HC Deb 11 February 1970 vol 795 cc1244-5
21. Mr. John Wells

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he is aware of the increasing worrying of sheep by dogs; and if he will take steps to curb this problem.

Mr. Mackie

There has been a small but steady decline in the number of sheep killed and injured by dogs in recent years. We still have too much sheep worrying and too many irresponsible owners of dogs in whom we are constantly trying to induce a sense of responsibility, but it is an uphill struggle.

Mr. Wells

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that his answer is very similar indeed to that given to my hon. predecessor exactly 22 years ago today, which shows that there has been absolutely no progress in this matter for 22 years?

Mr. Mackie

I said that there had been a small but steady decline in the number of sheep so affected. If that has been happening for 22 years, some progress must have been made.

Mr. Stodart

Since this topic will be included in the debates on the Animals Bill in Committee, may I ask the hon. Gentleman to confirm—it is important that he should do this—that either he or one of his Ministerial colleagues will be a member of that Committee.

Mr. Mackie

This is the second time that the hon. Gentleman has asked one of us to be on the Committee. I assure him that note has been taken of his suggestion.

Mr. Manuel

Since foxes are cultivated for sport in many areas by hon. Gentlemen opposite, can my hon. Friend break down the figures and give a comparison between the number of sheep worried and killed by dogs and the number of lambs taken by foxes?

Mr. Mackie

Not without notice.