HC Deb 07 May 1999 vol 330 cc1256-8
Mr. Maclean

I beg to move amendment No. 16, in page 3, line 1, leave out '4' and insert '5'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this, it will be convenient to discuss the following amendments: No. 3, in clause 5, page 3, line 31, after 'person', insert 'within a specified timescale'. No. 4, in page 3, line 33, after 'dog', insert 'and connected expenses'.

No. 20, in clause 9, page 7, line 46, leave out '4' and insert '5'.

No. 7, in page 8, line 21, after 'person', insert 'within a specified timescale'.

No. 8, in page 8, line 23, after 'dog', insert 'and connected expenses'.

No. 9, in page 8, line 23, leave out 'time to' and insert `the'.

Mr. Maclean

I shall not speak to amendment No. 16 or the other amendments in the group, except to say that I should like to hear the views of the Minister and of my hon. Friend the Member for Hertsmere (Mr. Clappison) on amendment No. 9, which may be the most important in the group.

Mr. Clappison

Amendment No. 9 clarifies and improves the wording of the Bill. It strengthens the penalties imposed on those who fall foul of the law relating to breeding establishments. When a person is convicted of an offence in respect of a breeding establishment, the court may disqualify him from having custody of a dog. That person may be required to relinquish custody of the dog and to pay its care charges while permanent arrangements are made for it. The amendment clarifies the wording regarding the charges and makes the position much more plain.

Mr. George Howarth

Amendments Nos. 16 and 20 would increase the maximum level of fine for the offence of keeping an unlicensed dog breeding establishment from level 4, which is £2,500, to level 5, which is £5,000. I believe that that is a disproportionate increase, and I hope that the right hon. Member for Penrith and The Border (Mr. Maclean) will agree.

Amendment Nos. 3 and 7 relate to clause 5(1), which provides for the court to disqualify an offender from having custody of any dog of a description specified in the court order. As an order may require any person who has custody of a dog to deliver it to a specified person, the effect of the amendments would be to allow the court to specify a time scale for delivering the dog. A court expects its orders to be complied with, so it should not be necessary to state a specific time scale in each case.

Amendments Nos. 4 and 8 refer to clause 5(3) and provide that, when a court orders a person who has custody of a dog to deliver it up, it may also require the offender to pay for the care of the dog until permanent arrangements are made for that care. The amendments would require the offender to meet connected expenses, but we believe that the offender should pay only for the care of the dog.

Amendment No. 9 is a technical amendment arising from a typographical error, which I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will be delighted to hear we wish to correct. I therefore recommend that the House accepts amendment No. 9.

Mr. Maclean

We are making excellent progress, and I am glad that I have been able to amend the Bill considerably. I am delighted that the Minister has accepted amendment No. 9.

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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