Anna Firth Portrait Anna Firth
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My hon. Friend is right to suggest that it is small. It is a matter of hundreds, not thousands. The point that I am making is that it is increasing. I do not believe that cats deserve less protection. As we heard on Second Reading from the hon. Member for Walthamstow (Stella Creasy), who is not in her place, Bengal cats, which have a value of thousands of pounds, are among the cats being stolen. We can check Hansard, but from memory they might be worth as much as £5,000. The number of cats may be small, but the value of the cats both to the owner and in actual fact is significant.

Lisa Cameron Portrait Dr Lisa Cameron (East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow) (Con)
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My hon. Friend is making a very good point. It is about not just numbers but the emotional impact on families. I declare an interest, as I lost a kitten at the age of four. It still comes into my mind when I think about this Bill and how important it is. It had an emotional impact on my whole family. Numbers do not give the full flavour of the impact on the community across the United Kingdom who are cat lovers as well as dog lovers.

Anna Firth Portrait Anna Firth
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that point. She is absolutely right. Whether someone’s cat is a mongrel, a rescue cat or a stray cat that they have rightly adopted and looked after, or—I have just checked Hansard—a £5,000 Bengal cat, to the owner they are a member of the family, and they deserve the same protection. Merlin and Marmalade deserve exactly the same protection as my precious Cavapoochon, Lottie.

--- Later in debate ---
Finally, let me turn to my two minor technical amendments, 19 and 20, to clause 6. You will recall, Madam Deputy Speaker, that my right hon. Friend the Member for Suffolk Coastal (Dr Coffey) tabled in Committee an amendment relating to the commencement, which was agreed to, so the original Bill was changed slightly. That is the main driver for my two minor technical amendments, which are practically stylistic in content. They intend to clarify the Bill’s drafting in respect of the commencement of clauses 1 and 2, which introduce the new offences of cat and dog abduction. The amendments confirm that those clauses, so far as they extend to England and Wales, will come into force three months after the Bill receives Royal Assent. They also confirm that clauses 1 and 2, so far as they extend to Northern Ireland, will come into force on a date appointed in an order by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs of Northern Ireland. For clarity, the amendments are stylistic and do not in any way change the policy of the Bill. I urge hon. Members to support those minor clarifications of the Bill.
Lisa Cameron Portrait Dr Cameron
- Hansard - -

I rise to support the Bill of my hon. Friend the Member for Southend West (Anna Firth) and the amendments in her name, and to thank my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch (Sir Christopher Chope) for all the effort, thought and consideration he has put into the work he has done. As I mentioned, I lost my kitten when I was aged four, when microchipping was not a thing—it is one of my most prominent childhood memories. It still stays with me, but if microchipping had been possible then, we might have found that kitten and come back together as a family. It was such an issue for a young girl—losing my very first pet—so I thank my hon. Friend for all of his consideration. Microchipping is extremely important, as he says, and I am very glad that the Government will bring forward legislation in the near future.

I wish to speak briefly about a role that I had over the past few years until recently—that of chair of the all-party parliamentary dog advisory welfare group. I praise and thank my hon. Friend the Member for Southend West for taking this Bill through Parliament. During my time as chair of that group, we were able to bring Lucy’s law into legislation, and it made such a huge difference to animal lovers right across the United Kingdom. I have chaired a number of all-party parliamentary groups, and that is one of the most popular that I ever chaired: during the pandemic, up to 500 members attended the meetings online, and well over 100 people would attend every single meeting in Parliament itself. We must recognise that the UK is most definitely a country of dog lovers.

I also pay tribute to the local animal welfare sanctuary in Bothwell, just next to my constituency, which I visit very regularly. It covers the whole of South Lanarkshire, including my constituency, and I thank it for its work.

When I chaired the dog advisory welfare APPG, pet theft was a huge issue not only because, as my hon. Friend the Member for Southend West said, some of the dogs stolen were extremely highly pedigreed and valuable, but because the fate of some of the dogs was heinous. Often, people were taking the dogs as bait for dog-fighting purposes. The horrendous stories that we heard in that APPG underscore how vital it is that this legislation moves forward. It is an excellent step forward, and I think it sends a message to those who would try to abduct pets, particularly dogs and cats, that it is not acceptable. We wish to underscore that, and this Government have a mandate to do so.

Before closing, I wish to give my condolences to Mr Speaker for his loss. I did not have the privilege of personally knowing his father, but from my understanding, he has been a great servant to politics across both Houses. I wanted to pass on my condolences today, Madam Deputy Speaker.

Daniel Zeichner Portrait Daniel Zeichner (Cambridge) (Lab)
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Let me begin by saying that Labour strongly supports the measures to tackle pet theft and abduction, and I thank the hon. Member for Southend West (Anna Firth) again for introducing the Bill. Let me also echo the comments about Doug Hoyle, and the condolences to Mr Speaker.

Much of the discussion in Committee was about timing—a subject that has come up again this morning—but I will start by addressing amendments that have already been discussed, particularly amendment 10, which would effectively remove cats from the scope of the Bill. The hon. Member for Christchurch (Sir Christopher Chope) seems to play an important role in this place on Fridays. Along with some of my colleagues, I have felt frustrated on occasion by the degree of challenge that he presents, but I think it important for legislation to be properly challenged, so I thank him for the points that he has raised this morning, especially in relation to the amendments relating to dogs, which open up a range of wider issues.

I will not go through the amendments in detail one by one, because the hon. Member for Southend West dealt very effectively with many of those points and I found myself in agreement with her on all of them, but there are bigger issues involved in the way in which we register and track dogs. All this is complicated, and I know from talking to vets in my shadow ministerial role that they worry about being dragged into ownership disputes as a consequence. I think it is part of a wider discussion, and I am certainly not opposed to our having that discussion, but I agree with the hon. Lady that there is a danger of our being drawn into delays and also into diminishing the scope of the Bill, which I think would be disappointing. Labour will therefore not support the amendments tabled by the hon. Member for Christchurch.

Amendment 10, which relates to cats, strikes me as something much more fundamental, and we oppose it strongly. As my colleagues and I have argued throughout the long saga of this Bill and its predecessor, cat theft is a real issue. I note the discussion about numbers, but I suspect that there is a degree of under-reporting—the offence does not currently exist, so why would anyone report it?

Those who advocate for cats are, unsurprisingly, appalled by the prospect of the Bill’s being savaged in this way. Cats Protection tells me that

“with 11 million owned cats in the UK, we know how much cats mean to families and how devastating their theft is—both to the humans who love them and the cats themselves.”

It says:

“In just a few weeks of running some supporter actions, we had over 40,000 cat lovers get involved in campaigning for cats to be included in any pet theft legislation including over 10,000 letters to MPs. It is imperative that cats are included in the Bill.”

I am sure the hon. Member for Christchurch will say that a campaigning organisation making the case effectively does not necessarily lead to good law, but I think the point we can take from what it has said is that there is considerable public interest in the issue, and an expectation that action will be taken.

As for the microchipping issues that have been raised, I genuinely believe that they can be resolved. After all, we do not look at other theft offences and say that we will not tackle them because what was stolen could not be microchipped.

There was a particular irony in the discussion in Committee about timing and whether the Bill could be implemented within three months. I think Conservative Members know exactly what I am going to say: this could have been done fully two years ago. We need not have been here today. This is yet another private Member’s Bill that has appeared as a result of the Government’s abandonment of the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill. It seems to me that the real question about this Pet Abduction Bill is, “Who abducted the kept animals Bill, and for what purpose?” I have asked that question repeatedly but have never been given an answer, and I am certain that I will not be given one today. It is just another of those DEFRA mysteries—like the mystery of how the Secretary of State comes to override the advice of his permanent secretary, but that is one for another day.

The Government’s decision to ditch that major piece of animal welfare legislation has caused enormous disappointment to the animal welfare charities that had worked so hard on it for years, to pet owners and to members of the public, all of whom care deeply about protecting animals against cruelty. Most importantly, of course, it has allowed the mistreatment of animals to continue. We will never know how many animals might not have been abducted had this legislation been passed earlier—I am not the only person to have said that.

The same point was made powerfully earlier this month in a report by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee:

“The Government’s withdrawal of the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill stalled progress on key animal welfare issues. These delays have allowed the continuation of poor animal welfare practices. The Department must ensure that every provision from the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill is brought into force during the current Parliament. We welcome the introduction of Private Members’ bills that will take forward vital animal welfare measures, but note that the Government was relying heavily on Members who were successful in the Private Members’ bill ballot being willing to take on its handout bills to deliver its manifesto promises, rather than committing to bringing forward the legislation itself. While on this occasion it may prove successful, it was nonetheless a risky strategy.”

That is why we are here today, discussing this issue with a piece of legislation that, frankly, is at risk because of the process we are going through. There is no guarantee, given political uncertainty and the febrile nature of politics at the moment, that there will be time for the Bill to reach the statute book. The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee is right to make those observations, and it is deeply regrettable that, contrary to what the Government promised in their May 2021 action plan for animals, they have failed to take leadership in cracking down on the rising rates of pet abduction.

Labour will not be supporting the amendments tabled by the hon. Member for Christchurch, but I hope that the Bill can proceed intact to Third Reading and beyond.

Oral Answers to Questions

Lisa Cameron Excerpts
Thursday 7th December 2023

(6 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Robbie Moore Portrait Robbie Moore
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As I said, the Government take raptor persecution very seriously, and those found guilty of wildlife crimes should be subject to the full force of the law. DEFRA is working with the national bird of prey crime priority delivery group, which brings together the police, the Government, local authorities and stakeholders to make sure we are doing as much as we can to tackle this type of crime.

Lisa Cameron Portrait Dr Lisa Cameron (East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow) (Con)
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T1. If he will make a statement on his departmental responsibilities.

Steve Barclay Portrait The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Steve Barclay)
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May I begin by thanking and paying tribute to my predecessor, my right hon. Friend the Member for Suffolk Coastal (Dr Coffey), for her work as Secretary of State? Having represented for over 13 years a rural constituency that, with the Cambridgeshire fens, is well known for its farming and water management, I am delighted to be appointed as Secretary of State at DEFRA and to be working with a strong ministerial team, including the new Under-Secretary of State, my hon. Friend the Member for Keighley (Robbie Moore).

In the next few days I will be travelling to COP28 to continue the work that was put centre stage at Glasgow on ensuring that nature is at the heart of our approach to tackling climate change. My priority for the Department is to back British farming and fishing, champion rural communities and protect our environment for generations to come.

Lisa Cameron Portrait Dr Cameron
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I welcome the Secretary of State to his place. My constituents are particularly keen that the UK has the best possible animal welfare standards internationally, and they wrote to ask the Secretary of State what progress is being made, particularly on livestock and equine welfare.

Steve Barclay Portrait Steve Barclay
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Animal welfare is an extremely important issue. That is why we introduced the Animal Welfare (Livestock Exports) Bill in the King’s Speech. We were only able to do that because of our exit from the European Union. It is right that we put in place a ban to stop the export of livestock and horses for slaughter. My hon. Friend will also be aware of the two private Members’ Bills that are being taken forward to tackle the important issues of pet smuggling and pet theft, which I know are concerns to Members on both sides of the House.

Animal Welfare in Overseas Tourism

Lisa Cameron Excerpts
Tuesday 24th January 2023

(1 year, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Henry Smith Portrait Henry Smith
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am delighted to be intervened on by the hon. Lady, who also has a long record of standing up for animal welfare issues in this House. She gives an horrendous first-hand account of the sort of abuse that majestic wild animals—animals that should be in the wild—experience in countries such as Thailand. That, too, is an issue I will expand on later in my remarks.

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Guildford (Angela Richardson) on her Animals (Low-Welfare Activities Abroad) Bill, intended to prohibit the sale and advertising of activities abroad that involve low standards of welfare for animals. I encourage colleagues across the House to support the Bill at its Second Reading on Friday 3 February.

Lisa Cameron Portrait Dr Lisa Cameron (East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow) (SNP)
- Hansard - -

The hon. Gentleman is making a fantastic speech, and I am sure many people across the United Kingdom agree that we must address these important matters. Does he agree that this is a cross-party issue, unlike many that we may discuss, and that we can reach out across the political divide and come together with the public, who overwhelmingly support having the best animal welfare conditions in the UK and internationally? Does he also agree that advocates such as Lorraine Platt, who leads the Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation, and others do fantastic work in this space to ensure that we all work together cross-party to take this forward?

Henry Smith Portrait Henry Smith
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

That is entirely right. I think that this House—with very few minority exceptions—is very much united on the need for increased animal welfare protections both here at home and abroad. It is right that Members reflect what people across the country tell us is important to them.

Great Britain is the territorial extent of the Bill of my hon. Friend the Member for Guildford. Although we cannot enforce our laws in other countries, we can prevent British tourists from buying—often unintentionally —cruel animal experiences abroad from companies operating in the UK, to stifle the demand that causes such grave animal suffering. The Government are right in their commitment

“to continue to raise the bar”

and to

“take the rest of the world with us”,

as set out when the action plan for animal welfare was announced.

Numbers of Asian elephants—an iconic species beloved across the world—have fallen drastically from millions in the 19th century to barely 40,000 today, and nearly half of those live in brutal captivity. They suffer extreme coercion and cruelty across south east Asia and beyond, starting with their unlawful poaching from the wild, then the brutal breaking of their spirits by isolation and starvation, and stabbings and beatings for easy use in tourism. Those actions would be profoundly unlawful if committed here in the UK.

In 2018-19, some 2 million UK tourists visited India and Thailand. Thirty two per cent. of those visiting Thailand reported having ridden an elephant or wishing to do so, often an unwitting participant in the cruelty and dangers involved. In 2016, there was projected demand of more than 12 million rides in Thailand alone, demonstrating how remorselessly the thousands of tourist elephants in Thailand are commercially exploited, often to death. Save The Asian Elephants has so far identified hundreds of companies in the UK market that currently promote such overseas attractions in which unethical activities are practised.

The number of Asian elephants engaged in tourism in Thailand increased by 70% in the decade to 2020. The Asian elephant has been designated as “endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature for 37 years now. With the ongoing destruction of majestic Asian elephants comes the end of their unique role as mega-gardeners of the forests that, as the lungs of the Earth, maintain biodiversity, store carbon and contribute to environmental protection.

World Animal Protection’s “The Real Responsible Traveller” report shows that some well-known and trusted companies are promoting and selling wildlife entertainment venues. The association with trusted holiday brands leads tourists to assume that activities and experiences such as swimming with dolphins, taking selfies with tiger cubs and elephant rides are acceptable or even—as the hon. Member for Rutherglen and Hamilton West (Margaret Ferrier) pointed out—beneficial for wild animals. In fact, behind every elephant ride is an abused elephant, and behind every swim-with-dolphins experience, there is appalling cruelty.

The thousands of captive Asian elephants suffer daily and are forced to perform unnatural acts such as elephant rides and shows for tourists at entertainment venues abroad. I want to expose the brutality of the training methods that elephants are subjected to for the sake of a five-minute elephant ride or a holiday picture. The cruel methods used to train elephants include repeated beatings with hooks and sticks, and exposure to loud noises and stressful situations. Other methods include separation from their mothers at the young age of around 2 years, restraint with minimal movement, and isolation.

There is strong scientific evidence that keeping elephants in captivity for entertainment purposes is both physically and psychologically detrimental to these highly intelligent animals. It is little wonder that studies have sadly shown the development of symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder. That is before we get to the point of abused captive Asian elephants also being highly dangerous to humans. When provoked, they attack—often fatally. Figures from Save the Asian Elephants show that hundreds of tourists and others have been killed or sustained catastrophic injuries—typically, crushed chests and internal organs, broken limbs and ribs, and serious head injuries. When physically broken and held in close confinement, elephants, by their large volume of exhalation, can also transmit deadly tuberculosis to humans. Concerns also arise regarding their potential transmission of other airborne pathogens.

In the wild, female elephant calves are cared for by their mothers for four to five years and supervised for several more years. Female calves remain in the mother herd all their lives and form close relationships with other family members. Male calves tend to leave the herd between 10 and 15 years of age. By contrast, the enclosures that elephants are kept in are inadequate for their needs. The home range of an Asian elephant varies between 30 and 600 sq km—an area that obviously can never be replicated in captivity. I ask right hon. and hon. Members to consider whether the sought-after picture of riding an elephant that many tourists want is worth the lifetime of exploitation and suffering that they do not even know they are supporting. Behind every elephant ride is an abused elephant.

Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill

Lisa Cameron Excerpts
Monday 5th December 2022

(1 year, 6 months ago)

Westminster Hall
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Lisa Cameron Portrait Dr Lisa Cameron (East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow) (SNP)
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It is an absolute pleasure to serve under your chairmanship today, Mr Twigg. I congratulate the hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Elliot Colburn) on presenting this extremely important debate that was considered by the Petitions Committee. As he rightly said, e-petition 619442, relating to the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill, has 107,000 signatures. The UK is a place where the prioritisation of animal welfare is to the fore, no matter which constituency we represent. The hon. Gentleman gave a comprehensive overview of the importance of this Bill to his constituents and to people across the United Kingdom. It is extremely important that we recognise the cross-party support that has been evidenced here today. During his speech, he took interventions from Members from different parties who spoke positively about the need to bring forward the Bill after such a long delay and ensure that we continue to work collaboratively to make it happen for all our constituents across Great Britain.

We heard from the hon. Member for Ellesmere Port and Neston (Justin Madders), who spoke eloquently about his own zoo, Chester Zoo. He spoke about the importance of the issues in the Bill and of taking the Bill forward to ensure that zoo animals have excellent welfare conditions and the specialist services they need.

We heard from the right hon. Member for Camborne and Redruth (George Eustice), the former Secretary of State—I was about to put him back in post by referring to him as the Secretary of State—who has experience in these matters. He spoke comprehensively about the need to introduce the Bill, saying that a lack of parliamentary time is not a persuasive argument and that these matters must therefore be driven forward. It was excellent to hear from him on that matter.

We heard from another cross-party colleague, the right hon. Member for East Antrim (Sammy Wilson), who made the point that this is pretty much a win-win situation for Government: the public are behind the Bill; parliamentarians cross-party are behind it. Given the current economic situation across the United Kingdom, this could be a positive piece of legislation that would be welcomed by all. Why, therefore, is it being delayed? We need to hear from the Minister about the reasons but, more importantly, we need to address them and drive this Bill forward.

We heard from the hon. Member for West Dorset (Chris Loder), who is an animal champion in this House. He referred to the excellent work of Lorraine Platt, from the Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation, who is in the Gallery today. I consider Lorraine to be a friend—although we have political differences, we are very much together on animal welfare and the need to ensure that the UK continues to have the highest animal welfare standards internationally and that we support the important legislative progress of Bills such as the one we are discussing.

We then heard from the hon. Member for North Devon (Selaine Saxby), who actually gave most of the speech that I had written for myself, so I will not repeat what she has said. She spoke comprehensively about the asks from the Dogs Trust, the RSPCA and Blue Cross and the importance of addressing the exclusion of cats and horses in the current Bill. She also spoke about the importance of looking at the scourge of puppy smuggling, which is an ongoing misery for those animals—the puppies and their mothers—who are impacted.

We also heard from the hon. Member for Bury North (James Daly), who has been doing an amazing amount of work on these matters. He referred to work that he has done on Gizmo’s law and Tuk’s law, which have garnered support across parties. The laws would ensure that microchips are scanned, that healthy dogs are not inadvertently put down, and that all possible measures are taken to prevent those occurrences.

The contribution of the hon. Member for Penrith and The Border (Dr Hudson) was impressive and helpful. He is a veterinary surgeon and has served on the relevant Bill Committee. He spoke from his own experience about how important the Bill is, and about the harrowing evidence that the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee heard from the Dogs Trust: heavily pregnant dogs are being smuggled into the country, then taken back abroad afterwards. I worked for a long time on another piece of legislation, Lucy’s law, which was about ensuring that puppies were seen with their mothers. It is a scourge on our society that, having put that legislation in place to protect puppies from puppy smuggling, individuals are finding ways to make dogs’ lives even more harrowing, by bringing the pregnant mothers into the country and then taking them back out.

I listened avidly to the speech of the hon. Member for Penrith and The Border, which was truly excellent. He mentioned other aspects of the Bill, including measures on ear cropping and declawing. Can anyone imagine declawing a pet? What a terrible thing to do! These animals require claws in their natural environment and for their natural habits. From the speeches that we have heard today, we know how urgent this issue is. I beseech the Minister to do everything that he possibly can to take the Bill forward. He has the full support of SNP Members, and I know from the many contributions of colleagues across the parties that the House will support him in ensuring that the Bill becomes law.

Finally, we heard from the hon. Member for Torbay (Kevin Foster). I have been on holiday to Torbay, and did not know that he represented that constituency; it is a fine place to represent. He has championed animal welfare as long as I can remember since coming to the House, and I thank him for that. He spoke about the importance of zoos and his important work on the Ivory Bill. We have all worked together on many of these issues, including the Ivory Bill and Lucy’s law. We want the public to see continued progress, and we want to know that we are doing our best in this House to ensure that the UK has the highest animal welfare standards.

In closing, I thank those organisations that do so much and provide us with so much support on these issues. I may have missed some from my list, but it includes the organisations that have contacted me and of which I am aware. There are many more in our individual constituencies, and I thank them all, even if I do not mention them today. I thank the RSPCA and the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. I often visit the SSPCA, and will visit again this year to give blankets for pets who hope to be homed over the next few months by our local SSPCA. I thank the Dogs Trust, with which I keep in close contact, and those I have worked with on Reggie’s law, Tuk’s law and Gizmo’s law. I also thank the all-party parliamentary dog advisory welfare group, which I was very privileged to chair until this year; I have now handed over to the hon. Member for Canterbury (Rosie Duffield), who is taking it forward with great gusto. I also thank Pup Aid, Marc the Vet and, of course, Lorraine from the Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation, whom I have already mentioned. They are all doing a tremendous job of holding us in this House to account, and we will also hold one another to account. We keenly await what the Minister has to say; I cannot say often or strongly enough that he has our full support. I want to see progress, as do many people across the United Kingdom.

Farmed Animals: Cages

Lisa Cameron Excerpts
Monday 20th June 2022

(2 years ago)

Westminster Hall
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Matt Vickers Portrait Matt Vickers (Stockton South) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I beg to move,

That this House has considered e-petition 593775, relating to the use of cages for farmed animals.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Pritchard. I am delighted to lead this debate on behalf of the 109,000 people who signed the petition and the organisation Compassion in World Farming, which organised it and is determined to see an end to the cage age.

In recent times, there have been huge changes in the way that animal cages are used, with bans on veal crates and on barren battery cages for laying hens, and a partial ban on sow stalls. However, 16 million animals across the UK are still confined to cages. Legislation now recognises animals as sentient beings, and the British public love our chickens and pigs; from Peppa Pig to Chicken Little, and Miss Piggy to Camilla the Chicken, we treasure our farmyard friends and their personalities. We are a nation of animal lovers and, for that reason, the UK rightly enjoys the highest animal welfare standards in the world.

We have introduced a raft of legislation to further protect our animals, extending custodial sentences and introducing fixed penalty notices for those who abuse animals. We have banned barbaric glue traps, created an offence of pet abduction for those sick and depraved individuals who would steal someone’s cherished pet, and introduced the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill to tackle puppy smuggling, the export of live animals and livestock worrying. Ending the cage age is the logical next step.

I think that many people assume that the end of barren battery cage farming meant the end of the cage age, and that our chickens now enjoy the freedom they are naturally owed. However, that is simply not the case. Across the world, 60% of eggs are produced in industrial systems. Here in the UK, 35.5% of all eggs produced are from caged birds. Imagine the life of a chicken that has never felt the grass underfoot or the sun on her back.

In 2012, barren battery cages were banned and, in many cases, replaced with enriched cages. However, while enriched cages are a step up, they still do not offer the quality of life that the public would think our chickens enjoy. Some are little bigger than an A4 sheet of paper and restrict many of a hen’s natural behaviours, including wing flapping, running, perching at a reasonable height above ground, dust bathing and foraging. There is a wealth of scientific evidence demonstrating that hen welfare is still compromised in enriched cages.

All of the UK’s main, responsible supermarkets have either already stopped selling eggs from caged hens or committed to doing so by 2025. The Government must get behind that progressive development by banning the use of those cages to protect the hens that are not part of supermarket supply chains, and by ensuring that the majority of British farmers are not undercut by farmers still using cages, whether they are in Britain or exporting to us. It is also important to note that, as well as being sold in shells, eggs are ingredients in products we buy. We must strive for a higher standard for all our chickens.

The petitioners also request a ban on the use of fixed farrowing crates for sows. It seems more than appropriate to look back at the last time that was proposed, when the late and great Sir David Amess brought forward a ten-minute rule Bill—the Pig Husbandry (Farrowing) Bill. A change to this area of the law would be an incredible tribute to an incredible man who constantly fought to further animal welfare standards in this country.

Lisa Cameron Portrait Dr Lisa Cameron (East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow) (SNP)
- Hansard - -

The hon. Gentleman is making an excellent speech; I, too, reflect on the fantastic advancement in animal welfare that Sir David Amess made during his time here. Does the hon. Gentleman agree that, because 60% of UK sows farrow indoors in severe confinement caused by the crate, with no space to stand up or turn around, they are unable to perform natural social behaviours, and that we should join other countries, such as Norway, Sweden and Switzerland, in outlawing these crates?

Matt Vickers Portrait Matt Vickers
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I will come on to that issue, but I think there are better alternatives that will still support the safety of piglets.

Farrowing cages rightly seek to prevent the death of piglets by crushing. More than 50% of UK sows are placed in farrowing crates a few days before giving birth. They are kept there during farrowing and until the piglets are weaned at three to four weeks of age. That means that every year in the UK, over 200,000 sows are confined in those systems for some nine to 10 weeks of the year—in some cases longer—despite the fact that scientific evidence has shown that sow welfare is severely compromised in farrowing crates. The crates result in sows being forced to give birth in a tiny space and then to nurse their young through bars. The space in the crate is so restricted that sows cannot even turn around: all they can do is stand up or lie down until their piglets are weaned, usually at around four weeks of age. Confined in those crates, sows bite and chew the bars and scrape at the floor in frustration. Many endure painful wounds and sores on their legs, feet and shoulders caused by slipping or lying on the hard slatted floors.

Some 40% of the UK’s sows are reared in outdoor free farrowing systems. Calculations based on figures from the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board show that total piglet mortalities—stillbirths and pre-weaning mortalities combined—have been lower in outdoor systems than indoor ones in 19 out of the past 20 years. A large-scale study by E. M. Baxter looked at the role of farrowing crates and found that designed free farrowing pens had the lowest pig mortality rate, at just 16.6%. That was followed by outdoor systems, at 17%, and farrowing crates, at 18.3%. Indoor group multi-suckling systems had the highest piglet mortality, at 23.7%. Farrowing crates clearly appear to be worse for piglet mortality than free farrowing pens.

Now is the time to work with the industry to find a way forward that protects both piglets and sows, supports our farmers during the transition, and ensures that those farmers remain competitive. I know our great British farmers want the best for their animals—in fact, there is no one better qualified or driven than a farmer to look after our animals. Their expertise, care, and commitment to the welfare of animals is second to none. Anything done in this space must be done with farmers, not to farmers. The Government must use their new-found Brexit freedom to support our farmers in transitioning from the cage age, ensuring that they are not undercut by those who continue to use cages.

Breed-specific Legislation

Lisa Cameron Excerpts
Monday 6th June 2022

(2 years ago)

Westminster Hall
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Christina Rees Portrait Christina Rees
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

As usual, my hon. Friend has covered all the points that I am coming to in my speech. There is no collusion here, but I completely agree with him.

Before the debate, I met representatives of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the dog control coalition. The coalition was formed in 2019 with five members: the RSPCA, Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, Blue Cross, the British Veterinary Association and the Dogs Trust, whose operations of rehoming and promoting animal welfare had been detrimentally affected by section 1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. The Scottish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Kennel Club subsequently joined the coalition. After 30 years of breed-specific legislation in the UK, those organisations joined forces to raise awareness of the ineffectiveness of the legislation in protecting public safety, and of its negative impact on dog welfare. They told me that breed-specific provisions in the Dangerous Dogs Act must be repealed because evidence shows that its approach to public safety is fundamentally flawed.

The progressive global trend is to repeal breed-specific legislation. The Netherlands introduced breed-specific legislation in 1992 and abolished it in 2008, after a study found that commonly owned dogs were responsible for more bites than breed-specific dogs. Italy introduced breed-specific legislation, which banned 92 breeds, in 2003 and abolished it in 2009 for similar reasons.

Using breed as a predictor of aggressive behaviour is not reliable. Human behaviour, including poor management and the inability to provide for a dog’s needs, are more likely to cause dog to be dangerously out of control. The method by which banned dogs are identified is inconsistent and can be subjective, because the degree to which a dog needs to match the characteristics of a banned type is not clearly defined. The RSPCA has looked at the science around incidents involving dogs that are dangerously out of control, and found that dogs of a banned type are not more likely than other dog types to be a risk to the public. It wants the UK Government to improve data collection regarding the UK dog population and incidents involving dogs that are dangerously out of control, in order to make evidence-based decisions.

Lisa Cameron Portrait Dr Lisa Cameron (East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow) (SNP)
- Hansard - -

The hon. Lady is outlining a fantastic evidence-based approach to this discussion. It is important that we look at the correct risk factors, but the more that the Government focus on breed-specific regulation, which has been shown to be unscientific in outcomes, the less likely we are to look at the real risk factors, such as puppy farming, trauma, abuse and lack of training, which need to be addressed to protect the public. That is the route that we should be taking.

Christina Rees Portrait Christina Rees
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The hon. Lady makes a really good point. I know that she is an animal lover and a champion of the cause, and I thank her for her intervention.

A 2021 independent report by Middlesex University, commissioned by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, found that dog bite data is lacking and is inconsistent. However, it was used by the UK Government to underpin a breed-specific approach to public safety, which casts doubt on the evidence that certain breeds of dogs are inherently more dangerous. Breed-specific legislation means that dogs identified as a banned breed cannot be rehomed and strays of these breeds must therefore be put down. The RSPCA has put down 310 dogs in the past five years because of breed-specific legislation. Reforms would allow dogs that are not a risk to the public to be rehomed rather than put down.

Breed-neutral legislation that contains measures to effectively protect the public from dangerous dogs is needed. This would consist of a single dog control Act that consolidates the current complex legislative framework in a breed-neutral way. Dog control notices should be used proactively to help prevent incidents involving dangerous dogs, and there should be stronger penalties for irresponsible owners.

Badger Culling

Lisa Cameron Excerpts
Monday 21st March 2022

(2 years, 3 months ago)

Westminster Hall
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Daniel Zeichner Portrait Daniel Zeichner (Cambridge) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

It is a pleasure to serve with you in the Chair again, Mr Hollobone. I thank the hon. Member for Don Valley (Nick Fletcher) and the Petitions Committee for bringing this important debate before the House. I do not think this subject has been debated in this Chamber for some time and it is clearly of considerable public interest, as we can see from the numbers who signed the petition, which the hon. Gentleman introduced in a very sensible and balanced way.

We have had some good contributions to the debate. I enjoyed the account from my hon. Friend the Member for Weaver Vale (Mike Amesbury); I am not sure I have ever quite seen Dennis Skinner as fluffy, but I am sure my hon. Friend’s badger is suitably fluffy. The points he made about perturbation were important, and were of course picked up by the hon. Member for North Herefordshire (Sir Bill Wiggin).

I am not surprised that there are differing views on this issue; clearly there are strong views, which are represented in the debates taking place across the country. The one thing we can agree on is that we all want the same outcome, which is for bovine TB to be eradicated and the badger cull to be brought to an end. It is a truly horrible disease, as hon. Members have described, and no one should underestimate the stress, hurt and financial hardship it causes farmers. The accounts from the hon. Members for West Dorset (Chris Loder) and for Strangford (Jim Shannon), and indeed the account from the hon. Member for North Herefordshire about his favourite bull, were very moving.

There is also a significant cost to all this. DEFRA and the Welsh Government found that the median bovine TB-related cost for cattle farmers was £6,600; for farms with herds of more than 300, it rose to £18,600. It costs farmers in cash and mental anguish, and it costs the taxpayer many millions a year in compensation payments. However, the crux of this afternoon’s debate is, “What is the solution?” The sad truth is that the answer is less than clear, and I do not think it is quite as clear as the hon. Member for North Herefordshire suggested, as I will come to in a moment.

Lisa Cameron Portrait Dr Lisa Cameron (East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow) (SNP)
- Hansard - -

The hon. Gentleman will be aware that the Badger Trust has been calling for significant investment in cattle vaccination for more than 10 years. The trust feels that the delay in vaccination investment is unnecessarily being paid for with badgers’ lives.

Daniel Zeichner Portrait Daniel Zeichner
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I will come back to that point. As has already been said, it is amazing what can be done quite quickly when scientists really get behind something. I suspect many would agree with the point made by the hon. Lady.

The argument is frequently polarised: those who believe that culling badgers is the answer and those who disagree both believe that they are following the science. The problem is that the science is not entirely clear; statistics that appear to back both sides of the argument can be found and quoted. It is worth putting on the record that the Godfray review, commissioned by the Government back in 2018, set out this issue in its opening statement:

“The deeply held beliefs of people who cannot countenance culling badgers deserve respect, as do the beliefs of people who argue that sacrificing badgers is justified to reduce the burden of this disease on livestock and farmers. The decision whether or not to cull badgers must be informed by evidence which provides important information on likely outcomes. However, final decisions have to take into account the irreconcilable views of different stakeholders and so inevitably require judgements to be made by ministers”—

and different Ministers will make different judgments.

Labour would stop the culling of badgers. Our bovine TB control strategy would be based on vaccination, testing and better biosecurity measures, and we believe we have public support for that position. However, no one should be in any doubt that we are absolutely determined to put an end to the spread of bovine TB.

Oral Answers to Questions

Lisa Cameron Excerpts
Thursday 10th March 2022

(2 years, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Andrew Selous Portrait Andrew Selous
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Again, I am very grateful to my hon. Friend. I can tell her that the Church of England has been one of the major partners in the community sponsorship of refugees in the past and stands ready to do so again. We are urgently awaiting further details from the Home Office and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities on how the sponsorship route will work, and we certainly intend to be fully involved.

Lisa Cameron Portrait Dr Lisa Cameron (East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow) (SNP)
- Hansard - -

5. What support the Church of England is providing to family hubs.

Andrew Selous Portrait The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Andrew Selous)
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The Bishop of Durham chairs the multi-denominational Church works commission, which is engaging with the Government on how churches can best participate in family hubs, as we believe that churches, other faiths and the voluntary sector all have a very important role to play in the successful delivery of family hubs.

Lisa Cameron Portrait Dr Cameron
- View Speech - Hansard - -

Church groups have been supporting excellent 12-step programmes, including Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, for many years. The all-party parliamentary group on the twelve steps recovery programme from addiction, which I chair, is very keen to hear how the Church Commissioners are supporting mental health and addiction issues, including linking with 12-step programmes in family hubs.

Andrew Selous Portrait Andrew Selous
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Well, I would be delighted to arrange a meeting with the hon. Lady’s all-party group on this important subject. I can tell her that the Church works commission is already working with Government Departments and leading Christian charities on proposals to tackle mental wellbeing and loneliness. The diocese of Manchester, for example, runs a large-scale project to support young people’s mental health and has a mental health wellbeing youth worker. The Bishop of St Albans leads on our addictions work and has done particular work on gambling.

Online Animal Sales: Regulation

Lisa Cameron Excerpts
Monday 13th December 2021

(2 years, 6 months ago)

Westminster Hall
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Lisa Cameron Portrait Dr Lisa Cameron (East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow) (SNP)
- Hansard - -

It is an absolute pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Mundell, and to sum up the debate for the Scottish National party. I pay tribute to the hon. Member for Neath (Christina Rees), who set the scene in such a detailed way and who often speaks on animal welfare matters. She laid out the crux of the matter for the Minister, and why this is such an important debate to so many right across the United Kingdom.

I also pay a special tribute to Richard Ackers, who is in the Gallery and has spearheaded this wonderful campaign, paying tribute in such an important and compassionate way to the life of Reggie in order to ensure that his sad life and death were not in vain. Much good can come from his story. This little puppy has stolen the hearts of many people across the United Kingdom, and is now spearheading a campaign to ensure that no other puppies and pets go through the same trauma that he did, or a similar trauma.

I pay tribute to many of the hon. Members on both sides of the House who have spoken. It has been a fantastic debate. As was mentioned, it has been difficult to disagree with anything that has been said so far, which is somewhat unusual but very—

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Refreshing.

Lisa Cameron Portrait Dr Cameron
- Hansard - -

It makes me feel extremely positive, and as the hon. Member says it is refreshing in this House.

The hon. Member for Rutherglen and Hamilton West (Margaret Ferrier) spoke about cats and rabbits too, which was important. As chair of the all-party parliamentary dog advisory welfare group, I tend to have a focus on dogs, which I think, until he met his wife, the hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon) had, too. It is important that we realise that there are huge sales of other types of pet too, and this type of regulation can have a wide-ranging impact. Many Members have spoken, including the right hon. Member for Hemel Hempstead (Sir Mike Penning), the hon. Member for Warrington South (Andy Carter), the right hon. Member for North Thanet (Sir Roger Gale) and the hon. Member for Pontypridd (Alex Davies-Jones), who I joined last week at the door of No. 10, with Rick.

Lisa Cameron Portrait Dr Cameron
- Hansard - -

Absolutely. I thought I mentioned everybody, but I pay tribute to the right hon. Member for Hemel Hempstead, who is waving at me from across the way. He has managed to combine many animal welfare campaigns, and it has been amazing to work with him. He was one of the leading lights in the campaign last week.

The hon. Member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath (Neale Hanvey) was on the steps alongside us. There was such a cross-party effort. He made sure that we were aware that the issue did not just affect little Reggie, it carries on to this day. MPs too can fall foul when buying puppies and other animals online, despite best efforts and the research we try to do. As the hon. Member said, when he saw that little puppy—particularly with his family with him—his heart melted and the sale was done. The unscrupulous dealers of puppies, kittens and other pets see that as money in the bank.

We have done a lot with Lucy’s law. I want to pay tribute to Marc Abraham, because Lucy’s law has taken us on a journey towards much better regulation. However, as has been mentioned today, we have further steps to take, and laws must be strengthened. The Justice For Reggie campaign group has listened to thousands of people every month who suffer scams, heartache and financial turmoil. Most end up paying financially as well as emotionally. They are traumatised and scarred, while the seller readvertises on platforms, because, quite simply, platforms lack the required regulation.

Rick said:

“When I bought Reggie through a well-known selling website and realised I had unknowingly contributed to illegal puppy farming, I have never hidden the fact that I could have done more research and should have walked away. This would have prevented the seller getting more money to continue the illegal acts of animal cruelty, although Reggie's fate would have been the same and he would have still died. What I gave Reggie was love and dignity and ensured he had pain relief throughout his very short life. Had I not bought him, Reggie would have been discarded like rubbish and died in pain.”

Families are put in an impossible situation day after day. Rick’s campaign has heard from over 300 families, who have contacted it distraught and not knowing which way to turn. They blame themselves, as they too bought puppies using online sites.

Mike Penning Portrait Sir Mike Penning
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the hon. Member for giving way. I hope I am not shortening the Minister’s speaking time, Mr Mundell. There is another side to this. There are people out there who want to buy dogs that are mutilated. Their ears have been cut—not by vets. They mutilate these animals and sell them on. There is a market for that; that market needs to be shut and the full force of the law imposed. It is not just about families who are buying an animal to love and cherish. There are people who want to buy mutilated dogs, which are available on these sites.

Lisa Cameron Portrait Dr Cameron
- Hansard - -

Absolutely. The right hon. Member makes an extremely good point. There is also what I would describe as an ongoing fashion in breeding dogs in ways that are not healthy for the dog breed. That must be looked at alongside the matter that he raised.

We all applauded the introduction of Lucy’s law. I was privileged and delighted to campaign on it and launch it in Parliament as chair of the all-party parliamentary dog advisory welfare group. The law has gone a long way. However, as we can see, people are evading it. Over lockdown, Rick’s campaign spoke to 86 councils across the UK. All of them have repeated the same message: they are too underfunded and understaffed to police the law. Much more support must go to councils. That will be absolutely crucial. It would be helpful if the Minister indicated the level of ongoing collaboration with the council groups and explained how we can strengthen that to make sure that, in practice, it does what it says it does on the tin.

It is very upsetting for families to go through this. Rick said it affected his mental health, and he was so disturbed by it that he decided to set up the Animal Welfare Alliance, a collaboration between 10 of the largest websites in the UK, prompted by Justice For Reggie through numerous meetings. Their aim is to share data and improve protection, but they are not naive enough to say that that will solve the problems. They need the Government to act. This clearly needs enforcing with regulations. As many hon. Members have said, it is a wild west on the internet, quite frankly. Without the Government acting to ensure regulation, this will not happen, because platforms simply will not do it themselves.

Rick highlighted PAAG, and he appreciates its work to control online sales, to try to make being online safer. However, it cannot do that alone, and it only speaks with a small number of websites. As we discussed, we are in a digital age, and we cannot turn back the clock. A ban on online sales is not pragmatic. It is not doable. It is not going to work. Regulation is supported by many of the animal welfare charities that contacted me before the debate and it seems to be the most pragmatic way of addressing these grave matters.

Pets are sentient. There seems to be more regulation when buying a car online nowadays than when buying a pet. People have to go through many more processes to verify who they are and their insurance and other various things, but buying a pet does not seem to have the same level of rigour, which it really should have. It is a tall order for the Minister, but I know she has a good heart and tries her very best in everything she works on. In tribute to Reggie, we must make sure his life is not in vain. We must tackle this online wild west with regulation. It is a mix of consumer scams, animal cruelty and serious organised criminals who profit in the same way as they do from other illegal activities that they engage in. It is a serious matter.

Jonathan Edwards Portrait Jonathan Edwards
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I was touched by the comments from the right hon. Member for Hemel Hempstead (Sir Mike Penning) about the criminal nature of these gangs. Unfortunately, Carmarthenshire has a number of illegal puppy farms. The fines for people when they are caught seem pretty low. There was one instance of a £200,000 fine. Do we need to look at the penalties for people who engage in this activity?

Lisa Cameron Portrait Dr Cameron
- Hansard - -

Absolutely. That is a great point to end on. Action must be taken, because this is about serious organised criminals. I have the same situation in my constituency as the hon. Member. It is difficult to address these issues. It will require concerted effort, but it must be undertaken to make sure that no more little dogs like Reggie go through such a terrible death.

Animal (Penalty Notices) Bill

Lisa Cameron Excerpts
Committee stage
Wednesday 8th December 2021

(2 years, 6 months ago)

Public Bill Committees
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Sarah Champion Portrait Sarah Champion (Rotherham) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Twigg. I begin by thanking my friend, the hon. Member for Romford, for all his work on this Bill and on animal protection, which is deeply appreciated. It shows that Back Benchers really can make change in this place if they put the hard work in.

There is no excuse for animal cruelty in this country. The Bill allows for financial penalties of up to £5,000 to be given, as the hon. Member said, for existing animal offences and offences relating to animal products. Financial penalties may not always be the best response to an offence, but they are a useful enforcement tool that can be flexibly and consistently used, sometimes in addition to or instead of existing penalties.

Penalty notices may be applicable in a variety of situations where animals could be harmed—for example, if animals that are transported are not fit for the journey, or are transported in a way that could cause undue suffering. Another example would be where pet breeders fail to maintain appropriate records or ensure that puppies are microchipped before being rehomed. Such issues need addressing for the safety of animals, but it would be disproportionate to require the offender to go to court. A warning is often not enough, so financial penalties may therefore be required, which is why the Bill is so useful.

The penalties would differ for each type of offence, but the aim of the legislation is to deter animal owners or keepers from acting in a way that could potentially risk the welfare of animals. It is important that we have proportional yet effective punishments for abusing animals or putting their safety at risk. I welcome the fact that the Bill allows local authorities to use their measures, which are easier, quicker and use fewer resources than many other punitive provisions, especially at a time when courts face such backlogs.

As the chief executive of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Chris Sherwood, said:

“Fixed penalty notices are really useful to quickly combat suffering of farmed animals, horses and animals kept in zoos.”

The Bill is largely welcomed by the animal charities and organisations including the RSPCA, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home and BIAZA—the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums. I hope that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs will work closely with them in developing the guidance to support the Bill.

Good and responsible zoos, farmers and pet owners or breeders should have nothing to worry about with the introduction of the Bill. The measures in it, however, can be used to ensure that standards are upheld and animals are looked after in the best and safest of ways. If that is not the case, enforcement agencies can decide on an appropriate response.

The hon. Member for Romford clarified some points, but I would also like reassurances from the Government. Under subsection (3), will the Government provide more detail on which Acts they expect to introduce regulations under? Furthermore, will the Government offer assurances on the process by which the decisions will be made? For example, will the Government consult the Zoo Experts Committee before introducing any further regulation under the Zoo Licensing Act 1981.

Overall, I am so proud to support the Bill as it passes through Parliament, to help ensure that no animal faces needless pain or risk to its safety. The UK can and should be a world leader in animal welfare standards. I hope that the Bill will continue to drive up adherence to those standards across the country.

Lisa Cameron Portrait Dr Lisa Cameron (East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow) (SNP)
- Hansard - -

It is a pleasure to speak in Committee today. I start by deeply congratulating the hon. Member for Romford. The Bill is excellent and will protect the most vulnerable animals. It will also steer owners in the right direction on education and their willingness to pursue it.

The Bill does not apply to Scotland directly, but I can inform the Committee and the hon. Member promoting the Bill that it has already been covered in the news in Scotland. In our local news, it was the most popular article for many months. We were astounded by the response. That shows that, wherever we are in the United Kingdom, we want to see animal welfare standards at the highest level. We support progress right across the United Kingdom on such matters.

Sarah Champion Portrait Sarah Champion
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

In that case, will the hon. Member confirm that she will propose similar legislation for the Scottish Government to adopt in the future, as it is so popular up there?

Lisa Cameron Portrait Dr Cameron
- Hansard - -

I thank the hon. Member for that intervention. I am not in the Scottish Parliament, so that might be difficult, but given the groundswell of opinion and support for the Bill, we should certainly be looking at exemplars of best practice right across the United Kingdom and taking those forward wherever they happen. I will certainly be advocating the same, which is why I am here today, to support the Bill whole- heartedly.

We are here in Committee with a broad consensus, although obviously we have to look at some of the details about which there might be disagreement among those present, to take things forward. However, I want the hon. Member for Romford and the Committee to know that the public seem to be firmly behind the Bill. For animal welfare everywhere, the hon. Member promoting the Bill is certainly being innovative, and this ground- breaking work is showing true leadership in animal welfare.

Daniel Zeichner Portrait Daniel Zeichner (Cambridge) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

It is a pleasure to serve with you in the Chair, Mr Twigg, for the first time. It is also a pleasure to follow two such constructive and positive speeches. I might be a bit more grouchy, but that is part of my charm. I congratulate the hon. Member for Romford on getting a private Member’s Bill this far. We all know the potential hurdles that must be encountered on Friday mornings. He has done a really good job.

Clearly, however, this is a Government Bill. If we look at the action plan for animal welfare—which many of us welcomed—it is clear at section 4, on “Sentience and enforcement”, that the Bill is a Government one, so I will treat it as such: many of my questions are directed to the Minister via the hon Member for Romford.