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Since being elected, one of the topics which I most regularly correspond with constituents on is that of animal welfare and animal rights.
Whether domestic pets, farm-reared or wild animals, I am passionate about ensuring that the UK does not simply follow the examples of other countries but leads in this area and we continue to ensure that we have the toughest animal welfare standards of any nation.
I campaigned successfully alongside many of my colleagues to increase the maximum prison sentence for animal cruelty from 6 months to 5 years, for greater protections for service animals (commonly known as Finns Law) and for mandatory CCTV in all slaughterhouses to allow for better monitoring of standards being employed.
I am therefore delighted with the recent announcement by the Environment Minister Michael Gove that the Government will seek to ban the third party sales of puppies and the use of cruel electric shock training devices. The two measures will protect registered and vetted breeders who employ the highest standards of care and close down the illicit ‘puppy mills’ and unscrupulous breeders who exploit animals for profit and also ensure that pet owners know they are buying a healthy and happy puppy.
There is always more which can be done to protect animals and our environment and I am pleased that the Environment Minister has committed to using our leaving the European Union to increase our animal rights protections, not seek to weaken them. An example of this is the campaign to stop the live transportation of animals across borders, something which can often see animals left with no water, space to move or fresh air for thousands of miles. Banning this would currently be incompatible with EU rules, but is something which I hope we will review once we leave the EU.
Here in the constituency I have arranged another meeting with the Wiltshire Bobby Van Trust, a fantastic organisation supporting older and vulnerable people to be fraud aware and stay safe in their homes. Whether it is helping people prevent break-ins, staying safe when answering the door, preventing victimisation or just offering reassurance, this is a fantastic organisation whose Stay Safe Volunteers add real value to people’s lives across Wiltshire.
Since I last met with the Bobby Van Trust they have introduced their ‘keeping safe online’ initiative which I am looking forward to seeing in action as unfortunately with the rise in internet usage, so too has there been a rise in online fraud and working with users to ensure they are fraud aware is something I have championed locally.