I am pleased that MPs had the opportunity to discuss this issue last September.
The debate helped clarify the belief that dog breeders only need a licence if they have a bitch producing five or more litters per year: the Government resolved to write to councils to stress that anyone in the business of breeding dogs must be licenced. They must demonstrate that the animals have suitable accommodation, food, water and bedding material; are adequately exercised and visited; and that all reasonable precautions are taken to prevent the spread of infection.
For dogs bred by so called "hobby breeders", who are not in business but do breed occasionally, there is the Animal Welfare Act 2006, which makes it an offence to cause unnecessary suffering to an animal or fail to provide for its welfare. Anyone breaking this law could face a fine of up to £20,000 and /or 51 weeks imprisonment.
Only about 70 pet shops sell puppies and kittens, and these are licensed and regulated. Local authorities can restrict which animals a pet shop can sell, and new guidance stresses the need for interaction with people. I share concerns about unregulated sales over the internet, so am pleased that the Government has created a voluntary code which has resulted in 100,000 adverts being removed since the start of 2014.
Lastly on the issue of sales across borders, I am pleased to be able to tell you that changes to the EU pet passport scheme mean that it is no longer possible to bring a puppy under 15 weeks old into this country.