HC Deb 30 April 1990 vol 171 cc841-70

'(1) For the purposes of protecting the environment, the Secretary of State shall by order, in accordance with paragraphs (5) and (6) below, make provision for a scheme for the registration, identification and control of dogs.

(2) In making an order the Secretary of State shall provide, inter alia, for the scheme to be administered by local authorities, and for the fixing of registration fees, including such variations as may be prescribed, to be paid by the owners or keepers of dogs to the relevant authorities.

(3) An owner or keeper of a dog who fails to register it or to ensure that it can be identified in accordance with regulations made under a scheme in accordance with this section shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 2 on the standard scale.

(4) In performing their duties under this section, local authorities may enter such agreements with any person as may in their opinion facilitate the registration and identification of dogs.

(5) The Secretary of State shall not later than 12 months from the passing of this Act lay an order under this section before Parliament for approval in accordance with paragraph (6) below.

(6) Any order made under this section shall be exercisable under statutory instrument and no order shall be made unless a draft of the instrument containing the order has been laid before and approved by resolution of each House of Parliament.

(7) In this section "Local Authority", means in England and Wales a District Council, a London Borough Council or the Common Council, and in Scotland means a District or Island Council.'.—[Dame Janet Fookes.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

10.15 pm
Dame Janet Fookes (Plymouth, Drake)

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Mr. Speaker

With this we may take new clause 57—Dog Registration No. 2— '(1) For the purposes of protecting the environment, the Secretary of State shall by order, in accordance with paragraphs (6) and (7) below, make provision for a scheme for the registration, identification and control of dogs. (2) In making an order the Secretary of State shall provide, inter alia, for the scheme to be administered by local authorities, and for the fixing of registration fees, including such variations as may be prescribed, to be paid by the owners or keepers of dogs to the relevant authorities. (3) In preparing any orders under this section the Secretary of State shall have regard to:

  1. (a) the efficacy of existing dog control measures,
  2. (b) the merits of creating additional offences with respect to the causing or permitting of dogs to stray, and
  3. (c) the levels and types of penalties for dog control offences.
(4) An owner or keeper of a dog who fails to register it or to ensure that it can be identified in accordance with regulations made under a scheme in accordance with this section shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 2 on the standard scale. (5) In performing their duties under this section, local authorities may enter such agreements with any person as may in their opinion facilitate the registration and identification of dogs. (6) The Secretary of State shall not later than 12 months from the passing of this Act lay an order under this section before Parliament for approval in accordance with sub-section (7) below, and may subsequently lay such amending orders as he may deem appropriate from time to time. (7) An order made under this section shall be exercisable by statutory instrument and no order shall be made unless a draft of the order has been laid before and approved by resolution of each House of parliament. (8) In this section "Local Authority", means in England and Wales a District Council, a London Borough Council or the Common Council and in Scotland means a District or Island Council.'.

Dame Janet Fookes

The new clause is in the names of Opposition as well as Conservative Members. It has cross-party support. I shall not seek to move the other clause that stands in my name; I shall concentrate on new clause 5.

I am an unrepentant advocate of dog registration, having been convinced some 15 years ago that greater restrictions and control of dogs were absolutely essential. At that time I sought to revamp the dog licence as it was then. I am nothing if not persistent. I hope that I shall carry the day, but I give due notice to the Government that if I do not I shall continue to work for something that I believe to be right and practical.

New clause 5 is an enabling clause. I do not intend to go into the details of what the precise level of the registration fee might be. There is a good reason for that. I believe that it is more important to establish the general principles, and then to allow all interested parties—on the assumption that the clause is carried—to get together with the Government to work out a practical system.

The reason for that is partly that there are perfectly good alternative ways of doing things, and partly that a full detailed scheme could come back to the House in the form of an order, so that the House could pass judgment on it. I am not asking hon. Members to swallow everything unseen; I ask them to accept the principle that each dog should be registered, together with the name and address of the owner, that that scheme should be administered by the local authorities—primarily the district councils or their counterparts—and that there should be fines for those who fail to register.

Hon. Members will be aware of the powerful campaign recently mounted by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals—

Mr. Ian Bruce

A disgraceful campaign.

Dame Janet Fookes

I strongly disagree. The RSPCA waged a low-key campaign—[Interruption.] I wish that hon. Members would do me the courtesy of listening. The RSPCA has waged a low-key campaign for the past 15 years. It found that trying to do things quietly and reasonably in conjunction with many other bodies had no effect on successive Governments. Let me make it clear that, although the campaign has been mounted by the RSPCA, it has the wholehearted support of several other organisations, including the Joint Committee on Pets in Society, of which the RSPCA is a founder and constituent member, and it embraces several organisations, notably the Association of District Councils. It also has the full support of the National Farmers Union, which some Conservative Members may regard as a respectable campaigning body. I have not seen eye to eye with the NFU on several issues, but on this we are at one. I have here a long list, which hon. Members will be glad to hear I shall not read out, of those who agree with the proposal.

Hon. Members may be sceptical about the efficacy of or reasons for the scheme. I welcome some of the Government's commitments to changes in the law to achieve greater control, but it is essential that one is able to identify the owner of a clog. That is why it is important that each dog is registered with its own identification number, which can be linked to a computer. That is very much easier in these days of computerised systems, and I see no reason why that should be a bar to a perfectly workable system.

A revamped dog licensing scheme operates in Northern Ireland. If, as the Department of the Environment claims, it is not much good, or words to that effect, it amazes me that it allows it to continue. The chief environmental health officer of Belfast, whom I had the pleasure of hearing recently, believes that it is useful. I shall quote from a paper that he gave at a recent conference: My experience over the last 5 years leads me to the conclusion that the Northern Ireland Dog Control legislation is steadily bringing about a real improvement in dog control in Belfast"— not the easiest city in which to enforce anything. He continues: Enforcement and education hand in hand is, I believe, beginning to work". He points out that, although not all the problems have been solved, the scheme is worth while.

In response to a written parliamentary question on 1 March, the Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland said that the scheme "is working well". Does that mean that one arm of the Government is not speaking to the other?

Mr. Ian Bruce

The RSPCA states that 1,000 dogs are being killed every day because we have no dog registration scheme. Will my hon. Friend confirm that about 10.000 dogs were being destroyed before the registration scheme was introduced in Northern Ireland, but that the same number are being destroyed today?

Dame Janet Fookes

I should like to obtain further information on that point. The Irish equivalent of the RSPCA is convinced that improvements have resulted from the scheme. The Ulster Farmers Union in Northern Ireland believes that there has been a marked decrease in livestock worrying, which is one of the reasons why the scheme was introduced. I shall obtain further information about the precise figures for Northern Ireland and give them to my hon. Friend the Member for Dorset, South (Mr. Bruce).

Mr. Iain Mills (Meriden)

In England, 10,000 farm animals are worried by dogs.

Dame Janet Fookes

I am not sure what the purpose of that intervention was, unless it was in support of my contention.

Mr. Mills

I am giving my hon. Friend my full support.

Dame Janet Fookes

I thank my hon. Friend. One never knows where one's friends and opponents are.

This is why the National Farmers Union in England is so keen to have this system. It is extremely anxious about the worrying of livestock, which creates much economic damage, quite apart from the damage that it causes to the animal concerned.

Mr. Dafydd Wigley (Caernarfon)

I greatly welcome the new clause. Is the hon. Lady aware that monitoring of the number of dogs going up Snowdon during the summer has shown that as many as 200 dogs a day go up one path alone? With half a dozen paths, it is estimated that 1,000 dogs a day go up. The substantial danger in terms of worrying sheep and dirt, which affects children, adds another dimension.

Dame Janet Fookes

Perhaps I may deal with one aspect that worries some people—the fee. This is one reason why I have not attempted in the new clause to set a fee.

Sir Peter Emery (Honiton)

Why not?

Dame Janet Fookes

If my hon. Friend will do me the honour of listening, I shall tell him why not.

It is possible to set different fee levels depending on whether one wants a one-off fee for the life of a d og; whether one wants a fee on an annual basis, as used to happen with dog licensing; whether one wishes, as I do, to have a much lower fee for those who take the trouble to get their dogs neutered or bitches spayed, which very much helps in control; or whether one has exemptions or partial exemptions for working dogs or the dogs of retirement pensioners. One can use many figures. I suggest that the provisions should be embodied in an order, which would come back to the House for it to say yea or nay. That is the best way to approach the matter.

The Association of District Councils believes that it could run a scheme involving a one-off fee of £15 to £20 for a dog. It is so keen to run this scheme that, some months ago, it sent a package of measures to the Department of the Environment. I am not sure what the Department has done with it, but it does not seem to have seen the light of day and I should be interested to know what has happened to it.

Mr. Richard Tracey (Surbiton)

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for being so generous in taking interventions. I am a long-time dog owner and am broadly sympathetic to my hon. Friend's comments about the welafare of dogs. I am sure that she agrees that the Kennel Club must be as respectable as the RSPCA in wanting to promote the welfare of dogs. As I understand it, its view is that the system could not work because we cannot pick up those who do not pay their road tax or enough of those who do not pay their television licence fee. How will it be possible to pick up people for not paying their dog registration fee?

Dame Janet Fookes

There is a difference. Television sets stay quietly in the home; dogs that are a nuisance make themselves felt.

I am assuming that the Government will continue to give their blessing to the introduction of dog wardens universally. I foresee that dog wardens will have an important role in rounding up strays and, where necessary, polishing them off, to use a rather horrid expression. They would also have a duty to enforce dog legislation and to ensure that registration is dealt with. That is extremely important, as enforcement is the key. Registration and knowing who the owner of a dog is is important if the changes that the Government want, to get control over dogs, are to work.

I know that Ministers have made great play of the fact that when there have been court cases as a result of dogs biting people, the owners of the dogs concerned have been known. That is true, but it is not, I think, appreciated by those same Ministers that there are many more cases that never go to court because ownership cannot be established.

10.30 pm
Mr. Graham Riddick (Colne Valley)

Does my hon. Friend accept that, just as irresponsible dog owners failed to buy the old dog licence, irresponsible dog owners would fail to register their dogs under her scheme? Would not we need an enormous army of dog cops to enforce a registration scheme?

Dame Janet Fookes

No. It would require no more than the dog wardens whom the Government have said that they want. Dogs that are a nuisance make themselves apparent, and I think it highly likely that they would therefore come to the attention of dog wardens or be reported by members of the public. The public already report dogs that are a nuisance but, most of the time, very little can be done about them. The new clause would provide a real opportunity to do something. It represents our best chance of dealing with an otherwise intractable problem, a great nuisance and, for stray dogs, great misery.

Mr. Adley

I am intrigued by my hon. Friend's analogy of the dog and the television set. It is rather similar to the analogy about houses and the poll tax, which is one of the reasons why I voted against the poll tax. On the basis of what my hon. Friend has said, I shall not vote for her proposal because the dog moves and the television set does not. Would my hon. Friend's scheme be based on dogs' or people's ability to pay?

Dame Janet Fookes

No, except, if the House so wished, it would be possible to have a lower fee for retirement pensioners or in respect of working dogs, or there might be a block fee for people who keep a number of dogs for a perfectly good reason.

Mr. Robert B. Jones

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for giving way—she has been extremely patient. What percentage of the cost of wardens and administration would be met by the licence or registration fee, or does she assume that that will be paid for by local authorities out of the community charge? In view of the exemptions that she has just mentioned, the charge would have to be high for the scheme to break even.

Dame Janet Fookes

It is perfectly possible to set the fee at a level that makes the scheme self supporting or to have a combination of registration fee and subsidy from community charge. We already know that the Government want local authorities to undertake certain duties that have to be paid for. At the moment, so far as I can understand it—no doubt my hon. Friend the Minister will tell me if I am wrong—the Government do not intend, except in the most general sense, to offer a penny piece towards the cost, so to that extent any money raised by a registration fee would be a bonus. My main concern is to see that each dog and its owner are linked up and that there should be permanent identification of the dog.

Mr. Hardy

Will the hon. Lady confirm that the likely registration fee that she mentioned earlier would cover merely the administrative cost of registration, which is estimated at about £25 million, and that it would make no contribution to the cost of running any warden scheme in any local authority area?

Dame Janet Fookes

It has been estimated that at worst it might cost about £20 million for registration and all that is associated with it. That comes out at about £2.50 per dog.

I had not intended to speak for so long, but I hope that the House will understand that I have been generous in giving way. Those who are at the sharp end of the problem, such as dog wardens, RSPCA inspectors and local authorities, are the people who most want a dog registration scheme. They are the people who have to deal with the problems on a day-to-day basis. If I am asked to choose between Ministers at the Department of the Environment who believe that it is not the right idea and those who have practical day-to-day experience, I know who I would choose.

Sir Gerard Vaughan (Reading, East)

My hon. Friend has not answered the question about the Kennel Club.

Dame Janet Fookes

Let me deal with the Kennel Club. It is a perfectly acceptable organisation, but it deals with pedigree dogs, breeds and showing. I admit that. It does not deal with the problems of strays and other matters with which other organisations have to deal.

Mr. Tony Marlow (Northampton, North)

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Dame Janet Fookes

No, I shall not give way again because I have already done so far too often.

I have given as much information as I feel is necessary to start the debate. There is one last important point to make. The House is being asked to judge not a detailed scheme but a general principle. It will be able to judge a precise scheme through an order at a later stage. If it is felt that that is impractical or wrong, hon. Members will have the opportunity to vote against it then.

Mr. Hardy

First, I should make it clear that the hon. Member for Plymouth, Drake (Dame Janet Fookes) is entitled to her views. She would not have acted with consistency if she had not maintained the campaign that she has gracefully pursued for the past 15 years. As she will be aware, on many occasions and on a variety of subjects, I have supported some of her initiatives and some of the causes espoused by the RSPCA.

However, I regret that on this occasion, after careful consideration of a rather complex subject, I cannot vote for the new clause. There are several reasons for that. Basically they come down to the identification of responsibility. The hon. Lady mentioned Belfast. There is a great deal of dissatisfaction in official quarters about the position there, because, as the Minister will confirm, fewer than half the dogs in Belfast are registered even though the system has been in operation for a long time.

If we introduce a registration scheme in Britain and people have to pay £20 or £25 or more, the people who would pay would be the same people who paid the old licence. They would be the people who look after their dogs, who are and would remain responsible and do not contribute to the problem that rightly worries the hon. Lady and other hon. Members. The House is worried about the problems that dogs present. But, unfortunately, the people who would pay would be those whose dogs do not cause the problems.

It is all very well for Conservative Members to be worried. Only three or four years ago when the Government wished to encourage farmers to get out of agricultural production they sent advisers from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to the farmers of England to persuade them to set up commercial puppy farms. One only hopes that the sensible proposal to be put to the House by my right hon. Friend the Member for Swansea, West (Mr. Williams)—to control and regulate puppy farms—will be accepted by the Government as a matter of urgency later in the year. I think that I would carry—

Mr. Gerald Bermingham (St. Helens, South)

If it became a condition precedent that any dog that was sold had to be sold with a registration licence, and if it became a condition precedent that an unregistered dog seized by a warden had to be registered before it could be re-obtained by the owner, would not most dogs soon be registered, and most undesirable owners he brought under control?

Mr. Hardy

My hon. Friend is more confident of that than I am. We should need an effective dog warden scheme to achieve that in the first place. Coming as he does from St. Helens, my hon. Friend is well aware that his authority, which, like mine, has been poll tax capped, has no resources to devote to such a project. My hon. Friend may think rightly that the present situation is daft, but I want as far as possible to influence the House to arrive at a sensible arrangement.

In the 1970s I proposed that the then dog licence system was ridiculous and had fallen into disrepute, because of the low charge and because of the need to prevent people from acquiring a dog or puppy unless they obtained a licence for it on acquisition, not merely when it was six months old. Unfortunately, the Government, acting with considerable irresponsibility, refused to take action and sheltered behind certain requirements that they imposed on hon. Members who sought to resolve the issue by means of private Members' legislation.

The Minister cannot deny that on a number of occasions when such legislation was presented, the Government sought to apply the condition that the determination of the licence fee and responsibility for the operation of the system should fall exclusively on local authorities. Several of us made the point at the time that the licence fee should be set nationally, because it was a matter for which the Government should take responsibility.

I am anxious about new clause 5(4), which has serious implications: In performing their duties under this section, local authorities may enter such agreements with any person as may in their opinion facilitate the registration and identification of dogs. Does that mean that there will be an effort to introduce the transponder—the insertion into the scruff of a dog's neck of a device that will facilitate identification? I should need convincing that the transponder was likely to be effective, that it would last for a reasonable time and that the financial basis on which it was introduced was defensible and responsible. I have not yet heard satisfactory answers on these issues, although I was reassured at a meeting of the RSPCA that I attended that the device would not be inserted into the dog's ear. The dogs that I exhibit and judge at shows would not benefit from such an insertion into their ears. I hope for an explanation of this subject.

One aspect of the problem may be ignored. It is that the overwhelming majority of stray dogs are cross bred. Hon. Members who look at the evidence will find that to be the case. Whether my hon. Friends like it or impute social factors to it, the fact is that, as the number of cross-bred dogs diminishes, the number of pedigree dogs increases. As a result, the scale of the problem is likely to diminish. That is a reasonable theory to advance, because most dogs that are obtained after deliberation, and probably at high cost, tend to be more carefully looked after and in many cases—this is a generalisation—rather more treasured.

10.45 pm

Some of my hon. Friends do not approve of the Kennel Club, although it is not a political organisation. It is responsible for the administration of dog shows, and my hon. Friends should understand that that is a rapidly growing activity. I shall give hon. Members an illustration of that. Twenty years ago anyone with a registered pedigree dog could show it at Cruft's. Over the last two decades more and more people started to enter their clogs and the Kennel Club had to introduce qualifications. It had to increase the number of days. Cruft's used to be a one-day show but it is now a four-day show. Dogs have to qualify and the standard is very high.

I use that example to show that dog showing is a large-scale activity. There are 7,000 or more dog shows a year and at some of the larger shows, for example at the Leeds or the Driffield championship shows in Yorkshire, 17,000 dogs will be present. The people who take part in those activities look after their dogs and are not necessarily those who write to their Members of Parliament. They would be very angry—and many of them have expressed that anger to me in the past two or three months—if they had to pay for dog wardens. They would have to pay for the wardens and the registration scheme, yet they are not the people who cause the problem.

Mr. Stan Crowther (Rotherham)

I am sure that my hon. Friends will accept that the members of the Kennel Club are not likely to cause the problem and of course, my hon. Friend's dogs are kept under control. My hon. Friend opposes the new clause. What is his alternative proposal for identifying the owners of the dogs that roam around the streets in packs in my constituency and in his, terrorising old-age pensioners to such an extent that they cannot leave their houses?

Mr. Hardy

That leads me to my final conclusion and I am delighted to respond to my hon. Friend. There are already on the statute book Acts to deal with the problern. There is an Act requiring all dogs in a public place to wear a collar and an identification tag. There is also an Act, which I accept dates from the 19th century, which makes it an offence for any ferocious dog to be at large unmuzzled and not on a leash.

Mr. Ian Taylor (Esher)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Hardy

No, because I am trying to reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Rotherham (Mr. Crowther). As I think my hon. Friend will admit, there are clear laws on the statute book. They have been there for a long time and they are completely ignored.

Only a small proportion of those who ought to have paid for dog licences did so and no one took any notice of them. Very little notice has been taken for a long time of the statute that says that a dog in a public place must wear a collar and be capable of identification. Many people think that bringing in a new Act which to a large extent merely replicates existing statutes will compound the problem by adding to the burden on those who are responsible and appearing to reward those who are not.

Mr. Jimmy Hood (Clydesdale)

Like my hon. Friend, I own a dog, which does not get into trouble. I would not object to paying a licence fee for him. Twelve years ago, when I was chairman of ollerton parish council in Nottinghamshire, the district council was not doing anything about the stray dog problem, so the parish council employed its own dog warden, and that system worked. Had we had a registration system, it would have worked a lot better. Therefore, I support the new clause.

Mr. Hardy

I am delighted that my hon. Friend has thought about the matter, and that he does not object to paying a registration fee for his dog. However, many people find it difficult to make ends meet, and would find it hard to bear an additional burden, particularly if they saw the dogs of their neighbours straying, and they knew that the fee had not been paid by those neighbours.

The matter deserves serious consideration. Those who could contribute to finding a solution should be consulted properly by the Minister. However, the proposal from the RSPCA, although it has the support of a number of my right hon. and hon. Friends for whose view I have regard, is inadequate and ill-considered.

There is a problem which, although sometimes overstated, causes much concern. My hon. Friend the Member for Clydesdale (Mr. Hood) referred to a successful dog warden scheme, but not all such schemes are effective. Given the pressures on local authorities today, the vast majority of them could not embark on additional financial responsibility, unless they received a great deal more support from the Secretary of State than seems likely, especially in authorities such as mine. Without proper central support and consideration, after a long period of governmental irresponsibility, the situation will remain unsatisfactory. However, the new clause is not the answer to the problem.

Mr. Robert B. Jones

It is clear that this debate is about real problems, but I rather fear that it is about unreal solutions to them. From the letters that we have received, we all know full well that dog mess, straying and attacks by dogs are problems about which people are genuinely concerned, and rightly so. However, the scheme set out in the new clause will do nothing to solve them. Some of the legislation already on the statute book, and some of the measures about to go on it, will help. For example, the Bill deals with dog mess because the measures on litter deal with cleanliness on the streets. We are right to rely on what the Bill will enact.

The problem of dog attacks would, in part, have been dealt with by the private Member's Bill introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Drake (Dame J. Fookes)—the Dangerous Dogs Bill.

We are told that the solution is a dog registration scheme, and that in force in Northern Ireland is usually cited. The hon. Member for Wentworth (Mr. Hardy) said that only half of the dog owners in Northern Ireland had taken out licences for their dogs. That would happen in the United Kingdom as a whole, and the tax would be concentrated on reponsible owners. I could not go along with that. If one talks either to local authorities or to the man in the street in Northern Ireland, one will find that they admit that there has been a reduction in the worrying of animals—that is why the National Farmers Union takes the view that it does—but I believe that they would say that there are still major problems of straying and of dog attacks in Northern Ireland, and that those problems are attributable to those who have not taken out dog licences.

This would be the wrong time to put a further burden on local authorities, and if that view is accepted the scheme would have to be self-financing. If there were to be an exemption for old-age pensioners, exemptions would have to be extended to others with low incomes, including perhaps the unemployed. When all the exemptions have been take into account, the implication is that there will be a much higher charge than there would have been for those who have to pay. It is calculated that in Northern Ireland it costs three times as much to administer the registration scheme as the revenue that it brings in. If we were to have registration, dog wardens and all the other paraphernalia for which the RSPCA argues, the charge would have to be £50. That would lead to widespread evasion and widespread resentment among responsible dog owners, and no diminution of the problems. That is why I reject the argument of my hon. Friend the Member for Drake.

Sir David Steel (Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale)

I support the new clause. The hon. Member for Plymouth, Drake (Dame J. Fookes) should be congratulated on her persistence on this issue over many years and on the support that she has received. I remind the House that on a previous occasion the hon. Lady persuaded us to accept a measure—it is on the statute book—which said that the Secretary of State for the Environment "may" issue regulations. This evening she did not draw attention to the most important word in the new clause, which is "shall". Lines 1 and 2 state that the Secretary of State shall by order". produce regulations. That difference between the hon. Lady's Act and the new clause is essential and crucial.

We were dealing previously with the right hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley), when he was Secretary of State for the Environment. The word "may" provided him with a classic excuse for doing nothing. In fact, he did nothing and no regulations were produced. We must hope for better from the present Secretary of State for the Environment, but it is wiser to err on the side of "shall" rather than "may" in this instance. I wish it to be clear that I am fond of the right hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury. Indeed, I even bought one of his paintings. On this sort of issue, however, he sees an army of bureaucrats round every corner in every piece of legislation. I believe that he is wrong. I shall argue that it is not necessary to have an army of bureaucrats to administer the sort of scheme which the hon. Member for Drake has put before us.

I am glad that the Secretary of State for Scotland is present. I am sure that he will agree with me that under the old licensing scheme there was a difference between Scotland and England and Wales. In Scotland, the licence fee was part of the revenue of local authorities, whereas in England and Wales it was part of national revenue. I remember some years ago asking one of the local authorities in my constituency why it was not more assiduous in collecting the licence fee. I received the obvious reply that at 37½ p the fee barely covered the cost of issuing postal reminders, let alone anything else. Long before the fee was formally abandoned, the authority had given up trying to collect it. Any registration scheme must incorporate a realistic fee, and the hon. Member for Drake has faced that.

I believe that there are three categories of person who would welcome the new clause. The first category comprises those who care about dogs. In this instance I must disagree with the hon. Member for Wentworth (Mr. Hardy). I, too, am a registered breeder with the Kennel Club. I have great respect for that organisation, but it is dealing, let me put it bluntly, with the narrow end of the dog-owning market. It is not dealing with the problems that come to us day by day.

I received a letter only this morning from a constituent complaining about the keeping in a block of flats of a group of six dogs. They are kept in a wholly unsuitable back yard, and the local authority and the police are unable to do anything about it. There are the consequent problems of fouling and so on. The Kennel Club has told us officially that it does not like the scheme that the hon. Member for Drake has proposed, but many of its members, because they care about dogs as animals, would be willing to pay the modest fee that would be required in order to see a comprehensive scheme introduced in each local authority.

Second, there are those who do not care so much about dogs but who care about the mess that uncontrolled dogs make. We all receive many letters about the nuisance that is caused by dogs. There is the insanitary nuisance, and more recently there is the widespread nuisance that is caused by more vicious dogs that are uncontrolled and untraceable that attack people, especially children.

Mr. Marlow

I basically support what my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Drake (Dame J. Fookes) wants to do. There is some concern about identification. We know that under existing legislation dogs should wear a collar and tag so that they can be identified. However, they cannot be identified because no group of people insists that the collar and tag are worn. The Government's proposals require local authorities to keep the streets clean, and we can insist that our local authorities bring about that desirable end. Therefore, there is bound to be a national dog warden scheme. Each local authority will have to have a dog warden to achieve what the Government are setting out to do. Given identification and a dog warden scheme, what will registration achieve?

11 pm

Sir David Steel

Over many years, and under successive Governments, this House has been guilty of imposing new obligations on local authorities without providing the revenue for them to fulfil them. This legislation is another classic example of that.

The hon. Member for Wentworth—and, as a dog owner, I find it to be true—admitted that the legislative requirement for a dog in a public place to have a collar and identification is much more observed in the breach than in the observance. It has fallen into desuetude almost as the dog licence itself has done. We need a scheme administered local authority by local authority by those who know the locality to ensure that the povision that is already on the statute book is brought up to date, put into effect and policed—both in the literal sense by the police and by any staff that may be employed by local authorities. I am not in favour of a vast army of dog wardens.

The nuisance of stray dogs is a problem with which those of us who live in rural areas are not sufficiently sympathetic because it is mainly an urban problem. However, it is a real problem, as I have witnessed in many cities and also in the urban parts of my constituency.

Mr. Marlow


Sir David Steel

The hon. Gentleman deflected me just as I was about to make a point about dog attacks.

I wish to cite a case told to me by my hon. Friend the Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes). During the weekend an 11-year-old boy in his constituency was attacked by a dog and taken to Guy's hospital. The case was reported to the police, but they could do nothing. That is not a criticism of the police. There is no system for identifying the owner of a dog. If there is no collar, no ta g, no implant or no tattoo, it is impossible for the police to catch those responsible for allowing such outrages.

Mr. Marlow


Sir David Steel

I have already given way to the hon. Gentleman and I have promised to be brief so that others may take part in the debate.

The third category of supporters of the new clause is the farming community. I make no apology for mentioning that as I have a sheep-rearing constituency. The problem of sheep worrying is of deep concern to the National Farmers Union, which is another reason why it is in favour of a scheme whereby the ownership of the dog can be traced and the liability of ownership can be accepted.

I wish to make a point additional to those made by the hon. Member for Drake. I hope that it will be possible to include in a registration scheme and in a registration fee an inexpensive, compulsory system of public liability insurance to protect those who are, in whatever way, the victims of badly behaved dogs. I agree that there should be an exemption for pensioners. In particular, I agree with her rather throwaway line that rather than having an annual fee, which automatically would be bureaucratic, there is a case for a once-in-a-life fee for dog ownership. That would reduce the cost of administering the scheme.

Sir Jim Spicer (Dorset, West)

Perhaps I could explore further the problem in rural areas. I was a sheep farmer. I had a black labrador cross, which I would have registered had there been a scheme. Over a period of two to three months there were many attacks on flocks of sheep in the area, and the first I knew about my dog being involved was when somebody telephoned and said, "I think we have shot your dog. Would you come and identify it?" Registration will not change that. Such dogs have that in-built trait—they will go for it. I have great sympathy with the objectives of my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Drake (Dame J. Fookes), but her proposals will not help sheep-farming communities.

Sir David Steel

I accept the hon. Gentleman's point. No one suggests that the wearing of a collar or tattoo will change a dog's behaviour. However, I know from my own constituency that too often dogs are rounded up whose owners cannot be traced. The dogs may even have been let out of cars, as sadly happens sometimes, by people wanting rid of them. Compulsory identification will be of great help both to the police and farmers. That is not to say that sheep worrying will cease, but already it will be possible to track down those responsible for the animal concerned.

Reference has been made to road fund and TV licence evasion, but I have not heard non-payment used as an argument for abolishing either of them. Anyone who watches TV without paying the licence fee is doing no damage, except in terms of the lack of revenue for the BBC and the greater amount that the rest of us must pay. But irresponsible dog owners cause great damage to the rest of society.

I believe that the hon. Lady's proposal has the support of public opinion in general, and of those who care about the proper and responsible ownership of dogs in particular.

Mr. Andrew Bowden (Brighton, Kemptown)

The House has great respect for my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Drake (Dame J. Fookes). I have campaigned with her on animal welfare issues many times, but on this occasion I must tell my hon. Friend that she is wrong, because—and I declare an interest as the owner of three west highland terriers—dog registration will not work.

Mention has been made of the RSPCA campaign. I believe that it has misled the people of this country into believing that registration will save hundreds of thousands of dogs each year. It will not. It is regrettable that the RSPCA, which does such wonderful work in so many areas, should have wasted so much money on that campaign when it could have been better used elsewhere.

My hon. Friend the Member for Drake invited the House to examine the principles involved. As regards the collection of registration fees, we know already that it is extremely difficult effectively to collect road fund and TV licence payments. One million people do not pay their road tax, and 1.5 million neglect to purchase a TV licence. We are told that that does not matter because the only people affected are those who directly suffer as a consequence of the smaller revenue generated—and that that consideration will not apply to a dog registration scheme.

It will apply. In Belfast, where a large proportion of dog registration fees remain unpaid, the cost of running the scheme last year was £124,000—two thirds of which had to be met from the rates. So of course the problems of collection are directly related to the burden and expense imposed on others.

Another important principle is that exemptions must be permitted. There can be no justification for imposing the fee on pensioners with low incomes, whatever its level may be. My hon. Friend the Member for Drake and her supporters have been very cagey about mentioning a figure. We know that suggestions have varied from £15 to £60. Whatever it may be, we could not include pensioners on low incomes. [HON. MEMBERS: "What about the poll tax?"] Many pensioners on low incomes get a rebate anyway, so hon. Members should not bring up the poll tax. It is irrelevant. I shall not be drawn on to the poll tax, tempted though I might be.

Pensioners on low incomes already make great sacrifices to feed their dogs and to look after them. To impose an additional registration fee on them would be totally unreasonable. And the same is true of other groups—the disabled, blind people and other sections of society who should be excluded. What does that mean? In round figures there are some 8 million dogs in Britain. If there are to be significant exemptions one will need a Swansea for dogs. We would have to set up a huge bureaucracy to ensure that those who do not have to pay can be excluded and to send out all the bits of paper. The cost will run into tens of millions.

A dog warden, funded by a registration scheme, would provide a service for those who did not pay, paid for by those who did not require the service. That is fundamentally unfair.

I fully accept that those of us who attack my hon. Friend's proposal have a duty to acknowledge that there is a real problem and to put forward some ideas to deal with it. Nobody gets more angry than I when I see people allowing their dogs to foul the pavement or to run loose in the road. I have no doubt that I have lost a considerable number of votes in my own constituency by remonstrating with people who have allowed their dogs to foul the pavement in front of me or who have not properly controlled their dogs. I intend to continue to remonstrate strongly with people who do that.

We need stronger laws—new laws and the enforcement of existing laws—and a more effective education programme. So often when people are brought to court for offences under the existing law they are given derisory sentences—a small fine. We need deterrent fines for offenders. Imagine what a few fines of £50 or £100 would do if they were imposed on people who let their dogs mess on the pavement or do not give them a collar and an identity tag.

Another fundamental point must be the control of the supply of dogs. Every hon. Member condemns some of the disgusting and foul conditions that exist in puppy farms, where dogs are imprisoned in small cages and become breeding machines.

Every pet shop should be able to purchase dogs only from licensed breeders. Every local authority and the RSPCA should have additional and more effective powers of entry into breeding establishments. There should be higher minimum fines for fouling pavements or for allowing dogs to run loose in the road. There should be a substantial fine—I do not mean £5 or £10—and fixed penalties for owners of dogs without collars who are not wearing discs.

Sir David Steel

The hon. Member calls for higher fines for allowing dogs to run in the road or to foul pavements. How will we impose the fines when we do not know who the dog belongs to?

Mr. Bowden

I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman is fully aware that he may see cases day after day, as I do in my constituency, where dogs have fouled the pavement under the eyes of a police officer. One of the reasons that the police officer will not take any action is that after he has done all the paperwork and the case is brought to court, the person is fined £5 or £10. The police officer will not bother. if we have a proper tine, the publicity that goes with that will make an impact.

In 1884 an American senator said: The one absolutely unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous, is his dog … When all other friends desert he remains". We need just and fair laws, worthy of man's best friend. I hope that the House will reject the new clause. I urge the Government to learn from the debate and to introduce legislation soon.

11.15 pm
Mr. Pike

My dog, like its predecessor, was abandoned by its owner when it was only a few weeks old. I do not believe that only dogs that have been registered with the Kennel Club are intelligent, well bred or faithful. The hon. Member for Brighton, Kemptown (Mr. Bowden) implied that if heavy penalties for the fouling of pavements by dogs were imposed, they would prevent fouling. If, however, a heavy penalty were imposed for failure to register, he did not accept that that would make all people register their dogs. I support new clause 5 and new clause 57, tabled by the hon. Member for Plymouth, Drake (Dame J. Fookes). Dog registration would make it' easier to enforce present Department of the Environment and Home Office legislation and also the stronger powers that are to be found in the Environmental Protection Bill.

Most of the problems are created by a small number of irresponsible dog owners and most of them will try to avoid registration. That is no reason, however, for not introducing a dog registration scheme. If it is, we should have to abolish television licences and the road fund licence. We should also have to abolish almost every other form of taxation.

When the hon. Member for Drake spoke so eloquently in moving the new clause she was right to point out that it does not specify how the scheme would be operated. The Minister would have to bring forward proposals at a later stage. The new clause would compel the Secretary of State to do that.

The other place inserted an amendment into the 1988 Local Government Bill. When it returned here during the overspill period the Secretary of State recognised that it would be difficult for him to reject the amendment. Therefore, he said that he would not seek to delete the amendment but that he did not intend to implement it. That was a totally negative attitude to adopt. If he was against the amendment, he ought to have asked the House to reject it and return it to the other place.

It is right that the new clause contains the word "shall". It is also right that this should be effected by regulation, which means that we shall have a further opportunity of discussing the proposal. I am strongly of the view that it is important that we stop giving powers to the Executive, to Ministers and to Secretaries of State and that we reserve the right for the House to debate such issues.

We have all encountered the problems of dog fouling. We have heard about the attacks on people by certain dogs. If we want to take steps to eliminate such problems, we should follow the route that is suggested by the new clause. Nobody is claiming that it will solve all the problems, but it would be a major step, because if we can establish the identity of a dog's owner, we can take action within the present legislation.

Although people from Northern Ireland say that their system is not perfect, they also say that the position there is better than previously. I know that the hon. Member for Londonderry, East (Mr. Ross) will seek to catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, so I shall not say any more on that except that it is wrong for the Minister to try to rubbish the scheme in Northern Ireland.

The new clause is a sensible proposal. It is time that the House showed that we want the Government to act and that we want a dog registration scheme and dog wardens. We want be able to end the problems that are caused by what. I stress again is only a small minority of irresponsible owners.

Mr. Julian Amery (Brighton, Pavilion)

I have sometimes attempted to address the House on grave matters, such as nuclear disarmament or even Hong Kong, but seldom have I had the opportunity to have so full a House as we have this evening on such an important issue. It is a privilege to have the attention of so many right hon. and hon. Members on this central issue, which obviously concerns our nation more than any other.

I have been trying to address my mind to what the issues are. We must look at them within the broad sweep of our constitutional experience and consider how the vote was passed from the aristocracy to the middle class. to the working class and eventually to the ladies. Are we on the verge of raising the question, should the doggies have the vote as well? And why not? In Africa it is perfectly normal for uneducated tribesmen to put their hand or their thumb on the ballot paper, so why should not the doggies be allowed to put their paws there? Is it not time that we addressed these issues?

Mr. Brian Sedgemore (Hackney, South and Shoreditch)

What about the cats?

Mr. Amery

Well, there are 16 or 17-year-olds and other young men in my constituency who will have the vote next year who are less competent than some of our canine friends in forming a serious estimate about what should or should not be done. Are not we underestimating the gravity and importance of the problem in simply talking about registration? I do not know. Where does the registration lie?

Like all old hon. Members, I have my memories of going to the dog market in Chung-king and being told, "These are better to eat than those." But we do not want to approach the problem in that way.

Are we sure that registration is right? We are told that group registration is all wrong in South Africa. Can we be sure that we are not distinguishing between the elite and the non-elite? How do mongrels stand? Are they to be classed with the coloureds or with the blacks? The House—a fuller House than usual—should have some sense of proportion in regard to this grave issue. I find it difficult to reach a fair and reasoned conclusion, but if I had to reach one—

Mr. Pike

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I feel that it should be put on record that many hon. Members object to something that the right hon. Gentleman said earlier. He said that we should give dogs the vote, because in some countries people simply had to put their thumbs on pieces of paper. The comparison caused offence to many hon. Members, and I think that the right hon. Gentleman should withdraw it.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Paul Dean)

Mr. Amery.

Mr. Amery

I bow to your ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I do not think that that was a point of order.

In recent times, we have debated some enormously important issues. I do not suggest for a moment that this is not important, but are not we exaggerating its importance? If I had to reach a conclusion, it would be this. Hundreds of thousands of people—perhaps even more—have found, in their trouble and loneliness, that they can give love to a dog and receive love from it. I think that they we should be very careful about legislating to control exactly who may own a dog and who may not. There is something to be said for a tolerant approach to what is a very human problem.

Mr. Bob Cryer (Bradford, South)

I shall be brief, because the debate is dragging on. If the Government were not trying to ram through so much legislation, we might have time to deal properly with this important matter. An increasing number of powerful and dangerous dogs are now in the hands of people who—although they may have some affection for them—often do not know how to look after or control them, and more and more accidents are happening.

Listening to what some Conservative Members have said, one would not believe that we give Ministers any power to produce schemes; yet some 2,500 statutory instruments are produced every year by Ministers, on the authority of primary legislation such as is proposed in new clause 5. We are talking tonight about an affirmative resolution, however: no registration scheme or charge will be put into operation before being approved by the House. That cannot be said of a good deal of the legislation that has been approved by Government supporters in the past.

There is no question of our dealing with the details of the registration scheme tonight. If the new clause is passed, it will come to us for our approval, unlike the vast majority of statutory instruments. We must go through another stage before it is put into effect; that is a safeguard.

No hon. Member has explained how the Town Police Clauses Act 1847 will be put into effect without some form of registration. Most hon. Members will not know what the legislation provides unless one of their constituents, like one of mine, has been savagely bitten by a dog. My constituent alleges that the owner encouraged the dog to set on her at a fair. That happened in a public place and the police regarded it as very serious. She regards it as very serious because she will be scarred for life. Her legs will carry marks about which she will be uneasy and sensitive for the rest of life.

The police tried to prosecute the dog owner, who simply said, "I gave the dog back to the man who gave it to me." Under the Town Police Clauses Act, there must be continuing ownership and the person prosecuted must have owned the dog at the time. Without registration, it cannot be shown that the person who owned the dog at the time of the attack should be prosecuted.

11.30 pm

The Minister does not propose to do anything about that. That girl feels that she has been the victim of an injustice. She strongly claims that it was not an accident but a deliberate attempt by the youth to set the dog on her when she was enjoying herself at a fair.

In the scale of human values it is a minor injustice, but by and large we should try to remedy injustices. If the registration scheme helps, not thousands but hundreds of people will welcome the security of knowing that the police, who are prepared to take action, will be able to prosecute, which is not so at present.

Sir Peter Emery

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Cryer

I will not give way. I am trying to be as brief as I can because about another 20 hon. Members want to speak. It is already 11.31 pm and we want to have a vote tonight.

A headmaster of a primary school was taking home a small boy who was feeling ill. A rottweiler that was chained up broke loose, savaged him quite severely, knocked him over and broke his arm. He was off work for three or four months. The dog was destroyed, but there was no prosecution. The following day, in addition to the two rottweilers that they already had, the owners bought an American pit bull terrier. They have two rottweilers and an American pit bull terrier in their stable of dogs. No information about that was provided to the school and the neighbours were aware of the additional dog only because they saw it. No training or guidance is given to the owners of those potentially ferocious dogs on how they should be controlled, trained or looked after.

Nobody knows that those people have those three powerful dogs. A young married woman who has a baby daughter lives next door to them. How many mothers would leave their baby daughter in the garden knowing that just over the fence there were two rottweilers and an American pit bull terrier? Of course none would do so, and because of that menace the use of their garden and ordinary facilities has been curtailed. When the dogs were allowed to roam, everybody stayed indoors until the owners retrieved them and put them under some sort of control. No guidance, supervision, encouragement or instruction was given to the owners; they did virtually as they liked and created much apprehension.

A dog registration scheme would help. As it happens, a dog warden now lives nearby. The dog warden scheme in Bradford is one of the best local authority schemes in existence. Dog wardens have the job of providing education and improving ownership guidance. Britain is a dog-loving nation, and I should have thought that most hon. Members would recognise that their constituents would like better ownership and a decrease in the cruelty, starvation and beatings inflicted on dogs. Surely education and guidance will help.

This is a growing problem. The number of powerful, vicious dogs is increasing. It behoves us to ensure that education and training are provided, where possible, so that dogs are properly looked after. Without the names and addresses of dog owners, how on earth can that education be provided, except on a voluntary basis? We want to ensure that the people who do not get that voluntary education look after their dogs adequately and properly.

The dog registration scheme proposed in new clause 5 has much merit. I urge the House to support it in principle, knowing full well that the details will be brought before the House for scrutiny. If the House is not satisfied with the details, it can reject them and say to the Minister, "You have not covered the points adequately. Bring hack another statutory instrument and we will decide whether to approve it."

We are not making the final decision tonight, but the debate is important because the problem will not go away. This is the second time that the matter has been dealt with in the past 12 months. The problem is growing because of the lurking dangers. I hope that the House will approve the principle. I look forward to seeing the details.

Mr. Hugo Summerson (Walthamstow)

In this case, it is a great pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer). I agreed with almost all his comments. The new clause, which I am proud to support, is not anti-dog but pro-dog; it is anti-irresponsible dog owners.

The number of dogs and stray dogs increases yearly. Those of my hon. Friends who have rural constituencies will not know the scale of the problem that afflicts many of us with urban constituencies. Packs of up to 30 semi-wild dogs run around, upsetting people walking in the street, sometimes even attacking people, running out in front of traffic and causing accidents, tipping over dustbins and generally causing a menace.

I have spoken about accidents caused by dogs and we have heard about attacks by dogs. There was another instance of an attack by a dog today in Hampshire. A 66-year-old man was attacked by an American pit bull terrier, which inflicted appalling injuries. I believe that the man is now in intensive care, and I very much hope that he will be all right. For purely criminal purposes, criminal elements in society are interbreeding those dogs to produce an even larger, more ferocious and more dangerous dog.

Mr. James Couchman (Gillingham)

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Summerson

I am afraid that I shall not give way. I want to take up as little of the time of the House as possible. I intend to speak for only about two more minutes.

The great advantage of these lethal dogs to criminals is that they may let a dog out to attack and, if the police come round, it is thrown out of the back door. The dog is in the street and there is no link between it and the criminals. Dog fights and badger baiting are increasing. We must tackle the link between the dogs and their owners.

The new clause is essential. We need greater control of dogs, which the new clause will provide. We have heard about the cost of dog registration—will it be £20, £30 or £50? The average cost of keeping the average dog over 10 years is £4,000. Can it possibly be said that a once-for-all fee of £20 or £30 is excessive? I believe not and that most people would pay it. I urge the House to support the new clause.

Mr. William Ross (Londonderry, East)

As the House knows, the powers in the Bill do not extend to Northern Ireland, so I have not, like so many other right hon. and hon. Members, given it the attention that it undoubtedly deserves and has received. It was not until this afternoon, therefore, when I became aware that this issue would arise, that I picked up an amendment paper. Lo and behold, I discovered that it contained just over half as many pages as the Bill itself, a great proportion of them being taken up by Government amendments and new clauses.

Whenever I see such an amendment paper, I conclude that I am dealing with a Bill which, to put it mildly, was ill thought through. If it had been thought through properly, we would not be faced with so many amendments. I have heard it alleged today that some Northern Ireland Ministers are not too happy with the dogs legislation that was passed, I think by this Conservative Administration, some years ago. I am happy to be corrected if I am wrong. I am somewhat surprised to see an ex-Northern Ireland Minister oppose this new clause.

If the Government are so deeply opposed to legislation such as is proposed by the new clause, perhaps we may have an explanation of why it was not long since repealed in that part of the United Kingdom which I represent.

I am also delighted that so many amendments have been tabled. That is something that we do not have with Northern Ireland legislation, which is often passed through the House late at night in a one-and-a-half hour debate on statutory instruments such as the hon. Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer) hoped would be forthcoming. If hon. Members from the rest of the United Kingdom were subjected to that procedure, perhaps they would understand how we feel about it. Primary legislation affecting Northern Ireland is also passed through the House in an hour and a half. We deeply resent that and hope that, at last, it will be changed.

It will be necessary within the next couple of months to renew the temporary provisions that have been renewed for nearly 20 years. It is about time that we laid them decently in their grave, forgot about them and treated Northern Ireland exactly like the rest of the kingdom with regard to legislation by Bills. It is clear from the amendment paper that the Government have been on a steeply rising learning curve. If they did the same with regard to Northern Ireland legislation, we sure would not be in the mess that we are in in the Province.

When I hear people argue that Belfast is a shining example of what has happened as a result of dogs legislation, I wonder what they are thinking of. If I were looking for a city in the United Kingdom which was a shining example of law keeping, Belfast, especially west Belfast, is not the one that I would choose. We have heard about television licences not being paid. Such avoidance is rife in Belfast.

Mr. Merlyn Rees (Morley and Leeds, South)

None are paid.

Mr. Ross

A former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland reminds me that none are paid in west Belfast. I understand that the BBC does not send in the detector vans in Northern Ireland generally.

It may not be possible to enforce a dog licensing systern in Belfast and one or two other areas, but there are other much more serious crimes that I should like to be cleared up first. I fully support the efforts of the hon. Member for Plymouth, Drake (Dame J. Fookes) to introduce a licensing and control system in the United Kingdom.

Reference has been made to injuries to children in various parts of the kingdom inflicted by savage dogs. The dog does not even have to attack a child to create a serious danger. Sadly, only last week a child attending my local school who was frightened of a dog on the footpath ran across the road and was killed. That incident caused me a great deal of sadness as it was a personal friend of my young daughter. Dogs can cause a problem. I do not suggest that that dog was not under control. The child happened to be frightened of dogs.

11.45 pm

The hon. Member for Drake should not be dismayed by attacks on her proposals this evening. All the same things were said about the Northern Ireland legislation. Some of those who trooped cheerfully through the Lobby to put the legislation into effect in Northern Ireland will undoubtedly troop through the opposite Lobby this evening to reject the hon. Lady's new clause. Certainly, I and my right hon. Friend the Member for Lagan Valley (Mr. Molyneaux) will join her in the Lobby.

Reference has also been made to the problem of identification. We have a warden system in Northern Ireland. If a dog does not have a collar and a brass tag, it is the warden's job to pick it up. It is not a perfect system. It could be better. But before that legislation came into effect, I and every other hon. Member in Northern Ireland had a constant torrent of complaints from people who were frightened of dogs roaming around the streets, and from the farming community, which suffered endless damage. I believe that I heard the hon. Member for Dorset, West (Sir J. Spicer) say that he found that his own dog had been killing sheep. Often there is no possibility of identifying the dog which does that. Farmers often carry public liability insurance. If not, they are sore fools. They should carry it. If the farmer's dog is caught killing sheep, the insurance company will pay up.

The new clause is good legislation. It should be supported by every hon. Member in the House. It will not solve the problem completely but it will be a long step in the right direction. Everyone who wants some control of dogs should support the new clause.

Mrs. Ann Taylor

I am pleased to follow the hon. Member for Londonderry, East (M r. Ross). The House would do well to take note of his experience in Northern Ireland. I also pay tribute to the work of the hon. Member for Plymouth, Drake (Dame J. Fookes), who has brought the matter before the House on many occasions. Conservative Members should respect the contribution that she has made to the debate and her expertise on the subject.

There is no doubt that irresponsible dog ownership causes increased anxiety to many people, including dog owners who take their responsibilities seriously. Indeed, many good owners want a dog registration scheme because they do not like the bad image that has been created by the actions of the irresponsible few.

Mr. Robert Banks (Harrogate)

Does the hon. Lady agree that people who want a registration scheme also know that if the dog has an implant or tattoo and goes astray they can be reunited with it? It is a positive step.

Mrs. Taylor

The hon. Gentleman is right. Many dog owners are worried about the possibility of losing their dog and support the scheme on that basis. As the hon. Gentleman says, it is a positive move.

The new clause will not solve all the problems that worry many people and all the difficulties that have been raised, but it will be a useful step in the right direction that many people outside the House would welcome.

We are all aware that dogs, indeed animals generally, cause much emotion. We all know that pets, especially dogs, can be valued and loving companions of many families, young children and pensioners, particularly those who live alone. On the other hand, neglected dogs bring many problems—not only those of cruelty to the dogs themselves, but those of strays roaming the streets, and of dogs causing accidents and fouling paths and play areas, with all the health implications. Almost daily we read reports of dogs getting out of control and attacking innocent bystanders. There was such a case in my constituency last week, and over the past few weeks and months many hon. Members have had such cases reported to them in addition to those that have hit the national headlines.

If we introduce a dog registration scheme and a properly funded dog warden system, we shall create a framework that is more likely to bring about sensible dog ownership. Such a scheme could be used to minimise the problems that have worried hon. Members on both sides of the House—

Mr. Anthony Beaumont-Dark (Birmingham, Selly Oak)

Some of us have had dogs all our lives. Does not the hon. Lady understand that, in the short term, dog registration will mean hundreds of thousands of dogs being put down? It may save dogs in the future, but as good owners will register and bad ones will not, more dogs will be put down in the short term.

Mrs. Taylor

I am sorry that I gave way to the hon. Gentleman. He obviously was not here during the part of the debate that dealt with that point. My hon. Friend the Member for St. Helens, South (Mr. Bermingham) dealt with it to some extent. The hon. Gentleman should know how many dogs are put down every day now because of the irresponsibility that we are discussing. If he is worried about the number of dogs being killed, he should support our scheme, which would introduce more responsibility and a more comprehensive system.

During the arguments in Committee the Minister—other hon. Members have echoed his concern—said that a dog registration scheme would be expensive. I wonder whether the Government have considered the cost of not introducing such a scheme. The generally agreed figure for a scheme seems to be about £20 million, but the problems caused by the the poor care of dogs, by accidents, and by the necessity of putting down so many strays result in costs of well over £70 million a year. It seems that the Government cannot see that to establish a good dog registration scheme would be to spend money well—a good investment.

Since the House last discussed the scheme—the hon. Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Mr. Beaumont-Dark) should be interested to hear this—in the summer of last year, more than 250,000 stray dogs have been put down because of irresponsible owners who have not taken dog ownership—

Mr. Ian Bruce

That is a disgraceful misuse of statistics. The reports produced for the RSPCA show that in a full year 90,000 dogs are put down because they are strays; the rest of the 365,000 dogs are brought by responsible owners to be put down by the RSPCA.

Mrs. Taylor

The hon. Gentleman is wrong; that is not true. Most of the dogs that are put down are killed because they are not wanted. I had hoped that all hon. Members would study the details of the scheme that we are proposing. We are suggesting enabling legislation that could tacke the detail of such problems and in that context Conservative Members could have been more responsive and constructive.

A vast number of dogs are put down each year and we have also seen an increase in the number of attacks by dogs. Such attacks have been reported to hon. Members and we have heard many complaints about dogs fouling public areas and causing health hazards. People are becoming increasingly bewildered about why Parliament and the Government cannot see the obvious need for action on these problems. The Government tell us with decreasing enthusiasm as Ministers change either that there is no real problem or, as they now say, the enforcement of collar and tag provisions will solve everything.

It is time that the Government woke up to the extent of the problem and the extent of public concern. The new clause is not prescriptive. It does not commit the Government or the House to one scheme. In view of the resources at the Government's disposal, it is time that they found the money to invest in a scheme of this kind. As has been said, we are discussing a pro-dog measure which would promote responsible dog ownership. The details of the scheme could be determined at a later stage. For example, there could be a reduced registration fee for dogs that have been spayed or neutered, thus helping to reduce the problem of strays, which is at the centre of many people's concern.

The hon. Member for Drake moved her new clause in the spirit of cross-party support and I hope that that spirit can be maintained. Although it was a Conservative Member who was bitten by a dog, I assure hon. Members that there is genuine worry in all parts of the House about such problems. I ask hon. Members to bear in mind that this may be our last chance for some time to vote in principle for the establishment of a dog registration scheme. If we do not support the new clause, the problems will get worse because the Government have no alternative. We should vote in favour of the principle now and support the details at a later stage.

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory

I have listened with great interest to the debate, and especially to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Drake (Dame J. Fookes) whose work in animal welfare I greatly admire. The new clause in her name calls for the setting up of a compulsory national register of dogs. That has become something of a rallying cry for some sections of the animal welfare lobby.

I remain convinced that heeding the call for a registration scheme would result in a difficult and expensive attempt that would in practice fail to deliver many of the promised benefits. Moreover, the problems that have rightly been identified in the debate are being and will continue to be tackled by a better targeted range of measures brought forward by the Government. There has been general recognition in all parts of the House that it is irresponsible owners who are at fault—the people who fail to control their dogs or to train or look after them. Here lies the difficulty. No doubt the law-abiding dog owner would co-operate in a dog registration scheme and would pay the fee. However, some of the fees proposed would be a considerable burden on elderly dog owners who are, perhaps, living on their own on slender means and who rely on one or two dogs for companionship. The House should not dismiss that factor.

Let us allow that by and large the responsible owner would pay up. As the hon. Member for Wentworth (Mr. Hardy) rightly said, the irresponsible owner creates the problem. Such owners would be the last to comply. if they complied at all, with a registration scheme. The responsible dog owner would pay while the irresponsible dog owner would pollute. That is a negation of the "polluter pays" principle that underlies everything else in the Bill.

12 am

Mr. Marlow

With respect to my hon. Friend, he has largely got it the wrong way round. The proposals effectively require there to be a dog warden scheme. Under such a scheme, when the dog of an irresponsible owner strays, it will be picked up by the warden. The warden will then be able to require that the dog is registered and the fee is paid before the irresponsible owner takes the dog back. The responsible dog owner will not fall foul of the warden. If he has not paid his registration fee, nobody will know about it, so it is the troublesome owner who will be clobbered and required to pay. The responsible dog owner might pay, but would not be found in default and required to pay in the circumstances that my hon. Friend is suggesting.

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory

I shall analyse shortly my hon. Friend's rather optimistic version of the registration scheme. However, I shall deal first with the considerable enforcement difficulties touched on by my hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Kemptown (Mr. Bowden), among others. Dogs belonging to people who have changed address, dogs which have changed ownership, dogs given as presents and dogs belonging to itinerant owners would all have to be chased up and registered.

Rather than being simply theoretical, let me point out that we have in the United Kingdom—in Northern Ireland—examples of a licensing system that tries to grapple with some of the difficulties. In Committee, I promised to look further into the experience there. Officials from my Department have visited the Province and talked to those involved, including the Ulster Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

The licensing system there has been running since 1983. All districts in the Province now have dog wardens, and considerable efforts have been made to enforce the licence fee, which is set at £5. Despite that, it is estimated by those concerned that less than one third of dogs in the Province are licensed, and that is after seven years of the system being in operation. Moreover, the number of strays impounded by the authorities has not reduced during those years, and nor has the number of dogs destroyed. The pile of dead dogs that the RSPCA uses in its advertisements has been getting larger in Northern Ireland.

Miss Kate Hoey (Vauxhall)

When the Minister met the USPCA, did it tell him, as it has told us, that there has been a reduction in the number of stray dogs on the streets in Northern Ireland since 1983?

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory

No, that is not the situation. It is difficult to count the number of strays on the streets, but, judging by the number that are rounded up and impounded, the situation has not been getting better, as I have already said.

Mr. William Ross

The reality is that if the dogs had not been rounded up they would be roaming the streets, so the number of dogs on the streets would be much higher. One of the main reasons for bringing in the legislation in Northern Ireland was sheep worrying, which has greatly decreased.

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory

I mentioned the number of dogs destroyed and the number of strays because certain welfare organisations claim that the introduction of a dog registration scheme would reduce the number of strays and the pile of dead dogs. That has not happened in Northern Ireland, which has had a dog licensing scheme in force for over six years. I agree that we can usefully learn from some features of the Northern Ireland dog licence enforcement scheme. Action taken to reduce the worrying of sheep is one of them, and I shall touch on that later. I want, first, to talk about cost, which has been referred to several times already.

There are some who believe that the prime purpose of a dog registration scheme is to raise money for dog control, but the cost of running the bureaucracy that is associated with such a scheme is considerable. A report prepared for the RSPCA by the London School of Economics puts the cost at over £20 million a year. That appears to exclude the capital and rental costs of the necessary premises, so the cost could be slightly higher than that estimate.

Mr. Michael Shersby (Uxbridge)

How much will it cost an elderly lady in my constituency to register her dog?

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory

I think that it is for the proposers of the scheme to bring forward a realistic fee. I can tell my hon. Friend, however, that the figures which I have seen are considerable. As I have said, it has been estimated that it would cost more than £20 million to run the scheme and enforce it, and that sum would not contribute anything to direct dog control measures, such as wardens and kennelling. According to the same LSE report, those measures would cost a further £22 million a year. If the registration scheme is seen primarily as a fund raiser, it is a most inefficient one. On the RSPCA's own figure, it raises only about half of the money necessary to support dog control services.

Expenditure on dog wardens and kennels is a proper function of local government, and the cost is small in relation to its overall expenditure. Even if the full cost were to fall on the community charge payer, the increase would be only about 40p a person per year. There are already about 200 local authorities that are running dog warden schemes, and I saw one of the best schemes that is being operated on Friday, in Darlington. The 200 local authorities are funding dog wardens out of their existing budgets. That means, in effect, that finance is greatly preferable to relying on an hypothecated tax that is enforced through a registration scheme whereby money is raised from the responsible section of the dog-owning population to pay for the problems that are caused by irresponsible owners.

I agree that identification is often necessary, and it can be achieved by enforcement of the existing provision that requires all dogs in public places to wear a collar and an identification tag. It is simple to check whether a dog is wearing a collar and tag, and if it is not it is by definition a stray. If a dog is wearing an identification tag, it is easy for any passer-by, any police officer or any local authority employee to read it. It is a great deal easier to do that than to try to read an implanted electronic device under the skin of the dog, which requires specialist equipment. It would have to be linked with a computer to find the name and the last registered address of the supposed owner.

Other problems would not be cured by a registration scheme. We have heard of attacks by dangerous dogs, and they are serious. It has never been a problem, however, linking the dog with the owner. In any event, a bite from a dog which is registered is no less painful than a bite a from a dog which is not. The same point can be made about dog fouling. Registered dogs are as inclined to foul the pavement as those that are unregistered. Again, registration is not the key to the problem.

It is better to deal with each problem by a series of specific measures. Last year my hon. Friend the Member for Drake took through the House the Dangerous Dogs Act under which the courts can order the destruction of a dog and also disqualify the owner from owning another dog. My right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary has undertaken to take another look at the Act, and if he feels that the penalties are not sufficient he will consider increasing them. It is a specific Act to deal with a specific problem.

A range of byelaws can be enacted that can help local authorities to deal with the problem. It is not always realised that there are byelaws that can ban dogs from certain areas such as playgrounds, parks or beaches. They can require owners to clear up after their dogs and can ban fouling of pavements and verges. My right hon. and learned Friend will make further announcements about ways to increase and strengthen those byelaws to help local authorities to do their job.

I agree that more needs to be done, especially about strays—and here I make common cause with my hon. Friend the Member for Drake and others. The duty to deal with stray dogs should be transferred from the police to local authorities. We will be looking for a convenient opportunity to introduce that measure as part of a Bill. We also want to improve the enforcement of existing collar and tag requirements. That will involve transferring the duty from county councils to district councils and boroughs, where appropriate.

We are discussing with the RSPCA and other interested bodies whether a fixed penalty scheme woul be an appropriate way to enforce that requirement. The experience in Northern Ireland suggests that it might help greatly. We are also considering the possibility of creating a specific offence of allowing a dog to stray. Again, that is in force in Northern Ireland. We are in touch with the RSPCA about working out the details. In fact, the joint working group with the RSPCA is due to meet later this week.

Mr. Cryer

If the Minister is doing all that, why will he not accept the additional power to introduce a scheme? The new clause is not, as he suggests, a scheme; it is a proposal to give him the opportunity to introduce a scheme within 12 months. Why does he not accept that opportunity?

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory

The range of measures that we intend to introduce may make a national registration scheme unnecessary.

I am working with the RSPCA and other interested bodies to introduce a package of measures, and that must be the way forward. We all agree that irresponsible and thoughtless dog ownership creates a range of problems, some of which are serious. I know that from letters, from experience in my constituency, and from listening to hon. Members' speeches. Each of the problems must and will be addressed by a range of measures that are targeted and specific. I hope that they can be carried forward with the help and co-operation of the voluntary bodies working in the area.

With that in mind, I hope that the House will reject the new clause. A national registration scheme is not the answer.

Mr. Ian Bruce

It is essential that we make one appeal this evening—that leaflets such as the one that I am holding are no longer sent out by organisations. They wind up our constituents with many lies and half truths. I hope that after the vote this evening the issue of dog registration will be put to bed once and for all.

We already have a dog registration scheme in this country: it is called a collar and tag. I am absolutely certain that that is adequate.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:—

The House divided: Ayes 263, Noes 275.

Division No. 187] [12.14 am
Abbott, Ms Diane Corbett, Robin
Adams, Allen (Paisley N) Corbyn, Jeremy
Alexander, Richard Cousins, Jim
Allason, Rupert Cox, Tom
Allen, Graham Crowther, Stan
Alton, David Cryer, Bob
Anderson, Donald Cummings, John
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Cunningham, Dr John
Armstrong, Hilary Dalyell, Tam
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy Darling, Alistair
Aspinwall, Jack Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l)
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Dixon, Don
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich) Dobson, Frank
Barron, Kevin Doran, Frank
Battle, John Duffy, A. E. P.
Beckett, Margaret Dunn, Bob
Beith, A. J. Dunnachie, Jimmy
Bellingham, Henry Dykes, Hugh
Bendall, Vivian Eadie, Alexander
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Eastham, Ken
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish) Evans, John (St Helens N)
Bermingham, Gerald Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E)
Bevan, David Gilroy Fatchett, Derek
Biffen, Rt Hon John Faulds, Andrew
Blair, Tony Fearn, Ronald
Blunkett, David Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
Boateng, Paul Fisher, Mark
Body, Sir Richard Flannery, Martin
Boyes, Roland Flynn, Paul
Bradley, Keith Fookes, Dame Janet
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Foot, Rt Hon Michael
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E) Foster, Derek
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Fraser, John
Browne, John (Winchester) Fry, Peter
Buchan, Norman Fyfe, Maria
Buck, Sir Antony Galloway, George
Buckley, George J. Garrett, John (Norwich South)
Caborn, Richard George, Bruce
Callaghan, Jim Godman, Dr Norman A.
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley) Golding, Mrs Llin.
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Gordon, Mildred
Canavan, Dennis Gould, Bryan
Carlile, Alex (Mont'g) Graham, Thomas
Cartwright, John Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Clay, Bob Gregory, Conal
Clelland, David Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)
Cohen, Harry Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Coleman, Donald Grocott, Bruce
Cook, Frank (Stockton N) Hannam, John
Cook, Robin (Livingston) Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)
Harman, Ms Harriet O'Neill, Martin
Heal, Mrs Sylvia Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Henderson, Doug Parry, Robert
Hinchliffe, David Patchett, Terry
Hoey, Ms Kate (Vauxhall) Pendry, Tom
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth) Pike, Peter L.
Home Robertson, John Porter, Barry (Wirral S)
Hood, Jimmy Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N) Prescott, John
Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath) Primarolo, Dawn
Howells, Geraint Quin, Ms Joyce
Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd) Radice, Giles
Hoyle, Doug Raffan, Keith
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Redmond, Martin
Hughes, Roy (Newport E) Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Reid, Dr John
Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne) Richardson, Jo
Ingram, Adam Robertson, George
Irving, Sir Charles Robinson, Geoffrey
Johnston, Sir Russell Rogers, Allan
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside) Rooker, Jeff
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W) Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Ross, William (Londonderry E)
Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine Rowlands, Ted
Kennedy, Charles Ruddock, Joan
Kilfedder, James Sedgemore, Brian
Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Kirkwood, Archy Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Knox, David Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Leighton, Ron Short, Clare
Lester, Jim (Broxtowe) Skinner, Dennis
Lestor, Joan (Eccles) Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Lewis, Terry Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Litherland, Robert Smith, J. P. (Vale of Glam)
Livingstone, Ken Snape, Peter
Livsey, Richard Soley, Clive
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford) Spearing, Nigel
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Speed, Keith
McAllion, John Speller, Tony
McAvoy, Thomas Stanbrook, Ivor
McCartney, Ian Steel, Rt Hon Sir David
Macdonald, Calum A. Steinberg, Gerry
McFall, John Stott, Roger
Macfarlane, Sir Neil Straw, Jack
McKay, Allen (Barnsley West) Summerson, Hugo
McKelvey, William Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
McLeish, Henry Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
McNamara, Kevin Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
McWilliam, John Temple-Morris, Peter
Madden, Max Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
Mahon, Mrs Alice Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Marek, Dr John Thornton, Malcolm
Marlow, Tony Townend, John (Bridlington)
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Turner, Dennis
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Martin, Michael J. (Springburn) Vaz, Keith
Martlew, Eric Wallace, James
Maxton, John Walley, Joan
Meacher, Michael Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Meale, Alan Wareing, Robert N.
Meyer, Sir Anthony Watson, Mike (Glasgow, C)
Michael, Alun Watts, John
Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley) Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Mills, lain Wiggin, Jerry
Miscampbell, Norman Wigley, Dafydd
Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby) Williams, Rt Hon Alan
Molyneaux, Rt Hon James Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Wilson, Brian
Moonie, Dr Lewis Winnick, David
Morgan, Rhodri Winterton, Mrs Ann
Morley, Elliot Wise, Mrs Audrey
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe) Wolfson, Mark
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Worthington, Tony
Mowlam, Marjorie Wray, Jimmy
Mudd, David Young, David (Bolton SE)
Mullin, Chris
Murphy, Paul Tellers for the Ayes:
Nellist, Dave Mr. Frank Haynes and Mr. Andrew Welsh.
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
O'Brien, William
Adley, Robert Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Aitken, Jonathan Freeman, Roger
Alison, Rt Hon Michael French, Douglas
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Gardiner, George
Amess, David Garel-Jones, Tristan
Amos, Alan Gill, Christopher
Arbuthnot, James Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Glyn, Dr Sir Alan
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) Goodhart, Sir Philip
Ashby, David Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Atkins, Robert Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Atkinson, David Gorst, John
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Gow, Ian
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Greenway, John (Ryedale)
Baldry, Tony Grist, Ian
Batiste, Spencer Ground, Patrick
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Grylls, Michael
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Hague, William
Boscawen, Hon Robert Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom)
Boswell, Tim Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Bottomley, Peter Hampson, Dr Keith
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Hanley, Jeremy
Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n) Hardy, Peter
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Harris, David
Bowis, John Haselhurst, Alan
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Hawkins, Christopher
Brazier, Julian Hayes, Jerry
Bright, Graham Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Hayward, Robert
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) Heathcoat-Amory, David
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South) Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Budgen, Nicholas Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)
Burns, Simon Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Burt, Alistair Hill, James
Butcher, John Hind, Kenneth
Butler, Chris Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Butterfill, John Hordern, Sir Peter
Carlisle, John, (Luton N) Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)
Carrington, Matthew Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)
Carttiss, Michael Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Cash, William Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)
Chapman, Sydney Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)
Chope, Christopher Hunt, David (Wirral W)
Churchill, Mr Hunter, Andrew
Clark, Hon Alan (Plym'th S'n) Irvine, Michael
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Jack, Michael
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Jackson, Robert
Colvin, Michael Janman, Tim
Conway, Derek Jessel, Toby
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest) Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Cope, Rt Hon John Jones, Robert B (Herts W)
Couchman, James Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Cran, James Key, Robert
Critchley, Julian King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Currie, Mrs Edwina Kirkhope, Timothy
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g) Knapman, Roger
Davis, David (Boothferry) Knight, Greg (Derby North)
Day, Stephen Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Dorrell, Stephen Knowles, Michael
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Lamont, Rt Hon Norman
Durant, Tony Lang, Ian
Eggar, Tim Latham, Michael
Emery, Sir Peter Lawrence, Ivan
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd) Lee, John (Pendle)
Evennett, David Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Fallon, Michael Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Farr, Sir John Lilley, Peter
Favell, Tony Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Fenner, Dame Peggy Lord, Michael
Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey Luce, Rt Hon Richard
Fishburn, John Dudley Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
Forman, Nigel McCrindle, Robert
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) MacGregor, Rt Hon John
Forth, Eric MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)
Maclean, David Sainsbury, Hon Tim
McLoughlin, Patrick Sayeed, Jonathan
McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas
Madel, David Shaw, David (Dover)
Major, Rt Hon John Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Malins, Humfrey Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Mans, Keith Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
Maples, John Shersby, Michael
Marland, Paul Sims, Roger
Marshall, John (Hendon S) Skeet, Sir Trevor
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Martin, David (Portsmouth S) Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Maude, Hon Francis Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Squire, Robin
Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Mellor, David Steen, Anthony
Miller, Sir Hal Stern, Michael
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling) Stevens, Lewis
Mitchell, Sir David Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Moate, Roger Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)
Monro, Sir Hector Stewart, Rt Hon Ian (Herts N)
Moore, Rt Hon John Stokes, Sir John
Morris, M (N'hampton S) Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Morrison, Sir Charles Sumberg, David
Morrison, Rt Hon P (Chester) Tapsell, Sir Peter
Moss, Malcolm Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Moynihan, Hon Colin Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Neale, Gerrard Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Needham, Richard Thatcher, Rt Hon Margaret
Nelson, Anthony Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Neubert, Michael Thorne, Neil
Newton, Rt Hon Tony Thurnham, Peter
Nicholls, Patrick Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Nicholson, David (Taunton) Tracey, Richard
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West) Tredinnick, David
Norris, Steve Trippier, David
Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley Trotter, Neville
Oppenheim, Phillip Twinn, Dr Ian
Page, Richard Viggers, Peter
Paice, James Waddington, Rt Hon David
Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil Waldegrave, Rt Hon William
Patnick, Irvine Walden, George
Patten, Rt Hon Chris (Bath) Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Patten, Rt Hon John Waller, Gary
Pawsey, James Ward, John
Porter, David (Waveney) Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Price, Sir David Warren, Kenneth
Raison, Rt Hon Timothy Wells, Bowen
Rathbone, Tim Wheeler, Sir John
Redwood, John Whitney, Ray
Renton, Rt Hon Tim Widdecombe, Ann
Riddick, Graham Wilkinson, John
Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas Wilshire, David
Ridsdale, Sir Julian Wood, Timothy
Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm Yeo, Tim
Roberts, Wyn (Conwy) Young, Sir George (Acton)
Roe, Mrs Marion
Rowe, Andrew Tellers for the Noes:
Rumbold, Mrs Angela Mr. Alastair Goodlad and Mr. David Lightbown.
Ryder, Richard
Sackville, Hon Tom

Question accordingly negatived.

Further consideration of the Bill adjourned.—[Mr. John M. Taylor.]

Bill, as amended (in the Standing Committee), to be further considered this day.