A BAN on third party puppy sales is to be explored by the government as part of a package of reforms to drive up animal welfare standards.

It is an issue that North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson has been campaigning for ever since he was elected in 2010.

The Blackburn-born MP welcomed suggestions of new rules which would mean anyone looking to buy or adopt a dog will either deal directly with the breeder or with one of the nation’s many animal rehousing centres.

Mr Tomlinson said: “I am absolutely delighted that our long fought campaign has taken a huge step in the right direction. We need to do everything we can to make sure the nation’s much loved pets get the right start in life.

“From banning the sale of underage puppies to tackling the breeding of dogs with severe genetic disorders, we are cracking down on sellers who have a total disregard for their dogs’ welfare.

“Crucially, I know just important this issue is to Swindon residents and I am glad that this is part of our much wider efforts to enhance animal welfare across our country.”

A raft of measures to crack down on unscrupulous puppy breeders set out by the Prime Minister in December have also been announced in Parliament. They include, among others, banning licensed sellers from dealing in puppies and kittens under the age of eight weeks and ensuring that licensed dog breeders show puppies alongside their mothers before a sale is made

The RSPCA said they were “delighted” that DEFRA is considering a ban on third party sales of puppies.