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My hon. Friend the Member for Hackney, South and Shoreditch (Meg Hillier) made an excellent contribution. As she rightly said, it is important that within two years no one aged 16 or younger shall be placed on an adult mental health ward. The reason that
8 May 2007 : Column 126
we are more hesitant about 17 and 18-year-olds is that the issues are much more complicated. It would be highly irresponsible of Government to make a commitment in Committee or the House that, for all sorts of difficult and complex reasons in the real world, they cannot be sure of fulfilling. That would be dishonest and dishonourable. It is therefore right that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is considering the issue further.

My hon. Friend was also right to raise concerns about the disproportionate number of people from black and ethnic minority communities who use mental health services. That is a public policy challenge that every single politician in this House should seek to address. She was also right to draw attention to the innovative and exciting work taking place in her constituency on routes to employment by the Derman group and other organisations in the voluntary sector and in statutory services, which is making a real difference.

The hon. and learned Member for Torridge and West Devon (Mr. Cox) made a thoughtful and passionate speech about the real-life stories at the sharp end of the mental health system, and talked powerfully about the “make a difference” project and its important self-help work. However, I say gently to him that we must not mix up people with learning disabilities and people with mental illness, although some people are in both groups; he was at risk of doing that. I am happy to talk to him separately about issues affecting people with learning disabilities.

Mr. Cox: Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Lewis: No, I cannot. I will speak to the hon. Gentleman separately.

The hon. Member for North South Work —[Interruption.] I meant the hon. Member for North Southwark and Bermondsey (Simon Hughes). You can tell that I am not from London, Mr. Speaker, which is not something that I am prepared to apologise for here or anywhere else. The hon. Gentleman was right to make the points that he made about universities and colleges and access to services for our armed forces. As for the emergency clinic in his constituency, his local community referred that issue to the Secretary of State, who asked for it to be looked at afresh and in a sensitive way. Such decisions are made on a local basis, as I understand it, and that is exactly what is happening. We do not control these decisions from offices, plush or otherwise, in Westminster and Whitehall. The Liberal Democrats always claim to be the party of maximum devolution—until it suits them not to be.

The World Health Organisation has stated objectively and independently that England has the best mental health services in Europe. However, we are not complacent;. We recognise that there is still a long way to go, but once again, in their motion and in this debate, the Liberal Democrats have launched an attack on the Government that not only fails to acknowledge the real progress that has been made in the past few years, but demands extra spending without any indication of where the resources would come from. So where would they come from—higher taxes, cuts to other parts of the NHS and social care budgets, or perhaps a combination of the two? The fact is there are no mystery options. That is the reality of responsible
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government—not the facile opportunism of “Focus” leaflets and permanent opposition.

Earlier this year, the Liberal Democrats’ Front-Bench health spokesperson, the hon. Member for Romsey (Sandra Gidley), gave the game away on their social care policy. She told a shocked Chamber how she regretted that her party had misled people in its last election manifesto by claiming to offer free personal care. Any party that can, by its own admission, so shamelessly exploit and mislead older and disabled people and their families cannot be trusted to champion the very real concerns of people with mental illness and their carers.

The Tories have form on mental health, having put vulnerable people in bed-and-breakfast hotels. Will we ever forget the shame of those consequences of Tory mental health policies in the 1980s and 1990s? In contrast, we will continue step by step to rebuild mental health services that reflect the realities and challenges of our modern society. I urge the House tonight to reject the Liberal Democrat motion and to—

Mr. Jeremy Browne (Taunton) (LD) rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.

Question, That the Question be now put, put and agreed to.

Question put accordingly, That the original words stand part of the Question:—

The House divided: Ayes 86, Noes 290.
Division No. 108]
[9.59 pm


Afriyie, Adam
Alexander, Danny
Baker, Norman
Barrett, John
Beith, rh Mr. Alan
Blunt, Mr. Crispin
Brake, Tom
Breed, Mr. Colin
Burns, Mr. Simon
Burstow, Mr. Paul
Burt, Lorely
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Campbell, rh Sir Menzies
Carmichael, Mr. Alistair
Clark, Greg
Clegg, Mr. Nick
Cox, Mr. Geoffrey
Davey, Mr. Edward
Davies, David T.C. (Monmouth)
Davies, Philip
Dorrell, rh Mr. Stephen
Evans, Mr. Nigel
Fallon, Mr. Michael
Farron, Tim
Foster, Mr. Don
Goldsworthy, Julia
Goodwill, Mr. Robert
Gove, Michael
Hancock, Mr. Mike
Hands, Mr. Greg
Harris, Dr. Evan
Harvey, Nick
Heath, Mr. David
Hemming, John
Hollobone, Mr. Philip
Holmes, Paul
Horwood, Martin
Howarth, David
Hughes, Simon
Huhne, Chris
Hunter, Mark
Jackson, Mr. Stewart
Keetch, Mr. Paul
Kramer, Susan
Lamb, Norman
Laws, Mr. David
Leech, Mr. John
Lidington, Mr. David
Lilley, rh Mr. Peter
Llwyd, Mr. Elfyn
Loughton, Tim
Mackay, rh Mr. Andrew
McIntosh, Miss Anne
McLoughlin, rh Mr. Patrick
Moore, Mr. Michael
Mulholland, Greg
Oaten, Mr. Mark
Öpik, Lembit
Penning, Mike
Pugh, Dr. John
Reid, Mr. Alan
Rennie, Willie
Rosindell, Andrew
Rowen, Paul
Russell, Bob

Sanders, Mr. Adrian
Scott, Mr. Lee
Spink, Bob
Stunell, Andrew
Swinson, Jo
Taylor, Matthew
Taylor, Dr. Richard
Teather, Sarah
Thurso, John
Watkinson, Angela
Webb, Steve
Williams, Hywel
Williams, Mark
Williams, Mr. Roger
Williams, Stephen
Willis, Mr. Phil
Willott, Jenny
Wilshire, Mr. David
Winterton, Ann
Winterton, Sir Nicholas
Younger-Ross, Richard
Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Jeremy Browne and
Mr. Dan Rogerson

Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, rh Mr. Bob
Alexander, rh Mr. Douglas
Allen, Mr. Graham
Anderson, Mr. David
Anderson, Janet
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, Mr. Ian
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Balls, Ed
Banks, Gordon
Barlow, Ms Celia
Barron, rh Mr. Kevin
Bayley, Hugh
Begg, Miss Anne
Benn, rh Hilary
Benton, Mr. Joe
Berry, Roger
Betts, Mr. Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blackman-Woods, Dr. Roberta
Blears, rh Hazel
Borrow, Mr. David S.
Bradshaw, Mr. Ben
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, Lyn
Brown, rh Mr. Nicholas
Brown, Mr. Russell
Browne, rh Des
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, Andy
Butler, Ms Dawn
Byers, rh Mr. Stephen
Byrne, Mr. Liam
Cairns, David
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Campbell, Mr. Ronnie
Caton, Mr. Martin
Cawsey, Mr. Ian
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben
Chaytor, Mr. David
Clapham, Mr. Michael
Clark, Ms Katy
Clark, Paul
Clarke, rh Mr. Charles
Clarke, rh Mr. Tom
Clelland, Mr. David
Clwyd, rh Ann
Coaker, Mr. Vernon
Coffey, Ann
Cohen, Harry
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank
Cooper, Rosie
Corbyn, Jeremy
Cousins, Jim
Crausby, Mr. David
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, Mrs. Ann
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Cunningham, Tony
Darling, rh Mr. Alistair
David, Mr. Wayne
Davidson, Mr. Ian
Davies, Mr. Dai
Dean, Mrs. Janet
Devine, Mr. Jim
Dhanda, Mr. Parmjit
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Dobson, rh Frank
Donohoe, Mr. Brian H.
Doran, Mr. Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, Mr. David
Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth
Eagle, Angela
Eagle, Maria
Efford, Clive
Engel, Natascha
Ennis, Jeff
Etherington, Bill
Farrelly, Paul
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flello, Mr. Robert
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Mr. Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings and Rye)
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
George, rh Mr. Bruce
Gerrard, Mr. Neil
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gilroy, Linda
Godsiff, Mr. Roger
Goggins, Paul
Goodman, Helen
Griffith, Nia
Griffiths, Nigel
Grogan, Mr. John
Gwynne, Andrew
Hain, rh Mr. Peter
Hall, Mr. Mike
Hall, Patrick

Hamilton, Mr. David
Hamilton, Mr. Fabian
Hanson, rh Mr. David
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Havard, Mr. Dai
Healey, John
Henderson, Mr. Doug
Hendrick, Mr. Mark
Hepburn, Mr. Stephen
Heppell, Mr. John
Hermon, Lady
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, rh Ms Patricia
Heyes, David
Hill, rh Keith
Hillier, Meg
Hodge, rh Margaret
Hodgson, Mrs. Sharon
Hood, Mr. Jimmy
Hoon, rh Mr. Geoffrey
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, rh Mr. George
Hoyle, Mr. Lindsay
Hughes, rh Beverley
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Mr. Eric
James, Mrs. Siân C.
Jenkins, Mr. Brian
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Helen
Jones, Mr. Kevan
Jones, Lynne
Jones, Mr. Martyn
Joyce, Mr. Eric
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keeley, Barbara
Keen, Alan
Khan, Mr. Sadiq
Kidney, Mr. David
Kilfoyle, Mr. Peter
Knight, Jim
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lammy, Mr. David
Laxton, Mr. Bob
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Mr. Ivan
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony
Love, Mr. Andrew
Lucas, Ian
Mactaggart, Fiona
Mahmood, Mr. Khalid
Malik, Mr. Shahid
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Mr. Gordon
Marshall, Mr. David
Martlew, Mr. Eric
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCarthy, Kerry
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
McCartney, rh Mr. Ian
McDonagh, Siobhain
McDonnell, John
McFadden, Mr. Pat
McFall, rh John
McGovern, Mr. Jim
McGuire, Mrs. Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKenna, Rosemary
McNulty, Mr. Tony
Meacher, rh Mr. Michael
Meale, Mr. Alan
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Milburn, rh Mr. Alan
Miliband, Edward
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Mr. Austin
Moffat, Anne
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moon, Mrs. Madeleine
Morden, Jessica
Morgan, Julie
Morley, rh Mr. Elliot
Mullin, Mr. Chris
Munn, Meg
Murphy, Mr. Denis
Murphy, rh Mr. Paul
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
Norris, Dan
Olner, Mr. Bill
Osborne, Sandra
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Pope, Mr. Greg
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Bridget
Prentice, Mr. Gordon
Prescott, rh Mr. John
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Mr. Ken
Purnell, James
Raynsford, rh Mr. Nick
Reed, Mr. Andy
Reed, Mr. Jamie
Riordan, Mrs. Linda
Robertson, John
Robinson, Mr. Geoffrey
Rooney, Mr. Terry
Roy, Mr. Frank
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Ryan, Joan
Salter, Martin
Sarwar, Mr. Mohammad
Seabeck, Alison
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Mr. Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Simon, Mr. Siôn
Simpson, Alan
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Slaughter, Mr. Andy
Smith, Ms Angela C. (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Smith, Angela E. (Basildon)
Smith, rh Jacqui
Smith, John
Snelgrove, Anne
Soulsby, Sir Peter
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Stewart, Ian
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin

Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry
Tami, Mark
Taylor, Ms Dari
Taylor, David
Thomas, Mr. Gareth
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mr. Mark
Touhig, rh Mr. Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Mr. Paul
Turner, Dr. Desmond
Twigg, Derek
Ussher, Kitty
Vis, Dr. Rudi
Walley, Joan
Ward, Claire
Wareing, Mr. Robert N.
Watson, Mr. Tom
Watts, Mr. Dave
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Williams, rh Mr. Alan
Williams, Mrs. Betty
Wills, Mr. Michael
Winnick, Mr. David
Winterton, rh Ms Rosie
Wood, Mike
Woodward, Mr. Shaun
Woolas, Mr. Phil
Wright, Mr. Anthony
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Wright, Dr. Tony
Wyatt, Derek
Tellers for the Noes:

Steve McCabe and
Huw Irranca-Davies
Question accordingly negatived.
8 May 2007 : Column 128

8 May 2007 : Column 129

8 May 2007 : Column 130

Question, That the proposed words be there added, put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 31 (Questions on amendments), and agreed to.

Mr. Speaker forthwith declared the main Question, as amended, to be agreed to.


European Union documents

Limiting Global Climate Change

Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 119(9) (European Standing Committees),

Question agreed to.

Delegated legislation

Cattle Identification Regulations


8 May 2007 : Column 131

Dog Fighting

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.— [Liz Blackman.]

10.16 pm

Mr. Greg Hands (Hammersmith and Fulham) (Con) rose—

Mr. Speaker: Will hon. Members leave the Chamber quietly? There is an Adjournment debate.

Mr. Hands: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I welcome the opportunity to speak about a matter that, in recent years, has been of mounting concern in my constituency and across the UK: organised and impromptu dog fighting. I first became aware of the problem of dog fighting a few years ago during a chance encounter with Val Barker, who is the chairwoman of the Clem Attlee, Maton and Rocque tenants and residents association in my constituency. The Clem Attlee estate is one of the largest estates in Hammersmith and Fulham. Val told me of the growing problem of youths breeding dogs for fighting and then sometimes gambling on the outcome of the contest. My initial reaction was that it was a totally mediaeval practice and must surely be a one-off, but I soon started to hear reports of dog fights from other estates and even leafy streets in south Fulham.

Val Barker tells me that the problem has worsened since she first mentioned it to me. On the Clem Attlee estate, many teenagers are hanging around with—most often—Staffordshire bull terriers. They are often to be seen around the enclosed football pitch. Some dogs are held inside the pitch area and others are held outside. They are encouraged to be aggressive towards each other through the fence. Sometimes full scale fights break out later, which often put an important facility such as an estate football pitch out of action.

I have to confess that I am not the greatest expert on dogs. I have never owned one and I have never had much contact with them. I am not fanatical about animal rights, but I do believe that needless cruelty to animals needs to be stamped out. Over the past 10 years, I have taken a big interest in everything that happens in Hammersmith and Fulham, including—if not especially—on the big estates. The combination of antisocial behaviour, gambling and animal cruelty is probably unique, in our times at least. My views on gambling have become increasingly negative over the years: I know that it is a major cause of family breakdown and indebtedness, especially, but not entirely, among working-class households.

Another good source of local information on the dog phenomenon is Gaye Rose from the Hammersmith and Fulham Federation of Tenants and Residents Associations, which is the umbrella group for social housing tenant groups within the borough. She agrees with me that dog fighting is a problem right across the borough. There is a group of young men who live on Coningham road—not far from where the Minister lives—who train their dogs on the grounds of the White City estate. On the William Church estate, the same problem exhibited itself until effective action was taken by the council’s street wardens and the local police. There has been a terrible problem at De Palma
8 May 2007 : Column 132
Court, near Fulham Broadway, with two pit bull terriers being exercised in the grounds. It is a small, quiet block of about 16 flats—if memory serves correctly—with generally elderly tenants. At a recent tenants’ meeting, residents were so concerned that they presented local housing officers with photos of the phenomenon.

I am told that a whole family on Adam walk, a new development in Fulham, is training Staffordshire bull terriers to fight against both dogs and people. It seems that there are outbreaks of such behaviour throughout the borough, but one estate is mentioned more than any other as being perhaps the epicentre of dog fighting in Hammersmith and Fulham: the Flora Gardens estate, where it seems that many of those dogs are kept and trained. Although this is not unique to Hammersmith and Fulham, the police will generally confiscate weapons, but they steer clear of dogs. However, these dogs are a form of weapon. The police generally get a good write up from tenants on the Clem Attlee estate for their work on fighting drugs, but no one has seen much action against dangerous dogs, at least as yet.

Councillor Greg Smith, the council’s cabinet member for crime and antisocial behaviour, has briefed me about some of the less obvious problems caused by dogs being trained to fight. Much of the training takes place on parkland with trees. The dogs have their jaws strengthened through the practice of leaving them to hang by their mouths from the branches of trees. The practice is cruel to the dogs and also gravely damages the trees. It is a particular problem in the north of the borough on Wormwood Scrubs, where many trees have been destroyed. Ravenscourt and Marcus Garvey parks are also favoured haunts for the trainers of those fighting dogs.

More dangerously, dogs are sometimes trained to hang from the horizontal bar of children’s swings in the borough’s play areas. I am not an expert on the safety of play equipment, but swings are certainly not designed to be submitted to such treatment. Children’s safety might be at risk, while actual and psychological harm is being done to the dogs.

The council recently introduced a full set of dog control orders. They came in only six weeks ago, so council staff are still being trained to enforce them. I do not have time to describe all the orders, but dogs must now be on a lead at all times in the borough’s cemeteries, all its wildlife conservation areas and various parts of its parks.

Councillor Smith tells me that many dogs have been killed through fighting in the borough in recent years, although no one knows quite how many. Last year, a woman walking on Wormwood Scrubs lost a chunk of her ear thanks to one of those dogs and more serious incidents might arise in the future. Additionally, there is a big problem with intimidation. Many walkers and the owners of other dogs are simply afraid to go near any of the more well-known locations for dog fighting. The new council in Hammersmith and Fulham is following a tough approach on antisocial behaviour, although some in the local Labour party say that it is too macho. I know that the council will take a zero-tolerance approach on dog fighting.

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