A BID to stamp out animal cruelty by borough campaigners received the support of Twickenham's MP who has vowed to help drive a new bill through Parliament.

A petition signed by nearly 1,000 local residents in support of the bill was presented to Vince Cable by campaigner Stephanie Mackenzie from Twickenham.

The Animal Welfare Bill, the first overhaul of pet law in nearly 100 years, will ensure that owners have a duty to provide a suitable level of care, which if unfulfilled, would allow the authorities to take appropriate action.

Currently, action cannot be taken until there is veterinary evidence of suffering.

The bill includes 25 areas that will be affected and one relates to the prohibition of animals in circuses as they do not provide a suitable environment where appropriate welfare standards can be maintained.

Although Ms Mackenzie is in favour of the bill there are additional areas she believes it should focus on.

She said: "Everyone who I spoke to has been very enthusiastic to pass the bill and it's taken 100 years to get this far, so let's not lay the law down lightly. Let us do our duty for animals as they ask for so little and give so much.

"Once these 25 areas have been addressed and are in place by law the RSPCA can expand their focus to other areas. I personally feel that pet shop's should be banned from selling pets, that licences should be supplied to those owning a pet and that pet owners should be regularly vetted to ensure they are continuing with decent standards of welfare for the pet long after they purchased it.

"Breeding should be highly controlled and regulated. There should be basic animal welfare education for everyone who owns a pet so that they are up to speed with the responsibility that comes with owning an animal."

Dr Cable said: "This bill is an important legislative step forward. In future animal owners will have a duty of care and will be prosecuted if they ignore advice to improve their animal's welfare.

"At present, nothing can be done until suffering starts and the RSPCA has, in the past, had to visit property up to 25 times before there is sufficient evidence of suffering.

A lot can be done through education advice but there needs to be powers of criminal prosecution as a last resort."

Residents are asked to write to their MPs if they wish to support the bill.