Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill

Marsha De Cordova Excerpts
Monday 5th December 2022

(1 year, 4 months ago)

Westminster Hall
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Justin Madders Portrait Justin Madders (Ellesmere Port and Neston) (Lab)
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It is a pleasure to see you in the Chair this afternoon, Mr Hollobone. I thank the hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Elliot Colburn) for a pretty comprehensive introduction to this debate. I am sure that many of his points will be repeated by other Members, because they are important points that get to the heart of the petition. As we know, animal welfare is important to many of our constituents. I have received many emails, as I am sure many other Members have, from constituents and organisations that are concerned about the status of the Bill, which has seemingly, during its passage through Parliament, been left adrift by the Government.

It is pleasing that, through the direct intervention of the public and the Petitions Committee, the Government will now be held to account for the Bill’s status. As has been mentioned, we are talking about a manifesto commitment from 2019. We can see the Petition Committee’s power; it has called this debate, and the Minister must now give us concrete answers on the Bill’s status. There are important positives here on how to hold the Government to account through the system. This e-petition has been an opportunity for approximately 108,000 people so far to ask important questions of Government.

There have been a few personnel changes in Government this year, and that may provide some of the reason for the delay. However, the reason why so many people find the delay frustrating is that the Bill concerns so many matters on which there is cross-party support; it should not really matter who is sitting behind the ministerial desk on any given day. My hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport (Luke Pollard) said on an earlier occasion that the Government seemed to have taken inspiration from Labour’s animal welfare manifesto. While that was obviously a tongue-in-cheek remark, it shows that there is an overlap in our broad positions. That should, in theory, make this an easier Bill to get through Parliament. Politics is often criticised for being adversarial, and while there are measures in the Bill that deserve greater debate and scrutiny—I will come on to that—the fact that its broad thrust is supported ought to mean that it is passed sooner rather than later.

Marsha De Cordova Portrait Marsha De Cordova (Battersea) (Lab)
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My hon. Friend is making an excellent opening to his speech. Does he agree that the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill will be world-leading in the protection it provides against cruelty to animals? I represent one of the leading organisations in the field, Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, which is doing fantastic work on this. That included writing a cross-party letter, which we led on to get the Government to take action. He mentioned cross-party support; does he agree that it is important to note how much support the Bill has, and that any continued delay by this Government is not acceptable? He surely agrees that the Government must today set out a timeline showing when the Bill will come back to complete its remaining stages.

Justin Madders Portrait Justin Madders
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I am sure the Minister has noted my hon. Friend’s request; we look forward to hearing what he says on that. My hon. Friend’s point about Battersea Dogs and Cats Home is important, because it is coming up to Christmas, and there will unfortunately be people buying pets from abroad; that may not have happened if the Bill had already been passed.