HC Deb 10 June 1991 vol 192 cc705-46

  1. '.—(1) The Secretary of State shall by regulations make provision for the registration, identification and control of dogs not otherwise regulated under this Act.
  2. (2) Regulations under this section shall include, provision for the regulations to be administered by local authorities, and for the charging by them of registration fees of such amounts, and subject to such exemptions, as they may determine or the Secretary of State may prescribe.
  3. (3) Any person who without reasonable excuse—
    1. (a) fails to comply without any requirement imposed on him by regulations under this section to register a dog or,
    2. (b) fails to comply with any requirement so imposed as respects identification of a dog,
    shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 2 on the standard scale.
  4. (4) in performing their duties under this section, local authorities may enter into such agreements with any person as may in their opinion facilitate the registration and identification of dogs.
  5. (5) No regulations under this section shall be made unless a draft thereof has been laid before and approved by resolution of each House of Parliament and the Secretary of State shall lay the first draft regulations before the end of the period of two years beginning with the day on which this Act is passed.
  6. (6) In this section "local authority", means in England and Wales a District Council, a London Borough Council or the Common Council of the City of London, and in Scotland means an islands or district council.'.—[Dame Janet Fookes]

Brought up, and read the First time.

10.22 pm
Dame Janet Fookes (Plymouth, Drake)

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

The Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means (Miss Betty Boothroyd)

With this it will be convenient to take also new clause 5ߞDog registrationߞ

  1. '(1) The Secretary of State shall by order make provision for a scheme for the registration, identification and control of dogs.
  2. (2) In making an order the Secretary of State shall provide, inter alia, for the scheme to be administered by local authorities, and for the fixing of registration fees, including such variations as may be prescribed, to be paid by the owners, or keepers of dogs to the relevant authorities.
  3. (3) An owner or keeper of a dog who fails to register it or to ensure that it can be identified in accordance with regulations made under a scheme in accordance with this section shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 2 on the standard scale.
  4. (4) In performing their duties under this section, local authorities may enter such agreements with any person as may in their opinion facilitate the registration and identification of dogs.
  5. (5) The Secretary of State shall, not later than 12 months from the passing of this Act, lay an order under this section before Parliament for approval in accordance with subsection (6) below.
  6. (6) Any order made under this section shall be exercisable by statutory instrument and no order shall be made unless a draft of the order has been laid before and approved by resolution of each House of Parliament.
  7. (7) In this section, "local authority" means in England and Wales a District Council, a London Borough Council or the Common Council, and in Scotland means a District or Islands Council.'.

Dame Janet Fookes

Before I deal with the provisions of the new clause, I wish to set it into context.

I warmly support the Bill's provisions as they stand. I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on seeking the advice of experts on this matter and acting on it so that the Bill has reached its present form. Let us be under no illusions. In effect, if not in name, there is a registration scheme for dangerous dogs. It fulfils the basic criterion that dogs and their owners should be identified, and the two are linked. A registration fee, or whatever it is called, will be paid and conditions will be attached. Those are the purposes of a registration scheme and they are fulfilled in the Bill.

I shall seek to persuade the House that it should go one step further and have registration for all dogs not otherwise covered by the Bill. I have sought something of that kind for many years in the company of a number of organisations outside the House. The issue goes back to the mid-1970s. I recall that in 1976 a joint working paper was produced by the Home Office and the Department of the Environment which sought to build on the old dog licensing scheme. Many of the arguments that were valid then are equally valid today.

I led deputations to the Home Secretaries of that period, but with a singular lack of success. That is sad bearing in mind the fact that a Labour Government were in control. I have had an equal lack of success with the present Government.

Sir Nicholas Fairbairn (Perth and Kinross)

Does my hon. Friend appreciate that the original dog licence was introduced not to register difficult or dangerous dogs or those that existed at all, but because there was a great trade in stolen dogs which were brought to London to be sold? The licence scheme was introduced to identify stolen dogs from unstolen dogs and it had nothing to do whatever with the registration of dogs—dangerous or undangerous.

Dame Janet Fookes

But it is perfectly possible to adapt to changing times. I do not, of course, recall the introduction of that particular item, but perhaps my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Perth and Kinross (Sir N. Fairbairn) does. It was a long time agoߞ1876, was it? I believe that we could build on that old system, but it is water under the bridge. I was merely seeking to observe that my interest in this is of very long standing and that my views have been refined over the years to try to produce what I think is a workable scheme.

One might imagine that those who might have to deal with the dog registration scheme would be opposed to it, but quite the contrary. The interesting thing about the dog registration scheme is that all those at the sharp end, who must deal with the problem of dogs in town and country, want such a registration scheme introduced.

I should like to have the indulgence of the House to make two short quotations from information that I have recently received on this issue. I received a letter from the Association of District Councils at the weekend which said: The Association fully supports the principle of the Bill but remains convinced that a national dog registration scheme, covering all dogs, with a direct link between a dog and its owner, is the only real way forward in attempting to secure responsible dog ownership. Without such registration, district councils will, in many respects, remain powerless to deal with the many problems that dogs can cause.

I should add that the association was sufficiently interested to produce a complete scheme that it had worked out for the Department of the Environment some months ago. It wanted the DOE to look at it, but heaven alone knows what happened to it within that hideous building described as the DOE. It does not seem to have seen daylight again. That scheme is an indication of the interest and concern felt by district councils.

Mr. Tony Marlow (Northampton, North)

The statement that my hon. Friend read out from the Association of District Councils says, in effect, that it cannot carry out its work without a dog registration scheme. In what way will it be unable to carry out its work? It has made an assertion, but provided no evidence.

Dame Janet Fookes

In due course I hope to set this in context so that my hon. Friend will understand—at least I will try to make him understand.

I also recently received a letter from the Institute of Leisure and Amenity Management which said: This Institute, which represents, inter alia, most of the senior managers of public parks and open spaces in this country, wishes to express its strong support for the introduction of dog licencing by local authorities as a means of controlling the ever-growing dog population by encouraging responsible ownership. It believes that the arguments are overwhelming. It properly pointed out that many other countries have a dog registration scheme, including parts of North America and that we are out of step and out of line.

Sir Nicholas Fairbairn

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Dame Janet Fookes

With reluctance and for the last time to my hon. and learned Friend.

Sir Nicholas Fairbairn

Will my hon. Friend make it clear to the House that her quotations relate to English or Welsh authorities, and that they describe the conditions in those countries and have nothing whatever to do with Scotland?

Dame Janet Fookes

I doubt whether that makes the case any less valid for England. I shall leave my hon. and learned Friend to speak for Scotland.

The Bill has concerned itself with particularly dangerous dogs, but it is important to understand that many other breeds and types of dog cause considerable problems. They are in danger of being overlooked if we concern ourselves with very dangerous dogs. Many dogs bite, as postmen will rather bitterly testify—and they are among the groups that want a registration scheme.

10.30 pm

The National Farmers Union wants a registration scheme because sheep worrying is of great concern to farmers in country areas. We also know that many traffic accidents are caused by dogs that are out of control. However, it is impossible to have proper control unless there are fewer irresponsible owners. It is too easy far them to have a dog, to leave it uncontrolled, and to abandon it. The dogs' homes are full of such animals, which lead miserable lives. If they cannot be re-homed by the animal charities, they are destroyed—probably in the prime of life.

Mr. John Butterfill (Bournemouth, West)

Can my hon. Friend explain how registration would assist with the problem of sheep worrying? My understanding is that farmers who find dogs on their land worrying sheep have the right to shoot them, so it is not a question of identifying the owners. Is my hon. Friend suggesting that farmers would desist from that practice, capture the clogs and return them to their owners? I suspect that they will continue to shoot them.

Dame Janet Fookes

Farmers will no doubt continue to do that, but I am trying to make the case for prevention. which is better than the cure of shooting the dogs. It is a bit late by then; the damage has already been done.

The point that I am trying to make—it is difficult to get it through to some of my colleagues—is that, if we can identify the owners and make them responsible, it is far less likely that they will allow the animals to stray and get out of control. Over time, that will discourage people from having dogs unless they are prepared to care for them.

Mr. Gerald Bermingham (St. Helens, South)

Does the hon. Lady agree that if there were a dog registration scheme, the owners of the dogs involved in two incidents in my constituency during the past few days could he traced? In the first incident, a child playing on a school playing field was attacked and bitten by an Alsatian—owner untraceable. In the second, a school teacher supervising children at play on a school playing field was bitten by a rottweiler—owner untraceable. If all dogs were registered, the owners of both those dogs could have been traced and appropriate action taken. I hope that the hon. Lady succeeds tonight with her worthwhile clause.

Dame Janet Fookes

I shall deal with the clause as I see it, and that may answer some of the questions that I hear being asked by hon. Friends sitting behind me. I purposely have not laid down precise details for a scheme—not because of a lack of information, but, in a sense, because there is too much information. The clause simply asks the Secretary of State to produce, within two years, a detailed scheme to be introduced by regulations. That would give ample opportunity to discuss matters with all those who have a keen interest in the matter—the Association of District Councils, the police, the animal charities and anyone else who is concerned.

I envisage a scheme that would require the dog and the owner to be linked by a central computer, into which the district councils would have an input. The cost has been worked out at about £3 per dog per year, which is a very small amount. I have had discussions with computer experts, who tell me that it is an extremely easy exercise. Indeed, there are already some voluntary registration schemes in effect. The Wood Green animal shelter has one such scheme, and it works very well. About a year ago., the Battersea dogs home decided that it would re-home no animal without its being permanently identified—in this case, by the identichip. It is well satisfied with the way that its scheme is working. I commend it to my right hon. and hon. Friends in the Government, so that they can see something that is actually in use, rather than just talking about a theory.

Mr. Tim Devlin (Stockton, South)

My first task when I came to the House was to serve on the Standing Committee considering the Bill to introduce the community charge. The Government promised then that administration of the system would be cheap, because of all the modern computer buffs, and also that charges would be kept down to £255 in my area. My constituents were somewhat disappointed to receive a community charge demand for £430 in the first year. Does my hon. Friend feel entirely confident about a "poll tax" for dogs?

Dame Janet Fookes

Yes, I do. This is a very different matter from the community charge. I do not want to be drawn down that path, but there is every reason to suppose that my proposal could be implemented easily and simply.

Mr. Bob Dunn (Dartford)

Will my hon. Friend advocate benefit for pensioners and others on low incomes—"dog registration benefit"?

Dame Janet Fookes

I have already said that I did not want to include all the details in the new clause, because I thought it important for such problems to be ironed out. It is entirely possible for us to ensure, if we wish, that all dogs are registered, but we need not necessarily impose the same fee for all dogs. It would be possible—if the House so decided after due consideration—to allow a differential licence for, say, guide dogs for the blinds, working dogs generally or dogs of retired people living alone.

Mr. Peter Hardy (Wentworth)

As the hon. Lady knows, I have been rather sceptical about the whole business of registration; however, I welcome her more flexible approach.

Do I take it that the hon. Lady has ruled out the option of relying on tattoos, which can be easily obliterated? Can she also relieve one of my anxieties about identification? I understand that the indentity chip would be inserted in the scruff of the dog's neck, and there is some evidence that it could move about and be difficult to locate.

I am told that there is a high failure rate. Can the hon. Lady comment on that? Finally—so that I need not interrupt again—may I ask whether she favours the fixing of the licence by the Secretary of State? Does she feel that the Secretary of State should be able to fix a ceiling, so that certain local authorities could make it virtually impossible for poorer people to keep dogs?

Dame Janet Fookes

I have no evidence that the identity chip has the disadvantages attributed to it by the hon. Gentleman. According to the Battersea dogs home, it is working extremely well, having been in operation for about a year.

As the hon. Gentleman pointed out, tattooing has certain disadvantages; on the other hand, it is a darn sight better than what we have now, which is nil. We could decide whether people should be allowed a choice of permanent identification or whether we should rely solely on a colour-coded tag, for example. The Home Secretary should give such matters detailed consideration—unless, of course, the Department of the Environment or some other Department takes charge. That is why I have not made firm proposals tonight. Good identification is, however, essential and I believe that we should take advantage of every modern facility available to us.

Miss Emma Nicholson (Torridge and Devon West)

I entirely accept my hon. Friend's argument that computerisation would allow the licensing authority to identify, for example, different breeds. My concern is that almost everyone could claim that they needed their dog for some reason or another. There would remain only a narrow band of people who enjoy an income and who do not fall into any definable social, health, personal or other category offering them exemption, who would have to pay the full fee.

Dame Janet Fookes

Again, it will be entirely open to the House eventually to decide whether it wants many exemptions or only a few. That is the advantage of the scheme that I propose—every permutation of which could be considered in detail. I simply make the point that it is technically and practically feasible to provide for such exemptions if required. If the House preferred to operate a flat rate covering old-age pensioners, guide dogs for the blind, and so on, so be it. However, it would be perfectly possible to introduce variations without undue bureaucracy.

One of the strangest cries of protest that I have heard is that the scheme would give rise to bureaucracy. As we are living in the age of the computer and not of the quill pen, I fail to understand that argument.

Reference was made to the Swansea scheme. As I recall, that was instituted in the very early days of computerisation, and it was left in the hands of people who were not computer experts. They made some stupid mistakes, which I hope will never be repeated. Most of our affairs are now conducted with the aid of computers, and although mistakes may sometimes be made, by and large we have greatly profited from the service that computers can give—but they are, of course, only as good as the people who have an input into them.

Mr. Tim Rathbone (Lewes)

I would not want my hon. Friend to deceive the House in what she said a few moments ago, when she described identification methods. She said that what we have at the moment is nil. Earlier this afternoon, I had the opportunity to question my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, and I understand that, as a result of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, enforcement procedures are available—particularly in respect of the tagging and identification of dogs. Many of us believe that that would be a simpler and more straightforward way of encouraging responsible ownership and identification than the use of an immensely expensive registration scheme such as my hon. Friend advocates.

Dame Janet Fookes

Let me amend my comment. What we have at the moment is effectively nil. If all the measures on the statute book were enforced, perhaps we would not be in the pickle that we are tonight. Incidentally, I see the enforcement of the collar and tag as the first line of defence. If a dog was seen without a collar and tag, that would immediately alert the authorities that something was wrong, and they could then establish whether the animal was properly identified.

Dog wardens have an essential role to play in educating the public and in enforcing whatever laws relating to dogs there may be. Some local authorities already employ dog wardens, while others do not. All should do so, to complement the scheme that I propose. Some of the cost could be taken from the registration fee, if required. I believe that the Association of District Councils would want that done. Again, that is a matter for debate.

I have sought to outline the reasons why I believe that a dog registration scheme covering all dogs not already included in the Bill is both important and practical, and to suggest the various ways in which such a scheme might be implemented. The new clause would give the Secretary of State time to work out detailed regulations in consultation with all those who have an interest in the matter.

I have taken rather longer than I had wished because of the large number of interventions. Before I conclude, let me repeat that the RSPCA inspectors, the dog wardens, the local authorities and the police—all the people who have to deal with the problem in practice—want registration. The question that I therefore ask the House is this: are the Government right when they say that registration is unnecessary, or are the people who do the job right?

I commend the new clause to the House.

10.45 pm
Mr. Michael J. Martin (Glasgow, Springburn)

I was interested to hear what the hon. Member for Plymouth, Drake (Dame J. Fookes) said about the new clause and pleased that I was able to put my name to the proposal.

I have listened with interest to the case that has been made about the poverty of pensioners and others who, it is suggested, may not be able to afford the registration fee. I hope that, when we next debate social security matters, Conservative Members will listen to what is said about the problems of elderly people who have been refused benefit and cannot even get a loan from their local social security offices because those offices' budgets have dried up.

Many of the elderly people who hon. Members suggest will suffer hardship under a dog registration scheme would in fact be among the first to seek to register their dogs, because the existence of strays and the actions of irresponsible dog owners can lead to disease, which may be passed to dogs that are valued pets.

I emphasise what the hon. Member for Drake said. In many streets in my constituency and throughout the country, the first thing that children do in the morning is to open the door and let the dog out into the street. Such dogs cannot be regarded as strays in the usual sense, because they go back to the family home to be fed at night. None the less, during the day they are out in the street, where they may cause a nuisance to passers-by and where they pick up whatever parasites may be around. When the elderly responsible dog owners to whom Conservative Members have referred take their dogs out, the pets may pick up a disease from dogs that are left in the street—many of them for 16 hours a day. Registration would allow people such as dog wardens to track down dogs and persuade their owners to become more responsible.

As I said on Second Reading, many people who live in communities where dogs are allowed to stray or to sit out in the street are deeply ashamed of that fact. Even if they have lovely homes and, in some cases, lovely gardens, they are ashamed to take their friends and relatives into the neighbourhood because of the dogs, and many of them want to apply for a transfer to another area and another community.

It should be emphasised that not all owners have only one dog. There can be as many as three dogs living with a household in a tenement flat. That is irresponsible. It is not fair to the dogs, because they are not being properly exercised.

To illustrate what dog registration could do, I shall tell the Committee about a case in a terrace-type housing estate in the Barmulloch area of my constituency. A tenant complained to me that the next-door neighbour had five dogs in the house during the weekend. It turned out that he was a greyhound owner and before a race he wanted the dogs under his control and not in a kennel in case someone tried to tamper with them. That was all very well, but those dogs were used to being in a kennel where they could hark 24 hours a day. At the weekend, they were in an environment where people wanted a wee bit of peace and quiet—some people were working shifts.

Mr. Butterfill

How would registration help to stop dogs barking?

Mr. Martin

The hon. Gentleman should have the decency to let people speak. He had his chance during an intervention and I dare say that he will get a chance to speak. The rest of us were quiet during his intervention.

Dog registration would help in the situation that I have described because usually when the council questions such a tenant he denies that he is the owner of four or five dogs. Registration would mean that there could be some confirmation that the next-door neighbour was telling the truth when she complained that there were four or five dogs in the household.

Things got so bad in the case that I described that a perfectly good tenant gave up. She could not sleep at night because there were so many dogs in the house next door. What did she do? She applied to the local authority for a transfer, and because she had put up with the carry-on for 18 months, she got it. Her problem has been solved, but when a tenant moves out a potential tenant, looking at the house, will ask why the last tenant left. As a result, areas become hard to let. A factor that is often consistent: in hard-to-let areas is that dogs are allowed to get out of control. Owners should have to face up to registration.

Mr. Cranley Onslow (Woking)

I shall he brief. I welcome the Bill, but I hope that the new clause will not be added to it. I listened to the opening speeches on Second Reading and the right hon. Member for Birmingham. Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) made two interesting admissions in his speech. First, when he was challenged by one of my hon. Friends about advice given to the then Labour Government in 1977 by the British Veterinary Association that pit bull terriers should not be imported into this country, he frankly admitted that he had not found that advice persuasive and that he had rejected If he had taken a different course I doubt whether any of us would be detained here this evening to debate this matter, and I think that he probably agrees with me.

When he was challenged again I also heard the right hon. Gentleman say that in 1983 he voted against dog registration and he admitted that he had been in error in so doing. I am sure that at the time he did not think that he was in error.

Mr. Roy Hattersley (Birmingham, Sparkbrook)

If the right hon. Gentleman is so fascinated by my record, it is hardly worth making the point, but he obtained an admission from me when no apology was necessary, which is very much out of character as far as I am concerned. I have now discovered the measure to which he referred—a long enabling Bill referring to about 20 local authority powers, one of which was registration. Much as I believe in registration, if such an enabling Bill were put before the House again today, I would vote against it. The point that the right hon. Gentleman made is false.

Mr. Onslow

I am interested to hear the right hon. Gentleman say that, because I would have respected him very much if he had also conceded that in 1983 he did not think that registration was necessary because there was not perceived to be a problem with dangerous dogs. I do not know how many pit bull terriers had been imported into the country in the intervening six years after he opened the gates in 1977, but I doubt whether it was many, and I doubt whether there was anything like the evidence that there is today to show that there is a particular threat that must be dealt with urgently, as this Bill seeks to do.

However many pit bull terriers there were in 1983, we are told that there may be 10,000 in Britain today. That is an astonishing figure, and it has not been contradicted. It is recognised now, but it was not in 1983, that they are an affront to society and that something must be done about them. We are talking almost exclusively about the problem of dangerous dogs, and one dangerous breed in particular. It would be better to focus on the Bill, which seeks precisely to tackle the problem, and not to be distracted by the diversion of dog registration. [Interruption.] I can give the hon. Gentleman a figure or two; I know that he is fond of them.

There are said to be 7 million dogs in this country. According to the Metropolitan police, in 1990 there were 468 serious attacks by dogs on people in the metropolis, 111 of which were carried out by one breed alone—the pit bull terrier. If my mathematics is remotely correct, that accounts for about 0.15 per cent. of the dog population of the United Kingdom and about a quarter of the serious attacks on people. That is why we should focus on dangerous dogs rather than being distracted by the resurrection of the dog registration scheme.

We are talking about dangerous dogs and the action that we should take to deal with them. Pit bull terriers are 10 times as dangerous as any other breed. It is no surprise that they should be singled out, and my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary rightly chose to do so.

If any criticism can be made of the Government, it is that the Bill was not introduced sooner, not that it has been rushed through in response to media pressure and is a knee-jerk reaction. The problem is that the groundwork has been confused by the argument for registration, for reasons that my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Drake (Dame J. Fookes) mentioned. She rightly claimed much credit for her long advocacy of something to replace the oudated dog licence scheme. We all know that the fee that is charged for a dog licence is ridiculous and that the scheme ceases to have validity.

Complaints have been made about dog nuisance, about the problem of strays and about the cruelty with which some owners treated animals and abandoned them. All that is about animal welfare, not dangerous dogs, but we must focus on the danger. Although there may be a need for better legislation on dog welfare, I do not think that my hon. Friend the Member for Drake made a powerful case that registration would encourage owners to behave more responsibly in their treatment of dangerous dogs. No responsible owner should have a dangerous dog—it is as simple and straightforward as that.

There has been a dialectical need to confuse the argument for too many years, but at last the fallacy has been identified. Dangerous dogs need special laws, which the Bill provides, but dog registration is unnecessary for other dog owners. I ask, rhetorically perhaps, what would a dog register do? We know that it would be expensive. A figure of £42 million was mentioned in response to an inquiry carried out by the RSPCA. My hon. Friend the Member for Drake may challenge that.

Dame Janet Fookes

I do. The figure for registration alone is about £20 million, which works out at about £3 per dog.

Mr. Onslow

I am aware of that component of the total, but I understood that there is a component for dog wardens, who presumably will not work for nothing.

Dame Janet Fookes

I did not intend to follow the example of other hon. Members by intervening, but the point I was making was that the amount could be variable, depending how much was loaded on the registration fee.

Mr. Onslow

My hon. Friend still has not answered my question about the cost of the dog wardens. I am sorry to have to say that I do not find her rebuttal of the £42 million figure entirely convincing. I think that we shall just have to agree to disagree.

The other arguments that have been advanced in favour of the dog registration scheme seem almost equally spurious. On Second Reading, some Opposition Members said that a dog that was dangerously out of control, which is mentioned in the Bill, would be dealt with by dog registration, and that would prevent dogs from running across the road and causing car accidents. I do not find that line of thought particularly easy to follow—

Mr. Frank Cook (Stockton, North)


11 pm

Mr. Onslow

If the hon. Member for Stockton, North (Mr. Cook) has ever owned a dog and it has never slipped out of a door without his knowing because someone opened the back door when he was not looking, I should be surprised.

Mr. Cook

I have owned many dogs and used to breed them. The claim with which I take issue is that anyone has suggested that a registration scheme could possibly stop a dog bolting through a door. No one has ever suggested that. The purpose of a registration scheme is that the animal is tagged to an owner who must be responsible for the animal's actions and treatment. Therefore, a registration scheme would serve the dual purpose of ensuring that the animal was treated right and that the owner ensured that the animal treated other people right.

Mr. Onslow

I am sorry to have to disagree with the hon. Gentleman, whose judgment in many matters I respect, but I do not think that he can ever have owned which did not slip out of the back door when nobody was looking—responsible owner or not.

We have heard of two incidents in playgrounds where dogs were said to have attacked first a child and then a teacher. I think that lawyers in the Chamber will be able to confirm that, if in either of those cases the dog responsible had been caught and held, it would have been perfectly possible to take action against it and its owner if it had been wearing a tag, as it should have been. It would not have made the dog or the owner behave more responsibly. It would perhaps have made action possible afterwards, but it would not have protected the child or the teacher from a serious attack.

Sir Nicholas Fairbairn


Mr. Onslow

If my hon. and learned Friend will forgive me, I shall not give way as I know that many other hon. Members want to speak.

We should focus on what matters to people outside the House, to people with children who have seen the horrible pictures of attacks by dogs which are dangerous and which everyone knows to be dangerous. We should give the Bill a speedy passage and forget about dog registration, because it makes no contribution to the problem.

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett (Denton and Reddish)

I support the new clause. The key issues that must be tackled are not the horrific attacks on humans—horrible as those are—but stray dogs on the highway, sheep worrying and neglect, which could all be dealt with by a dog registration scheme. It would certainly discourage the practice, which happens all too often in urban districts, of owners turning their dog out of the door first thing in the morning and leaving it to roam around the neighbourhood, assuming that it will return in the evening. The dog is often let out with no collar and no means of identification. The purpose of a registration scheme would be to convince people that if they want to be dog owners they must be responsible ones. Before they take on the responsibility, they should be made to think that looking after a dog is expensive and continues for a long period.

I regret that too many of my constituents become dog owners on a casual basis, believing that it will not cost them much and that, if they lose interest in the dog, someone else will look after it so they do not need to be committed to it. Through the registration scheme, we could convince people that becoming a dog owner involves long-standing expense and responsibility.

If we had an effective system of registration and a system under which dogs were effectively tagged or identified, it would be far easier for people who suffer as a result of dogs roaming about to take action. It would be understood that if people turned their dogs out first thing in the morning and allowed them to roam about, and if those dogs then caused accidents or were involved in sheep worrying, the owners would be involved in considerable expense as a result of demands for compensation.

People who have talked to farmers or have seen sheep and other animals suffering from worrying will know that it is a horrific sight. Farmers who have put in years of effort to build up the quality of their stock find that an hour or so of a pack of dogs chasing their sheep—and sometimes cattle and other animals—can cause great havoc to those stocks. It is horrific to see on the urban fringes packs of dogs attacking not only sheep, but cattle and ponies. Such incidents occur because people kick their dogs out and leave them to roam a round.

It is all very well for Conservative Members to point out that farmers are entitled to shoot dogs that are sheep-worrying. However, when I have talked to farmers who have shot dogs in such incidents, I find that they are most determined to take the dog back to the owner, tell the owner what damage the dog has done and demand compensation. A farmer who has lost 10 or 12 sheep as a result of worrying faces considerable expense. Any farmer who has suffered in that way or anyone who has an animal that is attacked on the urban fringes has a right to be able to go to the person who has irresponsibly let the dog out and to demand compensation for the damage done.

The big advantage of a system that involves dogs being tagged is that the owner can be identified. I make a strong plea for the registration scheme—

Mr. Butterfill

As it is presently the law that dogs should wear an identification tag, can the hon. Gentleman explain why the position would be different under a dog registration scheme? Would we not find that irresponsible dog owners would continue to fail to register and that responsible dog owners would register their dogs? Those dogs wear a collar and tag now.

Mr. Bennett

With a register, it would be possible for wardens fairly quickly to identify those whose dogs were not registered—[HON. MEMBERS: "How?"] Hon. Members may ask how. In my constituency, many dogs roam around. They are picked up by wardens and the owners then reclaim them. Under a registration scheme, it would be simple when a dog was picked up for the first time because people would not get the dog back until it was properly registered and tagged. We could then bring some control into the matter.

At present, dog wardens tell us that they round up dogs, that the dogs are reclaimed by the owners who pay for the short stay in the kennels and that, a week or two later, the dogs are back on the streets causing the same nuisance. An effective system of registration would stop people taking on dogs irresponsibly and would mean that wardens could chase up dogs that were not registered. We could also cut down on the problem of farmers who suffer from sheep worrying—and I am surprised that more Conservative Members do not have sympathy for farmers who suffer in that way and do not care more about the cruelty to the animals chased by dogs.

A registration scheme would also enable us to cut down on the problem of road accidents. Conservative Members who drive along motorways may see a dog going across the motorway—and many stray dogs run across motorways. However much we say firmly to ourselves that we will not swerve to avoid the dog if there is any possibility of an accident, the first instinctive reaction is to try to swerve to avoid the dog. It is surprising how many road accidents are caused as a result of a dog being on the highway. The dog is often killed, but it is almost impossible to find its owner and to make that owner responsible for the mayhem that the dog has caused.

I argue strongly that if we want to add tonight to the attempts to protect people from dogs, we should try to protect animals from worrying and to reduce the number of road accidents. An effective way to achieve that would be to introduce a dog registration scheme. Such a scheme would benefit dogs, as it would reduce the large number of dogs that are neglected by their owners who have lost enthusiasm for the dog that was bought or accepted as a gift on a whim.

I hope that the House will accept the new clause and add it to the Bill.

Mr. Marlow

I have been involved in canine politics since I was elected to the House 12 years ago. I have a son who is blind in one eye as a result of someone not worming their dog properly, and I am aware of the problems that can be caused by dogs.

For a long time, the Government did nothing. As a result, on 26 October 1983 I sought the leave of the House to introduce a Bill under the ten-minute rule to establish a dog registration scheme. My scheme was not dissimilar to the scheme outlined by my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Drake (Dame J. Fookes) earlier this evening. The House was full at the time and I gained the support of 59 Opposition Members. A few Opposition Members went into the No Lobby and among them was the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley). He has subsequently made his point. However, as hon. Members are aware, in a ten-minute Bill, one sets out the principle of an issue and the majority of the colleagues of the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook supported that principle. The right hon. Member for Sparkbrook is a man of principle—at least of flexible principle.

Dogs are lovely creatures, but they cause problems in three ways: through dirt and disease, through danger, injury and fear, and through noise,. I am not aware of any proposal to deal with the problem of dog noise although it must be the most depressing form of purgatory this side of Hades to be subjected to the constant discordant symphony of a neighbour's yapping dog. There may be a solution to that problem, but it cannot be achieved through a system of registration.

When I sought leave to introduce my Bill, nothing had been done about the problem. However, that is no longer the case. There are fairly minor provisions in the Dangerous Dogs Act 1989. There are much more radical provisions in the Environmental Protection Act 1990. I wonder how many of the registrationists are aware of the provisions in the Environmental Protection Act 1990. According to that legislation, all dogs must be identified by wearing a collar and tag. By that identification they are directly connected to their owners. Local authorities are responsible for enforcing that legislation. Hefty fines are imposed on those who are not prepared to comply.

There is no evidence that such a regime will not be effective. In the unlikely event that it is not effective, I am puzzled that so many hon. Members believe that those who do not comply with the collar and tag legislation would comply with the much more irritating imposition of registration. The collar and tag has the added advantage of being visible evidence of identification, while registration is invisible.

Sir Nicholas Fairbairn

My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary or my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland could add any species to the present legislation, without us passing this Bill, in relation to any species that may be acceptable, such as vulpes vulpinus or any other animal regarded as feral according to common law. Registration would not have the slightest effect on making that power of the Secretary of State for Scotland or that of the Home Secretary any less or any more effective.

Mr. Marlow

As always, I find what my hon. and learned Friend says most reassuring.

Local authorities also have the responsibility of the collection and removal of filth. It is most unlikely, therefore, that they would tolerate large numbers of strays. They would also, therefore, have an incentive to remove unidentified dogs. Over the years, the only dogs that would be in circulation would be those with collars and tags—they would be identified. Local authorities would be under the added pressure, Sir Paul, that you and I as Joe Citizen have the right to take the local authority to court to make sure that it carries out its requirements to keep the streets clean. Byelaws are being made available to assist—not least the pooper scoop byelaw, of which most hon. Members are aware. In large measure, the problems of filth and disease can now be overcome, and will be overcome, without registration.

11.15 pm

In the Bill, radical, strong action is now being taken against the dangerous dog and the very real terror that it strikes in the hearts of the young, the infirm and the elderly in particular. Fighting dogs will virtually be removed from circulation. Dangerous dogs can be subject to muzzling, and individual animals subjected to restriction orders. Owners of dogs causing dangerous nuisance will be subject, potentially, to large fines and even imprisonment.

The only argument that I have heard which favours the registration of dogs and with which I have long had a certain amount of sympathy is that it will encourage a responsible attitude towards dog ownership. One would not just get a dog if one had to register it first. It would be a disincentive against irresponsible dog ownership—I accept that. However, there is an insufficient understanding of the measures that we have already enacted and that we intend to enact this evening.

Irresponsible dog ownership is about to become a reckless option. Experience will show that registration is not necessary to encourage such responsibility. The issue before us is not whether to register or not to register, but how to overcome the problems of dog nuisance.

Mr. Maclennan

The hon. Gentleman has described most graphically and convincingly the need for extensive operations by local authorities, law enforcement agencies and many others to rid society of the menace of dangerous dogs and also to reduce nuisance. Who should pay for all that, if not dog owners?

Mr. Marlow

That point has been debated in many places on many occasions. Do we make the dog-owning community responsible for all the costs, or do we spread the costs across the whole community? The measures that the Government have brought forward so far, and the measures that are being suggested today, will change attitudes towards irresponsible dog ownership to such an extent that the costs about which the hon. Gentleman is concerned will not be so great as local authorities might first have feared. Therefore, it is a perfectly proper option to expect local authorities to take account of those responsibilities within their general financial provisions. I do not think that it is right to impose the licence regime that has been suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Drake.

Mr. Bob Cryer (Bradford, South)


Mr. Marlow

I am about to finish, if the hon. Gentleman does not mind.

Registration will not achieve anything that the measures already enacted and those about to be enacted will not achieve, but it will cost money and it will impose a burden without benefit on many law-abiding citizens. One thinks particularly of the owners of small, well-looked after dogs in rural areas. We would be imposing a burden on millions of our citizens. If we can solve a problem without messing people about, it is our duty to do so.

Mr. Hattersley

I congratulate the hon. Member for Plymouth, Drake (Dame J. Fookes) on her initiative in tabling the new clause and on the authoritative and moderate manner in which she moved it—and a lot of good that did her with her own Back-Bench colleagues, who treated the new clause in a manner which was very often lacking in courtesy. That is because they never learn. Having pursued the bone-headed preoccupation with deregulation for 10 years and got the Government, their party and this country into a great deal of mess because of that preoccupation, they still believe that deregulation, with the Government standing back and not acting, is the solution to every problem. Between now and the general election they will learn that that is not the opinion of the British people. It would have been good if they had learnt that lesson before we had this debate on dog registration and if they had come to understand the advantages that dog registration would provide.

The speech of the right hon. Member for Woking (Mr. Onslow) showed the unthinking attitude that will become evident between now and I am on the subject. The right hon. Gentleman does not seem to have either read or understood the Bill. He repeated time and again that the Bill is intended to deal with two breeds of fighting dog. That is the purpose of one of the clauses. I support that clause, and I have said time and again, both inside and outside the House, that the Government are to be congratulated on the way they have dealt with that problem. Had the right hon. Gentleman read on beyond clause 2, however, he would have discovered that the Bill is designed to deal with other categories of dogs—in themselves dangerous but not, in the Government's opinion or in mine, so dangerous that the breed ought to be prohibited and eventually wiped out.

The question, therefore, is how we should deal with what I shall call the generality of dogs, many of which, perhaps most of which, are well looked after, and many of which, perhaps most of which, are kept under proper control, but some of which are not, and all of which are potentially dangerous in one way or another. There is not an organisation in the country, from the RSPCA to the Kennel Club, that does not concede that every dog can potentially cause damage and destruction. It may be by the sudden biting of a small child, it may be by running out into the road and causing an accident, or it may be for other reasons, but every dog is a potential source of danger.

Despite that fact, and despite the provisions in the Bill to deal with all dogs, the Home Secretary kept saying—he said it three times—that we ought to focus on what really matters, which is fighting dogs, as though in some strange way the inclusion of the new clause in the Bill would diminish the power that the Bill provides to deal with pit bull terriers and tosas. It will do no such thing. The idea that by voting for the new clause we shall dilute the rest of the Bill is absolute nonsense. All the authoritative organisations argue that by voting for the new clause we would strengthen the Bill and make the rest of it more likely to work in practice, for three or four specific reasons which I shall shortly describe. Before doing so, however, I wish to deal with what have been and with what will continue to be the objections to the new clause.

We shall be told that the miscreants—the people for whom, according to those who support registration, registration is most necessary—will be the people who are least likely to register. We shall be told that registration does not, of itself, provide any protection. We shall also be told that registration is excessively bureaucratic. We were told all those things specifically by the Home Secretary, explicitly in relation to the registration of pit bull terriers and tosas. He now accepts that those three arguments do not apply. They are just as bogus for dogs in general as they are for pit bull terriers. As the Home Secretary has come to realise that fact, I hope that some of his right hon. and hon. Friends will come to realise it, too.

The Government are determined that this debate will continue until I am, and it is important that as many hon. Members who want to do so should have the opportunity to speak. I shall therefore be brief. All that I wish to do is to make again the case that I tried to make on Second Reading—a positive case for a register. As the right hon. Member for Woking said, it is true that about a quarter of all the serious assaults by dogs in the capital last year were by one breed—pit bull terriers—but it will not have escaped the right hon. Gentleman's attention that if only a quarter of the assaults were by pit bull terriers, the special category for which we are taking special powers, three quarters of those assaults were by other breeds of dog that reasonable people believe ought to be kept under control and supervision.

One way of doing that is to extend the powers that the Home Secretary rightly intends to extend. It can be done by extending the categories of dogs that can be treated most severely. I hope and trust that that extension will prove not to be necessary, as I am sure does the right hon. Gentleman. It can be done by extending the powers to enable the courts to insist on muzzling and on dogs being kept in a safe place and eventually, although I remain sceptical about the Government's determination, by taking the power to insist that all dog owners take out third party insurance to protect those who may be injured by their pets.

All those measures are in themselves desirable. We have hoped for and supported all of them, but the one extra step of registration has an overwhelming advantage with which even the hon. Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow) agrees—and if he perceives it, surely everyone else can. Registration will increase the climate of responsibility among dog owners and encourage people to realise that owning a dog is not something to be undertaken frivolously or lightly, or undertaken for a moment before the dog is abandoned. I mean "abandoned" in both senses of the word—abandoning the concept of responsibility and abandoning the dog. Too often, particularly after Christmas, dogs are abandoned on motorways and streets.

The hon. Member for Northampton, North, I believe, asked why the body of responsible and respectable dog owners who cherish and look after their pets should be required to meet some of the costs involved in forcing the irresponsible owners into registration. Every hon. Member who has spoken in the debate has announced his credentials. I was brought up in a family that always had dogs. My mother still has a dog. I do not have a dog in London, because I do not believe that it is responsible to have a dog living in the centre of London. One of the things to which I look forward when I shuffle off this place is going to Yorkshire and living a life that enables me to own a dog.

The people I know who are the most responsible owners of dogs are also among the people most keen on registration. Responsible dog owners know that registration protects dogs. I repeat what I said on Second Reading, because it is important. Everyone knows of even reputable kennels—not the dog farmers or the people who breed cross-bred puppies and then give them away to anyone who comes along—which sell dogs in large numbers before Christmas in the certain knowledge that, a few days afterwards, a high percentage will be abandoned or given away.

If those reputable dealers were required by law to insist that whoever purchases one of their dogs registers the dog and accepts that legal responsibility, the casual way in which, too often, dogs are bought and then abandoned would certainly be reduced. That is why, in my experience, responsible dog owners would gladly pay a small fee to extend the responsibility that they feel to a wider group. I repeat what all responsible organisations say—that, as well as protecting dogs, registration would increase the climate of responsibility, which would also protect people.

The hon. Member for Bournemouth, West (Mr. Butterfill), who intervened in the speech of the hon. Member for Drake—I think that he thought he was amusing—said that farmers would still shoot registered dogs if they savaged sheep. I am sure that that is so, but the object of registration is to make owners so responsible that sheep do not get savaged in the first place—to make the owner say, "I have a legal responsibility for this dog."

Mr. Butterfill

It is a shame that the right hon. Gentleman impugns the intelligence of my right hon. Friend the Member for Woking (Mr. Onslow). If the right hon. Gentleman cared to read my right hon. Friend's speech, he would find that he misunderstood what he said. But that is beside the point. Sheep savaging is appalling, but if the present law were adequately enforced, identification of dogs and dog ownership would be equally responsible. All that the right hon. Gentleman wants to do is to produce unnecessary bureaucracy.

Mr. Hattersley

If the hon. Gentleman wants to talk about bureaucracy, I will repeat one point for him. If the Home Secretary chose, he could act gradually, breed by breed. The hon. Member for Drake has allowed for much flexibility in the way in which measures could be introduced. I would introduce exactly the same bureaucracy for some breeds as the Home Secretary already advocates and as is now to be introduced for pit bull terriers which are exempted under the extinction orders. I am prepared to extend the principle, just as the Home Secretary should be, if he is to be consistent with the latest position that he has adopted on this issue.

Finally, if we are to have a society in which dogs are cared for in a way that will protect both the public and the dogs, the Government must inculcate a general atmosphere of responsibility. In the view of all the authorities and organisations concerned, a dog registration scheme would help to create that atmosphere.

I ask Conservative Members, who have spent the past 13 years believing that their views and ideology are always right and that nothing that conflicts with their views could ever be right, to consider the possibility that, on the subject of a registration scheme, the RSPCA, the Royal Society of Veterinary Surgeons, the National Farmers Union, the Automobile Association and the Police Federation, members of which all have deep and personal interests in this matter, might just know what they are talking about—and they all say that registration will make dog owners more responsible and will, in the short term, help to solve the problem.

11.30 pm

I do not say, and none of my hon. Friends would say, that a registration scheme would solve all the problems—nor, I am sure, would the Home Secretary, with all his confidence, say that his Bill would meet all the problems—but we are struggling for some marginal improvement. I have no doubt that registration would bring about a more than marginal improvement—indeed, that the improvement would be significant.

Whether or not the House introduces such a scheme this evening, sooner or later, one will be introduced because it is what all those involved with dogs want. Only the irresponsible are against it—the irresponsible dog owners and the irresponsible politicians who hold the little view about deregulation and cannot think outside that prejudice.

I hope that the House will support the new clause, because we know for certain that it is the majority view of the House. As I have said, if that view is frustrated and the new clause is not included in the Bill, it will be only because the Government have insisted on the vote being held in the small hours of the morning and have whipped their Members as strongly as they could to support their narrow, prejudiced view. If the new clause is not passed now, it will return sooner or later, in one place or another, to become the law of the land.

11.31 pm
The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Kenneth Baker)

Those who have been following the debate will know that the Bill deals with dangerous dogs and goes much wider than pit bull terriers and Japanese tosas. The right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) has acknowledged the provisions of clause 1, about which there is general consensus in the House.

Clause 2 deals with various breeds of dogs and gives the Home Secretary reserve powers, which can be exercised only with the full approval of both Houses of Parliament, to designate a particular breed if he feels that it is a serious danger to the public, and to impose muzzling or leashing orders upon that breed—as opposed to individual dogs. That power is circumscribed because it is a considerable power to which I believe that certain of the dog interests would object strongly. I do not believe that the RSPCA would welcome the exercise of that power, but I am empowered and, indeed, statutorily required by the Bill to discuss the way in which it is used.

Clause 3 deals with the generality of dogs and with the penalties that will arise when an owner allows his dog to be dangerously out of control in a public place. That is an effective and significant change. We are dealing not only with the fighting dogs or with rottweilers and alsatians: the provisions apply to any dog and impose severe penalties on owners, such as six months' imprisonment or a £5,000 fine. Embedded in that clause is a very important order-making power for the magistrates courts. If someone complains to a magistrate that a dog is out of control, even if it has not savaged anybody, considerable restrictions could be placed upon it.

The Bill therefore considerably increases the powers that are available to the courts and to the various bodies in our land that deal with the problem of dangerous and vicious dogs. It is inevitable and appropriate that any dog legislation should involve a debate on registration, but, in the light of what I have said, I know that many of my hon. Friends do not see the link between dealing with dangerous dogs and registration. I say to those who are enthusiastic about registration that I believe that it would have had no effect on the three severe attacks recently—in each instance, ownership was clearly identified—and no effect on the attitude of the owners.

My hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Drake (Dame .J. Fookes) says, first, that registration would enhance responsible ownership. Secondly, she says that dogs should be clearly identified. Finally, she argues that costs would be moderate, sensible and easily affordable. I think that I do no disservice to my hon. Friend's arguments.

Would responsible ownership be enhanced? If a registration scheme is to be respected, it must be enforceable. The dilemma that supporters of a registration scheme always have to face is that the responsible owner will comply with it. We heard a moving speech from the hon. Member for Worsley (Mr. Lewis), who said that while he is a Member of Parliament he is not prepared to have a dog. That is because he is so busy that he would not have time to train the dog and the puppy, which would require so many hours a day. That is the attitude of the responsible person, and clearly someone who has that attitude would comply with a registration scheme. Such a person will comply with the Bill's provisions when they are enacted. He is someone who trains and disciplines his dogs and looks after them properly. Such an owner is causing no trouble at present.

If registration is to be effective, it must bear down on the irresponsible—those who do not keep their dogs on a leash in the park and those who let their dogs jump up at other people. I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Drake has examined the Bill's provisions, which bear upon these very matters precisely. I do not believe that by having a registration scheme we shall see a change in attitude towards the ownership of dogs, and those who advocate a registration scheme are inclined to oversell it. If they believe that registration will change attitudes and make everyone responsible owners—

Mr. Frank Cook

Does the Home Secretary agree that the logic that he is using to try to destroy some of the rationale behind the new clause could be applied equally to firearms certificates? The person who does not have a firearms certificate is the irresponsible owner and the person who does is responsible. Would he extend his logic and dismiss firearm certificates? Would he not rather join those of us who are clearer in thought and who accept the logic of the need for a dog registration scheme?

Mr. Baker

The matters are very different. The ownership of firearms in our society is much more restricted than the ownership of dogs, and firearms are much more expensive than dogs. I do not believe that there is a fair comparison.

I say to my hon. Friend the Member for Drake that the powers in clause 3 deal with the responsibility of owners. I know that she and the RSPCA support them.

Dr. John Reid (Motherwell, North)

Will the Home Secretary give way?

Mr. Baker

I understand that many hon. Members wish to speak in the debate, and I suggest that I do not give way. In earlier debates I gave way many times and I think now that it would be better to proceed with my speech.

My hon. Friend the Member for Drake talked about identification. As she rightly says, if we can link ownership with the name of a dog and a registered address, the present position will be improved. I agree with that. In recent incidents, however, the identification of the owner was not an issue. In all cases it was quite easy to identify the owner. When vicious attacks take place it is nearly always quite easy to identify the owner, unless the dog is a stray. When dealing with vicious, savage dogs, I fail to see that there is a link between them and identification. However, my hon. Friend the Member for Drake has raised a serious point, which must be addressed, about the identification of dogs. Several hon. Members expressed concern about the number of strays in their constituencies and they wanted to know the present law on clog identification.

Under section 13 of the Animal Health Act 1981, dogs are required to wear collars and tags in a public place. The penalty for non-compliance is a £2,000 fine, which will soon rise to £5,000. My hon. Friend the Member for Drake was right, however, to say that, although that law is on the statute book nothing much is happening about it. I have good news for my hon. Friend: when section 151 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 is brought into force from 1 April 1992, it will place a duty on district councils and London boroughs to enforce the dog collar requirement. I know that my hon. Friend will welcome that.

Section 149 of the 1990 Act will also be brought into force at the same time and districts will be responsible for appointing dog wardens and the picking up, detaining and, if possible, returning of stray dogs to their owners. The district councils and London boroughs will have responsibility for both of those important control measures. Those controls, together with those in the Bill, will go an enormous way towards achieving what my hon. Friend the Member for Drake wants to 'achieve and what she has spent a great deal of her life promoting—the role of responsible ownership.

The third argument advanced by my hon. Friend the Member for Drake related to the cost of registration. My hon. Friend was right to say that some animal welfare organisations have voluntary registration schemes. They charge low fees of about £3 or £4. I know that my hon. Friend would be first to recognise, however, that those schemes are inexpensive because they are voluntary—therefore they do not have to bear any enforcement costs —and because they cater for what might be described as the easy end of the market, those responsible owners who choose to register and insure their dog and take great care to ensure that it causes no harm to others. Such voluntary registration schemes are not a reasonable basis on which to estimate the likely fee for a general dog registration scheme.

We have some guidance on those costs, because the London School of Economics was asked to estimate them by the RSPCA in 1989. The total cost amounts to £46 million per year of which £23 million would be for dog wardens and associated kennelling. The other £23 million would go on the administration of the system. I understand that another £4.5 million should be added for the initial cost of registering about 700,000 dogs each year —if one assumes that there are 7 million dogs, which live for 10 years, that is equivalent to registering 700,000 a year. The total cost in 1989 was put at about £50 million —equivalent today to about £60 million.

It would be necessary to charge a much greater fee than the £3 or £4 suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Drake to cover the cost of the scheme. The cost also depends on the percentage of owners who comply. If one has 100 per cent. compliance, the cost can be spread over 7 million dogs. However, in Northern Ireland the rate of compliance is below 50 per cent. and in the Republic of Ireland it is below 30 per cent.

Mr. William Ross

If the right hon. Gentleman knows that compliance is below 30 per cent. in Northern Ireland, how did he get the total figure?

Mr. Baker

The hon. Gentleman must have misheard me. I said that compliance was just below 50 per cent. in Northern Ireland and that in the Republic it was 30 per cent. The hon. Gentleman would expect Northern Ireland to be more law-abiding in this matter than the Republic. [Interruption.] Only in this matter.

Many countries have a requirement to register dogs, but it is one of the most unobserved laws. Italy and Spain have systems of registration, but there is scant regard for them. In Spain the fee is about £27. The LSE has estimated that a registration scheme could cost £60 million. That could be met by a one-off payment of £121 payable for life, or by a fee of £29 payable for initial registration with £9 payable annually thereafter. That level of fees raises a second tranche of questions about whether certain people should be exempted.

Mr. Robert Maclennan (Caithness and Sutherland)


11.45 pm
Mr. Baker

I shall not give way to the hon. Gentleman, who will no doubt have the opportunity to speak in a moment.

Mr. Maclennan


Mr. Baker

I have already given way to the hon. Gentleman today, but I will hear his point.

Mr. Maclennan

I do not want to detain the House, but the Home Secretary mentioned the LSE figures. He gave only the debit side; he did not mention the LSE calculations of the existing cost of dealing with stray dogs, which would be met by a registration scheme. He will have the up-to-date figures, but even in 1989 the cost to the public was £70 million. That was met not from a registration scheme, but from other funds.

Mr. Baker

I should not have given way to the hon. Gentleman. The cost of dealing with strays is included in the current level of expenditure. They are dealt with sometimes by the police, sometimes by vets, sometimes by the RSPCA and sometimes by dog wardens. That is already happening, so we are discussing extra costs.

The right hon. Member for Sparkbrook has committed the Labour party to a dog registration scheme. He did not give any details about it this evening. I am not surprised, because I have searched the records to find Hattersley on dogs, and it is a rare entry. I could find Hattersley on constitutional reform, Hattersley on freedom of information, Hattersley on cricket, Hattersley on Yorkshire, Hattersley on food—but Hattersley on dogs was a rare entry. I was hoping that he would tell us how he envisages the scheme. In the last two documents published by his party, he committed it to a dog registration scheme. The House should know whether the scheme is to be self-financing or subsidised. Would the right hon. Gentleman like to tell us?

Mr. Hattersley

I am supporting the new clause moved by the hon. Member for Plymouth, Drake (Dame J. Fookes), who was kind enough to explain to the Home Secretary, in the belief that he would take it in and deal with it, that she is proposing a very wide discretion for the Home Secretary of the day. When the new Home Secretary is in place, whoever he may be, I am sure that he will not try to misquote the figures, as the right hon. Gentleman did until he was caught out by the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan). The new Home Secretary will be sensible enough to know that the scheme will represent a saving rather than a liability.

Mr. Baker

That was the most extraordinary piece of arithmetic, which should be drawn to the attention of the shadow Chancellor immediately. Everybody recognises that there is a cost for registering 7 million dogs. There is the computer cost and the cost of enforcement. The LSE, at the request of the RSPCA, put that at £60 million.

The right hon. Gentleman did not answer my question. Is the scheme to be self-financing or is it to be subsidised? Until he answers, how can we know what the level of fee will be? He is going to the country with a scheme that is uncosted. He is trying to persuade people that it is likely to cost a few pounds, when in fact it is likely to cost £10 or £20—[Interruption.] The Opposition want a dog registration scheme, but they do not have an idea among them of how it would be run. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will be more specific.

I have tried to explain why I do not think that a dog registration scheme would be effective in promoting responsible ownership. Collaring and tagging, the proposals in clause 3 and the other measures in the Bill will effectively achieve that, and commend all those provisions to the House.

Mr. Maclennan

I would not have made this speech had not the Home Secretary made it abundantly plain that he had wholly misunderstood the case for registration, and also misrepresented the arguments of his hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Drake (Dame J. Fookes). Her new clause is linked with new clause 5, which stands in my name and that of my right hon. Friend the Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (Sir D. Steel), although, if it comes to a vote, I will readily support the hon. Lady's new clause in preference to my own.

The Secretary of State is scraping the bottom of the barrel if he has to juggle figures to conceal the benefit to the public of a registration scheme.

Dr. Reid

The Home Secretary not only juggled the figures, but completely misrepresented the argument put not only by the hon. Member for Plymouth, Drake (Dame J. Fookes) but by Opposition Members. According to the right hon. Gentleman, it was being suggested that a simple registration scheme would bring about a total and fundamental change in responsibility. What was actually suggested—and repeated three or four times—was that such a scheme wold add significantly to owner responsibility. No one suggested that it would lead to a revolution.

Mr. Maclennan

All who have spoken in favour of a registration scheme have made extremely modest claims for it—none more than the hon. Member for Drake, to whose persuasive arguments hon. Members on both sides of the House listened very carefully. I am sure that, if any hon. Members came into the Chamber tonight without having made up their minds already, they would have been influenced by what she said.

What I found particularly surprising—even more bizarre than all that playing with figures, which the Home Secretary might have thought that he could get away with at this time of night—was the right hon. Gentleman's failure to recognise the strength of expert opinion. I do not set myself up as a dog expert. I cannot imagine that the right hon. Gentleman considers me sufficiently important to merit the trawl for quotes to which he has subjected the utterances of the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley), but he may wish to confirm that I have never before spoken about dogs in the House. I do, however, pay considerable attention to what is said by those who have had direct experience of dealing with dogs, and who run dog warden schemes—local authorities; the police, who must try to enforce the law as it stands and who are aware of its inadequacies; and the National Farmers Union in both Scotland and England, which is concerned about the damage done by dangerous dogs that worry livestock.

We should be extremely unwise to turn our back on all those bodies when they are saying the same things. The fact that the Home Secretary did not even mention that clear consensus suggests that he is playing to a very small gallery of supporters immediately behind him; certainly he is not directing his remarks to wider opinion outside. Most people would be utterly mystified by his unwillingness to listen to, or engage with, the arguments deployed by such responsible bodies as the RSPCA, and by all the other organisations that must deal with the problem of half a million stray dogs roaming around.

Obviously, the Bill deals primarily with dangerous dogs, and it was in that connection that new clause I was tabled. It can be justified on the ground that it is intended to strengthen new clause 3, in particular. That is not the only justification. There will be many other benefits. Dogs can not only be dangerous but cause a substantial nuisance and disease. For all those reasons, the Home Secretary could have shown a little humility and accepted the advice of those who know better, and who have had responsibility for dealing with the issue rather longer than he has.

Mr. Devlin

I find myself in an interesting position, because I am agnostic about this issue. When I first entered the House, I supported my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Drake (Dame J. Fookes) in her proposal for a dog registration scheme. I did so because there are 7.5 million dogs in this country, and far too many of them are running stray around my constituency. I felt that, if we introduced a sensible registration fee that everyone would have to pay before they were allowed to own a dog, it would serve as a major disincentive—with only those people who were serious would become dog owners. I envisaged them paying a substantial fee of £50 or £60 when they bought a dog. I envisaged also an annual registration fee, with the use of a coloured disc on the dog's collar, for example, to identify those who were registered. Those that were not would be destroyed.

That is a good principle but—as I said in an earlier intervention—I accepted another good principle, which is that everyone should pay something towards the cost of local government. I voted for the community charge on the basis that we live in an age in which computers can solve all our problems. We were assured by everyone that the running costs would be relatively low and that the bureaucracy would not grow.

In Committee, the hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker) told me that that was all nonsense—that the bureaucracy would mushroom and that costs would soar. We did not believe him, because the experts told us about schemes running in different parts of the world, and assured us that we would be able to contain the costs. In any event, the community charge would only be about £250 in Stockton-on-Tees. On that basis, about half the population would have been better off and half worse off, and on that basis it was a fair principle.

We went with it, and in the first year the community charge was £430. We have now been compelled to introduce the reduction scheme. We heard arguments about pensioners, student nurses, and all sorts of other people who could not afford to pay. All kinds of exemptions were being claimed by different interests.

What is the dog registration scheme, after one has stripped it away, but a poll tax for dogs? The intention is to impose a head tax on 7.5 million dogs. We shall tax every single one of them, which will require an army of inspectors. Just as with students, there will be dogs that disappear somewhere into the system. Then we shall have to charge something more to those who pay to compensate for those who do not. The extra £19 that has to be paid in Stockton-on-Tees to compensate for those who do not pay their poll tax is very much resented.

One must consider also the other bureaucratic problems. I wonder whether it is a good idea to support new clause 1. Is the problem a gap in the existing law or lack of enforcement? I listened with interest when my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary said that provision is made in the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to make local authorities enforce the existing law. I remember that clause, because I spoke on it when the House debated it.

Once we enforce the existing law, we must ask ourselves what more will be achieved by introducing an extra poll tax for dogs with all the attendant bureaucracy that will go with it. If every dog wears a collar carrying a tag with its name and that of its owner, we shall be able to trace the owner. In respect of dogs whose owners one can trace, provisions in the animals, dogs and guard dogs legislation can be applied to cover almost every eventuality. In respect of the really dangerous fighting dogs—tosas and American pit bull terriers—the provisions of the present Bill will apply. I am beginning to wonder what more will be achieved if we go the whole hog and accept a full-scale registration scheme.

12 midnight

Mr. Rupert Allason (Torbay)

I am entertained by the parallel that my hon. Friend draws with the poll tax, but does he not agree that if it is a parallel in principle, that principle has already been accepted for dangerous dogs, in respect of which the Government have agreed that a registration scheme supplies the remedy?

Mr. Devlin

I think that the situation is rather different. [HON. MEMBERS: "You would, wouldn't you?"] Yes, I would, and I will tell the House why. If all tosas and American pit bull terriers are neutered and muzzled in public, the breeds will die out. That means that we are looking at a short-term problem; registration will not continue into the indefinite future. If similar arrangements were applied in respect of all 7.5 million dogs, however, the bureaucracy involved would be nightmarish.

I fully support the principle of what my hon. Friend the Member for Drake is trying to do. I want there to be a lot fewer dogs in this country, and I certainly want to see a major reduction in the amount of dog mess in every part of our community. It ruins all our parks and public places and is a grave danger to children, and my constituents feel very strongly about it. In one part of my constituencyThornaby—we have large packs of stray dogs roaming around. I want those dogs destroyed, but I know that, come the day when we start destroying large numbers of dogs, the dog lovers will be after us. We are in a no-win situation and, frankly, this is one of those questions in respect of which it is best to remain agnostic. Whatever we decide, we shall upset someone. Either we shall upset dog owners or we shall—

Sir Nicholas Fairbairn

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Devlin

No, I shall not give way because I want to conclude,

Dame Janet Fookes

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Devlin

In a moment.

I go back to what I learned with the poll tax. If we expect the project to cost us £40 million, it will end up costing us £80 million or even £100 million. Then the Treasury will get hold of the idea and say, "Here's a nice little earner to add to the yearly increases in duty on cigarettes and alcohol and so on." Before we know where we are, the cost of registration will be £100 a year. Then we shall have student nurses and pensioners queueing up and saying, "Why can't we have a rebate? We cannot afford that amount."

Dame Janet Fookes

I fail to understand how my hon. Friend can apparently support registration for one set of dogs but not for the rest, and as for his concern about upsetting one group or another whatever we do, if that really worries him, he ought to leave politics immediately.

Mr. Devlin

I am grateful for the advice, but I am afraid that I shall disappoint my hon. Friend and stay here for a considerable period resolving such dilemmas in the best interests of my constituents. Large numbers of my constituents have written to me in support of a dog registration scheme because the RSPCA has led them to believe that it is a panacea. I recognise, however, that I have been sent to this place not merely to articulate the wishes of that minority which shouts the loudest but to use my judgment. My judgment in this case is that any Government who introduce a dog registration scheme, thus placing a burden on every dog owner in the country will not end up a popular Administration. I say that to Labour Members in case they feel like introducing such a scheme when they are next in power—if they ever are.

On balance, and after considering these matters carefully, I do not feel that the new clause deserves my support in the Lobby tonight.

Miss Kate Hoey (Vauxhall)

The Home Secretary is not in his place at the moment, but I found his speech disappointing. It showed that he is totally out of touch, not merely with feeling in the country on this issue, but also —as has been pointed out by many hon. Members—with the feelings of the experts, the people who know what is happening with dogs at grass roots level.

I am totally in support of the new clause. I have been a strong supporter of dog registration and of more restraint on dogs for a long time. I feel that we have too many dogs in this country and that too many people individually own too many dogs.

Registration is not a panacea—it will not stop people being attacked by dogs or solve all the problems that have been mentioned by hon. Members—but it is a start. It is about changing the attitudes of the many people in this country who still feel that having a dog gives them a right not to look after it properly, as many people do not, and a right to allow the dog to behave in whatever way they feel is proper. That is not merely a risk to children in the streets, because of all the diseases that we know about, but is also a risk to car drivers because of accidents with dogs. We know all about the statistics.

Registration is about changing people's attitudes so that they will realise that buying a dog means taking responsibility for it. Because there is no legislation linking dog ownership with getting the dog in the first place, there is no opportunity to make people feel responsible. Until we start that, we shall not change people's attitudes.

Ten years ago people had the attitude that it was all right to smoke where one liked, that it did not matter and that there was no such thing as risks from passive smoking. Gradually we have changed people's attitudes about that.

Some people, such as the hon. Member for Plymouth, Drake (Dame J. Fookes) have fought on this issue for a number of years. It used to be unpopular to take up the issue of dog abuse, dogs fouling the pavements, dogs in parks or being allowed to run around in housing estates at risk. The position has changed because the RSPCA, the League for the Introduction of Canine Control and other such organisations have fought hard for the issue to be raised, not merely in the House but throughout the country.

If we do not take this step forward tonight, the subject will be back. I am sure that the Bill will get through the Lords and that we shall be debating it again in a month or so. I have been a Member of Parliament for only two years and no issue has been discussed more than dogs [Interruption.] One of the problems with late night debates is that the standard of behaviour goes down. This issue will return.

Several hon. Members mentioned Northern Ireland and the fact that only 50 per cent. of dog owners have registered there. Perhaps it is 50 per cent. or perhaps it is 55 per cent., but the Ulster Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has said that the number of strays has decreased. That is what we are talking about—trying to create a climate in this country in which people do not think that it is acceptable for dogs to run around loose or be allowed to do more or less what they like. Unless we start off with registration—using the money that results to bring in more dog wardens, and to educate people to realise when they register a dog that they must have it wormed every year and ensure that it is kept in a proper place and is properly exercised—we shall not solve the problem.

Mr. William Ross

Before one gets possession of a dog, or even a pup, in Northern Ireland one must have a licence for it. That is also part and parcel of the reason why the number of dogs has decreased. Does the hon. Lady agree that it might do all hon. Members a world of good if they went down to the Vote Office, got a copy of the Dogs (Northern Ireland) Order 1983, and read it through?

Miss Hoey

I agree with the hon. Gentleman. People should not be able to buy a dog as easily as they can buy an ice cream. They should have to prove that they can look after it and pay a registration fee, just as they do for a television licence or a firearms certificate, although I do not suggest that the cost should be the same.

One of the most appalling comments that the Home Secretary made—not in today's debate, but a few weeks ago when speaking on the need for legislation on dangerous dogs, which we all support—was that other incidents involving dogs had been just normal dog bites. There is no such thing as a normal dog bite. Children, adults, and the thousands of postmen and postwomen who have suffered such attacks know that such incidents are not normal and should not be accepted as such. We must recognise that the Bill does not go far enough, as attacks on postmen and postwomen often occur on private property.

The Home Secretary may think that he will manage to scrape through by two votes, but the issue will not go away. I am sure that we shall reconsider it when we debate Lords amendments, but we have an opportunity tonight to vote for dog registration and to bring the issue to an end.

Mr. Simon Burns (Chelmsford)

May I first congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Drake (Dame Janet Fookes) on tabling the new clause? Every right hon. and hon. Member is aware of her passionate and sincerely held views on dog registration, and we all admire and respect her for them.

I came to the House in 1987 and shared the view of my hon. Friend the Member for Stockton, South (Mr. Devlin). I had an open mind on dog registration and was prepared to be persuaded of the case for a registration scheme, provided it met the criteria advanced by its proposers. The more I have considered the scheme and the more it has been debated, argued and counter-argued, the more I have become convinced that it is not a panacea for the problems of stray dogs and dog ownership.

It is important that more is done to control dogs, especially stray dogs, but we heard the announcement this evening by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, that the Environmental Protection Act 1990 will come into force from next April and that all dogs will be made to wear a collar with an identifiable tag. I am not naive enough to pretend that that will be easy to achieve, but it must be achieved, and the Home Office has a role to play in publicising the law before it comes into force to ensure that people are aware of it and comply with it.

The horrific attacks by dogs that have been highlighted in the past few years and the problem of stray dogs, which is prevalent throughout the country, would not be curbed by a dog registration scheme. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary said that a registration scheme would not necessarily make dog owners more responsible.

I also believe that because, although an individual may be a responsible dog owner, that does not necessarily mean that he or she would register his or her dog under a dog registration scheme. We had a dog licence scheme for many years in this country, and I suspect that thousands, if not millions, of perfectly responsible dog owners refused, or did not bother, to buy a dog licence. I suspect that that would also be the case with a dog registration scheme.

More importantly, I think that we would all find that irresponsible dog owners would certainly not want to register their dogs, if only because they would not want to pay any money. A number of figures for the cost of the dog's registration have been bandied about in this debate. I suspect that a fee of £3 per dog is on the low side. When the scheme came into force, I think that the fee would be far higher, which would prove an even greater deterrent for dog owners to register their dogs.

12.15 am

Even if dog owners did register their dogs, we would not see an end to the horrific attacks on children and adults that have taken place in this country. In the past 18 months, the owner of the dog involved in every attack that has taken place has been identified. Identification has not been the problem—the problem has been that the dog's owner was irresponsible enough not to be able to control that dog in a public place. The Bill will go a long way towards trying to rectify that problem. People may argue, with some justification, that we need not a dog registration scheme, but a scheme to register the owners to ensure that they are more responsible in the way in which they look after their dogs.

I also believe that, if we had a dog registration scheme, not only would there be mass avoidance, but there would still be dogs straying around. As supporters of the scheme would argue, if the owners of those dogs had registered their pets, they would be easily identified. The same would be true under the laws that are to come into force next April, because if people comply with the law of giving their dog a collar and tag, they too will be able to identify the dog, so that the problems of bureaucracy and cost are eliminated.

Mr. Robert Banks (Harrogate)

Surely my hon. Friend would agree that the problem of strays stems from the problem of irresponsible owners. If someone goes into a pet shop or to a breeder to buy a dog, would it not be better if that person had to fill in their name and address and describe the dog on an application form for registration and pay to have their dog registered? Would not that engender a greater sense of responsibility and reduce the stray problem?

Mr. Burns

I understand my hon. Friend's point. If someone goes to a breeder to buy his or her dog, that may be true. But I suspect that many breeders, particularly those who own dogs and allow them to have puppies to make a bit of money on the side, will not bother with ensuring that the dogs they sell, give away or pass on are registered and linked into a scheme. Therefore, a majority of dogs that are sold or given to other people may not be registered. How exactly will a dog registration scheme work? My hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Drake said that it would be up to the Home Secretary of the day to fill in the details, which I accept. However, even if the Home Secretary of the day—whoever he or she may be —fills in the details, there will be problems.

Who is to be exempted from the scheme? Will all pensioners be exempted? Will the richer pensioners as well as the genuinely less well-off pensioners be exempted? If that is the case, those who do not fit that category and who are not exempted will have to pay more, thereby increasing the fee and reducing the number of people prepared to register their dogs. Will all the unemployed be exempted from registering their dogs and from paying a fee, or only from paying a fee? People go in and out of work, so there will be confusion and added bureaucracy which will, again, add to the costs. Will children be exempted from paying the fee? That will again increase the costs.

Mr. Maclennan

The hon. Gentleman is asking many rhetorical questions, which I will not attempt to answer. His hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Drake (Dame J. Fookes) said that these matters should not be considered as questions of principle, but could be adapted in the way that the House considered appropriate.

Mr. Burns

I would have been grateful if the hon. Gentleman had had the courtesy to listen to what I was saying. I said when I embarked on my line of argument that I do not think that we should be expected to vote this evening for a pig in a poke. We should know more about what a dog registration scheme would mean.

Mr. Cryer


Mr. Burns

It would be wrong to give a blank cheque to an idea when many of my right hon. and hon Friends—and, I suspect, some Opposition Members—have genuine concerns about the nitty-gritty details of a dog registration scheme.

Mr. Butterfill

I am most grateful to my hon. Friend for giving way. While we are dealing with the nitty-gritty details, will my hon. Friend agree that, if we are to have a dog registration scheme, we should need to have a power of entry into homes where it was suspected that an unregistered dog was being kept? Would not that offend hon. Members who are concerned about civil liberties?

Mr. Burns

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. He has mentioned another aspect that would cause grave concern to many people.

There is another area about which there would be grave concern—perhaps not now, when the issue is being focused on, but if we had a dog registration scheme. If silicon chips were planted into dogs, many dog owners would be nervous and genuinely upset about their pets —rightly or wrongly. If there were accidents when a silicon chip was being implanted, many people would be gravely concerned, and that could be a deterrent to others.

I fully appreciate that the new clause is a well-meant attempt to help to combat the problems of stray dogs and of the irresponsible ownership of dogs. However, I fear that it is not the right measure to succeed. My right hon. Friend's proposals and other measures that are to come into force should be given the chance to work before we go down the route of a plethora of controls, bureaucracy and costs.

Mr. Peter Hardy (Wentworth)

The House will be aware that, on previous occasions, I have been extremely critical of the proposed registration scheme. However, I recognise that the hon. Member for Plymouth, Drake (Dame J. Fookes) has been flexible and accommodating in the new clause. More importantly, she has also provided for a two-year period before the Secretary of State has to lay an order. That gives an opportunity for the Government to take the action that has long been required.

I recall that 14 years ago, at the time of a Cruft's show in the late 1970s, I urged that there should be a change in the existing dog licensing scheme. The principal defect in that scheme was that people were supposed to get the licence when the puppy was six months old. Often they did not know when the puppy was six months old and by the time the puppy was six months old, they did not want it anyway so it joined the strays.

That was followed by the abolition of the halfpenny which was the fundamental cause of the confusion that the House has been tackling for the past two years. With the abolition of the halfpenny when the dog licence cost 371/2p, the Government had to decide to take action. They took action by attempting to get out from under.

My hon. Friend the Member for Denton and Reddish (Mr. Bennett) and other hon. Members have frequently sought to get private Members' Bills through the House to deal with the problem. Every time hon. Members have tried to introduce Bills on that subject, the Government have spoiled the Bills' chances by trying to ensure that all responsibility was passed from the Government to the local authorities. However, when we consider the kind of problem that has landed on the Home Office in recent months, we see that the burden of responsibility cannot and should not be passed to local authorities.

An anxiety that I have expressed in the House before is that I do not believe that the licence fee should be left entirely to local authorities. If that is the case, the fee in one area may be £10, but it might be £50 in the local authority across the road. Such a preposterously uneven situation would be unacceptable. It is possible to discern such a position under new clause 1.

According to the new clause, local authorities may determine or the Secretary of State may prescribe. That is not a particularly satisfactory part of the new clause. It should be clear that there would be sufficient pressure on the next Home Secretary—the present Home Secretary will not hold his office when these matters will have to be decided by the House—to accept that full responsibility should not be passed to local authorities.

As my earlier intervention may have shown, I have reservations about the method of identification. There are unacceptable aspects of tattooing. The hon. Member for Drake may be right: the identification chip may be a satisfactory method, but I believe that in many breeds of active dog the chip would move around the dog's body or be damaged when the dog was active.

One of my dogs is an Irish wolfhound. Although the hon. Member for Wyre Forest (Mr. Coombs) suggested that Irish wolfhounds were a dangerous breed, centuries of domestication have made them safe. The hon. Member said that a four-year-old child was at risk from an Irish wolfhound. Well, several Irish wolfhounds I know would be terrified by four-year-old children.

I have used my Irish wolfhound on several occasions to demolish obstructions to public rights of way in my constituency. My dog will not jump, but he will go through an obstruction, if another dog jumps over it. We have carefully preserved rights of way on several occasions. However, when preserving those rights of way, it is perfectly possible that a chip lodged in the back of my dog's neck might be damaged or removed. I should like to see evidence that that method of identification is as reliable as some people claim. There are disputed views about that. The time allowed in the new clause for implementation of its recommendations gives us the opportunity to establish the truth.

On balance, and with great reluctance, I will support the new clause. There is an anti-dog lobby of which I am certainly not a member. However, many hon. Members have today referred to a variety of breeds of dog most of which are quite harmless in spite of the more idiotic members of our community who ruin their temperaments. Some breeds were mentioned in the same breath as those that sometimes cause problems and the fighting breeds with which the Bill seeks to deal.

My anxiety concerns clause 2. It seems that if those who object to licensing are not careful, they will force the Government into a position in which a whole host of breeds will be added to the Bill if a licensing provision is not available. My colleagues who believe that I should continue to oppose the registration of dogs might care to consider that the alternative might mean a substantial addition to the dogs covered by clause 2. A large number of people would not wish their dogs to be covered and have no need for their dogs to be included in such a list.

As has been said, the registration of dogs will not be a panacea. The answer in the first place would have been to implement existing law before the dog licence was abolished so that people did not allow dogs to stray and so that dogs wore a collar with a name tag. Much anxiety and much time of the House would have been saved.

I shall vote for the new clause, but I give the hon. Member for Drake notice that I shall seek to ensure in the months ahead that, if it is accepted, the new clause will not impose unreasonable burdens on dog owners, particularly responsible ones, or provide excessive power to local authorities, when it should be exercised by the Government of the day. I should certainly like to be satisfied that the methods of identification will be satisfactory. The flexibility that the hon. Lady has offered the house is sufficient to bring me into the Lobby with her on this occasion, but I suspect that, when we debate the orders that will be laid under the new clause, we may find ourselves on opposite sides.

12.30 am
Mr. Allason

Dog registration will be no panacea. It will not guarantee sensible dog ownership or compliance with the new law, but those criticisms are no reason for the Government to shrug off their responsibilities. I broadly support the Bill—certainly clause 3, which for the first Lime will give the public the chance to act before a tragedy. Members of the public who are concerned about dangerous animals, or animals that are running loose, will be able to report an owner to magistrates and get a court order. I welcome that. The registration clause will also give wardens an additional power that they do not at present have. That, too, is to be welcomed.

The difficulty lies at the moment of purchase. There must be a disincentive for the irresponsible owner who buys on impulse. We have already heard of people who go to puppy farms or big breeders and demand a pet but within six months are disappointed with it and put their pet out to run stray. Those are the irresponsible owners at whom the new clause is aimed. It is up to my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary to draft suitable proposals, but the ojbective is to provide a disincentive to irresponsible owners.

I have followed the Government's position on this. Originally, they were quite prepared to support registration in Northern Ireland. Now they say that it has failed. I notice, too, that the Government originally said that they opposed registration in the rest of the United Kingdom. Now they say that they support the principle, but only for very narrow categories.

I urge the House to give full consideration and support to the new clause moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Drake (Dame J. Fookes).

Mr. John McAllion (Dundee, East)

In the short time that I have been in the House, I have taken part in several debates on dog registration. During that time, I have had to listen to some desperately poor arguments in opposition to dog registration. It would be difficult to imagine any poorer or more desperate arguments than some of those that I have heard tonight from Conservative Members. One of them argued that because my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) may have voted against dog registration in the dim and distant past, the House should follow his lead.

It would be difficult to find a more nonsensical argument. I remind Conservative Members that my right hon. Friend has voted against the poll tax, national health service reforms, privatisation, and almost everything else that the Government have introduced, but they have never used that as an argument for following his lead, nor should they do so now because he did or did not happen to oppose dog registration in the past.

The new clause does not lessen the importance of the Bill. It recognises that some breeds of dog are so dangerous that they have to be banned and that some breeds are so dangerous that special measures are required to be taken against them. If the Bill is to be in a fit form to become law, we must encourage a climate of responsible dog ownership. Therefore, it is important to add new clause I to the Bill.

Conservative Members have argued that dog registration will not prevent attacks of the kind we have witnessed in recent years, but I believe that the reverse is the case. The absense of a dog registration scheme sends a clear message to everyone living in the United Kingdom that the Government do not care who owns what dog—that anyone can keep any dog in any environment. If ever I heard a recipe for irresponsibility, that is it. The House of Commons ought to be sending the message to the people of this country that we want to encourage responsible dog ownership, that we want dog owners to register their dogs, that we want dog owners to pay for licences for their dogs and to show that they are capable of looking after their dogs in a responsible manner.

The Home Secretary said that only responsible dog owners would comply with the registration scheme, and that some method must be found of making irresponsible dog owners comply with the law. Every Opposition Member agrees with him about that. The Home Secretary said that less than a third of the dogs in that country had been registered under Northern Ireland's registration scheme and the system of compulsory licensing that operates there. However, he failed to tell the House that, throughout the operation of that scheme, only 158 fixed penalties had been served on people who failed to comply with the registration scheme and that only 19 people had been prosecuted for failing to comply with it. If the scheme is not enforced, it is not surprising that it is not successful. What is lacking in Northern Ireland is a willingness to ensure that the registration scheme is effective. Such a scheme could and should be made effective in this country.

At the end of the Second Reading debate, the Minister of State referred to the ineffectiveness of dog registration. She said that a register would simply record that a dog exists. That in itself is worth while. We heard that there may be 7 million, or 7.5 million, dogs in this country, that there may be 10,000 American pit bull terriers and 90,000 to 180,000 rottweilers. The truth is that nobody knows. There is no record of who owns all those dogs. If registration did nothing else, it would at least provide us with a much better idea of the size of the problem. Before trying to tackle a problem, it is worth trying to find out how big the problem is, but that idea is far too simple for the Home Secretary to take on board.

The Home Secretary gave figures to show that a dog registration scheme would be too costly. He said that it would cost £50 million per year—£23 million for the wardens and kennels, £23 million for administration and a further £4.5 million for the initial registration of dogs. I remind the Home Secretary that the absence of a dog registration scheme already costs us more than £50 million. Boarding, finding new homes for and destroying stray dogs already cost this country an estimated £6 million a year, in addition to the costs of road accidents, hospital treatment and injury to livestock. Altogether, the cost to this country of not having a dog registration scheme is £70 million.

The Home Secretary tried to sidestep that point by saying that that represents costs incurred now. Of course it does, but those costs would not need to be incurred if we had a proper registration scheme. Such a scheme would involve computer and enforcement costs, but they would be offset by savings in the costs now incurred as a result of the absence of such a scheme.

Mr. Butterfill

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that, by definition, a large number of strays are unwanted dogs and that the surplus dog population is causing a considerable problem which would not be addressed by registration?

Mr. McAllion

Cannot the hon. Gentleman try to understand that dogs are unwanted because we make it so easy to own them? If we made it difficult for people to buy a dog at Christmas for their children, irresponsible owners might be put off owning one. That is our argument.

One of the last arguments in opposition to a dog registration scheme came from the hon. Member for Bournemouth, West (Mr. Butterfill), who said that such a scheme might involve the House legislating for right of entry into locked premises. I direct the hon. Gentleman's attention to clause 5(2) of the Bill for which he will be voting today, which gives authority to justices of the peace and sheriffs to issue warrants to allow entry into locked premises in pursuit of dogs which are said to be out of control. The Bill already gives that power, which the hon. Gentleman said would be unacceptable if it were required to make dog registration work. He cannot possibly defend that absurdity.

Mr. Robert Banks

Does the hon. Gentleman agree with me that, if someone buys a dog at Christmas and six months later the family decide to get rid of it, they will take the collar off the dog and let it go? That is the straight problem.

Mr. McAllion

The hon. Gentleman has hit the nail on the head. On Second Reading, my hon. Friend the Member for Wentworth (Mr. Hardy) referred to a dog that was thrown out of a speeding car, simply to get rid of it. There was no collar and tag on the dog to trace the person who had thrown it out of the car. If a chip had been implanted in the back of the dog's neck, the owner could have been traced under a dog registration scheme. Why cannot Conservative Members come to terms with that fact?

This should not be a party political issue, as is clear from the names of the hon. Members who tabled the new clause. I regret that the Government have turned it into an issue of confidence in a Government who are politically weak. That should never have happened. This is a non-party issue, and the country needs hon. Members to treat it seriously and on its merits—not on the basis of whether they belong to a particular political party. The fact that the Government have made this a party political issue will not be forgotten by people when they vote in the general election.

Mr. Kenneth Hind (Lancashire, West)

I am grateful for the opportunity to address this point. I have been in the Chamber from the beginning of the debate and have not left it at any time.

I oppose new clause 1. Registration is not a panacea for the dog problem, as is recognised by those who advocate it. If a dog attacks a child, it will make no difference if that dog is registered. Many hon. Members referred to the welfare of strays. Sixty per cent. of stray dogs in Northern Ireland are registered. Those in favour of registration are trying to say that a registration scheme will make dog owners totally responsible and that the behaviour of registered dogs will be different from that of unregistered dogs. That is absolute nonsense and the sooner that we recognise that, the better.

A dog registration scheme will not stop the other problem of faeces littering our parks where our children run about and pick up what the dogs have left behind, and nor will such a scheme make dog owners more law-abiding, as has been suggested by those who support the provisions. As my hon. Friend the Member for Stockton, South (Mr. Devlin) suggested, such a scheme would be no more than a canine poll tax, bringing with it a bureaucratic nightmare that would become more and more expensive as time goes on. The essence of a good law is that it is enforceable. The more holes there are in the system, the more difficult it will be to enforce, the more disreputable it will become, and the less and less likely it is to be effective.

12.45 am

The existing law, with its collar and tag and recognition provisions, is satisfactory. If it is properly applied and enforced and backed with the provisions of this Bill, the situation will improve. The provisions of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 will come into force in a few months and will strengthen the way in which we can deal with dogs. The only dog registration scheme that has any credibility is one that provides for a dog to be registered at the point of purchase, but even that can fall on its face because of the many breeders who produce dogs but are not shopkeepers or properly registered breeders.

A dog registration scheme will not work. It would be a bureaucratic nightmare. It would be an insult to the responsible dog owners who would pay, yet it would not catch those who would not. That is why I shall vote against it with confidence.

Mr. Robin Corbett (Birmingham, Erdington)

The right hon. Member for Woking (Mr. Onslow), when he managed to spare the time to be with us, asked what a register would do. Had he stayed long enough, he would have heard his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary say that it would enable the police and others to know exactly where pit bull terriers or other prescribed dangerous dogs lived, and the name of the recorded owner. The Home Secretary has therefore conceded the argument for a dog registration scheme, but he wants it to be narrow in its scope.

The hon. Member for Lancashire, West (Mr. Hind) and some of his hon. Friends have said that a registration scheme would be a bureaucratic nightmare, but they do not say that about firearms, motor vehicles or television sets, even when they know that compliance will not be 100 per cent. That is because, when the House rules that such things should be registered, we also arm the Home Secretary of the day with enforcement measures.

Many of the attacks on the proposition of the hon. Member for Plymouth, Drake (Dame J. Fookes) have been on the grounds of hon. Members' notions about particular dog registration schemes, but that is not what we are talking about. As the German Shepherd Dog League of Great Britain has said, it is possible to have a scheme that does not apply to existing dogs. The league argues that as each puppy is born, it should be registered immediately. In parallel, it should be made an offence to possess entire males unless that is sanctioned under the Breeding of Dogs Act 1973. That is one way of doing it. Over 10 years, the problem could be solved. I hope that the Home Secretary understands that we are discussing the new clause, and not my ideas or anybody else's about what might happen. If the right hon. Gentleman could get that into his head, he might better understand the arguments of his hon. Friend the Member for Drake.

Mr. Kenneth Baker

Two policy documents have been produced by the Labour party in favour of dog registration. The authors owe it to the country to explain exactly what dog registration will mean, the level of the fee and whether it would be self-financing or subsidised. Could we have some answers?

Mr. Corbett

I ask the Home Secretary to be patient. I ask him also to get it between his ears that we are discussing new clause 1.

It has been argued that a national dog registration scheme would not stop attacks on children and others, and that is right. No one—not even the Home Secretary—claimed that the firearms legislation could prevent another Hungerford, although it is to be hoped that it has made it less likely. Such arguments about the responsible ownership of firearms under a licensing system also apply to a responsible system of dog ownership.

To put the Home Secretary's question to me in a nutshell, "How much is that doggie in the window?" It has been put to him two or three times, most recently by my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East (Mr. McAllion), that on a conservative estimate the lack of a national registration scheme costs at least £70 million a year.

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Douglas Hurd)


Mr. Corbett

The Foreign Secretary tempts me, but I shall not be diverted because of the time constraint.

As I have said, it is estimated that the lack of a national registration scheme costs about £70 million a year, so we have that money to work with. I give an undertaking on behalf of my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) and myself that when my right hon. and hon. Friends form the next Government we shall produce a specific dog registration scheme, and put a price tag upon it.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Mrs. Angela Rumbold)

The new clause is directed to the control of dogs that are not otherwise regulated, and that is how my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Drake (Dame J. Fookes) introduced it. Much has been said about responsible ownership and the introduction of legislation that will control dogs. I remind the Committee, as did my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and my hon. Friends the Members for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow) and for Chelmsford (Mr. Burns), of existing legislation. First, we have the Animal Health Act 1982, which provides that everyone who has a dog should cause it to wear a tag that bears the dog's name and that of its owner. If the dog does not wear a tag, the owner is liable for a fine of £2,000. The Environmental Protection Act 1990 provides for a scheme to be introduced next April that will deal, among other things, with the extremely important problem of strays.

With those two pieces of legislation we have provided that all dogs must carry the name and address of their owners. Through local authorities, wardens will have authority to collect strays. Accordingly, strays will no longer be a problem. The same legislation takes care of the fouling of public places and of areas being limited for dogs. It answers the arguments advanced by my hon. Friend the Member for Drake for the control of dogs that are not otherwise regulated.

We have heard much about a dog registration scheme, but I have not heard one argument that has convinced me that enforcement would be better through such a scheme than through current legislation. Nothing will make the irresponsible owner licence his dog. Nor is there anything that will prevent a registration scheme being extremely expensive and bureaucratic and from producing harassment and complications that would not be right or proper. I have considerable reservations about the notion of tattooing or chipping dogs so that we can trace their owners. Indeed, some Opposition Members have expressed considerable reservation about such schemes.

The most frightening argument that has been advanced by Opposition Members is that they would like a registration scheme introduced because that would enable them to trace people who had dogs. It seems that they might even go further and say that only those who they think are the right people should own dogs. That is the slippery path down which the Opposition want to lead us. Given some of the frightening views expressed it makes me wonder whether we are listening to the views of those who are dog lovers or dog haters. Some Opposition Members would like to dictate how many dogs people should have, let alone whether they should have a dog, and how much it should cost.

I hope that my hon. Friends have listened carefully to the arguments that have been put. I hope that they will consider carefully the implications of introducing an expensive, difficult and bureaucratic dog registration scheme on top of existing legislation.

Dame Janet Fookes

My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has sought to dissuade me from my course of action by citing several reasons, with which I shall deal briefly.

First, my right hon. Friend suggested that the cost of the registration would be great and he offered various figures taken from the LSE research document. The highest figure of £60 million works out at under £10 a dog. I do not believe that that is such a ghastly amount as suggested.

Secondly, my right hon. Friend sought to say that the Bill and existing legislation are adequate to meet the problem, without a dog registration scheme. I hope that I have summarised my right hon. Friend's argument correctly. However, the duty of enforcement will fall largely on the local authorities. It is the environmental health officer, the dog wardens and the Association of District Councils who say that they want and need a dog registration scheme as the mechanism by which to carry out their duties. If I were asked to believe either my right hon. Friends—good and excellent they may be—or those who must carry out that duty on a daily basis, I would believe those who have that daily responsibility.

Anyone would think that the dog registration scheme was some strange scheme that we were pioneering. I know that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary mentioned certain countries, but he was careful to list those countries that are not notable for being particularly law-abiding in any sense.

Mr. Kenneth Baker


Dame Janet Fookes

Yes, Spain is one such example. I suggest that he should study Germany, Sweden, Australia and Canada. They all operate effective registration schemes.

If owners are required to register when they acquire a dog and to pay a fee for so doing, they immediately commit an offence if they do not. Those who must enforce the law want that first step of enforcement—dog registration—at their disposal. In that way one does not have to wait for another offence to be committed, such as fouling, fighting or anything else. The registration scheme is a ready-made arrangement upon which dog wardens and the police can rely.

My right hon. Friend also spoke about tags. He will be aware that I have advocated a permanent system of identification. That means that if the collar and tag are lost one is still able to identify the dog. That mechanism, more than anything else, would mean that we would be able to track down irresponsible owners. That would result in more responsibility. A collar and tag is also of great value to those owners who want to look after their dogs as they are much more easily found if they have such identification.

I advocate the clause strongly and I hope that the House will support me.

Mr. Peter Bottomley (Eltham)

Whichever way the vote goes, I believe that the House is agreed that we need a climate of responsibility.

One of the greatest problems with registration is that, when someone is assaulted by an animal they know, registration does not help. When someone is bitten by a dog that runs away, registration does not help. It gets away from the point that was well put by the hon. Member for Vauxhall (Miss Hoey), who said that there are far too many dogs in urban areas that are not cared for responsibly.

I do not believe that the registration scheme is the answer, but we should have sympathy with the RSPCA. It has to put down thousands of dogs each week. I believe that if owners could think about the end of their dog's life rather than just about its beginning we would have a better climate—with or without registration, which I intend to vote against—for dogs and human beings.

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

The Committee divided: Ayes 260, Noes 303.

Division No. 161] [12.59 am
Abbott, Ms Diane Evans, John (St Helens N)
Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley, N.) Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E)
Allason, Rupert Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray)
Allen, Graham Fatchett, Derek
Alton, David Faulds, Andrew
Anderson, Donald Fearn, Ronald
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
Armstrong, Hilary Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy Fisher, Mark
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Flynn, Paul
Ashton, Joe Fookes, Dame Janet
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Foot, Rt Hon Michael
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Foster, Derek
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Foulkes, George
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich) Fraser, John
Barron, Kevin Fyfe, Maria
Battle, John Galbraith, Sam
Beckett, Margaret Gale, Roger
Beith, A. J. Galloway, George
Bell, Stuart Garrett, John (Norwich South)
Bellotti, David Garrett, Ted (Wallsend)
Bendall, Vivian George, Bruce
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Godman, Dr Norman A.
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish) Golding, Mrs Llin
Benton, Joseph Gordon, Mildred
Bermingham, Gerald Gould, Bryan
Blair, Tony Graham, Thomas
Blunkett, David Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)
Boateng, Paul Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Boyes, Roland Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Bradley, Keith Grocott, Bruce
Bray, Dr Jeremy Hain, Peter
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E) Hardy, Peter
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Harman, Ms Harriet
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith) Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Browne, John (Winchester) Haynes, Frank
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Caborn, Richard Healey, Rt Hon Denis
Callaghan, Jim Henderson, Doug
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE)
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley) Hoey, Ms Kate (Vauxhall)
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Canavan, Dennis Home Robertson, John
Carlile, Alex (Mont'g) Hood, Jimmy
Carr, Michael Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Cartwright, John Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath)
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Howells, Geraint
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)
Clay, Bob Hughes, John (Coventry NE)
Clelland, David Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Hughes, Roy (Newport E)
Cohen, Harry Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Cook, Frank (Stockton N) Illsley, Eric
Cook, Robin (Livingston) Ingram, Adam
Corbett, Robin Irving, Sir Charles
Corbyn, Jeremy Janner, Greville
Cox, Tom Johnston, Sir Russell
Cryer, Bob Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Cummings, John Jones, leuan (Ynys Môn)
Cunliffe, Lawrence Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)
Cunningham, Dr John Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Dalyell, Tarn Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine
Darling, Alistair Kennedy, Charles
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Kilfedder, James
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l) Kirkwood, Archy
Dewar, Donald Lambie, David
Dickens, Geoffrey Lamond, James
Dixon, Don Leadbitter, Ted
Dobson, Frank Leighton, Ron
Doran, Frank Lestor, Joan (Eccles)
Dover, Den Lewis, Terry
Duffy, A. E. P. Litherland, Robert
Dunnachie, Jimmy Livingstone, Ken
Eastham, Ken Livsey, Richard
Edwards, Huw Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Robertson, George
Loyden, Eddie Rogers, Allan
McAllion, John Rooker, Jeff
McAvoy, Thomas Rooney, Terence
McCartney, Ian Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Macdonald, Calum A. Ross, William (Londonderry E)
McFall, John Rossi, Sir Hugh
McKay, Allen (Barnsiey West) Rowlands, Ted
McKelvey, William Ruddock, Joan
McLeish, Henry Salmond, Alex
Maclennan, Robert Sedgemore, Brian
McMaster, Gordon Sheerman, Barry
McNair-Wilson, Sir Michael Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
McNamara, Kevin Shore, Rt Hon Peter
McWilliam, John Short, Clare
Madden, Max Sillars, Jim
Marek, Dr John Skinner, Dennis
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Martlew, Eric Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
Maxton, John Smith, J. P. (Vale of Glam)
Meacher, Michael Snape, Peter
Meyer, Sir Anthony Soley, Clive
Michael, Alun Spearing, Nigel
Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley) Speller, Tony
Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute) Steel, Rt Hon Sir David
Miscampbell, Norman Steinberg, Gerry
Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby) Stott, Roger
Moonie, Dr Lewis Strang, Gavin
Morgan, Rhodri Straw, Jack
Morley, Elliot Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Mowlam, Marjorie Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
Mudd, David Turner, Dennis
Mullin, Chris Vaz, Keith
Murphy, Paul Wallace, James
Nellist, Dave Walley, Joan
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
O'Brien, William Wareing, Robert N.
O'Hara, Edward Watson, Mike (Glasgow, C)
O'Neill, Martin Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Parry, Robert Wigley, Dafydd
Patchett, Terry Williams, Rt Hon Alan
Pendry, Tom Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Pike, Peter L. Wilson, Brian
Powell, Ray (Ogmore) Winnick, David
Prescott, John Winterton, Mrs Ann
Primarolo, Dawn Wise, Mrs Audrey
Quin, Ms Joyce Wolfson, Mark
Radice, Giles Worthington, Tony
Randall, Stuart Young, David (Bolton SE)
Redmond, Martin
Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn Tellers for the Ayes:
Reid, Dr John Mr. Michael J. Martin and.
Richardson, Jo Mr. Alan Meale.
Adley, Robert Body, Sir Richard
Aitken, Jonathan Bonsor, Sir Nicholas
Alexander, Richard Boscawen, Hon Robert
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Boswell, Tim
Amess, David Bottomley, Peter
Amos, Alan Bottomley, Mrs Virginia
Arbuthnot, James Bowden, A. (Brighton K'pto'n)
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)
Arnold, Sir Thomas Bowis, John
Ashby, David Brandon-Bravo, Martin
Atkins, Robert Brazier, Julian
Atkinson, David Bright, Graham
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Brooke, Rt Hon Peter
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)
Baldry, Tony Bruce, Ian (Dorset South)
Batiste, Spencer Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon Alick
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Budgen, Nicholas
Bellingham, Henry Burns, Simon
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Burt, Alistair
Benyon, W. Butcher, John
Blackburn, Dr John G. Butler, Chris
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Butterfill, John
Carlisle, John, (Luton N) Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Hill, James
Carrington, Matthew Hind, Kenneth
Carttiss, Michael Hordern, Sir Peter
Cash, William Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Chalker, Rt Hon Mrs Lynda Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)
Chapman, Sydney Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Chope, Christopher Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)
Churchill, Mr Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)
Clark, Rt Hon Alan (Plymouth) Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Hunt, Rt Hon David
Clark, Rt Hon Sir William Hunter, Andrew
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas
Colvin, Michael Irvine, Michael
Conway, Derek Jack, Michael
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest) Jackson, Robert
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Janman, Tim
Cope, Rt Hon John Jessel, Toby
Cran, James Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Currie, Mrs Edwina Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Curry, David Jones, Robert B (Herts W)
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g) Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Davis, David (Boothferry) Key, Robert
Day, Stephen King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Devlin, Tim King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)
Dicks, Terry Kirkhope, Timothy
Dorrell, Stephen Knapman, Roger
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Knight, Greg (Derby North)
Durant, Sir Anthony Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Dykes, Hugh Knox, David
Eggar, Tim Lamont, Rt Hon Norman
Emery, Sir Peter Lang, Rt Hon Ian
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd) Latham, Michael
Evennett, David Lawrence, Ivan
Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel
Fallon, Michael Lee, John (Pendle)
Favell, Tony Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Fenner, Dame Peggy Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Field, Barry (Isle ol Wight) Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant)
Fishburn, John Dudley Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Forman, Nigel Lord, Michael
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Luce, Rt Hon Sir Richard
Forth, Eric Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman McCrindle, Sir Robert
Fox, Sir Marcus MacGregor, Rt Hon John
Freeman, Roger MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)
French, Douglas Maclean, David
Gardiner, Sir George McLoughlin, Patrick
Garel-Jones, Tristan McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick
Gill, Christopher Madel, David
Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian Major, Rt Hon John
Glyn, Dr Sir Alan Malins, Humfrey
Goodlad, Alastair Mans, Keith
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles Maples, John
Gorman, Mrs Teresa Marland, Paul
Gorst, John Marlow, Tony
Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW) Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Greenway, John (Ryedale) Marshall, Sir Michael (Arundel)
Gregory, Conal Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Grist, Ian Mates, Michael
Ground, Patrick Maude, Hon Francis
Grylls, Michael Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick
Hague, William Mellor, Rt Hon David
Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom) Miller, Sir Hal
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Hanley, Jeremy Mitchell, Sir David
Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr') Moate, Roger
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn) Monro, Sir Hector
Harris, David Moore, Rt Hon John
Haselhurst, Alan Morris, M (N'hampton S)
Hawkins, Christopher Morrison, Sir Charles
Hayes, Jerry Morrison, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney Moss, Malcolm
Hayward, Robert Moynihan, Hon Colin
Heathcoat-Amory, David Neale, Sir Gerrard
Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael Needham, Richard
Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE) Nelson, Anthony
Neubert, Sir Michael Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Newton, Rt Hon Tony Squire, Robin
Nicholls, Patrick Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Nicholson, David (Taunton) Steen, Anthony
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West) Stern, Michael
Norris, Steve Stevens, Lewis
Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Oppenheim, Phillip Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)
Page, Richard Stewart, Rt Hon lan (Herts N)
Paice, James Stokes, Sir John
Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil Sumberg, David
Patnick, Irvine Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Patten, Rt Hon Chris (Bath) Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Patten, Rt Hon John Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Thatcher, Rt Hon Margaret
Pawsey, James Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth Thorne, Neil
Porter, David (Waveney) Thornton, Malcolm
Portillo, Michael Thurnham, Peter
Powell, William (Corby) Townend, John (Bridlington)
Price, Sir David Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Raison, Rt Hon Sir Timothy Tracey, Richard
Rathbone, Tim Tredinnick, David
Redwood, John Trippier, David
Renton, Rt Hon Tim Trotter, Neville
Rhodes James, Robert Twinn, Dr Ian
Riddick, Graham Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas Viggers, Peter
Ridsdale, Sir Julian Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm Waldegrave, Rt Hon William
Roberts, Sir Wyn (Conwy) Walden, George
Roe, Mrs Marion Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Rost, Peter Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester)
Rowe, Andrew Waller, Gary
Rumbold, Rt Hon Mrs Angela Ward, John
Ryder, Rt Hon Richard Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Sackville, Hon Tom Watts, John
Sainsbury, Hon Tim Wells, Bowen
Sayeed, Jonathan Wheeler, Sir John
Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas Whitney, Ray
Shaw, David (Dover) Widdecombe, Ann
Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey) Wiggin, Jerry
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb') Wilkinson, John
Shelton, Sir William Wilshire, David
Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW) Wood, Timothy
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford) Yeo, Tim
Shersby, Michael Young, Sir George (Acton)
Sims, Roger
Skeet, Sir Trevor Tellers for the Noes:
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield) Mr. David Lightbown and
Soames, Hon Nicholas Mr. John M. Taylor.
Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)

Question accordingly negatived.

Forward to