the Commons just over a week ago. I urge the Government to complete the journey on animal welfare issues in this Parliament by ensuring that the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill comes back to Report stage at the earliest opportunity.

Elliot Colburn Portrait Elliot Colburn
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I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that intervention and of course he is absolutely right; I have no qualms in saying that the list of legislation is quite impressive, with huge achievements that I am very proud of the Government for undertaking. However, the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill would be one of the greatest leaps forward in animal welfare that this country has seen in years. It enjoys cross-party support and was part of our election manifesto.

I look forward to hearing the Minister’s update on the progress of the Bill and to hearing him outline what steps his Department is taking to iron out any of the issues that may have arisen throughout the consultation phases, so that we can get the Bill moving again and get it on to the statute book.

Ian Paisley Portrait Ian Paisley (North Antrim) (DUP)
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I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on how he has introduced the debate. Before he comes to the end of his peroration, may I say to him that one of the most significant threats to animal welfare in Northern Ireland, believe it or not, is the Northern Ireland protocol? As of the middle of this month, 50% of pharmaceutical products for animals will no longer be available in Northern Ireland, both for on-farm animals and domestic pets. That threat must be urgently addressed by His Majesty’s Government before our animals in Northern Ireland are placed in any further danger.

Elliot Colburn Portrait Elliot Colburn
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I am grateful to the hon. Member for that intervention. Not that long ago, I led a debate on behalf of the Petitions Committee on invoking article 16 and it became very clear from the research that we did before the debate that there was a significant impact on animals as a result of the protocol, so I hope that the Minister can also update the House about discussions with EU counterparts on the effect of the protocol on animals.

I also congratulate the hon. Member on getting an intervention in as I was about to finish my speech. To reiterate, I would be very grateful if the Minister could provide the reassurances and updates that so many people have turned up to Westminster Hall today to hear, so that we can get the Bill moving again, get it into law and cement the UK’s reputation as a world leader on animal welfare.

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Neil Hudson Portrait Dr Neil Hudson (Penrith and The Border) (Con)
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It is a great privilege, Mr Hollobone, to serve under your chairmanship and it is a pleasure to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Bury North (James Daly).

First, I declare a strong personal and professional interest in this piece of legislation: as a veterinary surgeon, I am passionate about animal health and welfare. I was privileged to be a member of the Public Bill Committee for this important Bill and it has my full support. As we have heard, it covers important areas such as primates, puppy smuggling, pet theft, livestock worrying, zoos and the movement of animals for slaughter. I urge the Government to press ahead with this important legislation.

I commend all the groups, organisations and charities that have campaigned in this domain for many years now, such as Cats Protection, World Horse Welfare, the Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation, the Dogs Trust, Battersea, the RSPCA, the Blue Cross and the British Veterinary Association, to name just a few. I was privileged to lead a letter just this week to Ministers with 63 other parliamentarians and the Dogs Trust to that effect, urging them to press ahead so that we can tackle this scourge. We have heard a lot about the scourge of puppy smuggling, and this Bill can try and stamp it out. In the UK, we have the highest standards of animal health and welfare, and we are a beacon to the rest of the world. If we pass a piece of legislation such as this, we can hold our heads high and actually set an example to the rest of the world. Some of the things in this legislation can be done with a stroke of a ministerial pen, or in secondary legislation. We need to move forward and get some of this stuff done.

I will highlight some key areas. We have heard from hon. Members across the Chamber about the importance of pet theft. Obviously, dogs are the high-profile animal in this legislation, and I have campaigned—as have many of my colleagues and friends—to increase its scope; it must include dogs, it must include cats and it must include horses, ponies and farm animals as well. We must ensure that it is all inclusive of the distress caused to the owners of all animals when they are stolen and the distress caused to the animals themselves, as mentioned by my right hon. Friend the Member for Camborne and Redruth (George Eustice), so I would like the scope to be increased. The impact on people’s mental health when animals are stolen, when animals suffer, when animals die and when animals are killed should not be understated.

Much of the Bill also focuses on the movement of animals. I sit on the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, and I triggered an inquiry early on in Parliament on the movement of animals across borders. This piece of legislation covers a lot of that area, and it is important that it passes, so that we can improve how animals are moved and checked and ensure that they are not being moved in inappropriate circumstances.

I will start with small animals. We have heard a lot about puppy smuggling and the awful practice of heavily pregnant dogs and cats being moved in and around the country as part of the puppy smuggling and kitten smuggling trade. We on the EFRA Committee and the Bill Committee took harrowing evidence from the Dogs Trust and other groups on these heavily pregnant animals, and we have heard today about them being moved across borders, having caesarean sections performed and being moved again, to and fro. The harrowing details are so upsetting, and we must really try and stamp that out. As my hon. Friend the Member for North Devon (Selaine Saxby) said, the Dogs Trust has said that it has taken 103 pregnant dogs into care in the last couple of years—and that is just the Dogs Trust. If that is just one charity—just one group—how many other animals are undergoing this cruel practice?

Currently, the movement of pregnant dogs is prohibited in the last 10% of gestation—the last 10% of pregnancy—and it is hard to assess that last 10% clinically. The Bill tries to push that back to earlier in the pregnancy, perhaps into the last 30% to 50%, to make the transport of heavily pregnant, late gestation dogs illegal. We must ensure that we ban the movement of heavily pregnant animals—of heavily pregnant dogs and cats—in commercial licensing as well. Another part of the Bill that we looked at was increasing the age of animals that are transported—for cats and dogs, that age needs to be increased to at least six months. If we do other health things as well, such as reinstating the rabies titre checks and increasing the wait time post rabies vaccination to 12 weeks, that will help protect the health of these dogs and the biosecurity of our country, and it will raise the minimum age at which these animals can be transported.

We have also heard that limits need to be set on the numbers of pets per vehicle. We have heard that should be set at five—I actually agree, although there is an argument that it could be lowered to three. It is very important that this is per vehicle, rather than per person. We have heard evidence on the EFRA Committee of vans taking on extra foot passengers, and each foot passenger then having an allocation of five dogs. There could potentially then be 20 or 25 dogs in that vehicle. If the number is restricted per vehicle—to three or five dogs—then that would nail the loophole that those unscrupulous, awful people are exploiting.

I very much welcome the fact that the Bill will take strong action to ban the import of mutilated dogs. We have heard about ear cropping, a horrific procedure that is rightly banned in this country. It is done for no clinical reason whatsoever. It is a cruel and painful process that makes the dogs’ ears erect for merely cosmetic, visual or aesthetic reasons. It is awful—it is hideous.

Elliot Colburn Portrait Elliot Colburn
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We in the Petitions Committee did a piece of work, and held a debate in this Chamber, on ear cropping. One of the worrying bits of evidence we received told us that young people were being encouraged to buy dogs with cropped ears, because while their import is illegal, they can be bought if they are already in the UK. One of the big problems was that celebrities and public figures were promoting, and making attractive, buying an ear-cropped dog. Does my hon. Friend agree that if we are to tackle ear cropping, the Government need to not only bring in this legislation, but crack down on the glorification of ear cropping?

Neil Hudson Portrait Dr Hudson
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I completely agree with my hon. Friend; he read my mind, because I was about to cover that point. We need to ensure that owning those dogs is not normalised in society. Ear cropping may be illegal in this country, but as it is still legal to import mutilated dogs, the dogs are still coming in. Also, awful people are potentially mutilating in this country; there is evidence to suggest that is going on. That is not done by vets, nor with any form of anaesthesia or analgesia. It is an evil process that mutilates dogs and needs to be stamped out.

Six out of 10 small animal vets have seen ear-cropped dogs in the last year, and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals reports that there has been an 86% increase in them in the last year. As my hon. Friend said, we should not allow that to be normalised in popular culture, with celebrities advocating for it. Perhaps the celebrities do not realise how horrific the procedure is that their pet had done. People looking at those dogs think that they are acceptable. We have normalised that in society. One of my favourite animated films is the wonderful “Up”, but some of the dogs in it are cropped. “Up” is a few years old now, but when another wonderful animation called “DC League of Super Pets” came out this year, I was disheartened to see from the poster that one of the lead dog characters is cropped. We are normalising this in popular culture. It is a horrific process, and we need to stamp it out. The Bill could stop those dogs coming into this country.

As hon. Members have said, we should not forget about cats. Heavily pregnant cats are being smuggled, and some people outside this country mutilate cats. I am talking about declawing, which is actually just chopping the claws off. That is illegal in this country, but it is still legal to import cats that have been horrifically declawed.

We have heard today about the importance of checking animals for diseases as they cross borders. There have been increased reports of canine brucellosis in this country. That is a zoonotic disease—one that can be transmitted from animals to people. There is a case of a human who has caught that from an imported dog. We have to make sure that we do pre-import checks and screen animals that cross borders. There are other diseases as well, such as babesiosis, echinococcus and leishmaniasis. There are simple things we can do, such as reinstate mandatory tick and tapeworm treatments for companion animals coming into the country. We have to be cognisant of the biosecurity of animals in the UK, and cognisant of public health, because, as I say, some of these diseases can be transmitted from animals to people. The Bill will protect travelling animals, UK animals and people. It will protect animals large and small.

In promoting animal welfare, we need to ensure that animals are healthy. The Minister knows my stance on this, because I keep pressing him hard on it. We are in the midst of an avian influenza outbreak. The Animal and Plant Health Agency is coping admirably in this dreadful situation, but we need to ensure that APHA is adequately funded and staffed. Heaven forbid that something else comes into the country, such as foot and mouth disease, African swine fever or African horse sickness; APHA would be really stressed, so we need to ensure that the Treasury funds it. I sit on the EFRA Committee and was able to guest on the Public Accounts Committee when it looked at the National Audit Office report on the APHA site in Weybridge in Surrey. The site needs radical refurbishment that will cost in the order of £2.8 billion. The Government have committed around £1.2 billion, which is a lot of money in these tight fiscal circumstances, but I firmly believe that we need to fund it moving forward.

Larger animals should be covered by the Bill, too. Not one horse is moved legally from the UK to Europe for slaughter, but it is likely that thousands are moved illegally. The EFRA Committee took harrowing evidence on illegal animal movements across borders. It needs to stop, and this sort of legislation can control it. We need to improve equine identification and digital monitoring. I welcome the fact that the Bill covers the export of livestock, and would stop the movement of farm animals for slaughter and fattening, but we need to specify that it is all right in certain instances to move animals around for breeding purposes. That would be complementary to measures on the movement of animals. We need to ensure that the legislation works.

As I said, we have high standards in this country, and should be proud of that, but we need to work together to improve transport conditions for animals. It is important that farm animals be slaughtered close to where they are reared. One of the recommendations of the EFRA Committee report was on the need to bolster the abattoir network in this country. I attended a roundtable last week with the Minister on the importance of supporting the UK’s small abattoir network, so that animals can be reared, slaughtered and bought locally, and people can eat local and buy local. That would reduce the transport distances for animals, which we need to do.

I am proud that the Conservative Government have a strong record on animal welfare. We have heard about it today. The private Member’s Bill of my hon. Friend the Member for West Dorset (Chris Loder) on stronger sentencing in animal cruelty cases has been passed into law. The animal health and welfare pathway in the new environmental land management scheme is a new way to reward farmers and land managers with public money for a public good. Animal health and welfare is recognised as a public good; we should be proud of that.

The Animal Welfare (Sentience) Act, which the former Secretary of State, my right hon. Friend the Member for Camborne and Redruth, talked about, has become law. It is so important that we recognise animals as fully sentient beings. We should be proud as Conservatives that we are driving forward a lot of these changes, but we need to hold our nerve and keep going. Let us go back to our manifesto, much of which the Bill would enact. Animal welfare unites us across the House, and unites us in humanity. Introducing this legislation is the right and moral thing to do for these wonderful sentient beings, which we have a duty of care towards. To quote a famous sports brand, I say to the Government: just do it.

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Elliot Colburn Portrait Elliot Colburn
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It is a pleasure to have served under your chairmanship for the end of the debate, Mr Twigg. Colleagues will be relieved to hear that I do not intend to take until 7.30 pm to wind up.

I thank all right hon. and hon. Members for coming and showing the incredible cross-party support for getting this important Bill on to the statute book. Indeed, we very much heard that passion from Members who took part in the debate, including the hon. Member for Ellesmere Port and Neston (Justin Madders), the former Secretary of State, my right hon. Friend the Member for Camborne and Redruth (George Eustice)—we are grateful he came to share his expertise with us—and my hon. Friends the Members for West Dorset (Chris Loder) and for Torbay (Kevin Foster). We also heard from my hon. Friends the Members for North Devon (Selaine Saxby), for Bury North (James Daly) and for Penrith and The Border (Dr Hudson) about how the Bill could go further, but it is clear that we all want it to get on to the statute book. We will do everything possible to get it there as soon as possible.

I add a plea to the Minister to take away in particular the point about the Northern Ireland protocol and its impact on implementing much of the Bill in Northern Ireland. I remind colleagues that, when we talk about the transporting of animals, we are not just talking about commercial arrangements; many domestic animal movements have been impacted by the protocol. I will just pick up on the example of those who keep poultry, who are finding it very hard. Avian flu has had a real impact on the ability to show poultry, but there has been much concern among those living in Great Britain about being able to take their birds to attend shows such as that run by the Ulster Poultry Federation in Northern Ireland. I ask the Minister to ensure that DEFRA does all it can to represent those concerns at the highest possible level in discussion of the protocol.

In conclusion, I thank the petitioners, those in the Public Gallery who came along today and the Petitions Committee staff for their work in putting on the debate. Clearly, we are all very keen to get the Bill enacted as soon as possible. My hon. Friend for Penrith and The Border nicked a very good slogan, which I was tempted to repeat, but as Brexit has come up a lot during the course of the debate, I will nick another instead: let us get the Bill done.

Question put and agreed to.


That this House has considered e-petition 619442, relating to the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill.