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NATIONAL NEWS ROUNDUP: HS2 to Leeds scrapped and Prime Minister ‘should have been warned’ ahead of sleaze row


Now for your latest national headlines including cancelled HS2 to Leeds plan, former minister says sleaze row ‘handled poorly’, and new anti-dognapping law. 

HS2 TO LEEDS: Faster train journeys will be delivered up to ten years sooner than planned, amid anger over a decision to axe key schemes. The Department for Transport said its Integrated Rail Plan features ninety six billion pounds of investment in the Midlands and the North. The plan also confirms the eastern leg of HS two will be scrapped between the East Midlands and Leeds.

The standards row which has engulfed Parliament has been handled poorly and has damaged the Government, a former Cabinet minister has said. Robert Jenrick spoke out after a dramatic day in Westminster that saw Boris Johnson admit mistakes had been made. The former Communities Secretary said advisers should have warned him that his plans to overhaul the standards system were not going to work.

A new criminal offence to tackle dognapping and "deliver justice for victims" has moved a step closer. People who steal a canine companion could face up to five years in jail if convicted of dog abduction, under Government plans.

Leaders from animal organisations have welcomed the move which they hope will “crack down on the heart-breaking issue of pet theft”.

The taskforce was launched in May to tackle a reported rise in pet thefts during the pandemic, with evidence showing that more than 2,000 incidents were reported to the police in 2020.

When it comes to crimes recorded by police involving animals being stolen, around seven in 10 involve dogs, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said: “The loss of a much-loved pet causes unique distress. I am pleased that we are legislating to recognise this specific crime.

“The new dog abduction offence will reflect the impact on animals in penalties for criminals, and deliver justice for victims.”

The new offence will take into account the emotional distress caused to both the owner and the dog and help enable judges to give more targeted penalties and sentences for pet thieves, Defra said.

It added that a provision will also be made in the Bill to extend the offence to other pets in the future if evidence supports that.

Chief veterinary officer Dr Christine Middlemiss said the latest move is “an important step forward” with dogs being treated “as sentient beings rather than merely property”.

She added: “The new offence should build greater awareness of the significant impacts of dog theft on people and animals, and reassure pet owners that these crimes are being taken seriously.”

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