MP for North Swindon

Justin Tomlinson MP

Swindon Advertiser Column: I Am Proud That The UK Leads The Way On Animal Welfare


If there’s one thing that unites us as a country, it’s our love of animals.

From the pets we have as companions, to the great creatures of the jungles & oceans; not only does our love for these animals unite us - so does our anger towards those who abuse or mistreat them.

Over the years I have received correspondence from thousands of Swindon residents regarding a wide range of different animal welfare issues. It’s an issue I’m just as passionate about, and I’m proud that we are such big animal lovers in our town.

This week we introduced new laws to ban the third party sale of puppies and kittens. This abhorrent practice often sees puppies and kittens farmed in cramped conditions.

This is one of the issues I’ve received the most correspondence on in the 9 years I have been an MP. I’ve consistently campaigned for a ban, working alongside Pup Aid ambassador Rachel Riley and TV vet Marc Abrahams,

I led a cross-party debate on the issue - the first major debate on this subject in the House of Commons ever - after a campaign which was backed by more than 140,000 people across the country (including thousands from Swindon).

These changes are important because, for the first time, you will be able to know exactly where a puppy or kitten has come from and know it has been treated well.

Last month we also succeeded in passing ‘Finn’s Law’ which gives more protection in law to animals in our emergency or armed services. Like many, I was horrified to learn that the number of attacks on police dogs has risen and that there was no additional punishment in place for those who commit such heinous crimes. Parliament came together cross-party and rightly closed this loophole in the law – something I was pleased to support.

We’ve also done more; making it compulsory for abattoirs to fit CCTV, brought forward plans to increase the maximum sentence for animal cruelty from six months to 5 years, and passed one of the toughest bans in the world to put a stop to the ivory trade which has blighted the elephant and rhino population.

And last week, MPs rightly began the process of passing tough new legislation to end the cruel use of wild animals in circuses. Residents are rightly angry that in the 21st Century, animals like reindeer, zebra, and camels are still used to “entertain”.

I first spoke out on this issue in the House of Commons back in 2011, and followed it up with further debates and questions to Ministers – actively lobbying to ensure it will no longer be lawful to use animals in circuses.

But there’s more to do, and I was pleased to see the Environment Secretary confirm that the Government will bring forward vital legislation in the coming months to ensure that generations to come will be able to grow up without the spectre of extinction or harm looming over great swathes of our natural world.

The laws that we have passed will further protect animals both in the UK and across the world. I firmly believe we have a responsibility to take action to safeguard wildlife, and I am proud that the UK continues to lead the way on animal welfare legislation.

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