HC Deb 08 July 1992 vol 211 cc268-9W
Mr. Kirkwood

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) what plans he has to discuss the problem of badger baiting with the law enforcement authorities;

(2) what plans he has to improve surveillance of cross-border activity in badger baiting;

(3) what evidence he has of badger baiting being practised in the borders; and if he will make a statement;

(4) what powers are currently available in Scotland to prosecute and sentence those convicted of badger baiting; and what plans he has to review the sentences available;

(5) what current resources are devoted to the prevention of badger baiting; and what plans he has to increase the amount of money available.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

[holding answer 6 July 1992]: Badgers receive a level of protection in law which is unique for an unendangered animal. The baiting of any animal, including badgers, is prohibited in Scotland under the Protection of Animals (Scotland) Act 1912. The maximum penalty for an offence is six months' imprisonment and/or a level 4 fine—currently £1,000, but to be increased to £2,500 on 1 October 1992. It is proposed to increase the maximum fine at the next suitable legislative opportunity to level 5 on the standard scale—currently £2,000, but set to rise to £5,000 on 1 October 1992.

Badgers are also protected under the Badgers Act 1973, as amended by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, which makes it an offence to ill-treat, kill, injure, or take—or attempt to kill, injure or take—or to dig for any badger except in certain specified circumstances. The Badgers Act 1991, which amends the 1973 Act and came into force on 25 October 1991, also makes it an offence intentionally or recklessly to damage, destroy or obstruct access to or any entrance of a badger sett; to cause a dog to enter a sett; or to disturb a badger which is in a sett. Such offences apply in Scotland and attract a maximum penalty of a level 5 fine—£5,000 with effect from 1 October 1992. A maximum custodial sentence of six months' imprisonment was introduced for offences under section 1 or 2 of the Badgers Act 1973 by the Criminal Justice Act 1991 on 9 December 1991.

The Badgers (Further Protection) Act 1991, which came into force on 25 September 1991, provides courts with new powers in dealing with the above offences. The courts may order the destruction of other disposal of a dog used in the commission of such offences and disqualify an offender from keeping a dog for such time as it considers fit. A Bill to consolidate badgers legislation is currently before the House of Commons.

Detailed information on the incidence of offences involving cruelty to badgers in Scotland is not separately identifiable within the Scottish Office Home and Health Department's classification of crimes and offences, but I am not aware of any evidence to suggest that badger baiting is widespread in the borders or that cross-border activity has developed. The allocation of police resources for animal protection purposes is a matter for the chief constable to decide in the light of local priorities.

Capital expenditure per pupil on local authority schools
(£ at out-turn prices)
1979–80 1980–81 1981–82 1982–83 1983–84 1984–85 1985–86 1986–87 1987–88 1988–89 1989–90 1990–91
Borders 31 60 54 39 44 58 69 57 64 72 109 215
Central 61 52 48 28 22 23 31 53 64 102 118 112
Dumfries and Galloway 56 60 65 82 99 100 105 92 29 75 82 63
Fife 35 39 39 38 28 49 73 80 37 86 106 156
Grampian 79 102 140 103 80 72 103 101 29 44 52 76