The Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill was introduced in June 2021 as part of our animal welfare action plan. The Bill delivers three important manifesto commitments—strengthening protections for pets, farmed and kept wild animals—as well as other valued reforms. It was reintroduced in May following Her Majesty’s most Gracious Speech and will continue to Report as soon as parliamentary time allows.
I thank the Secretary of State for his answer and welcome him to his position. I am sure that he will do an excellent job and look forward to working with him. I also welcome the Government’s commitment to the kept animals Bill, which will introduce landmark protections for pets, livestock and kept wild animals. That will include helping in the fight against puppy and kitten smuggling and cracking down on pet theft. Those milestone protections are hugely important to my constituents in Old Bexley and Sidcup who, like me, are animal lovers—hopefully, they may even vote for Westminster dog of the year next week. Will he provide assurances that the Government’s commitment to this landmark legislation will mean that Ministers will now go further and explore measures such as increasing the minimum age at which dogs can be brought to the UK, and prohibiting the importation to the UK of heavily pregnant dogs and those with cropped ears?
The kept animals Bill does include the powers to introduce those restrictions through secondary legislation. Last year, Her Majesty’s Government launched a consultation that proposed measures for both commercial and non-commercial movements of dogs into Great Britain, and I am told that there were more than 20,000 responses, so there was clearly a great deal of interest from the public. My Department will publish a response in due course.
I, too, welcome the new Secretary of State to his place. I pay tribute to the previous DEFRA team and look forward to continuing a robust relationship with the new team.
On a recent visit to Battersea here in London and to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Newport, I saw the consequences of the Tory cost of living crisis. I heard about Frasier, a four-year-old domestic short-hair cat who was taken to Battersea in June by his heartbroken owner who was facing financial hardship and could no longer afford to keep his beloved pet. That is happening across our country because people cannot afford to keep their family pets, so we need a plan. Will the Secretary of State tell us what it is?
First, the Government will cut people’s taxes. We are going to let people keep more of their own money. We are going to ensure that people continue to have great jobs in the economy by incentivising investment in our businesses. If the hon. Lady and Opposition Members are willing to stay in the House a bit longer, they will hear from the Prime Minister herself.