TOUGH new jail sentences for animal cruelty must be brought in as a matter of urgency, Bolton South-East MP Yasmin Qureshi has told a Cabinet Minister.

Legislation raising the maximum term of imprisonment for the office from six months to five years was lost part way through its Parliamentary proceedings because of the December 12 General Election.

Now Ms Qureshi has urged Environment ,Food and Rural Affairs Secretary Theresa Villiers to reintroduce the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill swiftly.

In July the legislation passed its Second Reading in the House of Commons and was ready to go for detailed consideration by a committee of MPs when Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the election.

Along with other part considered bills, it ‘fell’ and now has to be reintroduced from scratch by the new Parliament.

Labour justice spokeswoman Ms Qureshi said: “I was glad to see the government finally introduce the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill last year, which would have increased the maximum custodial penalty for animal cruelty from six months to five years imprisonment.

“The current maximum pales in comparison to five years for fly -tipping and seven years for theft.

“This Bill was long overdue and came as a result of years of campaigning by animal welfare organisations.

“On July 10, the Bill passed its crucial Second Reading without a vote, which shows the level of cross-party support.

“However, it could not complete its passage through Parliament before the general election, so it has fallen and the process must begin again.

“I am deeply disappointed by this turn of events. I hope they will restart the process soon.

“ I have already submitted a written question to Theresa Villiers asking for the bill to be reintroduced.

“I can assure you that I will continue to support the introduction of tougher sentences for perpetrators of animal cruelty, and the passage this bill."

Mr Green said: “The Conservatives are committed to improving animal welfare and have already passed legislation that bans puppy farms and third party selling of puppies and kittens from spring this year.

“We do however need tougher and more robust sentencing for animal cruelty, as well as judges and magistrates imposing sentences that stick."”

A Defra spokesperson said: “As set out in the Queen's Speech, we plan to introduce the new Animal Welfare Sentencing Bill as soon as parliamentary time allows.”