Thank you to everyone who has contacted me regarding the HorseWorld campaign against abusive long-term tethering of horses, which calls for local authorities to be required to appoint animal welfare inspectors to protect horse welfare.
As you may know, local authorities, the Animal & Plant Health Agency and the police have powers under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 to inspect complaints of suspected animal cruelty and take out prosecutions where necessary. The RSPCA also investigates and prosecutes cases of cruelty. However, no specific body is currently under a statutory duty to enforce the welfare requirements in the Act.
Labour has proposed that enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act should be placed on a statutory footing, with the delivery of this duty overseen by an Animal Welfare Commissioner. The Commissioner would also be responsible for gathering the latest scientific evidence on animal sentience and welfare, as well as ensuring animal welfare standards are always considered in legislation, international bodies and trade deals.
The Government responded to the campaign by saying it is for local authorities to determine how to prioritise their resources. However, since 2010, councils have faced a reduction to core funding of nearly £16 million – a loss of 60p in every £1 spent on local services.
This is having a drastic impact on local government services as councils are having to make difficult and unwelcome decisions about where to find savings. I believe we need a long-term and sustainable funding solution for our councils.
My Labour colleagues and I will continue to call for the highest standards in equine welfare, as well as proper and sustainable funding for local authorities.