Parliamentary Committee Recommends Removing RSPCA’s Power to Prosecute

As you know, the RSPCA is one of the most powerful insider groups; it has powers to prosecute animal welfare cases and is responsible for over 90% of prosecutions. However, the RSPCA has made itself unpopular in recent times, particularly in trying to prosecute David Cameron’s local hunt.

In a recent report, the Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs select committee has recommended that the RSPCA be stripped of this power:

However, the committee was divided over the recommendation and a Labour MP on the committee, Angela Smith, argued that the recommendations flew in the face of the bulk of the evidence presented to the committee, which was overwhelmingly in favour of the RSPCA retaining its powers. Also, she claimed that the Countryside Alliance had exerted an undue influence on the judgement, citing the close ties of some members to the group.

This is an interesting story for considering the actions of pressure groups – here is an example of pressure groups exerting influence through the select committee system (Unit 1). Also a great example of countervailing power (and so evidence of pluralism in action).


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