Three girls come to Parliament after seeing car run over coot

I showed three primary school children from Dover around Parliament after they witnessed a car deliberately run over a coot. Lexi and Leila Buhlman, aged seven, and their sister Oliveah, aged 10, all from River, saw a car believed to have been driven by a teenager drive at the animal in Lower Road, River, in May. They spent the rest of the day at the roadside, waving at drivers to slow down.

Afterwards they wrote a letter to me saying the person who killed the coot should be arrested. I invited them to talk about animal cruelty and road safety at Westminster, where they were given a tour before a meeting on the terrace by the Thames.

Lexi, Leila and Oliveah wrote a moving letter to me. I invited them to Parliament so I could tell them they were absolutely right – it’s so important to respect wildlife and protect the environment. It’s also important to take an interest in politics and trying to change things for the better. They are three delightful young girls and I hope they enjoyed it.

The trio visited parliament with their grandparents Roger and Angie shortly before a debate on a bill to increase jail terms for animal cruelty cases, which took place this week. The Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill would increase the maximum jail term for animal cruelty from six months to five years, as well as an unlimited fine.

I have long supported this campaign. It is unacceptable that people can abuse animals and get away with such a small penalty. We must have tougher sentences for the despicable people willing to harm helpless creatures. Then we can show people like Lexi, Leila and Oliveah that they can make a difference – that if we speak up and work together, we can make the world a better place.