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Shutting down Parliament threatens to end Baby’s Law

Labour and Co-operative MP for Redcar, Anna Turley, has written to the Environment Secretary to seek assurance that the law to toughen up animal cruelty sentences will not fall when Parliament is shut down.

Prime Minister Johnson has announced the prorogation of Parliament ahead of a Queen’s Speech in October, a process which will end all parliamentary business. If any outstanding bills are not carried forward by the government then they will fall.

The Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill to increase animal cruelty sentences from six months to five years has not yet completed its passage through the House of Commons and still needs to be approved by the House of Lords. It is now at risk of being abandoned.

In 2017, Anna’s Private Members’ Bill for five year animal cruelty sentences suffered a similar fate when Parliament was dissolved for the snap general election.

Anna launched the campaign for tougher sentences after the horrific abuse of Baby the Bulldog by two Redcar brothers.

Full text of Anna’s letter:

Dear Secretary of State,

Congratulations on your recent appointment. I hope we can continue the constructive relationship I had with your predecessor, especially on issues relating to animal cruelty.

I write today on that issue to ask that your government ensures the legislation for increasing the maximum sentence for animal cruelty from six months to five years is carried forward into the next parliamentary session, and is not allowed to fall with the planned prorogation of Parliament later this month.

As you may know from my speeches in the House, I set out to toughen up animal cruelty sentencing in 2016 following the case of Baby the Bulldog in my constituency. The abuse of Baby by two Redcar brothers shocked my community. Footage emerged of them laughing as they stamped and kicked Baby and threw her down the stairs. Shockingly, they received just a suspended sentence and an electronic tag. I queued throughout the night to secure a Private Members Bill which I then brought forward, in Baby’s name, to increase the maximum sentence to five years. My Bill was objected to by Conservative Whips meaning it never made it to Second Reading, and it ultimately fell with the onset of the 2017 snap General Election. I won’t hold that against your party because you later announced support for the policy. I am grateful for that change of heart and for the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill currently before Parliament.

However, the prorogation of Parliament now threatens a repeat of the fate of my bill in 2017. It would be a disgraceful injustice to thousands of abused animals if another politically motivated snap election allowed this policy to fall once again. I know this is also a huge concern for the great body of animal welfare organisations who have campaigned on this issue and many thousands of animal lovers across the country.

I would be grateful if you could provide assurance that the sentencing bill will be carried forward so that it may complete its parliamentary journey and be signed into law. I look forward to hearing from you urgently.


Best wishes,

Anna Turley MP