Pet Theft DebateFull Debate: Read Full Debate
George EusticeMP Main Page: George Eustice (Conservative - Camborne and Redruth)
(2 years ago)Westminster Hall
I remember going with my mother to the post office to get a licence for our dalmatian—I was only a small child, obviously. We ought to look at anything that might help, so licensing clearly needs to be looked at; if it can help solve this crime, it is an important part of the picture.
The Labour party is committed to promoting the highest level of care for domestic animals. Recently, our animal welfare plan was out for consultation until the end of May, and it included a proposal to expand microchipping to cats, which at the moment do not have to be chipped. Is that something that the Government will consider seriously? Our manifesto also pledged an end to the third-party sale of puppies. Is that something the Government will consider to improve the welfare of dogs? We also proposed measures to tackle puppy smuggling, such as the introduction of a microchip database—databases were mentioned earlier in the debate—to record microchip numbers of animals entering and leaving the country and get a better idea of where dogs are. Will the Minister and the Government match that aspiration too?
Enforcement of our laws is carried out by our tireless police services. Is it not imperative that the police are properly funded so that they can act to enforce the law and catch the criminals who are cruelly stealing pets from their owners?
The petition and today’s excellent debate have raised really important issues across the board, giving us all a lot to think about in terms of what needs to be done. The Labour party manifesto, on which my colleagues and I were elected last year, stated:
“Domestic animals require stronger protection from cruelty.”
It also set out a
“vision…for the UK to lead the world with high animal welfare standards in the wild, in farming and for domestic animals.”
That is something we stand by today and, from the clear cross-party support in this debate, hon. Members right across the House would also back strengthening the law in this area. I look forward to hearing the Minister’s response.
There has been an increase in pet theft of some breeds in recent years. Does analysis of the breeds that are being stolen offer any insight into the reasons, and therefore how we can best tackle this crime?
Social media is being used to show some ridiculous acts on animals. That video evidence should be used to sentence more heavily.
I thank all the Members who got involved in this important debate, particularly my hon. Friends the Members for Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill (Hugh Gaffney) and for Peterborough (Fiona Onasanya), and the hon. Members for Crawley (Henry Smith), for Dartford (Gareth Johnson), for Aberdeen South (Ross Thomson), for Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock (Bill Grant), for Clacton (Giles Watling) and for East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow (Dr Cameron). Of course, I also thank the Minister and the shadow Minister for their contributions.
I thank the Minister for pointing out the reasoning behind the specification of mushrooms and wild animals in the Theft Act 1968, and for his clear observations about pets and animals being sentient beings, not commodities. I sincerely hope that the Government are convinced enough to change the law soon. Too many pet thieves have got away with light sentences because of unacceptable and irrelevant guidelines. All pets should be treated equally, regardless of their monetary value.
I thank the petitioners—particularly Dr Daniel Allen, John Cooper QC and Debbie Matthews, the founder of SAMPA—for bringing forward this important petition, which clearly has cross-party support. I am proud to have carried out my duties as a member of the Petitions Committee by introducing the debate on behalf of the Committee.
Finally, on behalf of Debbie Matthews, whose father, Sir Bruce Forsyth, was a big contributor to this debate in his own right, I say, “Nice to see you, to see you nice.”
Question put and agreed to.
That this House has considered e-petition 212174 relating to pet theft.