In October 2016, Member of Parliament for Redcar Anna Turley launched a petition calling for the Government to introduce tougher sentences for those convicted of acts of animal cruelty. Her petition read as follows:
"All abuse of animals is completely unacceptable. There have been a number of high profile cases of abhorrent and cruel attacks on animals where the offenders have escaped prison. The Frankish Brothers kicked, stamped on, and threw their pet bulldog, Baby, down the stairs. More recently, a dog was buried alive in Redcar with a nail through its head.
Currently the maximum sentence for people who commit crimes of animal cruelty is six months in prison. Clearly the current sentence is no deterrent to horrendous acts of animal cruelty and is not working. Lenient sentencing may persuade other animal abusers that the law is on their side."
This is a campaign that we at K9 Magazine support fully and echoes a message we have been promoting for many years. It is is very heartening to know that there exists MPs who are willing to go to bat for animals who have been the victim of cruelty for which little or no justice was ever served.
Anna Turley's petition was to be debated in the House of Commons on February the 24th, 2017.
However, it was blocked. I'm sure those of you who are reading this will be sad to hear that, given you have more than likely got a deep passion for this particular topic.
Those of us who have love for dogs tend to be appalled when we hear of the harrowing cases of animal cruelty that all too frequently make the news. But this is an issue that is not just the exclusive concern of dog owners. The general public at large, whether they own a pet or not, despises animal cruelty. Rightly so.
So why was this particular call to toughen up animal cruelty sentences blocked you may ask? The answer will probably sicken you, so be prepared for what you are about to read.
Anna Turley's animal cruelty petition was blocked because THREE Conservative party MPs filibustered it out of debate.
Filibustering is a tactic used by some MPs which, quite simply, means talking at length, on purpose, to get a particular bill or motion to go away by denying it time to be properly debated or voted on.
You didn't read that wrong. Here is the official description:
"A filibuster (from Early Modern English, c. 1580: filibutor, "pirate") is a parliamentary procedure where debate over a proposed piece of legislation is extended, allowing one or more members to delay or entirely prevent a vote on the proposal. It is sometimes referred to as "talking out a bill" or "talking a bill to death" and characterised as a form of obstruction in a legislature or other decision-making body."
Philip Davies and Chris Chope are two of the MPs named by Anna Turley as talking the bill to death.
Davies in particular has form for this.
In November 2014, Philip Davies was reprimanded by the Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons during his successful attempt to filibuster, or "talk out", the Tenancies (Reform) Bill which would have prevented landlords from evicting tenants for requesting vital repairs.
In November 2015, Davies gave the longest speech in a sequence by Conservative MPs that resulted in 'talking out' a bill backed by St. John Ambulance, the British Red Cross, and the British Heart Foundation to provide first-aid training to children. Among his reasons for killing the bill was that he had "forgotten the first aid training he had himself received in school"
Chope was one of the MPs caught up in 2009's expenses scandal, when it emerged he had claimed £136,992 in parliamentary expenses in 2007/08. This included claiming £881 to repair a sofa. He also made the news when he along with 10 other Tory MPs called for the minimum wage to be scrapped.
It's nice to know there are MPs like Anna Turley who are willing to recognise that the UK does not have efficient or effective justice when it comes to those people who have abused, mutilated and killed dogs, cats and other animals. It's a serious issue, a real problem and at present the judicial response to it is failing. We are seeing more cases of animal cruelty on a year on year basis so our elected officials have a duty to offer solutions to a growing problem.
It's not so nice to know that the perpetrators of animal abuse also have a friendly voice in Parliament.