I am very pleased that the Control of Horses Bill successfully passed through Report Stage in the Commons on Friday 16th January. This Bill addresses the problem of horses being fly-grazed, which I called a debate on in Parliament in November 2013. Fly-grazing puts horse welfare in danger and can pose a risk to the wellbeing of landowners, farmers and the general public. This is an issue I first raised when it was drawn to my attention that dozens of horses were found in a terrible condition in a field in Alton. I called for action on it in a BBC Daily Politics film from East Hampshire, which you can watch here.
In the debate in Parliament, I called for the removal of horses to be made more straight-forward to local authorities. I am pleased that provisions for this have been included in the Bill, which amends the Animals Act 1971 to give local authorities the power to detain straying horses or those placed intentionally in public places. It also allows horses to be disposed of 96 hours after detention, rather than 14 days as it currently is. The RSPCA have campaigned tirelessly on changing the law to target the practice of fly-grazing, and should be congratulated on the expert advice they have given, which has contributed to the formulation and amendments to the Bill.
This Bill was introduced by Julian Sturdy MP as a Private Member’s Bill, so it was not guaranteed to progress all the way in to law. Despite this, it has passed all the way through the Commons, and is on the way to becoming law - a huge step forward in trying to eradicate the practice of fly-grazing. I look forward to witnessing its future effects in East Hampshire and across the country.