HC Deb 27 January 1971 vol 810 cc735-82

10.30 a.m.


That if the proceedings on the Animals Bill [Lords] are not completed at this day's Sitting, the Committee do meet on Wednesdays at half-past Ten o'clock.—[The Attorney-General.]

The Attorney-General (Sir Peter Rawlinson)

I beg to move, That the Chairman do now report to the House that the Committee recommend that the Animals Bill [Lords] ought to be read a second time. This is a Bill in which the number of Clauses is, happily, fairly small. It has only 13 Clauses, of which perhaps nine are of importance. It gives effect, with some modifications, to the Law Commission's Report on Civil Liability for Animals. Some Members of the Committee will recollect that a Bill of similar, but not wholly the same, form came before the last Parliament, and I shall refer to that as the 1969 Bill. Some of the provisions in that Bill met with criticism in the particular, but the principle of the Bill was approved. The Bill which is before the Second Reading Committee this morning is, like its predecessor, an amalgam of provisions and is an attempt to improve the law with regard to the liability which a man may incur as a result of the misdeeds of his animals.

This has always been a troublesome and difficult branch of the law. As hon. Members will appreciate, it is a very ancient part of the law, because the law with regard to animals tended to reflect an agricultural society, and the society on which much of the early law was based was one in which man was much dependent upon the animal and came more into contact with animals. As a result, much of the existing law with regard to animals is judge-made and very well-established. The greater part of the Bill re-enacts the principles of the existing law. To a certain extent, but only to a certain extent, it codifies rules which impose strict liability—that is, liability irrespective of the fault of the keeper or owner of an animal—and it also seeks to modernise some of the procedures and remedies.

What, I think, will be of most interest to hon. Members is that the Bill attempts to deal with the problem of liability arising from damage caused by animals straying on to the highway. This is probably the most important part of the Bill. It is an attempt to balance the need for the law to provide a remedy in cases where tragedy arises from damage caused by an animal straying on to the highway with the practicalities of the countryside.

As I have said, this has been a difficult and troublesome matter. In 1951, a Committee was set up under the chairmanship of Lord Goddard. It recommended in 1953 and its recommendations were not very much different from the contents of the Bill. In 1967, there was a Law Commission Report which attached a draft Bill, and the Bill which is before the Committee this morning is, like the 1969 Bill, based largely on the Law Commission's draft Bill, which in turn based itself on a consensus of opinion which had been sought from various interests concerned. There were only few and not fundamental differences of view on certain matters, such as the duties owed where dogs are trespassing and attacking livestock or where damage is done by trespassing livestock, and this part may not be controversial. The part of the Bill which refers to the strict liability for damage done by animals is contained in the first six Clauses, as can be seen clearly from the arrangement of Clauses at the start of the Bill.

I should like to deal first with the individual provisions of the Bill and to come back to the main Clause, which will interest most hon. Members—Clause 8—at the end of what I have to say. Clause 1 repeals what is at present the common law and various other provisions with regard to the Dogs Acts and jne rules of common law imposing a liability for cattle trespass, and it is in Clause 2 that we come to the start of the provisions dealing with the liability for damage done by dangerous animals. By Clause 2, the keeper of any animal is liable if it is of an inherently dangerous species—that is defined later—or if it is of a harmless species but has abnormal and dangerous characteristics of which the owner or keeper is aware.

Clauses 3 and 4 deal with dogs. The keeper of a dog may be liable for any injury done by his dog to livestock; the owner of cattle must make good damage caused by animals when trespassing upon another's land. This is a strict liability provision and it is immaterial whether the keeper is in any way to blame.

Clause 5 provides for exceptions and a number of defences which are available to the keeper of an animal. As can be seen from Clause 5, subsections (1) to (6), he is not liable for damage due wholly to the fault of the person suffering it, to a person who has voluntarily accepted the risk or, if the person injured was trespassing, if it is proved that the animal was kept there for the protection of persons or property and that the keeping of it was not unreasonable.

Clause 6 defines various matters such as dangerous species, which is a species of animal

(a) which is not commonly domesticated in the British Islands; and (b) whose fully grown animals normally have such characteristics that they are likely, unless restrained, to cause severe damage or that any damage they may cause is likely to be severe. The keeper is a person who has the ownership or possession of an animal and, as will be seen, a person who includes in his household persons up to the age of 16 assumes responsibility for a dog, pony or whatever other animal belongs to or is kept by such a child or young person.

Therefore, Clauses 1 to 6 provide a comprehensive code and consist basically of the common law and the recommendations of the Law Commission, with two exceptions which, I think, have been welcomed certainly by the promoters of the 1969 Bill. It is in Clause 2 and Clause 5 that there are differences from the 1969 Bill. Clause 2 provides that where an animal has mischievous propensities, the keeper is liable only for such damage as is due to such propensities. This was a change because, in the 1969 Bill, a perfectly harmless animal but one which might be capable of doing damage would render the owner liable. For instance, a very large dog might be capable of causing damage—say, knocking over a child—by reason of its very size, or a horse might be capable of causing damage if it were suddenly frightened; obviously, it is capable of kicking out and causing damage. Therefore, the change which is made in the Bill is that the keeper shall be liable only for a mischievous propensity of which the owner must know. That is suggested as an improvement on the previous Bill and is welcomed by the promoters of the 1969 Bill.

The other change is in Clause 5. As hon. Members will appreciate, it is always difficult to decide how liable is a person who does a negligent act to a person who ought not to be there at the time—in other words a situation in which it could be said, "You have only yourself to blame. If you had not trespassed, you would not have been hurt". This is still harder to resolve where there is strict liability. The Law Commission proposed that the keeper of the animal should be made liable, where the animal was kept for the purpose of causing damage to trespassers. That was thought to be rather a blunt instrument. An attempt has, therefore, been made to adopt a more subtle approach.

Accordingly, Clause 5 of the Bill proposes a new test: whether the animal was kept for the protection of persons or property and, if so, whether it was reasonable to keep the animal for that purpose. That would apply to a guard dog but it obviously excludes a fierce animal which may have been kept for the protection of property, if it would be wholly unreasonable to keep such an animal for that purpose. There is no liability when an animal is not kept for the purpose of the protection of persons or property. Therefore, the test which is now in Clause 5 is whether it is reasonable to keep the animal for such a purpose; and if the purpose is the protection of property and it is reasonable, there would be no liability. Otherwise, there would be liability.

Clause 5(6) gives the owner a good defence, where animals and livestock trespass and cause damage, if a person whose land is invaded by the trespassing animals has failed in his duty to maintain a fence. There has been criticism that this provi- sion is too rough and ready a defence. For instance, a person whose land is invaded could owe a duty to some other person—for example, a landlord—and the owner of the straying cattle would be able to rely upon the failure to fence. A more sophisticated provision was attempted, but it proved to be too complex. We, therefore, reverted to the original formula in the Bill.

Clause 7 provides for the right to detain and sell trespassing livestock. I should have thought that it would be to the pleasure certainly of all lawyers that it provides for the end of "distress damage feasant". That will no longer exist. It is a very real problem for a person whose land is suddenly invaded by trespassing cattle to know what are his rights and how he can deal with them. By Clause 7, an occupier of land who experiences such an invasion can detain the straying livestock as long as he notifies the police within 48 hours or, if he knows who is the owner of the cattle, informs that person within 48 hours. If the owner tenders compensation for the damage which the livestock has done on the invaded land and a reasonable cost for maintaining that livestock while it is detained—for example, the cost of feeding the animals—the person detaining the straying livestock must return it to the owner.

If the owner makes no such tender, the person who has impounded the livestock which has trespassed and invaded his land will be able to sell the cattle after the expiry of 21 days, and from the sale price he can deduct the costs which he has incurred in keeping the invading animal for 21 days and compensation for any damage which has been incurred. It will no longer depend upon the old idea of the availability of a public pound, which has not been as common in more recent times.

Clause 7 is fairly long and sets out a code of the rights of the person who is obliged to detain cattle which invades his land.

Clause 9 gives a farmer a better defence against marauding dogs. The Committee might like to know that in England and Wales nearly 9,000 sheep, and about the same number of poultry, are killed or injured annually by marauding dogs. Obviously, this presents a considerable problem and a considerable loss to the fanner. Under the present law, he is entitled to shoot the marauding dog if it is actually attacking his livestock or is about to renew an attack—in other words, it has attacked and is about to renew the attack. Under Clause 9, he will be able to shoot if he has reasonable ground for believing that an attack on his livestock is imminent—in other words, the marauding dog may not actually have attacked or be renewing an attack but the farmer has reasonable ground for believing that it is about to attack as a result of what it may have done on neighbouring land, for example, or there has been an attack and a dog is still within the vicinity. The farmer must, of course, inform the police within 48 hours. That affords him greater discretion in dealing with a situation which has been causing considerable damage to livestock both in England and in Wales.

Clauses 10 and 11 are merely the necessary definitions and ensure that certain legal rules will be applied to the strict liability code. I do not think that I need spend time on them.

I come back to Clause 8, which represents a substantial change in the law. Clause 8 abolishes the immunity from liability which an owner who allows animals to stray on to the highway at present enjoys. That is an immunity and a rule of law which is no longer defensible, and it has been criticised and condemned for many years. As long ago as 1943, the then Master of the Rolls, Lord Green, said, in a case in court: A farmer who allows his cow to stray through a gap in his hedge or on to his neighbour's land where it consumes a few cauliflowers is liable in damages to his neighbour but if through a similar gap in the hedge it strays on to the road and causes the overturning of a motor omnibus, with death or injury to 30 or 40 people, he is under no liability at all. I scarcely think that this is a satisfactory state of affairs in the 20th century. I am sure that all hon. Members will agree.

I presume that the existing immunity derives from the days when traffic moved at the rate of a packhorse, when there was open farming, and much less urban spread and when travellers expected to encounter wandering animals. In present day conditions, that immunity is inappropriate to the high speed and density of traffic and population and when the consequences of an accident between a bus, car, motorcycle or any other vehicle and a straying animal can be so serious.

In 1969, there were 2,491 accidents involving animals. Taking an average of the years between 1961 and 1969, between 400 and 500 persons have been killed or seriously injured annually in road accidents involving dogs alone. Although, when seen against the terrible grand total of death and serious injury on the highway, that may be only a small proportion, obviously in such cases great tragedy is incurred. Often a deep sense of injustice is felt by the person who is seriously injured where there has been no remedy at law because the accident resulted from the animal straying on to the highway; whereas if it had been some other reason, the injured person would have been able to obtain a proper remedy at law.

Clause 8 attempts to deal with the position, and seeks to apply to negligent accidents on the highway the law of negligence which applies elsewhere. The position now is that a person may be liable for a failure to control an animal on his own land; or if an owner he brings an animal on to the highway himself. In future under the Bill he will have to use the same care to see that the animal does not escape from his land on to the highway, and he will be liable if he fails to use that care.

This, as the Committee will appreciate, involves fault liability—not the strict liability of the first six Clauses—and there could be cases in which the owner would not be to blame—for instance, where it was reasonable to graze animals on land because the road was one on which there was very little traffic and motorists might be expected to be aware of the presence of animals. We can all think of parts of the country where such conditions exist. In addition, a person would not be liable if there were a fence but the fence had been blown down by a gale, or a hiker had left open a gate and the animal had strayed. In such cases there would be available to the owner of such animal all the normal rules of law, the rules of contributory negligence and the rules of contribution.

Clause 8 does not impose a duty to fence animals in, but there is a duty to take reasonable care to prevent animals doing damage on a highway. For instance, in an area where there are country lanes, and very light traffic, or only local traffic, the farmer might have to take no greater precautions than he does now. But near to busy main roads or near to large towns where it is reasonable to expect that if an animal escapes on to such a road it would lead to a traffic accident, then farmers may have to fence and ensure that the fences are maintained. Likewise, the owners of dogs may need to take greater care to keep their dogs off the roads and keep them under control. Accordingly in such circumstances, it may also become desirable for owners to insure, though it is not expected that the cost of the premium would be at all substantial.

Exceptions have been provided, and the exceptions are set out in subsection (2) of Clause 8. It would not apply to animals straying from unfenced land on to the highway where the road passes through common land on village or town greens, and, secondly, where the areas are customarily left unfenced.

As to the first of these two categories, that was a recommendation of the Law Commission. A commoner, a person who has the right to graze animals on a common, has no right to fence that common, and indeed would be statutorily prevented from fencing it. If fencing is the only means of preventing animals from escaping, the imposition of a liability which can only be met by fencing would for practical purposes deny the commoners the right to graze their cattle on the common.

The second of the two categories to which I have referred is not a recommendation from the Law Commission. It is different from the Law Commission's recommendation, and I should like to refer to what they said in paragraph 40 of their Report, to indicate the difficulty: The expanding needs of society as a whole must from time to time require some adjustment of the rights and duties of particular interests within that society; in the present context this means that the balance between the interests of the keepers of animals and users of the highway which was struck in the remote past under very different conditions cannot be wholly maintained in the twentieth century. We recognize however that any such readjustment must take account of the economic and social importance of the keeping of animals and of the burden and practical difficulties which may be involved in ensuring that they do not cause damage on the highway; but against these considerations must be weighed the danger to life, limb and property of those who use the highway. In other words, the balance has to be struck, and this is a matter which has caused widespread and genuine anxieties. In many areas it would be quite uneconomic to put up fences because the value of the land is far too small, and yet there would be a serious loss if agricultural land at present used for the grazing of cattle and sheep had to be abandoned for fear of the new liability. Therefore, the Bill makes an exception in Clause 8(2), where it is … land situated in an area where fencing is not customary … I suggest that perhaps the practical effect may be little because in the kind of case which some persons have in mind of sheep straying from the grazing areas into villages or towns, the usual problem has been not the inadequacy of the law but the difficulty, as I understand it, of catching and identifying the sheep, and, through identifying the sheep, identifying the owner of the sheep, because, I gather, of the great agility and courage of these animals, like the proverbial mountain goat. I think, therefore, that on the whole it is a practical difficulty which has been encountered. I appreciate that this is a matter of concern, but I suggest that we cannot do anything in the Bill, which is really concerned with liability for damage done. As I have indicated, a balance has to be struck and maintained.

Mr. Leo Abse

Before the Attorney-General leaves that point, would he, since he has not done so yet in his careful explanation of the Bill, explain why there are such radical alterations in this Clause compared with the Clause drafted and presented by the Law Commissioners, and why it is that there is now a reconciliation of interests so heavily in favour of the farmer as distinct from the pedestrian and the motorist? Why are there such radical changes in this Clause 8 from the last Clause 8?

The Attorney-General

The hon. Gentleman is posing a question which really reflects a point of view—which, doubtless, he will be presenting to the Committee—first of all, that it is such a radical difference and, secondly, that it has been, as it were, a change, a great shift, in whatever burden may be imposed by it, or advantage may be obtained under it. I would not, first of all, accept that. I have been trying to point out that there has been, and is, a balance which has to be struck and maintained between the two. There has been a change. I indicated that the first of the two kinds of categories were recommendations of the Law Commission, and I have said that the second category is not.

When we come to discuss this Bill in Committee, the Committee will have to make up its own mind where the balance ought to be struck. It may be that this is not the right balance. I suggest to the Committee that it is and that this is the right way of dealing with land which is situated in an area where fencing is not customary. I would have thought that almost every hon. Gentleman has experience of wide stretches of land where fencing would not be economic or practical. There are environmental reasons and practical agricultural reasons. Therefore, when we come to discuss this issue on Clause 8, doubtless many members of the Committee will be able to express their views on what the balance should be. That is all I am doing— pointing out what the balance is at present in the Bill.

There is another significant omission from the 1969 Bill, namely the provision which was in that Bill to permit the courts to have regard to the Law Commission's Report when interpreting this Bill. That was a novel idea which did not find favour and was much criticised. It has therefore been omitted from this Bill.

The Bill applies only to England and Wales. It will bring the law more or less into conformity with the law in Scotland with regard to the liability of animals straying on to the highway, though, in some respects, the recommendations of the Scottish Law Reform Committee differ from this Bill.

I commend the Bill to the Committee as being a useful reform which will remedy the injustice which has been suffered, if not by many, certainly by some, where serious tragedy has been involved I commend it as also having codified and modernised the other parts of the law relating to animals, and I invite the Committee to give it a Second Reading.

11.0 a.m.

Mr. John Mackie

I am not sure why I am here. I got the sack from the Front Bench in agricultural matters, and I now find myself shadowing the Attorney-General. However, as soon as animals are mentioned in the Labour Party, they seem to think of my name. I have fortified myself with the presence of a couple of legal gentlemen from my party, one beside me and one behind me, who I am sure will deal adequately with any legal points that need to be raised; and, believe me, I think there will be plenty on this Bill in due course.

I think that first I should declare my interest. I am a fanner and, though basically an arable farmer, I do have a lot of stock. The other interest that I have is that I have been on both sides of the effects of straying animals. When I was quite a young man, I was on a motor cycle and I ran into a straying stirk—for the benefit of Sassenachs, a young bullock—on a road in Aberdeen-shire. I went over the handlebars, and plunged into a heap of soft soil by the side of the road. Two yards further on there was a heap of road metal, and if I had gone into it the Committee would not have been bothered with my presence here today. On another occasion I was in my car with my brother-in-law, our two wives, and four of our children—we in Scotland are thrifty as far as cars are concerned—coming home from a game of golf. A flock of sheep had strayed into a garden at the roadside, and the owner, without thinking—and naturally one would not think if one saw sheep eating up one's cabbages or flowers—just dashed out and shooed them on to the main road right in front of us. We turned a complete somersault, with the wheels in the air. Fortunately, apart from the cracked ribs of my wife, none of us was hurt. I got no redress whatsoever on either of these two occasions. Hon. Members can imagine, then, that I rather welcome some of the Clauses in this Bill.

The other experience I had was on my farm in Essex, where I had a bull. It was let out by carelessness on the part of somebody who was taking wood out of the area where the bull was grazing, and it strayed. This, I think, will interest the Attorney-General, to see the complexities of what can happen. This animal strayed on to common land through which a public road went. A car ran into it. It did not do much damage to the car, though it hurt my bull, but a car coming down the hill ran into the first car and it was badly damaged and somebody was hurt. This was common land. The Bill refers to circumstances in which the animal had a right on certain land. This animal had not a right there. It was common land. On my land, I might have been the careless person; but the negligence was not caused by myself or my staff. The gate had been left open by some other people. One can see the difficulties that could arise in these cases. I agree with the Attorney-General that it is very difficult when cases like that occur.

I have another interest as well—a constituency interest. My constituency is right on the borders of London, in Enfield, East, where there are a tremendous number of gypsies with horses, which they put not so much on common land but on open spaces that are going to be built on, ex-nurseries, and so on. The horses then stray around the gardens of my constituents, causing continual trouble. This Bill will allow my constituents to deal with that sort of thing. At the moment the police have to deal with it. If this Bill goes through, they can impound the animals themselves and carry out the exercise that the Attorney-General described, I shall deal with that point later on.

I have been pointing out the difficulties in this Bill, and I shall not go over it in any detail. The Attorney-General did that, and I think he dealt with it very well. The main point that he made, on nearly all the Clauses, was that it was a question of balancing the situation. I think, as my hon. Friend the Member for Pontypool (Mr. Abse) said, he balanced it a little too much one way as regards Clause 8, but I shall return to that later.

On Clause 7, on the question of impounding, the Attorney-General said that a person could sell the animal and use the proceeds to pay for any of the expense that would be incurred. This is all very well, but can hon. Members imagine one of my constituents, in a small semi-detached or even a detached house having to impound a horse, get the food and water and everything else and then sell that rather thin brute of a horse. Presume that hay is £20 or £30 a ton; I see that the hon. Member for Norfolk, South-West (Mr. Hawkins) is grinning The proceeds of the sale would probably not pay the price of the keep for 21 days. I can think of hon. Members in South Wales impounding a nasty little Welsh ewe, as thin as a rake, but perfectly capable of destroying their garden plants, and then hoping that the sale of it will pay for the damage.

Mr. Arthur Probert

Would my hon. Friend suggest to my hon. Friends and myself how he would catch that ewe?

Mr. Mackie

I did not intend to talk for very long and go into detail, but I think that my hon. Friend has a strong point. How one catches the animal is another matter. I content myself with referring to the difficulty of paying for the food and keep for a period of 21 days.

Let me come to the question of dogs, the other point I wanted to raise specifically. This is a very big problem indeed. I should like to make a suggestion—outside the scope of this Bill, in a way. If the Government are anxious to save money, either by cutting expenditure or by getting more taxes, I would draw attention to the fact that there are something like 5 million dogs in the country, for only about 2 million of which licences are paid. Not only should they collect the present 7s. 6d., but I would suggest raising the licence fee to somewhere in the region of £2 or £3. Whether that would reduce the number of dogs or not, I do not know, but certainly I think there is a strong case for doing something about dogs which roam the countryside attacking animals. The figures that the Attorney-General gave are quite disgraceful, and a heavy loss is sustained by farmers in some areas.

I am completely precluded from keeping sheep on my farms in Essex and Middlesex, purely because of the number of dogs that roam about. Whether this power to shoot at sight, so to speak, will help, I am not quite sure. If we could have another 3 million dog licences at £2 apiece, I suggest that it could be used in fencing in some of the areas which the Attorney-General mentioned.

Clause 8 is a difficult one. When we brought forward this Bill a year ago, there was a tremendous amount of discussion about Clause 8. As hon. Members will see, it has been considerably cut by the present Administration. Some of my hon. Friends' remarks were, I thought at the time, to say the least, a little ungracious when they said that it was better than nothing. But since this new Bill has come out, they say that it is worse than useless. However, I shall leave it to them to expand on Clause 8, and their remarks will, I think, be quite revealing to the Committee as to why they think that even the small amount that we did in the 1969 Measure would have been so much better than what appears in Clause 8 of this Bill.

I do not want to say any more except that, naturally, we want a Bill of this description. It is a useful reform. In many instances we do not think that it goes far enough. We very much want to put down some Amendments, particularly to Clause 8, when the time comes. In one way or another something has to be done in this modern age about animals. We are a nation that loves animals. The Attorney-General mentioned the question of animals of certain propensities. It is a very difficult matter. I can imagine lawyers arguing about the size of a dog, whether it could knock somebody down, what sort of nature it had, and so on.

There are today—and it is getting quite alarming from a veterinary and animal health point of view—people who are determined to have different pets from those of other people. Animals have been brought in from all over the world to satisfy the desire to have something different. It is quite alarming. We have all these dangerous animals— pumas, lions and goodness knows what else. I hope that this is something that the Bill will help to restrain as much as possible.

The Bill is necessary and we should like to think that in Committee we shall put down some useful Amendments to improve it.

11.13 a.m.

Mr. John Wells

I want to make only two or three brief points. As the hon. Member for Enfield, East (Mr. Mackie) has just said, we are seeing an upsurge in private zoos of one sort and another and 1 think that unless they are properly conducted, this is something very much to be deprecated. In my constituency there is a private zoo which has run into certain planning difficulties and this is, perhaps, fortunate because it will keep it under control.

There are, however, broader aspects of the private zoo movement which are, perhaps, more generally acceptable to the nation. I am thinking more of the nature reserve or wild-life park enterprise, the sort of thing that Mr. Peter Scott and his friends go in for. Here I think that the Bill immediately has a weakness, which I hope that my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General can put right in Committee. In the interpretation Clause, Clause 11, we get into a little bit of difficulty with the definitions of "livestock" and "poultry".

One can imagine a worrying dog getting into a bird sanctuary where there are mallard, teal, swans, perhaps exotic black swans, and so on. They are clearly not covered by the Clause, because it states that 'poultry' means the domestic varieties"— I underline "domestic"— of the following … turkeys, geese, ducks … In the nature reserves we are dealing with the wild varieties of geese, duck and swans. These are clearly not covered in the Clause, which, although it deals specifically with certain wild birds, namely, pheasants, partridges and grouse"— is obviously intended to give protection to the game farm.

Can my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General consider redrafting the Clause in Committee so that the nature reserve is given protection for swans and ducks, and wild species, although temporarily in captivity or semi-captivity? I should not venture to redraft it myself because, obviously, this would be a little difficult, but I should be grateful if my right hon. and learned Friend would consider this.

Presumably, the use of the word "animals" in Clause 8 is intended to cover all animals, and not simply the livestock as defined, because my right hon. and learned Friend has mentioned the appalling number of accidents. Can he give the Committee a breakdown of the number of accidents caused by animals of which he spoke in his opening speech? Approximately how many of those accidents were caused by dogs as against other animals?

Five or six years ago a constituent of mine—my former agent—went headlong into a deer in his motor car. The deer had escaped from a private park? How does the Bill treat an escaped deer from a private park. Is it regarded as an animal for the purposes of the Bill? Or is it a wild animal, so that it would be a defence for a person who would have liked to think that it was his property to say it was not really his property because it was wild? I apologise for not having the appropriate Latin phrase in mind. Would it be a defence for the former owner of the deer which caused the accident to say that it was wild?

This brings us back to the case of McQuaker v. Goddard, I think it was, in 1940, when the judge was given some very conflicting evidence about the nature of a camel and whether it was tame or wild. Technical evidence was put before the court and I understand that the judge read some books on the topic before making up his mind. If we are to have that sort of situation in this country—I am not saying that anyone will run down a camel, but the example of the deer which I have cited is factual—such cases could become of greater frequency. I should be grateful if my right hon. and learned Friend would give the figures for which I have asked and clarify these two small points.

11.18 a.m.

Mr. Leo Abse

I am quite certain that the whole Committee will be grateful to the Attorney-General, whom we expected to be here to explain the Bill to us. But we on this side of the Committee have had some surprises apart from the fact that my hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, East (Mr. Mackie) is speaking on such a complex Bill. In view of the interest of this matter to Wales, South Wales in particular, which was so clearly articulated during Second Reading and the further stages of the Bill of 1969, we are utterly astonished that we do not have in the Committee anybody to look after the interests of the Welsh Office or any Member from Wales on the Conservative side.

I am sure that I am expressing the opinion of all my Welsh colleagues when I say that the Bill will be regarded by all the communities in South Wales as a total betrayal by the Secretary of State for Wales of the Principality's interests. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Before hon. Members opposite raise their voices on matters about which they know little or nothing, I suggest that it was understood by the Committee that our surprise that there is nobody here from the Welsh Office is strengthened by the fact that as soon as the Bill was published by the present Government, all the South Wales Members attended upon the Secretary of State for Wales, who, if he was not already aware, was certainly fully appraised as a result of our attendance of the importance of, at the very least, maintaining Clause 8 as it was at the time of the election.

Therefore, it is quite inexcusable, in my judgment—and, I am sure, in the judgment of Wales—that on a matter which is not trivial but is of far-reaching social importance in South Wales, not only has the Secretary of State for Wales totally ignored the representations made by all the Members from South Wales, but he has not come here today or sent anyone from the Welsh Office to face the complaints and grievances which we feel strongly when we see the Bill in its present form.

It is true that brave words pour out nowadays from the Government's Department of the Environment telling us that amenities will be protected from the ravages of the second Industrial Revolution. In South Wales, however, we are still struggling to emancipate ourselves from the ravages of the first Industrial Revolution. Thwarting all its efforts to gain the same right of amenity as is enjoyed by hon. Members opposite in their constituencies is the fact that we have these medieval laws, created, as the Attorney-General rightly emphasised, for rural communities, whose maintenance in the twentieth century has caused and is causing havoc in our industrialised valley townships.

In my own valley, encompassing some of the most advanced factories in the land and with thousands of houses in new estates clinging to the mountainside, we are almost totally surrounded by common land upon which—so that hon. Members opposite can see the size of the problem—under the Commons Registration Act, 1965, already some 200 claimants have asserted that they have the right to graze more than 53,000 sheep and 1,250 horses, not to mention thousands of cattle, geese and goats. My valley is typical of South Wales.

To allow these animals to roam at will in an industrialised valley means that no one can enjoy securely a garden and no one is free from the filth of disturbed rubbish awaiting collection. No one is free from the hazards of road accidents. Even our dead cannot lie in peace. The sheep and the horses trample and uproot the graves. The mothers of South Wales are right to demand protection for their children as horses periodically sweep through the housing estates and into the playgrounds.

If hon. Members opposite think that this is merely a slight problem in South Wales, let me also draw attention to the fact that the incidence of the dread disease of hydatidosis, a cyst infection—I am sure that the farmers who are with us will be aware of it—which attacks the brain and is linked to the scavenging habits of sheep feeding on refuse, has a grim incidence, the highest throughout Britain, in South Wales.

This is not a trivial matter to us. It is not a matter for frivolity. The Labour Government understood our problems and the previous Animals Bill, which was in course of passing through the House of Commons when the election came, was designed to compel those who recklessly placed sheep on common or unfenced land to recognise that they were taking grave risks. Under the Labour Government's Bill, they could have found themselves faced with a claim for heavy damages if the animals strayed on to roads and caused accidents. The importance that the Bill should remain intact was made absolutely clear to the Secretary of State for Wales as soon as he was appointed. After we attended upon him, we interpreted his response as that of someone who understood and was sympathetic to our problems.

The present gutted Bill, for such it is, with the all-important Clause 8 completely reshaped, shows how indifferent the Secretary of State for Wales is to our problems. I do not doubt that if the sheep were wandering around his con- stituency in Hendon, he would show concern and send a representative here from the Welsh Office.

Quite clearly, however, the Secretary of State again is showing—and Wales will see it as such—that he puts his rôle as Chairman of the Conservative Party before his rôle as a Welsh Minister. The Bill as it now stands is, in my judgment, a piece of outrageous class legislation. The Government have responded totally to the pleas of the landed gentry in the Lords.

The Country Landowners' Association wanted and demanded an exemption from liability for owners of cattle that had strayed from commons, and that is what the Government are completely providing. It was the self-same Association that wanted to make it abundantly clear that no liability would fall upon owners of land which was customarily unfenced.

We therefore have a situation that although there is no area in Britain more than in South Wales where encouragement and concern should be continuously given, even to the extent of some coercive measures, to bring about adequate fencing, the Bill as it stands will incite all farmers who have not customarily fenced their land never to fence it, because under the common law, as the Attorney-General well knows, a custom must be established by reason, among other matters, of its uninterrupted continuance.

Both my hon. Friends from the Rhondda, who are present, are well aware that they are surrounded by land which has been customarily unfenced. They, like people in so many other areas of South Wales, have deliberately endeavoured to gain the co-operation of the Coal Board, of local authorities and of farmers to implement collective schemes of fencing which could come into operation.

There will be no incentive to provide fencing. On the contrary, as a result of the Bill there will now be a deterrent for any farmer to participate in a scheme which would involve fencing. Once he participates in such a scheme, he will be breaking the existing custom and he will be exposing himself in the future to possible liability.

In South Wales, efforts have been made by all organisations, from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to the National Farmers' Union, to come together to get a collective scheme. The Bill totally sabotages those efforts because it will create a situation in which no farmer in his senses, when he is able to establish that his land has been customarily unfenced, will move one inch to participate in a scheme which would mean that fencing comes into operation, because he would be immediately exposing himself to potential liability.

Therefore, thanks largely to the total disinterestedness of the Secretary of State for Wales, all the cumulative efforts which have been made, including those of the farmers, are to come to naught. Every owner of unfenced land in South Wales will have a vested interest to keep his land unfenced. The Bill disgracefully discriminates against an area like South Wales.

In almost all other parts of the country, the motorist will now have a remedy if cattle are negligently allowed to stray on to the highway and damage his car or injure him or his passengers. As a result of the Bill, however, in South Wales, where the risk of damage and injury from cattle is greater than anywhere else, because we have more common land than any other county in Britain and we have a greater amount of customarily unfenced land than any other region in the country, thanks to the total capitulation of the Secretary of State for Wales to the landed gentry of England, the motorist will have no protection at all.

As the Attorney-General well knows, only if a farmer did something utterly lunatic in South Wales—like driving his sheep deliberately from one side of the highway to the other in the face of oncoming traffic—could any solicitor advise a client that he might have a remedy. Apart from something of that kind, there would be no remedy at all for motorists and passengers in South Wales.

The Attorney-General has rightly pointed out the benefits that result from this Bill in all other areas. He has categorised the figures, which, of course, reflect great tragedies in terms of life and injury, and he is right to stress the need for a law which brings Britain into the 20th century, so that it no longer finds itself strangled by laws which were made for rural communities. However, is it tolerable that a whole region should be discriminated against—exempted—merely because a handful of landlord peers have been able easily to persuade a Conservative Government that, rather than that there should be a little extra premium paid, all our amenity possibilities in the South Wales valleys and all our motorists should be put at risk?

The Bill which the Labour Government introduced genuinely implemented the recommendations of the Law Commissioners, who were detached and who found a formula to reconcile farmers' interests and those of a mobile industrialised community. It provided criteria enabling the courts not to give a blanket exemption to farmers—" gooseberry farmers", as we call them as well in South Wales—not genuine farmers but people who put their cattle and sheep upon the commons without having any facilities to look after them. We are giving a blanket exemption to this sort of anti-social person. No longer will a judge, as was provided in the last Bill, weigh the volume of traffic, for example, against uneconomic fencing burdens. All these criteria have been swept away by this Bill and, to save these landed gentry from paying the small extra insurance premium, the lives and amenities of my constituents and of all those of us who come from South Wales are being placed at risk.

I am certain that we shall pursue this and, indeed, other points in the Committee stage in an endeavour to see whether we cannot rescue some benefits for our constituents from this Bill. South Wales will certainly not easily forgive this total sell-out by the Ministers looking after Welsh affairs, who have failed completely to represent the interests of the Principality.

11.35 a.m.

Mr. Arthur Probert

I think that one of the reasons for submitting legislation to a Second Reading Committee is that it is the considered view of the Government that the matter is non-controversial. I am certain that those of us who have heard the last speech will realise the fallacy of that idea in relation to this Bill. Indeed, if I may say so, cursory examination of the Second Reading debate on the Bill introduced by the last Administration, which took place on the Floor of the House, would have made it plain that this is a highly controversial matter, and I suggest that it is a mistake for the Government to have referred it to a Second Reading Committee.

It was evident on the previous Second Reading that there were very grave inadequacies in the Bill which was before us at that time, but, as has already been indicated by my hon. Friends the Members for Enfield, East (Mr. Mackie) and for Pontypool (Mr. Abse), that Bill was, even so, far superior to this Bill, particularly in regard to Clause 8.

I think it right to say, too, that all hon. Members who represent constituencies in South Wales, particularly in Monmouthshire and Glamorganshire, were looking with keen anticipation to the publication of this Bill. However, as soon as we saw the terms of the Bill coming from another place, we were—and this is an understatement—greatly disappointed. I suggest to the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney-General that this disappointment, once it becomes known to my constituents and to the people of South Wales, will well up into anger.

My hon. Friend the Member for Pontypool has referred to the inexcusable absence of a representative of the Welsh Office from this Second Reading debate. I hope that there will be no such absence when we reach the Committee stage of the Bill, because—and I put this sincerely to the right hon. and learned Gentleman—this Bill will in no way solve the problems which exist in South Wales. The hon. Member for Pontypool has already told most of the people of South Wales, who will read the report of the proceedings in this Committee. Ten years ago I introduced a Bill of this kind in the House of Commons, but unfortunately it was talked out by Conservative Members. Many hon. Members supported me in my contentions because of the tragedies which they were able to illustrate. If this Bill had in its preamble the words, "This Bill will not affect the position in Glamorgan and Monmouthshire", it might have been accepted as honest, fair and frank in expressing its intentions to the people of my constituency and of South Wales.

Time and time again we have illustrated with statistics the effect in South Wales of the problems which we have and which this Bill seeks to cure. The statistics are in some cases horrifying. My hon. Friend the Member for Pontypool has illustrated this to some degree, as has the right hon. and learned Gentleman in relation to the whole country. However, Clause 8, which is the kernel of the Bill—and I am sure that the right hon. and learned Gentleman will agree that if that Clause were not in the Bill, the Bill need not exist at all—will have no effect whatsoever. I am not going to elaborate upon what my hon. Friend the Member for Pontypool has said about the proportion of common land which exists in parts of Glamorganshire and Monmouthshire. In my constituency alone, the existence of common land as such is not a problem; it is the unfenced land which is a problem.

Subsection (2)(b) says, he had a right to place the animals on that land. One of the problems in Monmouthshire particularly is that of the "gooseberry farmer". When I introduced my Bill 10 years ago, I visited the farmers of South Wales. I said then and I say now that I had a great and friendly response from them.

I remember visiting one farmer on the hills in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda, East (Mr. G. Elfed Davies). With tears in his eyes, he showed where he had erected about a hundred yards of new fencing. Two or three yards had been torn down the night before by hooligans, and all the sheep had strayed out. Of course, we recognise and accept this problem, but the point was that the fencing was there and no one could accuse that farmer of being irresponsible. The whole problem in South Wales and, I suggest, in certain parts of England as well is the single factor of fencing.

I should like to quote from a very useful report which I have here—"Stock Trespass and Straying in the Townships of Glamorgan and Monmouthshire" by G. J. Lewis. This report was commissioned by the National Farmers' Union of Wales. This is what it says: If one word holds the key to the entire straying and trespass problems of the South Wales townships, it is not stock impounding,"— I refer that to the right hon. and learned Gentleman who mentioned impounding— refuse bins, cattle grids, shepherding, winter feeding, vandalism nor the education of the public; it is fencing". The report goes on to say later on: The stock belong on the hills. Any legislation and any policy should be orientated towards this end. The South Wales mining valleys constitute a homogeneous area calling for special treatment if straying and trespass is to become a problem of the past and if the full potential of the vast tracts of grazing land, whether true common or not, is to be realised for the general good. In Monmouthshire we have these "gooseberry farmers" who could not care two hoots where their sheep go. The responsible farmers in that area are as worried about this problem as we are.

I want to conclude with one last plea. As my hon. Friend has said, a number of us visited the Secretary of State for Wales immediately the new Government was formed, because of the importance of this problem. In the previous Administration, we visited not only the Secretary of State for Wales but the Leader of the House on two occasions; we visited the Lord Chancellor on two occasions, and we had a very adequate response from all of those gentlemen. Unfortunately, the General Election came in June; the Bill was dropped, and this one has been brought in.

One of the suggestions we put to the Secretary of State for Wales, which he promised to consider, arose from this report, that a joint committee or a working party be set up immediately. Because of the importance of this problem, we proposed that this working party be set up—I may say that the National Farmers' Union have agreed to this—comprising representatives of the National Farmers' Union, the local authorities, and certainly the nationalised industries, which are as great culprits in this as any—British Railways, the National Coal Board and so on. We also insisted that representatives of Government Departments also be on this working party. We have heard nothing about that proposal from that day to this.

I realise that this Bill seeks to rectify an anomaly in the law. I realised that such legislation was needed when I tried to introduce it 10 years ago. The right hon. and learned Gentleman has said that the iniquities of the present situation—to quote the right hon. and learned Gentleman—suffered, if not by many, certainly by some, will be cured as a result of this Bill. In South Wales, the iniquities will certainly continue to be suffered by practically all the people except perhaps by some of the irresponsible farmers—if we may call them farmers, which, of course they are not—to whom I have referred.

I wish to end by stressing again the suggestion that I made. It is perhaps strictly outside the scope of the Second Reading of this Bill, but I suggest that the right hon. and learned Gentleman refers this matter to the Secretary of State for Wales, reminding him of the promise that he gave us that he would look at this problem, and consider setting up a working party. I am certain that if a working party were set up with the willing co-operation that exists of the farmers and the local authorities—I cannot speak for the Government Departments—and certain of the nationalised industries, we should be able to produce something in a very short time which would eradicate much of the nuisance. Experiments have already been carried out, particularly in the Abertillery area.

Talking of impounding sheep, I made a jocular interruption when one of my hon. Friends was speaking. But, in fact, it is a serious matter. One cannot impound these straying animals. How can one impound the wild ponies that come down from the hillside? Recently in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) a young child was attacked by a ewe in the school yard. Naturally, the parents, in great anger, arranged a meeting straight away to see what they could do about it. This is happening year after year. I regret to say that this Bill does not attempt to solve that problem. I suggest to the right hon. and learned Gentleman that this Bill be remoulded. I feel so angry about it that I feel it should be sent back to the other place with a note, "Look at this afresh and remember the people who suffer from the existing situation".

11.47 a.m.

Mr. Elystan Morgan

I intervene in this debate very briefly, not as a Front Bench speaker but as a constituency Member. Indeed, my presence on this bench, Sir Ronald, is explained only by the fact that I may be able to give some assistance to my hon. Friend in a few legal matters.

During both the previous and the present course of this Bill through two Houses of Parliament there has been universal acclaim for the proposition that the law relating to animals be radically overhauled. It is natural, therefore, that there should be a substantial consensus of opinion which regards most of the proposals in the Bill as constituting a worthy attempt to transform the law into such a state as to be adequate to meet modern needs. So far as the major part of the Bill is concerned, I am confident that the proposals contained therein are equally acceptable to the urban and the rural dweller.

I am glad that the Bill has achieved a large measure of codification in the common law in this connection and that it constitutes a restatement of the salient principles with a reformulation in the interests of simplicity and consistency.

In passing, may I say that it is right, of course, that we should regard as a background to everything that has been said this morning the consideration that the law of negligence still applies as before. I quote briefly from the judgment of Lord Atkin in Farndon v. Harcourt-Rivington, 1932, 146, L.T. 391, where he says: Quite apart from the liability imposed upon the owner of animals or the person having control of them, by reason of knowledge of their propensities, there is the ordinary duty of a person to take care either that his animal or his chattel is not put to such a use as is likely to injure his neighbour—the ordinary duty to take care in the cases based upon negligence'. I welcome the recasting of the law relating to damage feasant. I agree with the suggestion made by my hon. Friend the Member for Pontypool (Mr. Abse) that the period of 21 days should be reduced. I should have thought a period of 14 days, or perhaps even 10 days, would have been more appropriate.

I have given some thought to subsection (4) of Clause 7, which stipulates that the sale should take place at a market or by public auction". It may be that some hon. Members think that that is unduly restrictive. On the other hand, here is a person acting in pursuance of a public right. I think it is proper, therefore, that that should take place at a public function such as a market or public auction, and it is certainly very much in the public interest that there should be general knowledge of the price which has been acquired in the sale of the animal. I am also very much in agreement with the provisions which give fuller protection in law to a person who justifiably kills a dog which is or has been worrying livestock, or is likely to do so.

I, too, would like to refer to the proposed changes in the law relating to civil liability on account of animals straying on the highway and causing damage or injury. I am very glad that we are changing the crude state of the law under the principle of scîenter—that is, that a person should not be liable unless negligence could be proved, and it could be proved in only a few isolated cases, that he had knowledge of the propensity of the animal to cause the kind of damage in question.

As my hon. Friends the Members for Pontypool (Mr. Abse) and Aberdare (Mr. Probert) have told the Committee, for many decades in Wales there has been concentration upon a problem of much more limited compass, not so much the question or injury suffered by a user of the highway on account of the presence of a straying animal thereon, but the question of constant nuisance suffered by urban areas on account of flocks of shameless, grimy, marauding sheep making life very uncomfortable for the people living in those localities. I certainly appreciate that this is in no way funny for people who live in those areas. I believe that it was my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) who, some years ago, described it as a rather serious sort of a joke. I appreciate how seriously and sincerely my hon. Friends have applied their minds to this question.

It is not a simple question. It is not a problem which arises from any single source, and certainly I do not think that it can be reduced to a single issue of whether one gives precedence to sheep over people or precedence to people over sheep. My hon. Friends the Members for Pontypool and Aberdare have, I am sure, been right in saying that the problem stems mainly from the irresponsible acts of "gooseberry farmers". I understand that term to mean people who pirate common rights—in other words, who place animals on common land without having the lawful right to do so.

Mr. Leo Abse

No—many of them have the right.

Mr. Morgan

No doubt, it is more extensive even than the problem of "gooseberry farmers". The question is one of achieving a balance between the right of people who live in urban areas not to have their amenity constantly despoiled, and, on the other hand, the right of a person to continue to exercise the pursuit of husbandry in a reasonable way without being committed to cost which would be an impost and which in many cases would inhibit his enterprise. I am sure that every hon. Member would have the aspiration to see that conflict, if conflict it be, balanced in an equitable manner.

In the pursuit of that aspiration, I put briefly to the Committee three propositions. First, I would argue that it would be wholly unreasonable, if persons are to avoid running the risk of substantial claims in damages, to force farmers who live in upland areas, where there are vast tracts of open mountain land adjoining highways, to fence such land. I am certainly not putting that argument because such a right has been enjoyed from time immemorial and because there is great historical significance in the state of the law with regard to animals, but rather because it would be unreasonable to place such an imposition upon these people. I should at this stage declare an interest. A number of members of my family are farmers. I lived for some years on a farm which stocks thousands of sheep, and from an early age I roamed on foot or on horseback on the sheep-walks and have a close knowledge of the conditions of agriculture in those areas. I am sure that my hon. Friends will not be carried away, by their genuine fervour to serve their constituents in this connection, to the point where they could be utterly oblivious of the conditions which exist in other parts of Wales far removed from their own localities but which could be affected if certain rigorous proposals which they contemplate were put into law.

Mr. Probert

May I suggest to my hon. Friend that, equally, he should not be oblivious of that problems in our areas?

Mr. Morgan

Most certainly. My plea this morning is that the representatives of each interest should certainly not be oblivious of the conditions and the problems which attach themselves to the other interests. I say no more than that.

Mr. Abse

I should think it is better not to.

Mr. Morgan

I readily concede that what my hon. Friends have said this morning amounts to an exasperating local problem. On the other hand, there would be a problem in other areas in Wales, which are not affected in any way by the problems which they have mentioned if the law were to be changed in the way they contemplate. Ninety-five per cent. of the terrain of Wales is not affected by this problem, but it would be affected in so far as sheep farmers particularly are concerned if the law were to be made much more rigorous in that connection.

Mr. Abse

I am sure that my hon. Friend is concerned about 95 per cent. of the people of Wales as part of the 95 per cent. of the terrain, and perhaps that may cause him to take a different view. Would he go so far as to agree that it is important that there should be nothing in the Bill which, by making it a prerequisite for a man to have exemption from liability—for an owner of a farm to have exemption from liability—enables him to rely on his customary right not to fence? Does not my hon. Friend realise that this would mean that every scheme in which the farmers might at present co-operate would be sabotaged?

Mr. Morgan

I concede thus far the point made by my hon. Friend. The fact that something has been done since time immemorial—for that matter, the fact that it is a custom in the most classic sense—does not, so far as I am concerned, carry the argument. The test is the test of reasonableness. If, however, what has been customary in an area is a way of helping a person to determine that test, then and only then do I think that the custom is relevant.

I would point out to my hon. Friends that the Goddard Committee, which reported in 1953, recommended that there should be no obligation to prevent animals straying on to such parts of a highway as pass over any common, waste, or unenclosed ground". The second proposition which I make very briefly is that the law in this connection, as indeed in any other connection, should be certain. Uncertain law is bad law. It tends to bring the whole of the legal system into contempt and certainly it performs no service to the community. Lord Denning said in another place that the Bill should make it clear that keepers of animals were under a duty to fence in certain defined situations, and that those situations should be defined closely so that such people would be aware of them beforehand without having to wait for an accident and then to appear in courts and learn what were their obligations.

The land of England and Wales clearly falls into three categories. There are the lowland areas, where owners or tenants who have exclusive occupation of land have always fenced and where clearly, under the Bill, an obvious duty would be upon them to fence if they were to escape liability under Clause 8. Secondly, there is the open mountain land which has never been fenced and where, I am sure that my hon. Friends would agree, it would be totally unreasonable to place such imposition upon the farmers concerned—an imposition, I remind my hon. Friends, which could mean costs of as much as £1,000 or £1,200 per mile. Many people—not the rich landed gentry of England, but people of very modest means—would be driven out of their farming enterprise if they were subjected to such an imposition. The third category is the land which lies between the mountain and the lowland, where it would be arguable whether the conditions of Clause 8 obtain. It is in this category that the problems will arise. Hundreds of thousands of acres come under this heading. Imagine the position of a lawyer having to advise a client whether there would be liability if he were not to fence.

Let us turn to the case referred to by the Attorney-General, in which Lord Green gave the instance of an omnibus carrying 30 or 40 people which might be involved in an accident on account of an animal straying on the highway. Would a lawyer who knew that if he gave wrong advice in this connection, which might mean a claim in damages of perhaps £50,000 or £100,000 to his client, feel happy when he knew that there could be no certainty as to the correctness of his advice? I believe that the state in which the Clause appears means that there will be slightly greater certainty in relation to its provisions than when it appeared in its earlier form.

My last proposition is that there is, too, in relation to unfenced mountain roads, the question of amenity. These roads are attractive to the tourist and pleasant to the eye, and I believe that it is right and proper that consideration should be given to amenity. Amenity should never dominate considerations of public benefit, but where it is possible for amenity to remain side by side with a just solution for the community as a whole, amenity must clearly be given a certain amount of consideration. The first two propositions—those relating to the reasonableness of not fencing land in certain upland areas and to amenity—have been commented on by the Law Commission.

At page 21 of its Report, it stated: … we appreciate there are considerable areas in England and Wales which are more or less unfenced, where traffic is relatively slight, where the risk of accidents is small and where is would be unreasonable to impose an obligation in the circumstances to fence in or otherwise to keep animals off the highway, apart from the aesthetic objections to fencing in many beautiful areas of open countryside. The Bill does not provide certainty. I ask the Attorney-General to apply his mind to that problem. This is a matter which, no doubt, will be raised again when we deal with the Bill in Committee. I ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman to consider whether it might not be possible, in the interests of certainty and in the interests of the areas involved, to allow an official designation of areas to be made, in relation, of course, to land where the conditions spelt out in Clause 8 do not apply—in other words, that a person would not have to consider many intricate jurisprudential questions as to whether his case came within the definition of the law but could look to a much simpler solution which would reduce itself to the one question of whether there had been designation. What is appropriate for the areas represented by my hon. Friends certainly would not be appropriate for rural areas such as my constituency of Cardiganshire. I believe that it is only by way of such a designation that justice can be done both to those who suffer the acute urban problem which has been described by my hon. Friends and to my constituents, whose conditions are very different.

12.9 p.m.

Mr. David Clark

I rise with very mixed reactions to the Bill because although, on the face of it, it appears to be a great step forward, after carefully reading it one has not only doubts, but very strong opposition to certain parts of the Bill, and at stages one wonders whether, simply by amending the Bill, it can be made a welcome Measure.

I appreciate that there are many difficulties in introducing a Bill of this nature, in trying to strike a balance between the urban communities and the rural communities. I have heard my hon. Friends from Wales speak with strong feelings of the human aspects of the situation. This is not only a problem for upland Wales but is also a problem for upland England. I represent a constituency which straddles the Pennines, which has probably some of the wildest country in the North of England yet is in close proximity to the large conurbations of South-East Lancashire, Sheffield and the West Riding. In addition, it is a constituency which has fairly small pockets of highly industrialised building, and I see clearly the difficulties in trying to strike a balance: on the one hand, to look after the interests of urban dwellers and, on the other hand, to protect certain interests, especially those of sheep owners. I maintain that the Bill does not strike the balance in a correct manner. I recognise that there are certain difficulties in definition, but I maintain that the difficulties go deeper than purely definition.

I am particularly concerned about Clause 4 and Clause 8. Clause 8 we have dealt with in considerable detail and I think that the point put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Cardigan (Mr. Elystan Morgan) about officially designated areas is certainly worthy of support. Many of the difficulties arising from the Clause concern land which is customarily not fenced. In my constituency, we have areas which really fall between the customarily unfenced and the purely lowland fenced areas. These are areas—category three, I think my hon. Friend called them—where there are walls. They have in the past been used for farming, but for various reasons—the lack of profitability of sheep farming and the introduction of reservoirs on a large scale, which has meant that farming in the area has been reduced considerably—the walls are falling down. There is no doubt that such areas have a very dilapidated appearance. As a result, the sheep wander about and go down into the villages. One is not sure into what category of the Bill the farmers in question would come. Will they be liable, or will they not be liable? I should be interested to hear what the Attorney-General could say about this.

I should like to make a further point which, I think, is vitally important. It is my contention that the situation will get worse and that we will find the areas of dilapidation increasing, because unless we can get vastly improved terms of entry into the E.E.C., this type of area will increase. This is one particular worry that I have.

I am also worried about certain other points. For example, I find in Clause 11 words to the effect that "fencing" includes ditching. There is a lot of what I would call unfenced land in my constituency; yet, on the other hand, it usually has running alongside the road a ditch provided by the local authority, because the land is so peaty that, unless the water is drained away, it would just flood the roads. Does the existence of a mere ditch mean that the land should be categorised as fenced? I ask the Attorney-General to comment on that.

I also feel that there should be more public authority responsibility introduced into the Bill. For example, we have heard mention made of cattle grids. In my constituency, which has many miles of moorland roads, I do not think that there is a single cattle grid. Similarly, if we are having these large areas of unfenced land, have we not a responsibility to warn the motorist? Again, in an area of many miles of moorland road, I do not think there is a single sign in my constituency warning the motorist that the land is unfenced, in spite of the fact that there are many hundreds of sheep.

It is these main points that worry me, and I think that the Bill, to satisfy me anyhow, would have to be considerably amended.

12.14 p.m.

Mr. G. Elfed Davies

There is no need to emphasise to the Committee that the South Wales Members of Parliament are all concerned with the problem of straying sheep in our valley towns. It is a problem that has been with us for many years, and is becoming increasingly difficult as a result of the increased traffic upon our roads and the tendency for many of our valley towns now to be almost contiguous with the hills which surround us.

We all appreciate and understand that there is a difficulty in getting this matter solved to our satisfaction. One can understand why, therefore, hon. Members on this side of the Committee, and, indeed, many of our constituents, are disappointed at the changes that have been made in this Bill as compared with the Bill which was presented by the last Government. Indeed, many of us on that occasion felt that even that Bill did not go as far as we should like.

I am sure that when this Committee was set up, it was felt that this Bill would be non-controversial. One could understand that, because of the genuine concern and the desire that hon. Members on this side of the Committee had, when the last Bill was produced. I want, for a few moments, to say why we are so concerned and worried at the existing position. Unfenced land is one of the great problems that we have to consider. Our valley towns run up through the narrow confines, with hills almost spreading down to the houses, and sheep have been a constant menace to the people who own property and a danger to life and limb on many occasions. I have had many cases presented to me of accidents involving residents. Indeed, people who take a pride in their homes and gardens are continually being troubled by sheep entering and destroying whatever they have done to make their homes a little more attractive.

The Rhondda Council, for many years, have tried a scheme of impounding. This has been partially successful. It has at least reduced the number of sheep which now come down on to our valley roads. But it has not been as successful as we should like. We still have the problem.

Here I must say that, whilst tribute has been paid to the farmers, we must say, too, that there are some farmers in our constituencies who make no effort themselves to solve this problem. Impounding has gone on for some time. We find that after the sheep have been kept for the required time and the farmer makes no attempt to pay the impounding fees and the feeding fees, when the sheep are taken to market to be sold these very same farmers rig the market and the sheep go for almost nothing. They have to be taken from one market to another.

This is the sort of thing that has been happening in our South Wales valleys. One can understand, therefore, why we are a little annoyed at some of our farmers, because they have been making no real attempt to stop the nuisance. We have the danger, too, of horses. In very bad weather, during the hard winter, horses come down from the top regions and are a great menace, because they are hungry and vicious, and cause quite a lot of trouble and damage to many of our young children.

These are some of the things which we feel are not covered adequately in this Bill, and I suggest, as was done by my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdare (Mr. Probert), and as we have suggested for some time to the previous and present Secretaries of State for Wales, the need for a working party to go into this problem in the South Wales valleys. We can understand the arguments that are put forward by hon. Members opposite who do not have this problem and who do not see it in the same dimension as we see it in South Wales. Therefore, I feel that it would be of infinite value if we could have a working party to look at this problem which arises in our South Wales valleys. It is a special problem and is one which, I think, could be solved. My hon. Friend the Member for Cardigan (Mr. Elystan Morgan) suggested the possibility of some designated areas. If this would solve the problem in Rhondda, I would say "Yes, do what you like". But we must have something that will solve the problem, and I am afraid that this Bill will not.

I believe that we on this side of the Committee will give the Bill a Second Reading, but we shall do everything in our power in the Committee stage, if we are fortunate enough to be on the Committee, to see that this Bill is amended so that it is more effective in our valley towns.

12.20 p.m.

Mr. Alec Jones

The Attorney-General, when he introduced this Measure, referred to it as a useful reform. I suppose it might be described as a useful reform from a farmer's point of view or from a lawyer's point of view, but certainly from solving the problem which affects my constituency and the mining valleys in South Wales, it is a useless piece of legislation.

Members of this Committee must be thinking that we of the mining valleys of South Wales have an obsession with sheep. We have; but it is an obsession not so much with sheep as with the concern which we feel for our own constituents. Most of us live in our own constituencies, so we have personal experience of what our constituents are suffering as a consequence of sheep straying.

Those of us who spoke during the Second Reading in the last Parliament offered criticisms of that Bill, but we certainly did not expect to find ourselves in this Parliament with a Bill which is even weaker than that one was. The Bill is meant to cover England and Wales, and it certainly looks after certain interests. I think it looks after the farmers' interests all right, but I do not believe that it attempts to solve the problem of the industrial valleys of South Wales.

I share with my hon. Friend the Member for Pontypool (Mr. Abse) great disappointment that there has not been a representative from the Secretary of State for Wales here today. As evidence of the fact that this is a major problem for us in South Wales, we have sitting on this Committee four volunteer Members representing South Wales—and there are not many hon. Members who volunteer for Committee work unless they feel very strongly on a particular issue.

Could the Attorney-General tell us whether any communication was received from the Secretary of State for Wales, following the representations which we made to him? Did the Secretary of State for Wales, for instance, offer any advice on the setting up of the working party referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdare (Mr. Probert)? I think that we must accept that, as the Law Commission said in paragraph 1 of its Report, It is widely recognised that this branch of the law is in an unsatisfactory state and that it continues to apply rules and draw distinctions which make little sense in modern conditions. This is the point that we wish to make. It is because of the tremendous change in the living conditions in South Wales that we feel strongly about this. Our valleys are not rural communities any longer. They might have been so 100 or 150 years ago, but they are now urban areas which already suffer seriously as a consequence of dereliction caused by coal mining. They are urban areas which can no longer afford the luxury of sheep roaming at will through their streets.

We could tell many tales, which members of this Committee would find amusing, of the problems which sheep cause in our valleys but I doubt very much whether there is an hon. Gentleman who would easily put up with the inconvenience, the filth and the disturbance which the sheep cause in the valleys of South Wales. Whatever steps we have taken as a community to overcome the nuisance have been thwarted.

My hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda, East (Mr. G. Elfed Davies) has referred to the attempts at impounding and the way in which the farmers got round that very easily. The Rhondda Borough Council thought un another attack and issued to each household in the Rhondda, charging it against the ratepayers, a dustbin—not an ordinary one, but a specially designed anti-sheep dustbin. This was done at considerable expense—one dustbin per household to a borough containing some 95,000 people.

It may seem to have been very sensible, but within a very short time the sheep had learned how to open them. This is an indication of the sort of problem we are up against. These dustbins were designed with swing lids, and I have stood in my bedroom window and watched the sheep lift the lids. To overcome that, the people of Rhondda put a wedge in the top to stop the lids being swung open by the sheep, but the sheep charged the dustbins and knocked the whole lot down the street. So on the days when the dustbins are being collected in Rhondda, often my own street and many others look more like refuse tips than the homes of house-proud people. This is what annoys us. There is the dirt element, the danger element and the filth element. All these nuisances have accumulated over the years until our people rightly say that they are not prepared to put up with the situation any longer.

I suppose that Clauses 7 and 8 might be described as the Clauses which ought to be dealing with the roaming sheep of the South Wales valleys. Clause 7 gives the right to detain trespassing livestock, but, if I were to offer this as a cure to my people, they would say, "You must be kidding". How would an ordinary household impound these sheep? It is absolutely impossible and, if I offered Clause 7 as a solution to the problem in my constituency, the first thing people would say would be, "How do you impound sheep, and where on earth do you put them after you have impounded them?" I believe that Clause 7 might be a very satisfactory legal form of words, but it is of little practical use when it comes to dealing with the problem which we have described.

Clause 8 might have been of some help had it not contained subsection (2)(a) which says that where fencing is not customary, this is an absolute defence for the farmer. We were dissatisfied with the original provision; we are even more dissatisfied with this one. Not only is it of no use in helping to solve our problems, but it puts us back because it will now prove an extremely difficult task to persuade the farmers to co-operate with local authorities when it comes to fencing. I know that the farmers of Rhondda will be extremely reluctant to co-operate in fencing areas if in so doing they destroy the customary habit of having unfenced land. The land we are talking about is land where fencing was not necessary in the past and which it is certainly not customary to fence, but the fact that a thing is not customary does not seem to me to be a very good argument for continuing that state of affairs. If this were so, I suppose that very few pieces of legislation would be passed in this Parliament, because customs have continued for so long.

We are talking of areas where fencing has now become essential if our people are to enjoy rising standards of environment and an environment comparable to that enjoyed by our fellow-citizens in other parts of the United Kingdom. We are disturbed at the change in Clause 8 because we regard it, though it was completely inadequate in its original form, as paying tribute not to the wisdom of government but to the strength of the farmers' lobby now that it has been weakened even further.

Certainly, as my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdare and others mentioned, fencing is the key to the problem in South Wales. Of course, there are big problems: who is to pay for it? What area is needed to be fenced? We appreciate these problems. I am not suggesting, and I do not think that any of my hon. Friends would suggest, that an individual farmer could afford to fence the whole of these unfenced areas at his own expense. This is why we laid great stress on the need to set up some working party, so that these problems could be examined in depth, and that is why so many of us are bitterly disappointed, not only at the absence of a representative of the Secretary of State, but at the fact that there is no reference in the Bill nor any suggestion from the Attorney-General that our wishes on this matter had even been considered. Fencing is the key issue, and it can be done, but this Bill will discourage it and, indeed, will prevent it from being done.

Another example of what we tried to do in Rhondda to overcome the sheep straying problem is this. In the upper reaches of the valley, the council, the local farmers—there are not many; we are talking about only two or three—and the Forestry Commission joined together and shared the cost of fencing. This seems to me to be one way in which this problem can be solved and one reason why we wanted a working party to look at these areas where co-operation between different bodies could help to overcome the problem.

Unfortunately, the new Clause 8 will discourage this sort of co-operation, because once the farmer has joined with the council and the Forestry Commission and has helped to erect fences, that land will no longer be customarily unfenced land. This is why we say that this Bill is not only weaker than the Bill presented to the last Parliament, but will worsen our own conditions in South Wales and will almost prevent us from co-operating to solve this very difficult problem. My instinctive feeling at the moment is that I regard the Bill as so useless that I could not accept it and I doubt very much that I should want even to vote for it.

12.30 p.m.

Mr. Mackie

With the Committee's permission, I should like to say a word or two to wind up. The main point which I should like to make to the Attorney-General is that he can now be in no doubt as to the feeling which exists among many of my hon. Friends from South Wales, and I was glad that my hon. Friend the Member for Colne Valley (Mr. David Clark) brought out the point that this is not solely a South Wales problem. This problem of the coming into urban areas of animals of all descriptions which destroy urban life as they do affects the whole of the country.

I was intrigued by the story told by my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdare (Mr. Probert) of the child who was attacked by a ewe, which gives considerably more credence to the story of the Aberdeenshire soldier in the 1914–18 war when looting was very severely dealt with. He was just about to kill a ewe with his bayonet round the corner from a farm building when an officer appeared. The soldier struck a defensive attitude and said "Bite, would you?" I felt that my hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda, West (Mr. Alec Jones) was going to tell the story of himself tearing down the street in his pyjamas chasing animals away from the bins.

I hope that the Attorney-General will take note of what has been said and will relate the problem not merely to South Wales but to everywhere in the country where this problem arises—and it arises in many other areas, as I have been shown.

I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Cardigan (Mr. Elystan Morgan) feels strongly that any legislation that would force what he called unreasonable fencing is a very valid point indeed, and I am sure that he agrees, as all my other hon. Friends agree, that it would be a sheer impossibility to fence many of these areas that have been mentioned. Of course, the Attorney-General will know the difficulty of some of the language of the Bill—for instance, the provision that fencing includes ditching. In many areas I know that ditches can be fences, but they are very few, and one could have legal argument about that.

My hon. Friend the Member for Cardigan made the point that the test should be reasonableness. This again is something that lawyers will argue about for long enough. One of the difficulties brought out this morning has been this question of what I would call the grey areas—that is, the areas between something which obviously was never fenced and could not be fenced and places that are fenced. One farmer can have fields that are fenced, and alongside them and protruding into them there can be unfenced areas and he would be able to get out of his difficulty because of that. It raises once again the fact that a lot will have to be done to this Bill to enable it to solve these problems.

I hope that the Attorney-General will give thought to what has been said. I should like to quote from a report which has been quoted already—" Stock Trespass and Straying in the Townships of Glamorgan and Monmouthshire." It says that the solution will depend upon a positive contribution from all concerned. Even so, preventive measures by any single party in isolation will not overcome the problem. A solution will come only from a comprehensive and co-ordinated policy within each affected local authority district … Whether it would be possible for the Bill to make it obligatory for that to be done, I do not know, but that seems to be the solution to the point that has been raised by many of my hon. Friends.

I hope the Attorney-General will give thought to this matter before the Committee stage, because we shall certainly be putting down Amendments of one kind or another, particularly to Clause 8, to see whether we can solve and satisfy. After all, hon. Members who have spoken today represent very large areas of the population—hundreds of thousands of constituents—and it is important that they should be protected. They have complained ever since I came into Parliament nearly 12 years ago, and I gather even longer than that, and I think it is time that something was done to give some satisfaction. I hope the Attorney-General will give great thought to this issue.

12.35 p.m.

The Attorney-General

With the leave of the Committee, I too, would like to reply, if I may, to the debate. The hon. Member for Enfield, East (Mr. Mackie), in opening for the Opposition, made, as it were, some kind of apology for so doing, but I think it has been of great advantage—

Mr. Mackie

An explanation, not an apology.

The Attorney-General

Well, he expressed it in such words that it appeared to be an apology, which was wholly unnecessary because his practical experience as a farmer, and the terrible incidents in which he has himself been involved, were of the greatest interest and assistance to the Committee in illustrating that, whatever anyone may say—and one can very easily over-simplify this matter—there are grave problems arising under this Bill.

This is a Second Reading Committee, of course, which deals with the Bill as a whole. I am under no illusions whatsoever from what I have heard today, and I can assure hon. Members that I was under no illusions before I attended this Committee today, but that we would have in the Committee stage a great deal of discussion about Clause 8. But, of course, it is not all the Bill, and I hope that hon. Members will appreciate that. I know that it is a part of the Bill on which hon. Members who have spoken feel very strongly. Nevertheless, there is the rest of the Bill, and it is really the whole of the Bill that we are considering today.

Other hon. Gentlemen have raised other points, and in particular I would refer to my hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone (Mr. John Wells). I should like, if I may, to reflect on the matter of private zoos. I understand the point which he raised as to whether the definition Clause should be differently drafted. I should like to reflect on that, and we can come back to it again in Committee.

He asked me also about the proportion of accidents, and the figures relating to dogs compared with other animals. In 1969, of the 2,491 accidents, 1,471 involved dogs and 1,020 all other animals. I have not got the breakdown of the figures for the other animals, but the dogs are in a proportion of 1,400 to 1,000. That is the involvement of animals in those accidents.

The hon. Member for Aberdare (Mr. Probert) said with some ruefulness, to begin, that this was a Second Reading Committee. As I have pointed out, this is a Bill in which there is a certain matter which, as far as he is concerned, sticks out like a sore thumb; nevertheless, there are other matters involving the improvement of the law. I have always taken the view, when I was on the Opposition side as well as on this side of the Committee, that in such matters it is surely the duty of Parliament sensibly to try to improve the law where possible, and it is perhaps often very much better done in the atmosphere of a Committee Room than on the Floor of the House.

I hope the Committee will acquit my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales of any discourtesy. As I have said, this is a Second Reading Committee; I was here to listen to all the points and to take them into account. The points which have been raised on Clause 8 will I am sure be developed in detail and dealt with in particular when we come to the Committee stage. A working party is under consideration by my right hon. and learned Frend the Secretary of State, and I assure hon. Members that not only will he read all that has been said here, but I will personally bring it to his attention.

With regard to the hon. Member for Aberdare's reference to the working party, he must be under no illusions but that the National Farmers' Union have made known categorically what their views are. They expressed them at the end of last year. There is no point, as I have said, in over-simplification, in trying to pretend—if that is the word—that this is a matter of class. Such was the passion of feeling of the hon. Member for Pontypool (Mr. Abse) that, if I may say so, with respect, he put his case far too high in suggesting that this was class legislation. It is the National Farmers' Union, and the farmworkers' union, who are interested and involved in this, as well as the County Councils Association, whose views have been reflected in the revised version of the Bill, as well as those of the nationalised industries, especially the National Coal Board.

The hon. Gentleman's speech may earn him headlines in the newspapers in South Wales. Nevertheless, as has been indicated in the debate, this is not as simple as he perhaps indicated. It is not a matter in which the conflict of interest is that old-fashioned thing called class warfare. Here is a real problem, well understood and well appreciated by many different groups of people, all of whom, I think, would like to see a reasonable and sensible conclusion to the problem which arises out of the straying of these animals and the particular problem which is experienced in the valleys of South Wales.

Of course, as the hon. Member for Enfield, East said, there are problems elsewhere. The hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. David Clark) referred to the position with regard to his constituency. As has been pointed out by the hon. Gentleman, ditching, in the definition, is included with fencing. If there has been fencing or walling—the hon. Member spoke of the walling in his constituency which has been falling down—even if it falls into decay and is in a state of decay, I can only suggest that the area would not probably be an area where fencing was not the custom, even though the walls are falling into decay.

With regard to the invasion of gardens and the nuisances which are caused in South Wales, I ventured to say in opening the debate that the practical problem is to identify the sheep or their owners, but there are already legal remedies if that happens. Certainly in the case of the ewe which bit the child, if it could be identified, and certainly in other cases of trespassing sheep, the present law would apply. The practical problem is identity. The only answer to this, some may say, is that the farmer must fence.

Mr. Probert

The practical problem is to catch them.

The Attorney-General

I indicated that. They are worse than the proverbial mountain goat, so I am told, and one has to catch them and, when they have been caught, identify them.

The answer comes back to the fact that one must fence. But when we come to the question of fences, we return to the problems which have been indicated, with very good sense, because it indicates that the problem is well appreciated in different parts of the country, by the hon. Member for Cardigan (Mr. Elystan Morgan). What he said about fencing which, from his experience, would cost in the neighbourhood of £1,000 or £1,200 a mile gives an indication that the solution which is sought to be found in Clause 8(2)(a) is not nonsense about class warfare but is the result of these real practical difficulties. How does one set about it in the mountain areas? How does one deal with it?

There was a suggestion about introducing the word "area" and bringing in the word "custom" in relation to land situated in an area where fencing is not customary, to deal with the problem. When one tries to deal with a problem of such difficulty, one will not be able to deal with all the problems and satisfy everybody that one has reached the ideal solution.

I can only say that I await with considerable interest the debates which we undoubtedly will have on Clause 8. All members of the Committee will have heard and understood some of the difficulties, both those which the Law Commission found and expressed and some of which have been put to us by persons who have practical experience—for instance, in the speech of the hon. Member for Cardigan. He said that the test should be that of reasonableness. There may be a certain attraction in that particular proposal. As I have said, the Bill consists not only of Clause 8. There is a great deal of interest, of course, in Clause 8. That is why it is right, perhaps, that the Bill should go to a Second Reading Committee, because the real crunch, as it were, will come when it goes into Committee. I certainly will take into account and consider, before we reach that stage, everything that has been said with such force this morning.

I must tell the Committee that a great deal of attention and thought has been given to the law with regard to animals straying on the highway. Shots have been had at it by different administrators and administrations and by people with differing views. I can only say that what is drafted in Clause 8(2)(a) would seem to give the fairness and balance which is sought. We will, however, have to consider carefully in Committee whether it can be improved upon. This is a long Bill which carries with it other advantages and improvements in the law. I sincerely hope, therefore, that this Committee, which has been considering its Second Reading, will give the Bill its approval.

Question put and agreed to.

Ordered, That the Chairman do now report to the House that the Committee recommend that the Animals Bill [Lords] ought to be read a Second time.

Sir R. Russell (Chairman) Knox, Mr.
Abse, Mr. McBride, Mr.
Attorney General, The Mackie, Mr.
Body, Mr. Monks, Mrs.
Clark, Mr. David Morgan, Mr. Elystan
Davies, Mr. G. Elfed Probert, Mr.
Fox, Mr. Simeons, Mr.
Harper, Mr. Vaughan, Dr.
Hawkins, Mr. Wells, Mr. John
Jones, Mr. Alec White, Mr. Roger
Kimball, Mr.
The Attorney-General

I should like to thank you, Sir Ronald, for presiding over this interesting rather legal Bill, because it has a legal flavour to it as well as many others. I should like to express our thanks to you.

Mr. Mackie

I endorse the Attorney-General's remarks, Sir Ronald.

The Chairman

Thank you very much indeed.

Committee rose at nine minutes to One o'clock.