I was delighted to help welcome HM the Queen to Swindon on Monday as we celebrated 175 years of Deacons Jewellers in Old Town. Situated very close to my constituency offices in Wood Street, this excellent family-run business was founded by George Deacon in 1848 and is now in its sixth generation. I was pleased to be present as the Queen opened a brand-new workshop at the shop as well as unveiling a plaque.
The Queen also visited Swindon’s domestic abuse refuge and it was inspiring to see her strong support for their work. At the refuge, she met many members of staff who help run the service and support survivors of domestic abuse, before speaking to families living at the refuge residency. She also gave an unexpected speech as she was so moved by the work the charity is carrying out.
As a nation of pet lovers, the Pet Abduction Bill is very important to protect our beloved pets, so I was pleased to speak at the second reading of the Pet Abduction Bill in Parliament last Friday.
Our cat, Mrs Landingham, is a Cats Protection cat and the second one that we’ve had in our family, both from the charity, and I pay tribute to that wonderful organisation. You need never buy a cat in this country, as there are thousands of deserving cats who need a home and are available through charities such as Cats Protection.
The relationship between cats and their families can be a complex one, and ours is no exception at all, but she is well loved by, in particular, my daughter who really enjoys her company. So that is another story to add to the millions of others, for whom the prospect of losing their pet would be one of real trauma. And we know the cases of trauma that exist which is why, back in 2021 when I was Justice Secretary, I helped to set up the Pet Theft Taskforce.
It is vital that the law recognises the emotional impact that the abduction of a pet can have and brings the perpetrators to justice that correctly reflects this. Pets are not property, like a smartphone or television – they are part of the family, and it has always been important to me that the law distinguishes this. I am therefore very pleased that following the work of the Pet Theft Taskforce, the Pet Abduction Bill has passed its second reading in Parliament with the Government backing a new pet abduction law.
Following, the Queen’s visit earlier this week, it seems more than appropriate to make Swindon Domestic Abuse Support Service my local charity of the week, and also tell you about new Government funding that the service has been chosen to deliver.
The new funding that is being offered to victims of domestic abuse, which will involve a payment of up to £2.5k to help with a new deposit on a new house or flat, is an excellent step forward to help liberate thousands of victims of domestic abuse from the tyranny from having to stay in an abusive environment because of fear of cost.
I welcome this Government’s initiative; it is the first one in the world and it deserves our thanks and praise.