HC Deb 14 June 1989 vol 154 cc1047-78

  1. `(1) In section 37 of the Local Government Act 1988 [Power of Secretary of State to provide for Local Authority dog registration schemes] for the word "may" there shall be substituted the word "shall",
  2. (2) If such regulations have not been made by the first day of January 1990 the Secretary of State shall lay a report before Parliament stating the reasons why not:.—[Datne Janet Fookes.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Dame Janet Fookes (Plymouth, Drake)

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

Madam Deputy Speaker

With this it will be convenient to take also the following: New clause 43—Dog registration'.—() The following subsection shall be substituted for subsection (1) of section 37 of the Local Government Act 1988 (1) The Secretary of State shall, by regulations to be laid before Parliament before 1st January 1990, make provision for the establishment and administration of a dog registration scheme by local authorities, or such other organisations as he may, after consulting with them, designate.'. Amendment No. 262, in Title, line 24, after '1976', insert `to amend section 37 of the Local Government Act 1988;'.

Dame Janet Fookes

New clause 43 stands in the name of myself, many of my hon. Friends and a number of Opposition Members. In other words, it commands a quite remarkable degree of cross-party support. That feeling is echoed in the country at large. A recent public opinion poll suggested that 92 per cent. of the population questioned was in favour of some form of dog registration scheme. Such a scheme is the purpose of the new clause.

Hon. Members may remember that the Local Government Act 1988 knocked out the dog licence, but that the other place inserted provisions for a dog registration scheme. That gave to the Secretary of State, the power to operate the scheme but did not oblige him to do so. The purpose of the new clause is to impose that obligation upon him. In other words, there would be a compulsory dog registration scheme.

Neither the relevant section of last year's Act nor this new clause lays down details. I think that that is right because I am concerned here to argue the principles in favour of such a scheme. There are many computations and many ways of doing so, in terms of both finance and precise detail. Suffice it to say that several organisations support the principle. It is worth giving a list of them because in themselves they are an interesting reflection of the way in which a dog registration scheme has caught the public imagination. Not surprisingly, the National Farmers Union is strongly in favour of such a scheme. Its members suffer from livestock worrying from stray dogs out of control. It is not surprising either that the postmen's union, the Union of Communication Workers, is very much in favour. It will be able to tell hon. Members better than I could how many thousand bites its postmen receive in a year. I am told that it is a great many.

Mr. Harry Greenway (Ealing, North)

I want to confirm my hon. Friend's important point about the interests of the postmen in this matter. On a large estate in my constituency, the postal services have been suspended three times in 18 months due to very severe attacks on postmen.

12.30 am
Dame Janet Fookes

It is also not surprising that animal welfare organisations, such as the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the National Canine Defence League, and the Battersea dogs' home—those who have to deal with stray and difficult dogs in the streets and in the fields—are most keen on such a scheme. Also keen on the scheme are the British Veterinary Association and the Association of District Councils, which is another body that sees the difficulties, quite literally sometimes, on the ground. Dog fouling is something which upsets many members of the public, not only those who love dogs, but those who find this a nuisance and, in some cases, a tragedy where diseases are communicated, especially to children.

It would be helpful if I explained the kind of scheme that I would like to see. However, it is important to bear in mind that there are variations, and that the House could decide at leisure what would be the most suitable, if the principle is adopted tonight. I would envisage a national computer bureau being set up, which would have the names of the owners and the dogs listed. There would be a permanent identification of the dog, which would not simply be by a tag on a collar which could be removed or not put on at all. There are several possibilities, for example, tattooing. Another interesting possibility is a tiny microchip implant under the dog's skin, which could be read off like a bar code at the outlet to a supermarket. It can be done quite painlessly—[Interruption.]

Mr. Allan Rogers (Rhondda)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Some of us are extremely concerned to hear the hon. Member for Plymouth, Drake (Dame J. Fookes) put forward her arguments. It is obvious from the attendance in the Chamber that many hon. Members are interested. Could we have a little order so we can understand what the hon. Member says?—[Interruption.]

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Paul Dean)

Order. I am sure that the House will grant the hon. Lady the courtesy of listening to her quietly.

Dame Janet Fookes

I believe that there is a law still on the statute book requiring animals that are out of control to be muzzled. Perhaps we could do with a few muzzles here tonight.

The RSPCA asked the London School of Economics to report—independent of the RSPCA—various possibilities for schemes and the costings of them. I shall not bore the House with all the details of the report, as it is quite a long document. However, it is worth while anyone with a serious interest in the matter looking at all the information contained in the report. It gives many different figures for the kind of schemes that it might be possible to set up, depending on whether one asked dog owners to foot the entire bill, or whether it was done partly by them and partly by local authorities. What is important is that there should be a dog registration bureau, which, according to this report, could be run quite simply. A famous computer firm was asked to work out the details. So the details are provided by an organisation that knows what it is talking about. That, linked with proper dog wardens introduced everywhere by district councils, would provide the means of enforcement.

Mr. Hardy

The hon. Lady knows that I have a considerable interest in this matter. Does she accept that her view would receive even wider support if she made it clear that any fee that was to be paid as a result of the registration scheme would be centrally determined? I hope that she will reject the Government's longstanding view that responsibility should be passed on to local authorities, and that they should fix the fee. That aspect causes considerable anxiety among many people who are interested in dogs, especially dog owners who know that they would pay whatever fee was charged and that many of those who cause the problem would continue to pay nothing.

Dame Janet Fookes

In this regard it is interesting to note that the number of dog licences rose by 60 per cent. in Northern Ireland when the fee was updated a few years ago under an order that applied only to Northern Ireland. I believe that the scheme I have in mind would have an even higher take-up, for various reasons that might bore the House at this hour.

A colour-coded tag on a dog showing that it has an up-to-date licence enables a dog warden to see at a glance whether the dog is properly registered. Unlike unregistered television sets, unregistered dogs make themselves known. Dog wardens with the power to enforce the law can get on to the problem straight away. It is essential first, however, that the dog be properly registered and linked to its owner.

Dog wardens and RSPCA inspectors tell me that one of their greatest problems is that of trying to prove ownership. It is all too easy for someone to disclaim ownership and to say that a dog belongs to a sister or brother-in-law and is being looked after for two weeks. In a recent court case in Stevenage the charge against a man was dismissed because he claimed that the dogs in question were not his—they belonged to his company. Present or future legislation will not have its full effect as long as that can happen.

I am aware that my right hon. Friend has announced various measures in conjunction with my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. I have considered them carefully. Some are useful, others less so, but they all fail on this key point: it is essential to be able to identify a dog permanently, and to link it with its owner.

The Association of District Councils has sent in its own plans for a dog registration scheme. I believe they are on my right hon. Friend's desk now. It would be interesting to know whether he has any comments to make on them, but it is instructive that the organisation feels so strongly about the problem that it is prepared to propose its own scheme.

If the Government do not want to take on the ordering of the scheme there is no reason why another body—perhaps voluntary, like the RSPCA, or the Association of District Councils, or even a private firm—should not run the scheme. I hope that my hon. Friends and Opposition Members will join me in the Lobby tonight if the Government cannot concede this point.

I am concerned about stray dogs, and many people who have seen them looking miserably out of dogs' homes share that concern. For the last 15 years I have sought to persuade Governments of both complexions to take some action. The situation does not improve; it gets worse, and now we see the development of a fashion for more aggressive and larger breeds, often kept in unsuitable conditions and often not exercised sufficiently. Some of them are kept in places where there are small children, even though the breeds are not suitable to be in close contact with small children, and it is time to act.

We know that there is the ever-present threat of the spread of rabies through Europe. I am aware, of course, that there are contingency plans, but how much easier it would be if we at least had all dogs registered and knew exactly where we were going.

Mr. Tony Marlow (Northampton, North)

My hon. Friend is concerned about people having macho dogs with small children and I think that we all agree with her, but how does a dog registration scheme affect that?

Dame Janet Fookes

If we had the system that I am suggesting whereby every dog was registered on a computer we could have additional information referring, perhaps, to the breed or type of dog. If we had dog wardens whose prime responsibility, in addition to rounding up strays, was the enforcement of the law, it would be easy, using a computer system, to light up where the dogs were and, if necessary, make particular checks on them. That is the key point of that system.

Dogs that were not registered because people had riot bothered to do so could be taken in as strays and dealt with. If people did not claim them, one would have an answer. As it is, the requisite powers are not in place and it is high time they were. I hope that the House will show decisively that the time has come to take the plunge and go for a compulsory dog registration scheme linked to dog wardens. If my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is not able to meet me on that, I must force the clause to a Division.

Mr. Matthew Taylor

I should like to address the general question of dog registration, although my hon. Friends and I have tabled a specific amendment. The hon. Member for Plymouth, Drake (Dame J. Fookes) deserves considerable credit for the effort that she has put into campaigning on this subject over many years. Many hon. Members are here to listen and to take part in the debate, and that is a tribute to the public and private concern that the hon. Lady and many others have shown. [Interruption.]

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. Will hon. Members who are not staying for the debate please leave quietly?

Mr. Taylor

I mentioned public concern because it is clear after attacks over a long period, and especially after the recent attacks by rottweilers, that there is enormous anxiety about the welfare of the animals and the impact on communities of attacks, disease and general pest control. There is also private concern because it is evident from the number of hon. Members who are present that the Secretary of State can be beaten on the issue of his reluctance to take action, although I think that the House will have to press the matter to a Division because he will be reluctant to accept the new clause.

12.45 am

Much has been said in recent weeks about attacks by dogs which have been bred and trained to guard and to attack. Nobody suggests that a dog registration scheme will answer all the problems or that no further attacks will occur, but at least there will be a guarantee that owners can be traced and identified when incidents take place. That will be a strong incentive for them to keep their dogs under proper control.

Mr. Christopher Hawkins

As 60 per cent. of people did not pay the 37½p dog licence, how can the hon. Gentleman guarantee that dog owners will register under the proposed scheme?

Mr. Taylor

The scheme is necessary for other reasons. For example, in addition to attacks, animals cause other nuisances, not least the danger of disease, the concern of farmers over sheep worrying by dogs and car and other accidents caused by strays. Although local authorities have powers to establish their own schemes—no doubt that will form part of the Secretary of State's case against the new clause—they are unlikely to be able to set up effective schemes, even if they could find the cash to do so.

The Secretary of State will probably also argue that there is already a requirement for dogs in public places to wear collars and identity tags. As the hon. Member for High Peak (Mr. Hawkins) pointed out the shortcomings of the previous dog licence system, so a Department of the Environment working party report back in 1976 said that the collar and tag requirement was more honoured in the breach than in the observance. The new clause would ensure that we had an effective scheme in place.

A compulsory scheme would prevent owners from denying ownership. It would be self-financing through the charges that would be levied. Sweden is an example of how effective such a scheme could be. Battersea dogs' home receives about 22,000 strays a year. In Stockholm they have difficulty in filling cages for 50 strays.

The argument used by the hon. Member for High Peak would suggest that when the fee for dog licences was increased in Northern Ireland there would be a dramatic fall even from the low levels registration that there had been before, but that did not happen. In fact, there was an increase in registration, even though the scheme was not on the same scale or basis as the one being argued for today. We are arguing for a scheme in which there is clear identification and enforcement, a scheme that is of benefit to the animals themselves as well as to the public, and one which commands the clear support of the population. If hon. Members have the guts to follow their principles and vote for such a scheme, it will also have the clear support of the House of Commons.

I am not asking for a dramatic change of heart by hon. Members, who have already shown their support for the scheme by signing the early-day motion and by supporting the scheme already set out in legislation, which the Secretary of State has decided not to implement because the Act says "may" rather than "shall". We are asking hon. Members to support just a small change which will compel the Secretary of State to take action. I hope that the House will do so.

Mr. Ridley

I pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Drake (Miss Fookes) for the work that she does for animal welfare, and for the consistency of her campaigns for the registration scheme, about which she spoke so eloquently. Both she and the hon. Member for Truro (Mr. Taylor) spent the majority of their time talking about a dog registration scheme, when the House should first direct itself to the problems and what we should do about them.

Irresponsible owners who fail properly to control their dogs cause three problems of serious concern. The first is attacks by dangerous dogs—a recent phenomenon that has got a lot of publicity. The second problem is fouling in public places, and the third is stray dogs. These are becoming more and more serious in everyday life, particularly in urban areas. Filthy pavements, packs of stray dogs, let alone isolated attacks by uncontrolled dangerous animals, are becoming a major threat to the quality of life, and in some cases to safety and health.

We are determined to do all that is possible to deal with these problems. My hon. Friend said that the time has come to act. I agree with her, and I am happy to announce a package of measures to provide what I believe is the best solution to these important but essentially local problems. I announced in March our intention to require local authorities to tackle these problems. They are local problems and should be tackled by the local authorities. I can now give the House details.

First, on dog fouling, as part of a package of measures to deal with the increasing problem of litter, I propose to place on local authorities a duty to clear up dog messes in public places. This will be enforced through a code of practice to which local authorities will have to adhere. Any member of the public will be entitled to seek an order in the courts if a local authority fails in its duty to do so. This duty will be backed up by the existing powers of local authorities to make byelaws against dog fouling or to restrict dogs from certain public places, particularly where children play.

Secondly, on stray dogs—

Mr. Allan Rogers (Rhondda)

Will the right hon Gentleman give way on that point?

Mr. Ridley

No, I will not give way.

Both the police and local authorities have powers to take up, hold and, if necessary, destroy dogs. The police have a duty to hold a stray animal if it is brought in by a member of the public, but no one has the duty to collect up and deal with stray dogs. I propose that that duty should be placed firmly on local authorities, freeing police time for what should be their proper tasks. Local authorities will be able to undertake that duty as they wish.

I do not propose to issue a code of guidance, and many councils will no doubt conclude that a dog warden system on the lines already operated by some 200 local authorities is the best way to fulfil their duties. I see no other way that local authorities will be able to discharge their duties. I claim in aid the Opposition, by quoting from their October 1986 conference declaration: We will set up properly financed dog warden services in the interests of people's health and the welfare of domestic pets. In support of local authorities' general proactive responsibility, I intend giving them powers to charge owners seeking to collect stray dogs from custody and a clear duty to enforce existing requirements in respect of collars and identification tags. Local authorities already have powers, subject to various statutory restrictions, to make byelaws requiring dogs to be held on leads in various public places—on roads, in parks and gardens and on beaches. In other countries such leash laws are used more widely than here. We propose examining the present range of order and byelaw-making powers.

As to dealing with dangerous dogs, we fully share the alarm caused by recent horrific stories concerning rottweilers and the attacks that they made. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, who has a responsibility for the control of dangerous dogs and for dog welfare, announced this afternoon a package of measures to tighten up the present controls on dangerous dogs in the Dogs Act 1871.

He proposes, first, to allow the courts to appoint someone other than the owner to destroy a dangerous animal; secondly, to increase to £400 the maximum fine for failure to comply with an order to control or to destroy a dog; thirdly, to give the courts the power to ban from owning or keeping a dog anyone who is the subject of a previous order made under the Act.

Mr. Andrew Bowden (Brighton, Kemptown)

I submit that it is neither practicable nor possible to ban an individual from owning a dog. A husband, for example, who is banned from keeping a dog because of cruelty or for any other reason can arrange for his wife or another member of the family to obtain a dog for him. Would it not be possible to ban a dog being kept at a particular residence or under a particular tenancy? When the tenancy changes or when the house or flat is sold, the ban would be cancelled. The problem will never be dealt with if only one member of a family is banned.

Mr. Ridley

I note my hon. Friend's point and shall discuss it with my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary to see whether he believes that such a scheme would be better.

I make the point that nowhere do those effective and straightforward solutions require for their implementation a dog registration scheme. The fact that an owner has paid a registration fee would not have any bearing on the problem of dog fouling. Nor would registration prevent people from allowing their dogs to stray.

In a recent series of advertisements, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals declared: There is overwhelming evidence that dog registration would help solve the plight of stray dogs in Britain…owners could be identified, traced and held responsible for their dogs' actions. There is already a statutory requirement on owners to put collars and identification tags on their dogs. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Drake that identification is essential, and I shall be happy to review the powers currently available to ensure that any modern form of identification can be attached to the dog rather than just to its collar—but that would not involve registration. People can be fined for breaching—

Mr. Rogers


Mr. Ridley

I will not give way because I am in the middle of a sentence.

People who breach the law on dogs wearing collars are liable to a fine of—[Interruption.]

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Member for Rhondda (Mr. Rogers) must restrain himself. The Secretary of State has said that he will not give way at the moment.

Mr. Ridley

We shall give local authorities a clear duty to enforce the collar or identification requirement. That is all the powers they need in to order to deal with strays.

The alleged overwhelming evidence rests on the dog registration scheme introduced in Northern Ireland in 1984. The report recently produced on the problem of straying, to which reference has been made, made the following comments on the success of the scheme: depending on which figure is accepted for 1984 (of dogs destroyed after straying) the total number of dogs destroyed since the new order was introduced has increased or decreased…Longer term evidence will be needed before the new system can be judged fairly. That is hardly overwhelming evidence.

In none of the recent regrettable rottweiler attacks was there any evidence that identification of the owner was a problem. These owners need the law, albeit reinforced as I have said, to be enforced against them. They do not need registration. The sort of people who would allow their rottweilers to attack pensioners and children in the street will not think twice about buying a dog because of a requirement to register. Therefore, there is no logic in the campaign for a dog registration scheme.

Mr. Marlow

This proposal will obviously be a burden on local government: so be it, that is fine and there is no complaint about that. However, to help local government to discharge that burden, my right hon. Friend suggests that there should be a system of byelaws. At the moment, it is difficult and takes a long time to pass a byelaw. Could my right hon. Friend explain how the byelaws can be made readily available and can be put through the House in a relatively short time?

1 am

Mr. Ridley

I quite agree with my hon. Friend, and my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and I are reviewing the procedure and the conditions under which byelaws are made to ensure that every local authority can easily apply for the byelaws that it will need. The measures will have to be enacted and will be brought in at the earliest opportunity. There will be time to get the law absolutely right when we come to do that.

Mr. Rogers

Early in his exposition, the Secretary of State mentioned that he was going to charge local authorities with the responsibility to ensure that dogs did not foul pavements, and that that would involve the courts. How will that court process operate in order to prevent dogs from excreting on pavements? What will the process entail for local authorities?

Mr. Ridley

The hon. Gentleman knows that no process of law, administration or registration will prevent dogs from fouling pavements. For the sake of health, it is essential to ensure that someone is responsible for cleaning up the mess. I should have thought that the hon. Gentleman would have wanted that.

There is no logic in the campaign for registration, the real reason for which was that it was a way to raise money. This policy will cost a certain amount of money. Estimates commissioned by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals from the London School of Economics suggest that the total annual cost of employing a dog warden, including the cost of holding and dealing with strays, is about £30,000 a year. The city of Bradford, which is widely believed to operate an effective dog warden scheme, and on which the LSE based its estimate, employs five wardens. Therefore, even in a city the size of Bradford, the annual cost will be about £150,000. That is the equivalent of about 40p on the community charge for the city, and that is not counting any revenue support grant which might go towards it.

Is it justifiable to set up a new scheme, with its attendant bureaucracy and the additional costs involved, to collect hypothecated tax from dog owners in order to finance such a small sum, or to chase up the many dog owners who would seek to avoid the tax?

I invite the House to think about the registration scheme. Opposition Members have complained bitterly about the cost and complexity of setting up the community charge registration scheme, and the cost and complexity of a dog registration scheme would be far worse. Every working dog and every old lady's pet dog would have to be registered. Different interest groups would press for exemptions for all sorts of category of owner.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals suggests that the dog registration fee should be £65. That is as much as twice what many people will have to pay as a community charge if they are on full rebate. We cannot expect people to pay twice as much for the registration of their dog as they pay for local authority services. There would have to be a complicated system of rebates for old-age pensioners, for example, the blind, those who own sheepdogs and those who are on income support. The register would have to be kept up to date, and dogs die at a fairly early age and are transferred from one owner to another. New dogs are required at regular intervals. All these factors would have to be included in the production of a register. It would be the hardest register of all to collect information for and to set up.

The Kennel Club, to which my hon. Friend the Member for Drake did not refer as an organisation concerned with dogs and one which supported her, does not support a dog registration scheme. I shall quote from its letter to me, which I received today. It reads: Our data base contains"— it has its own registration scheme— 2.3 million dogs and is a voluntary scheme but despite this the change of address of owners and their names does occur with great frequency (10 per cent. a year) and we are seldom notified. The numerous other arguments against a national registration scheme are well known and have been clearly stated".

Mr. Frank Cook (Stockton, North)

I ask the Secretary of State to adjust his perspective for about 10 seconds. Does he realise that the registration is of the owner, not of the dog? Responsibility for the behaviour of the dog, including any misdemeanours, and its welfare and care is placed on the owner, and the owner could be traced. Will the Secretary of State consider registration from that angle?

Mr. Ridley

Of course we could not make a dog register itself. We would have to register the owner. The hon. Gentleman states the obvious. The new clause is all about a dog registration scheme. Surely the hon. Gentleman understands that that means registering owners and not dogs.

Mr. Roger Gale (Thanet, North)

I am sure that my right hon. Friend did not wish deliberately to mislead the House when he referred to the fee that the RSPCA suggests, but he most certainly has done so. He quoted a flat, one-off fee for life. The annual alternative fee would not be anything like £65. Instead, it would be £15.

Mr. Ridley

I thank my hon. Friend for that elucidation. I do not think that a fee of £15 would be all that popular. Nor do I think that it would be easy to collect that fee instead of £65. I believe that there would be massive problems with evasion if there were fees of that sort.

On the other hand, the community charge mechanism is effective and simple. It would provide a reliable source of income from the local community to deal with a community problem. A dog registration scheme would probably be the worst tax to raise money that it was possible to invent.

We shall of course be consulting local authorities and other interested bodies about the details of what I propose. I believe that the package I have outlined will give local authorities the tools with which to do the necessary job. What the Government propose will tackle the real problems without inventing an expensive and complex bureaucracy and a new tax that many people would find it hard to pay or would wish to evade. I hope that my hon. Friend feels that what we have suggested will meet the real concern of people that the situation should improve and that a dog registration scheme is therefore not necessary.

Dr. John Cunningham (Copeland)

I, too, congratulate the hon. Member for Plymouth, Drake (Dame J. Fookes) on her speech, in which she dealt with a series of issues of considerable public significance. The Secretary of State said that we should concentrate on the problems and then try to find effective solutions, and I agree with him. I told my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Brightside (Mr. Blunkett) that I did not care too much whether he was in the Chamber tonight, so long as he made sure that his dog Offa was here and on my side when I spoke.

The recent series of incidents in which people have been savagely mauled by rottweilers has shocked the people of Britain. They want action to be taken now so that safety in public places is improved, with greater control being exercised over dog owners and their animals. In previous years we have endured other such incidents involving other breeds of dog. It just happens that rottweilers are fashionable at the moment. In the past it has been alsatians or doberman pinschers. It is not a new problem.

Unless better protection is provided for the public, and unless better enforcement systems in respect of owners can be used, some of these dogs will, literally, be lethal. A warden scheme and an owner registration scheme represent the best way in which to begin to resolve the problem of dog attacks and the problem of public health and hygiene which is associated with dogs fouling public open spaces and footpaths.

I share the Secretary of State's view that these problems will not be immediately resolved by whatever scheme is finally put in place. It would be unrealistic to suppose otherwise. However, I do not accept that to increase the level of fines and to lay further duties on local authorities without making any specific commitment to provide additional central Government finance to support the administration of the scheme would be right. Apart from public safety and public health and hygiene, the nuisance caused by dogs is often considerable. The number of accidents involving dogs and motor vehicles is also considerable. Taken together, all these things cost a great deal of public money.

Mr. Gary Waller (Keighley)

The hon. Gentleman began his speech by referring, quite properly, to the problems caused by dangerous dogs, but does he agree that a dog registration scheme would not deal with the problems caused by dangerous dogs? The RSPCA accepts that a dog registration scheme which tried to identify particular breeds of dogs would be unworkable, particularly if we take into account the fact that many problems are caused not by rottweilers but by other dogs which would also have to be registered.

Dr. Cunningham

I do not agree with any of that. Of course, all owners would be required to register their dogs.

There is a wide range of issues and problems. Although the current anxiety is principally about vicious or violent dogs, there is widespread concern about health, hygiene and accidents. We need a system which can begin to deal with all those issues, not just the recent incidents involving a particular breed. Those incidents which have gained media attention are just a tiny fraction of the incidents involving dogs almost every day.

1.15 am

Perhaps I should declare an interest as a dog owner and dog lover. One of the first points that we should recognise is that not everyone comes into that category. People are often unsure or afraid of dogs, even dogs which are very friendly, like the dog in my family. However we consider these problems, we need to bring more pressure to bear and exercise more controls over dog owners, and registering them is the beginning of the way to resolve those problems.

According to the latest estimate, there were more than 7 million dogs in the United Kingdom in 1988, 500,000 more than in the previous year. The increase is forecast to continue. The problems will continue to grow. The Secretary of State has said nothing to convince the public that the Government's proposals will resolve the nature or scale of the problems. Of course, we need a system which helps local authorities properly to finance dog warden schemes. I do not believe that that burden should be placed solely on poll tax payers. Surely dog owners have a duty to contribute to the cost of the resolution of these problems. A realistic registration fee is a way of achieving that.

Last year, during the passage of another Local Government Bill, the Government abolished the licence fee, which was a paltry 37p. That fee was out of date and the system was neglected and discredited. It was right that it should go, but it was wrong that it was not replaced by a more effective scheme which addressed the problems. The Government have created a vacuum which they clearly regret, as evidenced by the announcements of the Secretary of State. The House of Lords quite rightly wrote into that Bill provisions for a dog registration scheme. The Secretary of State immediately made clear his intention not to activate those proposals. He should think again. Perhaps the other place will again force him to reconsider, aided by increasing public opinion in support of what the other place and we say.

In 1978, the then Labour Government commissioned a working party on these problems. It reported in 1978, hut was overtaken by the 1979 general election. The incoming Conservative Government set the report aside and took no action. We were convinced then and we remain convinced that a registration scheme should be set up, to be administered at local level. I share the view of the Secretary of State that, whatever the system, these problems will be adequately and effectively dealt with only at local level. We cannot resolve them with Ministers and Whitehall having all the powers and local authorities having none.

Mr. Anthony Steen (South Hams)

I, too, am a dog owner and a dog lover. I have been trying to understand the arguments of the hon Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham) about registration and to relate them to strays. When I was in the north-west, my office was next to the RSPCA home and I saw the horror of all the stray dogs being brought in and put down. It was a terrible sight. How will registration prevent that? How would the hon. Gentleman ensure that owners of dogs which have litters were on some sort of register? The House would be interested to hear how he envisages a system of registration working.

Dr. Cunningham

The best way to tackle a problem is to make a start. Unless we beging to do something, the position will worsen—

Mr. Graham Riddick (Colne Valley)

Answer the question.

Dr. Cunningham

Shut up.

Mr. Riddick


Dr. Cunningham

I am answering the question, you fathead.

Mr. Marlow

On this side of the House we do not think that you are a fathead, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I am in a very tolerant mood tonight.

Dr. Cunningham

No discourtesy to you was intended, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

As the hon. Member for Drake said, we need a system which connects dog owners and animals. Nothing that the Secretary of State has said tonight will bring about that simple connection. Unless there is such a link in identification, which registration would begin to put in place, nothing will begin to resolve the problem of strays. It is no good suggesting that people should pay larger fines to get their dogs out of dog pounds. Only one in 10 stray dogs are collected from the pounds by their owners. If they know that there will be an ever larger financial penalty when they collect their dogs, the percentage being collected will fall, not rise. The right hon. Gentleman's proposals simply do not hang together.

I want to say something about the Secretary of State's dismissal of the proposals in the new clause on grounds of cost and bureaucracy. The RSPCA estimates that the current cost to the public of such a variety of problems is £60 million to £70 million per year and rising. We are already paying a heavy price for our failure to deal with those problems. They can only get worse under the right hon. Gentleman's proposals and the costs will increase.

The right hon. Gentleman said that under the new clause all dogs would have to be registered and he made great play about guide dogs for the blind. Of all the categories that he could have chosen, he could not have been more wrong than he was about guide dogs. Dogs like Offa, who belongs to my hon. Friend the Member for Brightside do not savage people in public parks and they do not foul public places. In any case, they could be exempt because guide dogs are already subject to a registration scheme. The right hon. Gentleman chose a great many nit-picking arguments and rolled them into an argument about cost and bureaucracy to support his claim that the scheme would not work.

The right hon. Gentleman also mentioned the cost of the scheme for pensioners. They, too, could be exempt —[Interruption.] The right hon. Gentleman raised the point. Pensioners' house dogs are usually tiny and do not cause the majority of the problems. Exempt or not, with modern technology and management systems it would be quite a simple matter to have a registration scheme which could be effectively administered.

Mr. Rogers

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Dr. Cunningham

I have nearly finished my speech.

The same Secretary of State who opposes dog registration says that he wants to register every person over 18 to pay the poll tax. He says that that will be efficient and will not cost much, but he will not agree to register 7 million animal owners. To use one of his own favourite phrases, he is talking absolute nonsense and he knows it.

Mr. John Marshall (Hendon, South)

Interestingly, those who advocate registration are unwilling to talk about its cost. To put forward a scheme that will involve people making a one-off payment of £65 or an annual payment of £15 is unfair to pensioners, one-parent families and other groups in social need.

Mr. Tim Devlin (Stockton, South)

Does my hon. Friend have any conception of veterinary fees? Someone who cannot afford to pay £50 or £60 a year should not keep a dog, because every time that their dog is even slightly injured they will pay over £100 for the most elementary treatment. I should welcome a scheme that makes owners pay a proper fee to keep dogs.

Mr. Marshall

As a dog owner, I am well aware of the cost of veterinary fees. There is no reason for placing an additional burden on dog owners, which is what the proponents of the scheme are willing to do.

I do not believe that people would register their dogs. We know that people did not pay the former dog licence. It is perverse logic to suggest that increasing the cost of registration will make people register their dogs. If they did not pay the dog licence, they will not be willing to register.

To say that under a dog registration scheme someone will be able to find out whose dog bit him and who its owner was is absurd in the extreme. If a dog bites someone, will it then stop so that the hon. Member for Plymouth, Drake (Dame J. Fookes) or anyone else can look at its tag to find out who its owner is? Of course it will run away as quickly as possible. It is absurd to suggest that a dog registration scheme will stop dogs biting people, postmen or even Labour party canvassers, if there are any left, or stop dogs fouling the pavement.

I have been shocked by the RSPCA's campaign. Its press advertisement was quite irresponsible because the sight of those dogs was quite unrelated to the abolition of the dog licence. It and every hon. Member knows that that advertisement was quite irresponsible.

If we are to get rid of the problem of strays we need a system of spaying and neutering. In 1939, the RSPCA signed an agreement with the British Veterinary Association that it would not neuter cats or dogs belonging to the general public, except in special circumstances. The RSPCA is a wealthy organisation. I read an article this evening that stated that it has accumulated funds of £40 million. If it wants to deal with the problem of stray dogs it should use that money to set up spaying and neutering centres.

Mr. Peter L. Pike (Burnley)

I shall be brief, but I should like strongly to support the new clause. Although I do not believe that it will solve all the problems, it is a move in the right direction. It will deal vigorously with the problems of dogs, which are caused by irresponsible owners. We have to stress that it is not the dogs themselves that cause the problem, but the actions of irresponsible owners, which allow them to become strays or foul the footpath and cause the majority of problems at present.

1.30 am

The proposals outlined by the Secretary of State were some of the greatest nonsense that I have ever heard him utter. That is saying something with that Secretary of State, because he speaks a lot of nonsense at times. He throws another burden on local authorities and assumes that local authorities can solve this problem. He has shifted it from the owners and the Government and has said to local government, "This is your problem. You solve it." Yet he does not give local authorities the resources or the ability to solve the problem. Without a dog registration scheme, his proposal would be totally inoperable and totally ineffective.

I remind the House of what the Secretary of State said last year when we dealt with the Lords amendment. He made it very clear then that, although he was not prepared to disapprove of the Lords amendment, he had no intention of operating it. The only reason that he did not want to disapprove of it at that stage—because it is nonsense to allow a proposal to stand in a Bill if one has no intention of operating it—and the only reason that he did not want to put the Lords amendment to the vote was that he felt that he was in danger of losing. The only reason why he has come forward with his nonsensical proposal is to try to dissuade some of his hon. Friends from standing firmly by the new clause and voting against the Government tonight. He is trying to lead them in a false direction.

I want to echo a point made in an intervention by my hon. Friend the Member for Wentworth (Mr. Hardy). I could say much on the issue of dogs, having had a major problem with dogs being banned from parks in Burnley in the 1970s. My hon. Friend made the point clearly that he hoped that any dog registration scheme would have a nationally fixed fee. We had a saga of problems with banning dogs from certain parks and I could talk for hours on that if it was not so late. The case is strengthened for having a nationally fixed fee.

When the Secretary of State referred to byelaws, he had to recognise the difficulty of bringing in byelaws and he should have done more about it than he has done tonight. When the byelaws were introduced in Burnley under the County Borough Act 1881, they had to be incorporated in the County of Lancashire Act 1984. That Act was blocked in this House and in the other place for about two years solely because of the Burnley dog ban in parks.

If the Secretary of State really believes that his solution can work, he must think again. I ask Conservative Members not to be led astray by what the Secretary of State has said tonight. He has offered a proposal that will not solve the problem. If we want to reduce the incidence of dogs fouling our footpaths, straying and attacking children, old people and postmen, we must support the new clause.

Mr. Gale

I will support my hon. Friend in the Lobby tonight—[HoN. MEMBERS: "Which one?"] I will support my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Drake (Dame J. Fookes) and I hope that many of the more than 100 of my hon. Friends who signed the early-day motion will also support the new clause.

I want first to thank my hon. Friend the Member for Surrey, South-West, (Mrs. Bottomley), the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, for her courtesy on the two occasions when we have met her to discuss the problem and for the attention she has paid to both my hon. Friend the Member for Drake and myself as officers of the all-party group for animal welfare when we have raised the matter with her. It is a sadness to me that after the last occasion on which my hon. Friend and I took a delegation from the RSPCA to meet the Minister, it found it necessary to put out a press release saying that she had been intransigent. She was not. It was neither true nor just. [HON. MEMBERS: "When does the press tell the truth?"] I do not believe that this is a party political issue in any way. There can be no doubt among hon. Members of any party, or on the Front Bench, that there is a problem with stray dogs; with the fact that 1,000 dogs every day of the year—350,000 dogs per year—are being destroyed; with the damage that is caused by stray animals and with injuries. The difference between us is a genuine one; it is a difference over how the problem should be solved.

I welcome the measures that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary announced in a written answer earlier today, although I am slightly concerned by the caveat that these measures will be introduced subject to legislative opportunity. As many hon. Members have said, each of those measures is dependent upon the identification of the dog and the owner of the dog in question. Every single measure that my right hon. Friend has announced today, such as taking cases involving dangerous dogs to court, giving courts the power to order the destruction of a dog where the owner is not prepared to do so and ordering the implementation of a fine, is dependent upon an identification system. In a sedentary intervention, my hon. Friend the Member for High Peak (Mr. Hawkins) asked how identification would help. The RSPCA is right to say that although a registration and identification system is not the solution to the problem in itself it is the cornerstone of a series of solutions to what is becoming a national problem.

Other hon. Members have asked how we can make people register and have said, "People did not pay the 7s 6d licence fee." It is true that they did not and that it fell into disrepute—

Mr. John Marshall

People do not always pay the road fund tax.

Mr. Gale

Precisely, as my hon. Friend says, people do not always pay the road fund tax, but there is no suggestion that the Government will abolish the vehicle licensing scheme. There is no suggestion, for the time being at least, that the televison registration scheme or the gun licence scheme will be abolished. The fact that every hen. Member knows that not every dog owner will register immediately is no reason for sitting back and doing nothing.

Mr. Devlin

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Gale

No, I should prefer not to because other hon. Members wish to speak and I am sure that my hon. Friend will be able to make his own speech in a moment.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has suggested a further set of measures this evening that could be provided through the funding raised as a result of a registration scheme, but he has chosen instead to place that funding burden on the ratepayer.

I believe that a national dog warden scheme is necessary and desirable and that it is necessary locally to ensure that dog owners do not allow their animals to foul public footpaths and playing greens. However, I also believe as a Conservative—although I did say that this was not a party political matter—that the user should pay. I do not see why the ordinary ratepayer, the non-dog owner, should be required to pay for my dogs, the dogs of any of my hon. Friends or of any old-age pensioners. The figures have been given. The RSPCA has stated that the cost of a national registration scheme would be £65 as a flat fee upon the initial registration of a puppy or approximately £15 per year. It has been said that that would place an unfair burden on old-age pensioners but I remind the House that it costs about £200 per year for each and every year of a dog's life to keep a dog fed and properly maintained in terms of veterinary fees. Frankly, sad though it may be, the person who cannot afford the £15 most certainly could not afford the £200—or more for a larger dog—that it costs to keep an animal per year.

I believe that a national register is practical and possible and that it will help as one ingredient in the solution to the problem. Indeed, I believe that it is essential. However, it need not be unnecessarily bureaucratic. I believe that it needs to be run by the state. It has been said that the Kennel Club already has a regulation scheme. The British Veterinary Association, which backs this proposal, has indicated a willingness to become involved, and so, too, has the RSPCA. For those who would like to see the private sector run the scheme, the Wood Green animal shelter has said that it has the computer capacity and the ability to run such a scheme.

I hope that those more than 100 of my hon. Friends who signed the early-day motion which led to my hon. Friend's new clause will support us in the Lobby tonight.

Mr. McAllion

I do not wish to detain the House at this hour, but, as it was my constituent, an 11-year old girl, Kellie Lynch, who was killed in the attack by a rottweiler dog just two short months ago, I have taken a special interest in the subject. I did not want this debate to pass without making a contribution.

Like the Secretary of State for the Environment, I wish to concentrate on the problems presented to the public by certain breeds of dogs. One problem of which I have been very much aware, but which has not been mentioned so far, is that we do not know the current size of the dog population in this country. In this morning's The Daily Telegraph, for example, it was estimated that the population of rottweilers has increased a hundred fold over the past decade—from 1,800 in 1979 to 180,000 currently. In a recent letter to me, the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department estimated that the rottweiler dog population is 90,000, and the researchers for a BBC programme in which I participated recently estimated it at 50,000.

Estimates varying from 50,000 to 180,000 must show that we do not know the size of the rottweiler population. Until we know that, we cannot begin to understand the seriousness of the threats of certain dogs to human welfare and safety. It is important that we take the first step towards coming to grips with the problem by instituting a national registration scheme, which would at least show the size of the problem.

The Secretary of State admitted that one problem that we have to confront is attacks by dangerous dogs. He appeared to suggest that this was the problem of the owners rather than the dogs. I dispute that argument, because the owner of the dog which killed my constituent was a very respected breeder, who, up to that time, had had a good record for looking after his dogs. I do not believe that the House can get away with laying all the blame at the door of owners.

Certain breeds of dog in this country are sufficiently dangerous in themselves to justify extra control being brought in by the House to ensure that the public are safe from those dogs.

One of our first tasks must be to institute a national registration scheme, and to back that up with an effective dog warden scheme in every part of the country to ensure that those dogs can be kept under proper control.

The law at present is deficient because it does not recognise that there are dogs that are inherently dangerous. As the law stands, an attack must take place before any court will define a dog as dangerous. By the time a dog has been so defined, it is too late, the harm and the pain has already been caused to the people who have been attacked. If we allow the law to remain as it is, we will be responsible for any future attacks, so the House must do something about it.

The Secretary of State announced a whole package of measures, which I believe are too little and already too late for the seriousness of the situation. None of those so-called proper laws on dogs would have saved my young constituent's life when she was attacked by that rottweiler, or prevented a rottweiler dog from dragging a young boy off his bike in a park and severely savaging him. [Interruption.] Registration would certainly help; it does not exist now; the House should adopt it to ensure better control of dogs.

The law will deal severely with a dog only after an attack takes place, and less severely with the owner. That is no compensation for the victims of these attacks. We have a responsibility to try to do something to help them.

1.45 am

No one in the House can justify the present unrestricted market in which anyone who wants to can acquire any sort of dog. Anyone can own a rottweiler, which can stand 3 ft high and weigh 15 stones. Anyone can own a pit bull terrier. Only this week on breakfast television an American dog warden reported that pit bull terriers have killed 16 people in the United States in the past two and a half years. Anyone in this country can own an animal that I saw advertised in the Exchange & Mart in Scotland a few weeks ago. It was described as a hybrid, 75 per cent. wolf. All one needs to own one of them is money. It does not matter where it is kept, or whether it is allowed to roam free. It does not matter if it is encouraged to be fierce and to attack other people. Dogs are being sold and described as attack dogs and war dogs, and the law will not act until one of them inflicts pain and suffering on someone. That is intolerable.

In an Adjournment debate tomorrow night, I shall make several suggestions about what can be done to control dangerous dogs, but nothing can be done to control them until we have a national registration scheme and know the numbers of dogs and who owns them. That is the essential first step, and the House must not walk away from its responsibilities.

Mr. Hawkins

My hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Drake (Dame J. Fookes) spoke on the Jimmy Young show this morning. Throughout the interview her host kept saying how reasonable the dog registration scheme seemed and that he could not see why anyone should object to it. My hon. Friend said in her speech tonight that 92 per cent. of the public would support some form of dog registration scheme. My hon. Friend succeeded in fooling Jimmy Young, and the public have been grossly misled by a campaign by the RSPCA.

On the show, my hon. Friend did not have time to detail exactly what the scheme involves. I want to quote a letter sent to supporters of the RSPCA, of whom I am one. I am also a local vice-president, and a campaigner for animal rights. The RSPCA wrote to supporters as follows: Please support our campaign by writing to your MP today. Simply say that you are in favour of dog registration". The people who are in favour of this scheme, while claiming that it will cure rape, famine, pestilence, war, acne, dangerous dogs and everything else, have not told the public that it involves—according to the RSPCA and my hon. Friends the Members for Drake and for Thanet, North (Mr. Gale)—the permanent branding of dogs. The RSPCA has said: we need a law that ensures every dog is marked with a unique and permanently applied number". I do not want that for my dogs, and I should very much like to see the RSPCA conduct a poll among its dog-owning members to discover what proportion of them, when correctly told what the scheme involved, would vote for this permanent branding—

Dame Janet Fookes

First, it is not only the RSPCA which wants a dog registration scheme. Why should the Association of District Councils take the trouble to present a scheme to my right hon. Friend?

Secondly, why are some voluntary schemes using implants? A good many dog owners want their dogs registered so that, if they are lost or stolen, they can get them back easily.

Mr. Hawkins

That is fine if it is voluntary. I am a great believer in freedom of choice. However, we are suggesting not a voluntary scheme but a compulsory one. The Association of District Councils supports such a scheme because it is a method of taxing dog owners to pay for a dog warden service. I am totally in favour of such a service and I understand that it must be paid for. However, it is quite iniquitous to suggest, as my hon. Friend the Member for Thanet, North suggested, that it should be paid for by a tax on dog owners whose dogs commit no offence, behave perfectly normally and are properly looked after and controlled.

It is as absurd to say that dog owners should pay the tax for a dog warden service from which we shall all benefit as it would be to say that only child-bearing parents should pay the tax that is used to finance education. For those reasons I shall oppose the introduction of such a scheme. As I say, I am in favour of dog wardens, but they should be paid for by general taxation, because we will all benefit, or by local taxation.

A dog registration scheme has nothing whatever to do with the problem of dangerous dogs. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has said, most people seem to ignore the fact that in every recent case of rottweilers savaging or damaging people we knew the names of the owners. There was no problem in finding out who they were. The problems arose because of the viciousness of the dogs. That will not solved by an RSPCA scheme for registering dogs, however much such a scheme is supported, and for those reasons I shall oppose it.

Mr. Bob Cryer (Bradford, South)

We are not talking about a single scheme but about requiring the Secretary of State for the Environment to produce regulations. He already has powers to do that but he has made it clear that he will not use them. There are 200 dog warden services and he can consult the local authority associations, one of which has already submitted a dog registration scheme to him. We are not resting our case simply on one scheme. We are saying to the Secretary of State that he is required to produce a scheme and can take into account the objections and benefits put forward in the debate.

Parliament has already required the Secretary of State to produce a scheme, but instead of saying that he "shall" produce one, it said he "may" produce one. This modest new clause does not seek an absolute provision because the second part of it suggests that if the right hon. Gentleman fails to produce a scheme he must produce a statement on 1 January next year and place it before the House so that the House can take a further decision. That is a reasonable request by Parliament.

At a recent meeting of the RSPCA and several other animal organisations, people who face the day-to-day problems posed by stray dogs and problems about the ownership of difficult and savage dogs made it clear that in their day-to-day work they would welcome a dog registration scheme. That day-to-day work is not carried out in the sort of academic fashion in which we work in the House. They said that such a scheme would help them to trace the owners and marry up the stray and difficult dogs with their owners. They said that it would provide some sort of guidance and help for people who often buy dogs and are completely unaware that the soft, cuddly puppies that they buy will grow into dogs that are in some cases completely out of control, even in the families that have helped to bring them up.

I shall give an example of how registration is not only desirable but necessary. One of my constituents, a young girl, was walking through a fair when a dog, apparently under the ownership of a person, set upon her. She suffered severe injuries and complained to the police. The police did nothing. She complained to me, and I took the matter up with the police. Under the Town Police Clauses Act 1847, a person can be prosecuted for having a dangerous dog. In that case, the person in control of the dog at the time simply passed the dog on to its previous owner. The dog was then no longer in the first person's ownership, and the police could not prosecute. They wrote to me saying: The contents…of the letter…are self-explanatory and you will see that unfortunately nothing further can be done. The new owner of the dog, who was also the previous owner, was not present when the attack occurred, and on hearing of the trouble retrieved the dog from Ali. There is no evidence to show that he does not keep the dog under proper control. Nor is there any suggestion that he is unfit to keep the dog. In the circumstances, it was considered inapproprite to take him to court when the owner and person responsible for the dog at the time of the attack was…another person. I endorse the views of the Crown Prosecutor that it is unfortunate that no effective proceedings can be instituted against…this person…for the appalling injury caused by his dog. With a dog registration scheme, it would be difficult, if not impossible, for such a person to say, "I am terribly sorry. Bad injuries have been caused. I pass the dog to somebody else and I am free from the danger of prosecution." That letter shows that that happens.

A dog registration scheme at one fell swoop would ensure that a long-standing piece of legislation, which has not been amended, would be put into operation. A young girl who has been scarred for life and who has needed plastic surgery would have the satisfaction of knowing that the same fate would not befall other people in the same circumstances.

As has been pointed out, registration would enable strays to be matched to their owners. That is important, for one of the most chilling comments of an RSPCA inspector at last week's meeting was that as circumstances such as adverse publicity caused the prices of certain breeds to drop—rottweilers being a good example—more strays were in evidence as people simply tipped their dogs on to the roads. Are we to accept the present situation, with American pit bull terriers being at large, wandering about streets on housing estates, and we cannot do anything about it because we cannot trace their owners? It is not true to say that in all accidents the owners are known. The economics of the situation should appeal to the Government. As prices drop, dogs and puppies are turned out on to the streets, and some of them are potentially highly dangerous breeds.

If the Secretary of State does not like the idea of local authorities raising the money, he can raise it centrally. We are here giving the right hon. Gentleman discretion—not something we would do lightly. On this occasion we are prepared to encourage him in the task. Wardens can educate, inform and help people understand their animals, so that the accidents which have received much publicity recently are not repeated.

In the BBC programme "Face the Facts" on 23 February 1989 a commentator interviewed a Mr. Keith Porter at the Birmingham accident hospital about a horrific accident, the details of which I will not relate. Apparently a rottweiler was being stroked by a small child through a fence. The boy was badly attacked and needed new skin on his damaged legs. The commentator said: As well as having to treat more and more victims of vicious dogs, the burden on the National Health Service weighs heavy in terms of cost. I would have thought the Government would be seeking ways to reduce NHS expenditure.

The commentator continued: Last year around five million pounds. The latest figures for injuries show that in 1986 four people died as a result of dog bites, twelve hundred were treated as hospital in-patients, and in one metropolitan hospital surveyed at random, three per cent. of all those who visited the Accident and Emergency Department had been bitten by dogs. There is a problem, and solving it will involve cost. It will not go away, and it is increasing. My hon. Friend the Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham) gave a larger figure because he included all the costs in the use of public services for the problems raised by dogs, and those problems will not go away.

2 am

The Secretary of State said that the Bradford dog warden scheme is good, and employs five people at a modest cost. Let me tell him about the case of a headmaster in a primary school who took a small boy back home because he was ill. Of the three doberman pinschers at the house, one broke its chain and attacked the headmaster, breaking his arm and biting him badly. The dog was put down, but was immediately replaced by a rottweiler, so the family kept three dogs. In an adjacent house lived a young mother with an 18-month-old daughter. Every now and again, by accident or design, or as a result of carelessness, the dogs were released. When they were straying about, she was a prisoner in her house because she dared not go out with the child in case one of the dogss should pounce on them.

The mother would call the dog warden service, but on Sundays it was not staffed sufficiently well to enable it to round up so many dogs. There is no limit on the number of dogs that people can have, and these people chose to have three. Perhaps dog registration would cause them to think about the decisions that they take. They might have thought twice before replacing so rapidly the dog that had to be put down. The Secretary of State praises the Bradford service, but good though it is, it is not adequate to deal with those problems, although they arose from a family who were careless, incompetent and irresponsible in their ownership of dogs. Such situations are repeated elsewhere.

The measures that the Secretary of State has announced do not have any matching facilities. In the example that he used—Bradford—the facilities are not adequate, and more is needed. An important step to start control of these problems and of the growing number of dangerous, ferocious and threatening dogs would be a dog registration scheme. I hope that the Secretary of State can understand that.

Mr. Jeremy Hanley (Richmond and Barnes)

I declare an interest as a member of the RSPCA and of the all-party animal welfare group, and as a vice-president of the London Wildlife Trust. I would like to think of myself as a friend of my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Drake (Dame J. Fookes). It pains me to disagree with her as I think that she is one of the most courageous of people in dealing with animal welfare issues, and she has led many campaigns with which I agree. I agree with 99 out of 100 campaigns led by the RSPCA, but I disagree with it in this particular instance. It is sad that in this campaign irresponsibilities and inaccuracies have been made at great expense. When the RSPCA criticised my hon. Friend the Member for Surrey, South-West (Mrs. Bottomley), I felt that that was close to heresy, for she is fragrant. It is also sad that the advertisements with pictures of the large number of dogs that have had to be destroyed by the RSPCA use figures and pictures that have been greatly exaggerated.

All the information that I use will come from a document that has been mentioned by other hon. Members. The hon. Member for Truro (Mr. Taylor) sought honesty and integrity, and I hope to provide him with some, for the document from which I shall quote— and from which a large part of the hon. Gentleman's speech derived—is entitled "A summary of the report commissioned by the RSPCA (1989)" by the London School of Economics and Political Science. Other hon. Members also quoted that document, but not page 3, and those who referred obliquely to page 3, which deals with the cost of the scheme, did not do so accurately.

It is true that in 1988 dog ownership in the United Kingdom totalled 7.3 million—an increase of 500,000 over 1987. It is true also that the figure is likely to continue increasing, and that the LSE stated that compulsory registration and identification is an essential part of any solution. However, no hon. Member mentioned the LSE's finding that There are about 500,000 dogs loose in the streets or countryside every day. Evidence from dog wardens shows that less than half of these dogs are lost. Many of the straying dogs are 'latchkey' dogs. These dogs are allowed by their owners to roam the streets, fouling pavements, playing fields and parks, and contributing to many road accidents. Some of them cause injury to humans, or savage other pets and farm livestock. There is at present no law in Great Britain to prevent owners from letting dogs stray. I hope that no right hon. or hon. Member disagrees with the LSE's other finding: About 240,000 stray dogs are taken to the police station each year by wardens and others, and officially recorded with the police as strays. The summary adds that a further 250,000 strays are identified by wardens and returned directly to their owners without being recorded by the police. That makes a total of 500,000 strays. The summary adds: About 60,000 of the recorded strays are claimed by their owners. Therefore, responsible owners who lose their dogs will bother to claim them, but I wonder how many would do so if their dogs were not registered and they were under an obligation to pay a registration charge as a condition of reclaiming their dogs. The summary continues: Others are not traced within the seven days and the dogs must be kept in the pound…About 90,000 unclaimed strays are found new homes by the animal shelters. I wonder whether, with registration, that figure of 90,000 would reduce because of the extra cost involved. It would certainly not increase, because at present there is no registration charge to the new owner, apart from a voluntary payment to the shelter.

The summary continues: The remaining 90,000 unclaimed strays have to be destroyed each year to make room in the shelter for new strays. If those figures are accurate, about 250 dogs are destroyed every day on the basis of a seven-day week, or 280 per day in a six-day week—not the 1,000 per day mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Thanet, North (Mr. Gale). In any event, the photograph in the RSPCA advertisement was a collage of the same dogs, as was subsequently admitted.

Mr. Gale

My hon. Friend gives the figure for animal shelters only, whereas the RSPCA's statistics relate to dogs destroyed by the RSPCA, by the police, and by others.

Mr. Hanley

I am merely quoting from the information which has been sent to hon. Members in order that they may balance their arguments.

Sir Michael McNair-Wilson (Newbury)

The information given by the RSPCA states that it has to put down 131,000 animals of all kinds per year. The figure of 1,000 per day therefore covers other organisations.

Mr. Hanley

That is most interesting and goes a long way towards confirming what I was saying—[Interruption.] The hon. Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham) says that it does not. His contribution showed that not only are ther dangers normally when he thinkds, but that when he thinks on his feet and open his mouth, he puts his foot right in it. When he talked about guide dogs for the blind he was corrected and told that they were registered anyway. He may have known that —if he did, I will give him credit for it—but he then said that pensioners should be exempt from registration.

Dr. Cunningham

We are asking the Secretary of State. I said that they would be exempt from paying the fee.

Mr. Hanley

The hon. Gentleman said that they would be exempt from registration. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] When I heard him, I immediately thought that they should be exempt from the fee, which has always been designed within the registration process, but not that they should be exempt from registration. If, when I read the debate tomorrow, I find that I am wrong, I will willingly apologise to the hon. Gentleman.

Dr. Cunningham

We need not argue about it. The point was made by the Patronage Secretary from a sedentary position that pensioners would not be able to afford the cost. I said that they could be exempt from the cost, not the registration.

Mr. Hanley

I will willingly check that in the morning and I will willingly apologise if necessary, but I heard what I heard.

I wish to pose a few questions. How will registration deal with the irresponsible, lazy, ignorant or unaware dog owner, or with the deliberate law breaker—[Interruption.] The hon. Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer) says, "You track him down". We track down the dog owners, whose details are on a register only if they have registered their dogs. Those who choose to register their dogs are the responsible ones. I cannot see how this scheme would help the irresponsible, the ignorant, those who are unaware of the legislation or those who deliberately break the law. Those are the people with whom we should be dealing, but we cannot do that by imposing charges which would deter them further.

I wish to place in context the level of charges contained in the document produced by the LSE. The figures of £65 and £15 have been mentioned. When the hon. Member for Truro talked about honesty and integrity, he did not mention the charges. Even my hon. Friend the Member for Drake did not mention the charges set out within the document. I will give them fully because they are important. A one-off payment would be £57, or £66 including a tattoo.

Dame Janet Fookes

I specifically said in my opening speech that the fees and the arrangements could vary depending on the type of scheme in operation but that in the short time available wanted to argue for the principle rather than go into the details of the schemes. It is therefore unfair to suggest that I did not give those details when I explained why I was not doing so.

Mr. Hanley

In no way did I want to give the impression that I believed that my hon. Friend had deliberately left out that information. I hope that she will be pleased that I shall give the information in my speaking time because some of my constituents changed their minds as soon as they heard the figures, which were £57 for the one-off payment or £66 with tattooing, which was regarded by the LSE as essential. It may be tattooing or the permanent fixture of, perhaps, an electrical tag under the skin. In either case, £66 is the figure that we should consider, or a charge of £23, including tattooing, coupled with a £7 annual fee. We have heard that reminders would have to be sent to people which would further increase the cost.

A discount is given for neutered dogs, which are much less of a problem when loose. The registration fee might be £25 for all dogs, with an annual renewal fee of E8 for neutered dogs and £20 for all other dogs. That means that when a dog has a litter the owner will have to register each dog and pay the one-off or first-time charge. If he does not want to do that, he will have to get rid of the dogs, which means finding people prepared to pay £65 or £23 in addition to any charge for the dogs. I would hope that in those circumstances there would be no charge for the dog. It would be extremely difficult to find people prepared to make those payments. The proposed scheme would further persuade people to put down unwanted litters. I believe that if the scheme were introduced, there would be mass extermination of dogs whose owners did not wish to register them. That would be wrong.


Registration will not curb the bad or natural behaviour of dogs. The hon. Member for Bradford, South referred to a number of instances where dogs have savaged human beings and caused injury, but not once did he say that the owner of the dog could not be identified. Of course individuals should be responsible for the actions of their dogs, but registration will not improve identification of the individual. The hon. Member for Bradford, South said that in each instance to which he referred the owner had been identified. There should be a direct responsibility upon an owner for any injuries caused by his dog, but registration will not achieve that. It will simply introduce an additional inconvenience for responsible dog owners.

Registration will not stop dogs fouling public places. One of the most dangerous and disgusting features of dog ownership—I have been a dog owner for most of my life, but I am not one at present—is the fact that dogs foul public places, and all too often their owners ignore the obvious. We see dog owners with dogs on leads walking along the pavements of domestic side roads with their dogs fouling behind them. The owners look in the opposite direction as if it is not happening, but as soon as the fouling has stopped, they pat their dog and say, "Good dog." They know what has happened and they also know where it has happened. Pavements, grass verges, parks and school playing fields are not dog lavatories, but registration will not end that problem because there will never be enough wardens to police every field, park and playing field.

It is the responsible dog owner who would suffer if the registration scheme were introduced. The irresponsible owner would continue to ignore his responsibilities. The main sufferers would be the dogs that were put down because irresponsible owners refused to identify them. They would refuse to do so in the knowledge that they would be fined as soon as the dog was relocated with them. Irresponsible people would deny the existence of their dogs.

I acknowledge that the RSPCA is a most responsible body, and I understand that the scheme will be supported by the millions who condone the society's actions, but that does not make registration right. If a Government were to introduce a compulsory scheme with charges at the proposed levels, they would pay dearly for so doing. If a Government cannot introduce moderate and reasonable reforms of the National Health Service, what will happen to any Government who introduce the compulsory registration of dogs? Perhaps Opposition Members are so keen that the Government should introduce an unpopular scheme that they are prepared to support the RSPCA's scheme.

Mr. Rogers

I am sorry that this has become a combative debate. I do not accept the suggestion of the hon. Member for Richmond and Barnes (Mr. Hanley) that the Government are on trial. The fact is that a problem exists and that hon. Members on both sides of the House wish to discuss it.

I am sorry that, in a sense, dogs are on trial. I say that as a dog lover. The relationship between a dog and its owner is a long-standing one. We have talked for many years about dogs being man's best friend. The relationship of dogs with a family is important. However, many dogs are out of control, and it is clear that they need to be brought under control.

My hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer) illustrated the problem in clear terms. He referred to dogs getting into school playgrounds and to the difficulty of identifying the owners of the dogs. Unless the owners of the dogs can be identifed, there will always be a problem.

A dog registration scheme, either national or local, needs to be implemented. The relationship between the owner and the dog must be established. It is not the Government who are on trial. Hon. Members are on trial. We must grow up and tackle the problem. It is not the £60 million or £70 million that my hon. Friend the Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham) mentioned that is important. It is the children who are being mutilated by dogs that are not kept under control who are important. Until that relationship between a dog and its owner is established, we shall be failing in our duty.

Mr. Vivian Bendall (Ilford, North)

I support the establishment of a dog registration scheme, but it would not solve all the problems that are associated with dogs.

I welcome the announcement tonight by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State but I want to go into the reasons why there are so many vicious dogs. The public need to be educated about the types of dog that they purchase. Many people do not realise that they may be purchasing a potentially dangerous dog.

There should also be a proper licensing of breeders. For far too long there has been too much interbreeding, especially of vicious dogs. [Interruption.] When I talk about interbreeding I am referring to mothers and sons—[Interruption.] It is a serious problem. It is one of the reasons why dogs are vicious. Interbreeding causes serious problems.

We should license the breeder. The law stipulates that two or more breeding bitches should be registered, but that does not happen. We should put that right. We should also deal with puppy farms. Thirty or 40 bitches may be breeding at any given time. The puppies are sent to London and to other large conurbations. When people go to pet shops they cannot find the kind of dog they want. Dogs are often incorrectly described. We should license both breeders and the owners of pet shops. We might then stand a chance of controlling the sale of vicious breeds of dogs.

Vicious dogs are to be found in other countries as well. It has been a dramatic problem in the United States of America for some years on account of vicious doberman pinschers, pit bull terriers, other types of bull terriers and rottweilers. Certain individuals want to own a particularly vicious type of dog. The danger is that these individuals deliberately train their dogs to be vicious. That is borne out by the immense increase in illegal dog fighting using Staffordshire bull terriers. Five Staffordshire bull terriers have been stolen in my constituency during the last five weeks. I am convinced, as are the owners and other people, that the dogs were stolen to be trained for dog fighting. A number of British people are participating in this revolting sport.

I declare an interest. For two years, I have had two Staffordshire bull terriers. That kind of dog behaves properly if it is brought up properly. Vicious breeds can be trained to be vicious. Sadly, some breeds are falling into the wrong hands. That is part of the trouble. I should like my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to ensure that licences are required to import pit bull terriers from America so that we know exactly who has them and where they are going. That would alleviate some of the problems.

The other day, I heard that a pit bull terrier which had been imported from America and lived on an estate in south London had bitten three policemen and generally caused havoc on the estate. Finally, the RSPCA took the dog off the estate, only to have its officers told as they were leaving that the dog had had puppies 10 weeks before which had been given away to people all around the estate.

The problems will be resolved not just by registration but by a combination of measures. There must be dog registration to deal with strays and with the other problems that hon. Members have described.

Mr. Tony Banks

Like others, I pay tribute to the hon. Member for Plymouth, Drake (Dame J. Fookes) for her campaigns on behalf not only of dogs but of animals generally. We owe her a great debt. I shall support new clause 34, but we need to go further. It is only a start. We have argued for a proper licence scheme to enable local authorities to get the funds necessary to run adequate dog warden schemes and help pay for the various "poop" schemes—I cannot think of a better expression—that are run by local authorities. Westminster city council has been running a dog mess clearing scheme. Paris has an effective scheme as well.

Such schemes need substantial resources, which can come only from a substantial dog licence scheme. They could help to pay for education courses in schools and among dog owners. Many responsible owners know little about dog ownership. With a properly funded dog licence scheme, money could be provided for the training of owners so that they looked after their dogs more adequately.

As one who comes from the East End of London, I know that many dogs are kept not as pets but as cheap burglar alarms. Dogs are used as protection against our increasingly violent society. People deliberately opt for the large, exotic and savage dog. If one wants to deter people from breaking into one's house, there is not much point in having a chihuahua, a poodle or a pekinese. One will choose a dog that will frighten people away. These savage dogs are a manifestation of Thatcherism. I was going to say that I could not think of a dog more appropriate to Thatcherism than a rottweiler, but I would not want to insult rottweilers because they are rather nice and loving dogs—the problem is with the owners.

We have been considering the Bill for two days. When we started the debate on new clause 34, the House was packed. When we were talking about the dramatic rent increases that council tenants will have to face in years to come and about housing conditions, there was hardly a Conservative Member here. Yet the House suddenly fills with Members wanting to hear the Secretary of State rambling on like some weird old looney about a scheme that, quite frankly, can be described only as a dog's break fast.

Yesterday the House was full to hear statements about hazelnut yoghurt. I do not know what this House is coming to; it is far more interested in hazelnut yoghurt and dogs than in people. That is a very sad comment. Although the new clause is to be welcomed, I should like Conservative Members to show a little more interest in the needs of people—especially those on low incomes living on council estates and elsewhere in inner cities—and a little less concern for attention-grabbing debates which do not deal with the real problems of the people of this country.

2.30 am
Mr. James Couchman (Gillingham)

In January 1985, the European Parliament addressed itself to the question of tattooing dogs' ears in pursuance of a dog registration scheme. I drew the attention of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to that and asked her to confirm that this country would have nothing to do with it. She replied: I thought it was absolutely ridiculous. I hope that the European Assembly has something better to do with its time than that."—[Official Report, 22 January 1985; Vol. 71, c. 858] My right hon. Friend was right then and she would be right now if she were to repeat her contempt for that debate in the European Assembly.

None of us should be surprised that there is such enthusiasm among Opposition Members for a dog registration scheme. It would mean the creation of public sector jobs, something much beloved of Opposition Members. If I thought for one moment that a dog registration scheme would solve the problems that have been enumerated at length this evening, of irresponsible owners with badly trained dogs, I would support it. Whatever sort of registration scheme might be put in place, the responsible owner will register, pay whatever fee is demanded of him, look after his dog and ensure that it does not stray and behave in an irresponsible and anti-social manner. The irresponsible dog owner, however, will continue with his usual stewardship of his dog and allow it to roam free and unregistered, doing what it wants. The attacks during recent weeks have involved dogs of the sort kept by those who simply would not register them, whatever the law. I shall have no difficulty in opposing the new clause.

Mr. Peter Griffiths (Portsmouth, North)

The fact that there is no simple solution to the problems posed by dogs in society is not a good reason to reject any components of the complex solution necessary. The measures announced by the Department of the Environment and the Home Department are all welcome, but they will not, by themselves, solve the problems. No one who supports the idea of a dog registration scheme suggests that, even with an adequate fee, it would alone solve the problems. It is part of a complex solution to a complex problem.

The essential component is a national registration scheme to complement the detailed knowledge of local authorities on such matters as areas from which dogs should be excluded, such as playgrounds for very young children, and places where dogs should be kept on leads, such as beaches. Contributions can be made locally, but there needs to be a national registration scheme because dogs are easily transported from one place to another and it is quite wrong to place the burden of dealing with the problems on the local authorities alone.

Any scheme must be adequately financed. If it is not to be entirely financed by dog owners, national funds must be made available to local authorities so that they can operate a proper scheme. It is not reasonable for the House to call for legislation but not provide adequate finance. Hon. Members who are advocating a dog registration scheme must call upon owners to pay a dog licence fee and must accept that there will be a cost to the national or local taxpayer.

The problem is complex, so we must have a range of responses to it. I believe that we should have a national dog registration scheme, and the new clause gives us an opportunity to provide one.

Mr. Richard Page (Hertfordshire, South-West)

One of the advantages of speaking down the batting order is that one does not need to go over the ground too deeply for the second or third time.

Sensing the mood of the House, I say at once that I welcome the proposals of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, which recognise that solid solutions are necessary to allay the concerns of my constituents, and follow, almost word for word, the leader article in yesterday's Daily Telegraph. No doubt the clairvoyant qualities of the reporter will be rewarded by its editor in due course.

Even if my right hon. Friend had not made his proposals, I would have opposed the new clause moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Drake (Dame J. Fookes). I do not doubt her sincerity or the amount of work that she has done on the subject, but she was a little shy about the cost of the scheme. I do not think that my hon. Friend the Member for Thanet, North (Mr. Gale) fully recognised the point about the impact of the scheme on pensioners, the unemployed or the person who needs a dog for company.

I am unhappy about the way in which the RSPCA ran its campaign. It thought that badgering Members would cause them to change their minds because they would receive more and more letters.

A registration scheme would create a layer of bureaucracy, with all the paraphernalia of enforcement, snooping, rights of access and persecution, but for what purpose? It will not make irresponsible owners responsible. Only responsible owners will register, but it is the irresponsible ones we are after. Enforcement is needed, and registration will not make bad owners responsible.

A bite by a dog, whether it is registered or not, will still be painful. The job is to catch that dog and then pursue the legal processes. The Government's proposals, coupled with existing provisions, will provide a positive solution and I hope that the House will support them.

Mr. Devlin

I support the new clause because the ownership of dogs is far too casually entered into. Twenty-eight per cent. of households in Britain own a dog, and the number of dogs increased by 500,000 last year to 7.3 million. About 250,000 people were injured last year by dog bites, which is 700 a day. We cannot permit such a number of vicious dogs.

We should be trying to find a system of controlling the number of dogs, and I believe that registration will do so. Under the new system, any dog that does not have a licence should be destroyed, which would solve the problem.

Mr. Ridley

I will not reply to all the many points raised in this interesting and constructive debate. However, I will study a number of suggestions made by my hon. Friends and other hon. Members as we prepare the legislation to put my announcement into practice. There has been general agreement, with degrees of enthusiasm, about the three sets of measures I proposed, about the need for local authorities to have wardens and about the vital need for identification of dogs in enforcing the powers we shall give to local authorities.

The dispute has been over how to pay for that service. The speech of my hon. Friend the Member for High Peak (Mr. Hawkins), in which he asked whether it would be right to ask only parents to pay for education, underlined the argument about whether we should have a hypothecated tax or whether the revenue should come from general taxation. It would be nice if we could charge only the irresponsible dog owners for the service, just as it would be nice if we could charge only very bad and dangerous drivers for the cost of road accidents. If we propose to put the cost only on good drivers or only on good dog owners, the case is made for paying for the service out of general revenues. As the dog registration scheme is so complicated, bureaucratic and expensive to administer, the House should conclude that it should adopt my proposals and not proceed to the dog registration scheme.

Dame Janet Fookes

Although I welcome some of the points put forward by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, I do not regard them as a substitute for a well-organised dog registration scheme. Most, if not all, of his suggestions depend on being able accurately to pinpoint the owner of the dog. That is where the registration system comes in. The new clause does not insist on a particular form. I described the type of scheme that I should like to see, but if the new clause is passed, it would be left to the Secretary of State to come forward with a scheme after whatever consultations he wishes to make. Nobody is being committed to a particular formula this evening. Having said that, I am anxious to move to a vote. This is an important measure. It is not a panacea for all ills, but a very important step forward.

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

The House divided: Ayes 146, Noes 159.

Divison No. 244] [2.42 am
Abbott, Ms Diane Campbell-Savours, D. N.
Aitken, Jonathan Cartwright, John
Alexander, Richard Clark, Dr David (S Shields)
Allason, Rupert Clay, Bob
Alton, David Clelland, David
Anderson, Donald Clwyd, Mrs Ann
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Cohen, Harry
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Coleman, Donald
Barron, Kevin Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Battle, John Corbyn, Jeremy
Beckett, Margaret Cousins, Jim
Beith, A. J. Cox, Tom
Bendall, Vivian Crowther, Stan
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Cryer, Bob
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish) Cummings, John
Bermingham, Gerald Cunliffe, Lawrence
Biffen, Rt Hon John Cunningham, Dr John
Blackburn, Dr John G. Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Blunkett, David Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)
Boateng, Paul Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l)
Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes Devlin, Tim
Bradley, Keith Dixon, Don
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Dobson, Frank
Buckley, George J. Dover, Den
Callaghan, Jim Eastham, Ken
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley) Evans, John (St Helens N)
Fatchett, Derek Marek, Dr John
Fearn, Ronald Meale, Alan
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n) Michael, Alun
Fisher, Mark Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Flannery, Martin Mills, Iain
Flynn, Paul Miscampbell, Norman
Fookes, Dame Janet Morgan, Rhodri
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Murphy, Paul
Foster, Derek Nellist, Dave
Franks, Cecil O'Brien, William
Fraser, John Patchett, Terry
Fry, Peter Pike, Peter L.
Gale, Roger Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
George, Bruce Prescott, John
Gordon, Mildred Primarolo, Dawn
Gould, Bryan Redmond, Martin
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N) Richardson, Jo
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Rogers, Allan
Grocott, Bruce Rooker, Jeff
Hannam, John Rowlands, Ted
Hardy, Peter Ruddock, Joan
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn) Sedgemore, Brian
Haynes, Frank Sheerman, Barry
Henderson, Doug Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE) Skinner, Dennis
Hinchliffe, David Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Holt, Richard Smith, J. P. (Vale of Glam)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N) Soley, Clive
Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd) Spearing, Nigel
Hoyle, Doug Summerson, Hugo
Hughes, John (Coventry NE) Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Hughes, Roy (Newport E) Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Illsley, Eric Temple-Morris, Peter
Irving, Charles Thornton, Malcolm
Jones, Ieuan (Ynys Môn) Turner, Dennis
Kirkwood, Archy Wall, Pat
Leadbitter, Ted Wallace, James
Leighton, Ron Walley, Joan
Lestor, Joan (Eccles) Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Lewis, Terry Watts, John
Litherland, Robert Williams, Rt Hon Alan
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford) Winterton, Mrs Ann
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Winterton, Nicholas
McAllion, John Wise, Mrs Audrey
McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)
McNair-Wilson, Sir Michael Tellers for the Ayes:
McWilliam, John Mr. Tony Banks and
Mahon, Mrs Alice Mrs. Llin Golding.
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)
Amess, David Colvin, Michael
Arbuthnot, James Conway, Derek
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) Couchman, James
Ashby, David Cran, James
Atkinson, David Currie, Mrs Edwina
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Day, Stephen
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Dorrell, Stephen
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Boscawen, Hon Robert Dunn, Bob
Bottomley, Peter Durant, Tony
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Eggar, Tim
Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n) Emery, Sir Peter
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Fallon, Michael
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Favell, Tony
Bright, Graham Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) Fishburn, John Dudley
Budgen, Nicholas Forman, Nigel
Burns, Simon Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Burt, Alistair Forth, Eric
Butterfill, John Fowler, Rt Hon Norman
Carlisle, John, (Luton N) Freeman, Roger
Carrington, Matthew Garel-Jones, Tristan
Carttiss, Michael Gill, Christopher
Chapman, Sydney Glyn, Dr Alan
Chope, Christopher Gorst, John
Churchill, Mr Gow, Ian
Greenway, John (Ryedale) Mellor, David
Griffiths, Sir Eldon (Bury St E') Miller, Sir Hal
Grist, Ian Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn Morris, M (N'hampton S)
Hague, William Morrison, Sir Charles
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Morrison, Rt Hon P (Chester)
Hanley, Jeremy Moss, Malcolm
Harris, David Moynihan, Hon Colin
Haselhurst, Alan Neale, Gerrard
Hawkins, Christopher Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Hayes, Jerry Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley
Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney Page, Richard
Hayward, Robert Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L. Patten, Chris (Bath)
Hill, James Patten, John (Oxford W)
Hind, Kenneth Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Riddick, Graham
Hordern, Sir Peter Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Howard, Michael Rumbold, Mrs Angela
Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A) Ryder, Richard
Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd) Sackville, Hon Tom
Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford) Shaw, David (Dover)
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W) Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Hunt, David (Wirral W) Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Hunter, Andrew Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Irvine, Michael Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)
Jack, Michael Squire, Robin
Janman, Tim Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Steen, Anthony
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Stevens, Lewis
Jones, Robert B (Herts W) Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Key, Robert Sumberg, David
Kirkhope, Timothy Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Knapman, Roger Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston) Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Knowles, Michael Thurnham, Peter
Lang, Ian Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Lawrence, Ivan Trippier, David
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Twinn, Dr Ian
Lightbown, David Waddington, Rt Hon David
Lilley, Peter Waller, Gary
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Ward, John
Luce, Rt Hon Richard Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Maclean, David Wells,Bowen
McLoughlin, Patrick Wheeler, John
McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest) Widdecombe, Ann
Mans, Keith Wood, Timothy
Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Tellers for the Noes:
Martin, David (Portsmouth S) Mr. Kenneth Carlisle and
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Mr. David Heathcoat-Amory.
Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick

Question accordingly negatived.

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