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Cruelty to animals is barbaric. I believe that people who commit this appalling crime should face very tough sentences indeed.

At the moment, the maximum sentence for animal cruelty is six months. This is clearly inadequate given the severity of many of the crimes being committed. That’s why I am backing a Bill that will increase the maximum penalty to five years’ imprisonment and an unlimited fine.

Labour MPs like me have long been campaigning for this common-sense change. Unfortunately, the Conservative Government blocked a similar Bill a few years ago. It is only recently that they have come round to it, after much pressure from Labour, animal rights campaigners and the public.

It is very important to send out a strong message that animal cruelty must stop, and that those who are guilty of it will be penalised properly. So I’m pleased to support this new law.

I will always campaign for the very highest animal welfare standards. As well as tougher sentences for animal cruelty, we need to enshrine animal sentience in law and start tackling animal abuse at its source. 

Labour’s plan to do this includes stopping imports of cruel products like Foie Gras and wild animal trophies into the UK. We would also ban the intensive rearing of game birds and live exports for slaughter and fattening. But we need a UK Labour Government to put this plan into action.