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Mike Gapes, Member of Parliament for Ilford South, has joined growing calls for tougher penalties for animal abuse and action to be taken to enforce bans on offenders from keeping animals.

Attending the League Against Cruel Sports’ Annual Reception in Westminster on Wednesday (19th July 2017), Mike heard how sentences are currently inadequate and outdated, remaining unchanged for over a hundred years and therefore failing to reflect the horrific cruelty inflicted on animals in the name of barbaric ‘sports’ such as dog fighting.

England and Wales are lagging behind when it comes to punishing people who abuse animals, and so the League is calling for maximum sentences to be increased from the current maximum of six months to the more appropriate ceiling of five years. This would bring the law in line with much of the rest of Europe and Northern Ireland, and would better reflect the seriousness of the abuse involved.

Mike Gapes MP said: “I’m delighted to be supporting the League’s campaign for tougher sentences for animal abuse. As League investigations have shown, dog fighting is a horrific crime involving immense cruelty, and this needs to be better reflected in the penalties handed to perpetrators. The recent election has demonstrated that the public care deeply about animal welfare and want to ensure that animals are properly protected. Sentences need to be increased so that they act as a genuine deterrent.”

Speakers at the event also highlighted the need for a national register of convicted animal abusers to help prevent people banned from keeping animals from flouting the law. No central record of such banning orders is currently kept, potentially leaving offenders free to continue to abuse animals.

Pressure for change has been building recently, both among MPs and the public, with the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee last year recommending that the maximum penalty for animal welfare offences be increased, MPs backing calls for action during backbench Parliamentary debates, and signatures to the League’s petition calling for stronger penalties for dog fighting offences reaching over 90,000 signatures to date.


Mike Gapes MP joins calls for tougher penalties for animal abusers

Mike Gapes, Member of Parliament for Ilford South, has joined growing calls for tougher penalties for animal abuse and action to be taken to enforce bans on offenders from keeping...

Mike Gapes MP discusses the ongoing Brexit negotiations with CNN's Richard Quest.


QUEST: So, every round. This was round two of the negotiations. Thank you. The two sides have agreed to meet every month before March 2019, which marks the two-year Article 50 deadline from UK's notification to quit. So, on round two, seconds away, let's look at the issue that they dealt with so far. And so far, the U.K. isn't managing to dodge too many blows as the negotiations are under way. 

First of all, the Brexit costs, the amount the U.K. must pay. The EU has got it somewhere at $115 billion. But Barnier says he needs vital details from Britain. Of course, your aware, some in Britain believe that there shouldn't be a Brexit bill. But the general acceptance is there will be a bill to pay. What they're arguing about is just how much. 

And then you have the very serious question of citizens' rights. The acquired rights of EU nationals in the U.K. and U.K. nationals elsewhere.  Citizens' rights, Barnier says, it's a fundamental divergence of the opinion.  Then finally, the EU says progress must be made on these issues, before they start talking about a new trade deal. At the same time business remains worried. The British Chamber of Commerce is calling for a more sustained and some structured discussion on Brexit and Citigroup confirms it may move business operations two Frankfurt. And on last night's program you had the Small Business Federation saying that they want greater clarity as well. 

This is a negotiation that could go right down to the line. Mike Gapes is the Labour MP, he joins me from London. We're watching these negotiations, there's a very tight timeline, but as the minister, as David Davis says, there won't be progress or incremental improvement in every round, will there? 

MIKE GAPES, BRITISH MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT, LABOUR PARTY: Well, actually the timeline is probably such that they won't be a comprehensive agreement in  time for March of 2019. And they're going to have to work out transitional arrangements, which could last several years what the government calls interim arrangements.  

[16:10:00] But the fact is that the intricate details of 43 years of integration of the U.K. economy, and regulations through the environment and there's other things, are so complicated, it can't all be sorted out in the short time. 

QUEST: What do you think the Brexit bill should be? How long is a piece of string? I realize you know, what's the number, what do you think the number is.  

GAPES: I can't give you an answer to that. But the U.K. has entered into obligations for example, the costs of pensions for former employees of the European Union, the cost of infrastructure projects, which are partly completed or planned. There's a whole range of things which would require a legal commitment and a requirement that we do meet our obligations. 

QUEST: The hope is to settle the acquired rights, the Brexit bill and potentially the Northern Ireland issue by October, when there will be the potential to discuss the wider issues. Do you think that is realistic?  

GAPES: I think that's very optimistic. I also think that we as members of Parliament, we are in the dark. The government is not telling us what its position is. It's not just Michel Barnier who saying the government needs to give more detail. Members of the House of Commons -- where of course, Theresa May no longer has an overall majority -- are in the dark as well. We are waiting to begin the legislative process in September for a repeal bill to withdraw. But we don't yet know what the British government's plan is. What it actually wants. And I'm not sure they know. 

QUEST: You would expect that the British government can't sort of negotiate and at the same time, have an entire Parliament watching over its back at every stage of the way. Parliament is going to have its vote once the process is over.  

GAPES: Well the danger is that Theresa May still believes that somehow no deal is better than a bad deal. That position was killed in our general election in June. There is now going to be a position where Parliament is going to assert itself. Whether it does so this year or whether it does so next year. But there will be the necessity of having a broad consensus within the House of Commons and also the House of Lords. In order to ensure that we are satisfied with the terms of these negotiations. 

QUEST: Do you still believe that Brexit will happen? Or as I believe you are of the opinion, that some shape or form will be found to keep the U.K. within.  

GAPES: I'm of the view that we need to mitigate the damage that any leaving of the EU will put us into a dangerous position if we also leave the single market and the customs union. It will be disastrous for our economy. There are many of us -- it's not just in my party -- there are many people across the House of Commons and in the House of Lords, that want to have the closest possible ongoing relationship with the European Union even if we have voted to leave. And that means, as far as we can, staying in the European economic area, the single market and that is necessary for inward investment and prosperity of our people. People didn't vote to become poorer in the referendum. 

QUEST: But would you say membership of EEA, in other words that the, you have to eat Europe's rules, without having a seat at the table. The Norway option, you're familiar with it. Would you say that is preferable to being outside the single market. 

GAPES: No, no, no. It's actually, the choice staying in the single market is fundamental, is preferable. The best option, is to actually be involved in the decision-making. The best solution would be not to leave the European Union. If the British people have voted for that. Then we've got to try to get the next best. Which is the mitigate the damage.  

QUEST: Good to see you, sir, thank you. Appreciate it.  

GAPES: Thank you.


Mike Gapes MP discusses Brexit negotiations with CNN's Richard Quest

Mike Gapes MP discusses the ongoing Brexit negotiations with CNN's Richard Quest.

Yesterday (Tuesday 18th July 2017), I and other parliamentary colleagues, met with the All-Party Parliamentary Group on HIV & AIDS and organisations from across the HIV sector to learn more about their work supporting some 37 million people estimated to be living with HIV across the globe.

Each year, a further 1 million people acquire the virus and those groups that are disproportionately affected continue to be subject to stigma, discrimination or criminalisation in many of the highest prevalence countries.

The APPG on HIV & AIDS is one of the oldest all-party groups in Parliament having been formed in the mid-1980s in response to the emergence of HIV and AIDS in the UK. MPs and peers who have joined the Group have done so because they are concerned about both the devastation that HIV and AIDS are causing in developing countries and about their impact here in the UK including in our constituencies. This year, the Group has focused on the impact of HIV internationally, having received reports from a number of organisations on the negative impact that changing aid priorities has had on key populations and women and girls in middle-income countries.

HIV continues to affect over 100,000 people in the UK. While advances in treatment mean that someone diagnosed early with HIV can expect to live as long as someone who has not acquired the virus, it is estimated that 13% of people living with HIV are undiagnosed in the UK, which means they are unable to take steps to prevent damage to their immune system or prevent onward transmission to others. Members of the APPG are determined to ensure that no one affected by HIV is left behind as part of the UNAIDS commitment to end AIDS by 2030.

Mike Gapes MP meets the All-Party Parliamentary Group on HIV & AIDS

Yesterday (Tuesday 18th July 2017), I and other parliamentary colleagues, met with the All-Party Parliamentary Group on HIV & AIDS and organisations from across the HIV sector to learn more about their...

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