The Government dropped the ‘puppy smuggling’ bill last month sparking concern among animal welfare groups.

Lib Dem MP Tim Farron has now tabled the Pets Bill which seeks to prevent and punish the theft of dogs below a certain age.

It also seeks to deter the unlawful importation of certain animals, including dogs, cats and ferrets.

The text is identical to the Government’s draft legislation on puppy smuggling and Conservative MPs nationwide are being urged to back it.

Mr Hammond says:

“I am committed to ending puppy smuggling and live exports, as these were manifesto commitments and the Government have been clear they will now be taking these measures forward individually through the remainder of this Parliament, not dropping them as the Liberal Democrats have falsely alleged.

I am a staunch supporter of animal rights, having three rescue cats which regularly feature on my social media. Last week I also visited the Blue Cross Animal Hospital in South Wimbledon to see the good work they do to support the least well off to care for and keep their pets.

It is disappointing to see that Mr Kohler has chosen this national campaign and a cookie-cutter press release to attempt to create an artificial dividing line. However, regrettably I must say that I am not surprised. Ministers remain committed to delivering the provisions contained within the Kept Animals Bill and I wholly support this.”