The Government will introduce the necessary legislation to increase the maximum penalty for animal cruelty from six months’ imprisonment to five years’ imprisonment as soon as parliamentary time allows.
I am grateful for that answer, but the Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs called for five-year maximum sentences in 2016, Ministers promised that in 2017 and the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food said last June that it would be in place by the end of March this year, but there is still no sign of it happening. Why has there been such a long delay? Can the Under-Secretary give us a firm, reliable timeframe for when this much-needed change will actually take place?
Can the Government get out of crawler gear and get into first or second, because we have to bring about this five-year sentencing? At the moment, someone who pleads guilty to a horrendous crime of animal cruelty gets a maximum of four months, because they get an automatic 30% reduction. It is crazy that huge amounts of animal welfare abuse happens and we have such short sentences. So please get on with it.