Baroness Mallalieu debates involving the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office during the 2019 Parliament

Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill

Baroness Mallalieu Excerpts
Baroness Mallalieu Portrait Baroness Mallalieu (Lab) [V]
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My Lords, I declare my interests as president of the Horse Trust and a long-standing member of the RSPCA. I strongly support the Bill and express my gratitude both to Mr Chris Loder in the other place and to the noble Lord, Lord Randall of Uxbridge, for their sponsorship of it. It is commendably and unusually short. It has a clear purpose and a single target, and I hope that attempts are not made to bolt on extras that might put it in jeopardy through timing.

The underlying purposes of sentencing are said to be punishment, deterrence and reform. Deliberate, calculated, sadistic behaviour involving the inflicting of unnecessary suffering on an animal is deeply repellent, and I see some of those results through the Horse Trust. It appears in only a very small number of cases in the panoply of animal cruelty cases that I am afraid are likely to come within the ambit of the maximum penalties, but it has a place on the statute book.

The majority of animal welfare cases are the result not of sadists but of ignorance, greed or the limited or diminished mental or physical capacity of the owner, of changed personal circumstances, and even of misplaced sentimentality, which so often leads to neglect, mistreatment and abandonment. In reality, education has a huge role to play in reducing animal suffering, probably more than any prison sentence.

For example, it is clear that a large number of people have chosen to get a dog during lockdown and some, as I know, to get a horse because they have the time. The prices for both those animals have risen to absurdly high levels—I heard of £2,000 for a Jack Russell puppy—providing an incentive for future irresponsible breeding and, too often, for deformed dogs bred specifically with facial defects to look appealing, but consequently unable to breathe properly. People need to know all this, and to remember that a dog is for life and not just for lockdown or until it has ceased to entertain the children. The Horse Trust has received a phenomenal number of calls from people wanting to get rid of a horse for which they no longer have time or money. I expect that dog rescue centres can expect to be very busy in the near future.

Lastly, with prosecutions in mind, I would like specifically to praise the current leadership of the RSPCA under its chief executive, Chris Sherwood. They have got that most important of our animal charities back on the right track. Having had an official warning and special measures from the Charity Commission, and after too many years of bad running and shrinking membership, it is now back on track—let go, as it were, by the Charity Commission to carry on doing its superb work, which is done by nobody else. I am very pleased about the decision it made and announced in January: that it will in future hand over its investigations for prosecution to the CPS and not do them itself. After all, that was what the EFRA Committee in the other place recommended four years ago.

Let us hope that once this Bill reaches the statute book, as I very much hope it will soon, it will be needed less and less in the future.

Heather and Grass etc. Burning (England) Regulations 2021

Baroness Mallalieu Excerpts
Thursday 18th March 2021

(3 years, 2 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Mallalieu Portrait Baroness Mallalieu (Lab) [V]
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My Lords, I am sorry that I am unable to support my noble friend Lady Jones. The Government have been caught in the middle between those who want all rotational burning stopped and those who believe that no additional restrictions are necessary or supported by the most recent research, and I think they have produced a not unreasonable compromise.

I will offer a caution: living in Exmoor national park, I have seen the adverse consequences of the over-restriction of rotational burning. Swaling, as we call it, has been used since medieval times over large areas of moorland to encourage the growth of young heather and grasses to the benefit of grazing animals, both domestic and wild, and evidence shows that curlews and golden plover benefit from it too—not grouse, because there are none. In the 1980s, SSSIs and stricter controls on both the timing and extent of the burns were introduced. It is now clear that the amount of burning that took place afterwards was wholly insufficient.

Heather needs to be cleared, ideally every 20 years or so. If not, as we have seen, there are large expanses of over-mature plants, a lot of them dead or dying. Heather and mosses have now dramatically declined in some areas, and instead Molinia grass, bracken, gorse and scrub have taken over. So have ticks, Lyme disease and tick-borne diseases of livestock. There have also been damaging wildfires, which, unlike carefully controlled and limited swaling, are not superficial but burn hot and deep, with very serious carbon-loss consequences. The noble Earl, Lord Caithness, pointed to the major one in Scotland.

There is plenty of peat on Exmoor but no blanket bog, so these regulations will not affect us, but calls for further restrictions may well. On the evidence I have seen, the consequences would not be good for wildlife, carbon capture or those who love the heather-clad moors.

Hong Kong: Democracy Movement

Baroness Mallalieu Excerpts
Monday 8th March 2021

(3 years, 2 months ago)

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Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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My Lords, let me assure the noble Lord that my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary is very much aware of the strong sentiments and views of your Lordships’ House. I update my colleagues in the FCDO regularly on our debates and discussions, not just on this issue but on every issue. Specific to the noble Lord’s point about sanctions, he will of course know that I cannot comment on future designations. But we have taken specific steps on the situation in Hong Kong, as I am sure he will note, including the provision, which I believe was first proposed in your Lordships’ House, on the important issue of BNOs.

Baroness Mallalieu Portrait Baroness Mallalieu (Lab) [V]
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My Lords, British judges have continued to sit as non-permanent judges in the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal as recently as January of this year, and the Chinese Government continue to point to them as proof that the Hong Kong legal system is fair and independent. In view of increasingly repressive legislation and arrests under it, what is Her Majesty’s Government’s present view of the appropriateness of our judges continuing to sit in that court?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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My Lords, as the noble Baroness acknowledges, British judges have played an important role in supporting the independence of Hong Kong’s judiciary over many years, and we hope that this can continue. However, as she also rightly points out—and I agree—the national security law now poses real questions for the rule of law in Hong Kong and the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms. It is therefore right that the Supreme Court continues to assess the situation in Hong Kong, and it is doing so in direct discussion with the Government.