The Government announced in December that we would ban third-party sales of puppies and kittens in England, and the necessary regulations are being prepared. The ban will address welfare concerns associated with the sale of puppies by dealers and pet shops and will build on recent improvements to the licensing of dog breeding and pet sales.
I can confirm that that is absolutely the case. As soon as parliamentary time allows, the Government will introduce legislation to increase those sentences from six months to five years. Like my hon. Friend, I have zero tolerance for the abhorrent crime of puppy smuggling. I look forward to discussing the matter more fully with him in the Westminster Hall debate that he has secured for next week.
I was inspired suddenly, Mr Speaker.
I asked the Minister about this when he appeared before the Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs yesterday: he says that he will bring back the sentencing Bill and the animal sentience Bill when we have parliamentary time, but we have spent an awful lot of parliamentary time sitting around, twiddling our thumbs and waiting for Brexit votes. He could bring forward that legislation very soon, could he not?
Yes, five-year sentencing for animal cruelty must be brought in as soon as possible, but my question is about puppies being smuggled in from abroad. Under EU legislation, five puppies can be brought in legally. Very often, fraudulent veterinary certificates are issued, puppies come in very young and with no socialisation, and it is criminal gangs that profit. When we leave the European Union, can we cut the number of puppies that can come in legally from five to two?
I thank the Chairman of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee for raising that point, as he has done several times in the Committee. I can assure him that once we leave, we will be able to look at the number of puppies that can be brought in.