On Friday 4th February, Andrew Rosindell M.P. brought the Third Reading of his Private Members Bill, the Animal (Penalty Notices) Bill for the final time before the House of Commons with the hope that it will soon pass the House of Lords and be granted Royal Assent.
The Animal (Penalty Notices) Bill aims to make provision for and in connection with the giving of penalty notices for certain offences in relation to animals and animal products.
It is welcome that the Government backs the new Bill to crack down on animal offenders and enforcement bodies would receive powers to serve penalty notices for animal health and welfare offences
This Bill follows the Government’s landmark Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill.
Individuals who commit offences against animals will face fines of up to £5,000 under new legislation introduced to Parliament today. The fines will be introduced to ensure that offenders face tougher penalties for crimes in addition to the existing maximum 5 year prison sentence for the most serious offences.
The Animals (Penalty Notices) Bill, a Private Members’ Bill introduced by Andrew Rosindell MP and which is backed by the Government, will create a system of financial penalties of up to £5,000 for animal health and welfare offences. The penalties, which could include on-the-spot fines, can be issued to individuals who have cruelly mistreated pets, zoo animals and livestock.
These new penalties will provide the authorities with an additional enforcement measure to be used alongside warnings and criminal prosecution. These penalties will introduce a more consistent and targeted approach to protecting all animals from harm.
The UK has a long history of tackling animal cruelty. The new fines will act as a key deterrent to would be animal abusers in addition to the new five year maximum prison sentence for animal cruelty, which was introduced by the Government through the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill earlier this year.
Andrew's Speech in the House of Commons for the Final Reading:
"Good morning Mr. Speaker,
May I thank you. and all Members present today. for joining me to help bring this Bill forward to its remaining stages on the floor of the House.
I would also like to thank the Committee who considered this Bill in detail, on Wednesday 8th December last year. The discussion around the Bill was insightful and I appreciate the careful and detailed consideration that has gone into the process, so that the Bill can today reach this point.
It is clear to see, that we are truly a nation united by our love of animals and that my Bill has attracted strong support from all parties and from animal welfare organisations across the country.
I am pleased that the Bill has progressed through the House, without a single tabled amendment, and that members on all sides of the chamber value, not only the spirit, but also the content of this Bill.
I am delighted with the energy shown by so many, in making sure we get this Bill right, so that is has the best possible impact on animal welfare across our country. Important conversations have been ongoing throughout its passage, involving all sides of the House and key organisations outside, ultimately allowing the Bill to arrive at this final stage.
As you will know only too well, Mr Speaker, I have been an advocate for the protection of animals my whole life, and throughout my 20 years as a Member of Parliament.
My own dogs, were Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Spike and Buster, who were the best companions anyone could have wished for and campaigned with me in every General Election, sporting their famous Union Jack waste coats!
As we love our country, we also love our animals. From my own personal experience, speaking to constituents, and working closely with animal welfare charities, I know the joy that animals can bring. Protecting animals is something that should unite us all. We have a duty of care to the animals we are privileged to live alongside, as household pets, wild animals, farm animals and indeed, all the creatures of land, sea and sky.
I can tell the House, that my dearly missed friend and our departed colleague, Sir David Amess, shared this view. His stance on animal welfare never changed, throughout his 38 years in Parliament. He introduced a Private Members Bill in 1998, which strengthened protections for horses tethered by the roadside, and through his tireless campaigning inspired many others to continue to fight for strengthened protection for our animals. We remember him, as we carry on the fight to defend and protect animals throughout our United Kingdom.
It has been an honour to have the opportunity to introduce a Bill that will, I believe, make a real difference to the lives of animals and help promote greater understanding of welfare. This Bill will directly benefit the health and welfare of this country’s farmed and kept animals, and also increase accountability when our country’s biosecurity is put at risk.
This Bill introduces enabling powers, so we can then apply penalty notices to the appropriate offences. My Bill establishes the framework, crucial to introducing these penalties, through statutory instrument.
Penalty notices will bolster our existing enforcement measures, and give enforcement authorities more options to influence positive behaviour when it comes to caring for our farmed and kept animals, including companion animals and zoo animals.
As the Chairman of the Zoos and Aquariums All-Party Parliamentary Group, I recognise that this is a welcome development for the sector. Having worked closely with the British & Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums for many years, I know that they agree with me, that penalty notices are the right way forward.
The debate at Committee Stage highlighted a wide support for this Bill and what it will achieve. I have held ongoing discussions with various NGOs, and I am delighted that there is a strong consensus that penalty notices will benefit this country and should be introduced. I share the same enthusiasm and excitement for the legislation, which I truly believe will be a gain for animal welfare in this country.
I am also very grateful to the organisations who have already invested their time in engaging with myself and Defra, considering the Bill and how it will work for them in practice, and for sharing their views so that we can make this Bill as effective as possible.
The support of RSPCA, Battersea Cats and Dogs Home, the National Farmers’ Union, as well as many others, has been invaluable.
I thank the Honourable Members once again for attending today for this landmark Bill, and for their contributions at all previous stages. I hope we can agree that this important Bill should progress today so it may continue its journey in the House of Lords under the stewardship of The Rt. Hon. Lord Randall of Uxbridge who has agreed to champion my Bill in the Other Place. The wellbeing and safety of animals is something that matters to us all. So, as a nation of animal lovers, let us continue to lead the world in enhancing the cause of animal welfare.
I would like to place on the record my sincere thanks to the Minister for her support and her dedication to this Bill. It has been a pleasure to work with her to ensure that this new legislation has arrived in this place today.
I would also like to thank those organisations and their members who provide such valuable care to animals, who have vocalised their full support for this Bill and given me full confidence that penalty notices will be a welcome addition to the enforcement of animal welfare laws, when they become available.
This Bill will fundamentally reform how we enforce animal health, biosecurity and welfare across farmed and kept animals in England.
I believe it will improve this country’s response to offences and strengthen our position as a world leader in the welfare of the animals, with whom we share this planet. I sincerely hope that we will see it placed the statute book before too long, and I commend it to the House."