LOCAL MP Rebecca Pow has welcomed increased protection for animals and pets which will result from two Bills which were recently debated in Parliament.

The Animal Welfare (Livestock Exports) Bill and the Pet Abduction Bill will strengthen animal welfare protections.

The first bans the export of livestock for slaughter and fattening, and the second creates a new criminal offence relating to the theft of a pet dog or cat.

Both Bills passed their respective stages with wide cross-Party support.

Ms Pow, who represents the Wellington and Wiveliscombe areas, attended both debates and highlighted how important animal welfare issues were to her constituents across Taunton Deane.

She said: “The Government has an excellent record on animal welfare.

“In fact, we are the highest ranked G7 nation according to the World Animal Protection’s Index.

“Among legislation we have introduced since 2010, we have increased maximum sentences for animal cruelty, made microchipping compulsory for cats and dogs, and banned third-party puppy and kitten sales.

“For farm animals, we have banned traditional battery cages, introduced CCTV in slaughterhouses, and supported farmers to adopt high welfare practices.

“For wild animals, we have banned them from use in travelling circuses and introduced one of the toughest bans on elephant ivory sales in the world, as well as extending this to other species.

“While no animals have been exported for slaughter or fattening from Britain since the Government announced its intention to bring forward a ban in 2021, the Livestock Exports Bill debated in Parliament recently makes this permanent, delivering on a key manifesto commitment.”

Ms Pow said she was delighted in her capacity as a Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs Minister to be at the Despatch Box answering the debate on the proposed new law on pet abduction covering cats and dogs.

The Private Members Bill would see sentences of up to five years in prison for offenders and result in better monitoring and data to make it easier to track criminals to understand how widespread was the crime.

Ms Pow said: “My own two fine cats, Raffa and Mr Tips, have taken on an even more meaningful role in my life since my children have grown up and left home and my husband died.

“I know many of my constituents in similar positions can understand this, and, like me, will be pleased that we have announced that this important piece of legislation will come into force within three months of Royal Assent.

“These two latest pieces of legislation demonstrate further our commitment to animal welfare.”