I know that many of you follow what is happening in Parliament on TV and in the news and whilst the main topic at the moment, of course, has been Brexit, there are also other important debates taking place in the Chamber, in Westminster Hall and other Committee rooms.
Last week we had debates on the non-stun slaughter of animals, treatment for Pancreatic Cancer, Further Education funding and Votes at 16 just to mention a few.
There was also a debate on the issue of Puppy Smuggling, something that many of you have written to me about, expressing your concerns. We are a nation of animal lovers and there is a great strength of feeling on the matter.
Puppy smuggling is a multi-million pound industry, an illegal industry with hundreds of puppies intercepted at our ports and borders every year.
It was a well-attended debate with contributions from across the House and MPs calling on the Minister to consider how to close some of the loopholes in the EU-wide Pet Travel Scheme and to pass legislation to increase the maximum sentence for animal cruelty to 5 years.
The Minister mentioned the important work that charities such as the RSPCA, Battersea Dogs and Cats Home and Dogs Trust do and said that DEFRA’s overall approach to tackling puppy smuggling involves international engagement, enforcement, tighter regulations and public communications.
He also made reference to the announcement in December regarding the ban of third-party sales of puppies and kittens known as Lucy’s Law.
Third-party sales are often linked to so-called puppy farms and to dreadful welfare conditions and many constituents have asked me when this legislation will take place. The Minister responding to a question in the debate, said that it would be later this Spring which is very welcome news.