HL Deb 27 June 1988 vol 498 cc1141-2

3.10 p.m.

Read a third time.

Lord Houghton of Sowerby

My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill do now pass.

In moving this Motion I ask for just two minutes to take notice of a short but effective Bill that has survived the hazards of the Private Member's Bill procedure in another place. It is a Bill of significant value in suppressing the increase of those bestial arranged occasions of dog fights. The law fell short in two important respects and this Bill corrects both of them. The first was that, although the existing law dealt with the participants and with those who organised fights, there was no process against spectators. The Bill provides for the prosecution of spectators, and severe penalties can follow conviction.

The other matter was that there was no hindrance in law against flyposting and other indirect means of advertising or inducements by word of mouth to people to attend these dog fights. That now is outlawed under the Bill; it was an improvement to the Bill that we brought about while most of your Lordships were having supper a short time ago.

The Bill's function is to provide that custodians of animals who are convicted of unnecessary cruelty may be disqualified from having another animal of any kind for any length of time that a court might decide, whereas the existing law provides only for suspension or disqualification from holding a licence after the second conviction, except in the case of dogs and horses. Cruelty to dogs and horses could be dealt with severely the first time round. As regards all other animals, cruelty could be dealt with only the second time round. Now, under the Bill, offenders can be convicted the first time round and that will improve the law against cruelty to animals.

Secondly, I wish to express the gratitude, congratulations and thanks of numerous Members of your Lordships' House who supported the Bill to the honourable Member for Winchester, John Browne. He singled out the subject for his Private Member's Bill when he was successful in the ballot. He backed a winner. Many people in the other place back losers; happily this is a winner. I congratulate him on singling out this topic for the attention of Parliament. Many Members of both Houses bring forward Bills relating to animal welfare. I do my best to remedy their shortcomings. In those circumstances I am more than grateful to the honourable Member for Winchester for bringing the Bill forward. I commend the Bill to the House.

Moved, That the Bill do now pass.—(Lord Houghton of Solverhy.)

Baroness Ewart-Biggs

My Lords, I should like to say that I am sure that Members of your Lordships' House will join me in congratulating my noble friend for yet again bringing forward a measure which will protect animals. It will stop a cruel practice which, unfortunately, is increasing at present. We are grateful to him for propelling the Bill successfully through Parliament and we have given it our utmost support.

On Question, Bill passed, and returned to the Commons with amendments.