Focus: Policy and Politics - Conservative Animal Welfare Group in bid to strip RSPCA of enforcement role

Nathalie Thomas

The Conservative Animal Welfare Group has announced that it believes the RSPCA should lose its historical role of enforcing animal welfare legislation as part of the Animal Welfare Bill.

The group, which counts Roger Gale, MP for North Thanet, and former shadow Home Secretary Ann Widdecombe among its number, believes it is no longer appropriate for the RSPCA to act as an enforcing agency because it has turned its attention to lobbying and campaigning.

"It is our contention that the peculiar powers that were afforded to the RSPCA historically should no longer apply once this Bill is enacted," the group said in a statement.

"We do not believe that any NGO should be an enforcing agency on behalf of government, be it central or local. The law of the land should be enforced by officers trained by the state and accountable to the state," it added.

The RSPCA responded by saying it welcomed any extra government initiatives to improve animal welfare, both at a national and local level.

But a spokeswoman added: "We recognise there is simply no realistic prospect of a new and fully trained local government inspectorate."

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