§ 15. Mr. Adley
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on recent representations made to him by hon. Members regarding their concern about the inadequacy of police powers, and of penalties relating to contraventions of the animal quarantine regulations, about which he is consulting chief constables.
§ 32. Sir T. Kitson
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, in view of the recent increase in the number of convictions for people attempting to smuggle animals into the United Kingdom, and the consequent risk of an outbreak of rabies in this country, if he will now increase the penalties to include imprisonment.
§ Mr. John
My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and I met a number of hon. Members on 27th May, when there was a discussion of matters connected with the enforcement of the animal quarantine regulations.
We have consulted the Association of Chief Police Officers about the adequacy of the powers of arrest available to the police under Section 71 of the Diseases of Animals Act 1950 in respect of contraventions of the animal quarantine regulations; we are at present considering the association's reply.
We are satisfied that the higher penalties now available on conviction on indictment are adequate; but the level of fine on summary conviction, at present £400, is being considered by our Department in the context of a general review of summary fines.
§ Mr. John
To make trial on indictment mandatory two Acts would need amendment—the Rabies Act 1974, in respect of offences against the Regulations made for the purpose of preventing the introduction of rabies into Great Britain, and the Diseases of Animals Act 1950, in respect of offences against other animal quarantine Regulations.
Proceedings may already be taken on indictment under the Rabies Act 1974 where there is evidence of deliberate intent to evade its provisions.
§ Mr. John
The Deceases of Animals Act 1950. This Act, as amended, already empowers magistrates' courts to impose a term of one month's imprisonment on conviction of a second or subsequent offence of a similar nature.