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Animal Welfare Bill debate - What the MPs said

LAST WEEK, the Government’s Animal Welfare Bill received its Second Reading in the House of Commons. The debate began when Secretary of State Margaret Beckett rose at 3.46pm and ended nearly six hours later at 9.32pm when the debate was closed by DEFRA Minister Ben Bradshaw. In between, MPs of all parties spoke, often passionately, about key aspects of the Bill and how best it could be introduced to ensure the best possible practice for the enhancement of animal welfare in the UK.

Along the way, much discussion ensued on the Secondary Legislation that would follow the passing of the AWB that, in itself, was largely an ‘Enabling Bill’. Many speakers declared that it was vital to ensure that proper consideration was given to key points at the Bill’s discussion and Standing Committee stages, because Secondary Legislation would be hard to put right once it was enacted.

The Bill was also described on at least two occasions as a classic ‘Christmas Tree Bill’ – a piece of legislation on which MPs could hang their own ‘pet subjects’. This became clear when contentious issues such as tail docking were raised. MPs were warned against letting the prejudices dictate the content of the Bill, because, as was often pointed out, this was the first major review of Britain’s animal welfare laws in 100 years and such chances did not come along very often.

OUR DOGS has selected key areas of discussion which relate to dogs, namely: Tail Docking, Pet Fairs, Animal Sanctuaries, Inspectors’ Powers and Racing Greyhounds and has highlighted these for our readers’ information, with MPs’ comments largely unedited and verbatim.

We hope that this will be of help and of interest when considering this crucial piece of legislation which, it is hoped, will have far-reaching effects for the good animals everywhere… but which will equally have a direct impact on us, their owners.

*If YOU have any comments relating to the Animal Welfare Bill and the recent Parliamentary debate, please write to us at 5 Oxford Road Station Approach, Manchester M60 1SX or email