After the success of The Animal Welfare (Service Animals) Bill, which you can read about below, I want to go bigger and better for all animals. I am supporting Chris Loder's Private Member Bill, The Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill. Updates are posted below.
29th July 2023 -
North East Herts MP Sir Oliver Heald MP has expressed his sadness at the death of Police Dog Finn aged 14 years.
Finn was Hertfordshire's most successful Police Dog and became famous after he was stabbed on duty, but there was no penalty passed because of the then state of the Law.
PC Dave Wardell was Finn's handler who started the campaign for a change in the Law and Sir Oliver Heald MP as Dave's local MP successfully took a Private Member's Bill through the House to enable prosecutions under the Animal Welfare Act, where police dogs and other service animals are attacked.
Oliver met Dave and Finn on many occasions and the dog attended every session in parliament when the Animal Welfare(Service Animals) Bill was discussed. Finn woofed as the Bill passed its final stage in the House of Lords, where local Lord Trenchard was the sponsor.
Commenting Oliver said:
"Finn was a special dog and had great heart. This is a sad day. It was amazing that he survived the terrible attack on him. I and a number of other MPs were lucky enough to meet him and he was always very patient with all the attention. He has left a real legacy, because we now have the laws we need to tackle violence against service animals.
I saw Finn last year with Dave Wardell and family in Buntingford and he was on good form. My thoughts are with Dave and Gemma and the family at this difficult time.
Finn won the highest awards for animal bravery and the public took him to their hearts."
29th April 2021 - The Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill has achieved Royal Assent and has become law. This is fantastic news!
16th April 2021 - The Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill had its second reading today in the House of Lords. The Bill will now enter Committee Stage where it will be scrutinised line by line, and any amendments may be put forward. This is great progress!
12th March 2021 - The Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill has now completed its third reading in the House of Commons and is set to formally introduced to the House of Lords today.
3rd February 2021 - The Bill has passed through committee stage without amendment and is now onto its third reading, great news!
23rd October 2020 - The Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill had its Second Reading today and is now making progress to Committee Stage. It is great news that the Bill is doing well and I hope it achieves the same passage that Finn's Law did.
September 2020 - The Second reading of The Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill is scheduled to take place on Friday 23 October 2020.
24th February 2020 - I met with Dave Wardell and other MPs to support Chris Loder's Private Members Bill, the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill. The Private Members bill will seek to increase prison sentence for Animal Cruelty from 6 months to 5 years. The Bill will have its second reading in the House of Commons on 23 October 2020.
29th October 2019 - The Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill is back for its Second Reading. Progress is vital to increase maximum prison sentences for Animal Cruelty from 6 months to 5 years. Increasing sentencing is part of the Finn's Law programme, alongside extending the bill to Scotland and Northern Ireland. This new Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill will be in addition to the Animal Welfare (Service Animals) Act I took through parliament earlier this year.
July 2019 - I have also been a strong advocate for increasing sentences for Animal Cruelty and spoke in the Second Reading debate of the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill. On the 23rd July I was a member of the Committee on the Bill, where I spoke extensively in support of increased penalties.
The Animal Welfare (Service Animals) Bill.
I was pleased to introduce a 10 Minute Rule Bill into the House of Commons in December 2017 intended to make it an offence to attack service animals. The Service Animals (Offensive) Bill, known as 'Finn's Law', arose after Buntingford Police Dog Finn was seriously injured by an offender. When it came to court, no additional penalty was given for the attack on Finn. I worked closely with the Finn's Law Campaign Group and invited them, PC Wardell and Finn to the House of Commons whenever the Bill was being debated.
The Animal Welfare (Service Animals) Bill became enforced on the 8th June 2019.
A timeline of the Bill's passage is given below.
5 December 2017- I made a speech in the House of Commons, you can read it here. This kickstarted the Parliamentary campaign for 'Finn's Law'.
February 2018 - Read my article in The House.
May 2018 - I am continuing to press my Service Animals Offences Bill with questions in the House. I have had a very constructive meeting at DEFRA with the Minister, Lord Gardiner, on 24 April. The Bill returns to the House of Commons on the 15th June.
June 2018 - I have obtained support from Michael Gove at DEFRA for a new Bill – the Animal Welfare (Service Animals) Bill and have substituted this for my original. Although the new Bill was blocked on 15th June, it comes up again on 6th July and all at Finn’s Law are hoping for progress.
July 2018 - Today I put my Animal Welfare (Service Animals) Bill before the House of Commons for a Second Reading. The Bill was passed to its next stage where it will be considered in detail by a Committee of MPs.
I also asked the Secretary of State for the Environment a question regarding Finn's Law. I asked for an update on increasing the sentencing of those that attack police dogs and other service animals.
January 2019 - The campaign to provide legal protection for police dogs and other service animals when attacked in the line of duty will take a big step forward tomorrow, 16 January, when my Private Member’s Bill “The Animal Welfare (Service Animals) Bill” has its Committee stage at 10am. This means that Finn’s Law will have a good chance of reaching the statute book this year. I would like to pay tribute to Finn and his police dog handler, PC Dave Wardell as well as Sarah Dixon, who has led the campaign for Finn’s Law.
January 2019 - Finn’s Law went through Committee today and had unanimous cross party and Government support, including from the Herts MPs for Stevenage (Stephen McPartland) and Hemel Hempstead (Sir Mike Penning). Finn attended Committee with my constituent Dog Handler and Herts PC Dave Wardell and Finn’s Law campaign manager Sarah Dixon. I aim to have the Bill back in the Chamber for Third reading on the 8th February. The Animal Welfare (Service Animals) Bill is well on the way to becoming law and providing public recognition in law for our brave service animals for the first time. This is a change in the law which is happening internationally and across the UK. We also had the chance to discuss Finn’s Law with Nicola Sturgeon who supports the cross party campaign for a Finn’s Law for Scotland.
February 2019 - I am delighted that Finn's Law has passed through the House of Commons today with Finn and Dog Handler PC Dave Wardell watching in the gallery. This unanimous all Party backing for the Animal Welfare (Service Animals) Bill augurs well for its next stages in the House of Lords where Hertfordshire's Lord Trenchard will be Member in charge. We are on the way to proper legal protection for police dogs and other service animals.
March 2019 - I am delighted that Finn's Law received a Second Reading in the House of Lords today. Lord Trenchard explained the background admirably and had all Party support.
March 2019 - Finn's Law has now passed the Committee stage in the House of Lords and is due for its Third Reading next week.
2nd April 2019 - The Animal Welfare (Service Animals) Bill has passed its final stage in the House of Lords with Lord Trenchard paying tribute to all those involved in the Finn’s Law campaign. The Bill will now become law and is a major step forward in providing protection to service animals, such as police dogs and horses, when they are attacked. As the Bill passed, Finn, who was sitting in the public gallery of the House of Lords, let out a large bark.
I am delighted this has passed and pay tribute to PC Dave Wardell and the Finn’s Law team. Finn has attended every stage of the Bill and has been very well behaved but I think he was entitled to his bark as the Bill passed the House of Lords!
12th April 2019 - Finn’s Law recently completed its remaining stages in the House of Lords with the support of Lord Trenchard and received Royal Assent on 8th April. The Animal Welfare (Service Animals) Act comes into force on 8th June.
Congratulations to all who have campaigned for this important change to the law, particularly PC Dave Wardell and the Finn’s Law team led by Sarah Dixon and Nicola Skelley.
8th June 2019 - New legislation to protect service animals, such as police dogs and horses, will come in to force today (8 June)
The Animal Welfare (Service Animals) Bill, known as ‘Finn’s Law’, will prevent those who attack or injure service animals from claiming self-defence.
This new legislation, coupled with the government’s plans to increase maximum sentences for animal cruelty offences to five years in prison, will make sure those who harm service animals are punished accordingly.