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(a) states that the authorised officer is of that belief;

(b) specifies the maximum number of dogs which, in the opinion of the authorised officer, are capable of being kept in the domestic property such as to sufficiently reduce the risk;

(c) requires the person in charge to reduce the number of dogs kept in the domestic property to no more than the number specified under paragraph (b) and;

(d) specifies the date by which the terms of the control notice must be complied with.

(3) A control notice may be served on more than one person in respect of one domestic property.

(4) It is an offence for a person without reasonable excuse to fail to comply with a requirement under subsection (2).

(5) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.

(6) An authorised officer may make a complaint to a Magistrates’ Court if a person in charge fails, to the satisfaction of the authorised officer, to comply with the steps required in a control notice within the time period specified.

(7) A Magistrates’ Court receiving a complaint under subsection (6) shall, if it finds that the person in charge has failed to comply with the steps required in a control notice, make an order in a summary way directing any of the dogs kept in the domestic property to be destroyed.

(8) In this section—

“authorised officer” means a person appointed by a local authority within whose area the domestic property is situated for the purposes of this section;

“domestic property” means a building, or part of a building, that is a dwelling or is forces accommodation (or both);

“person in charge” means the owner or owners, and if different, person or persons for the time being in charge of the dogs.

New clause 17—Community protection notices (dogs)—

(1) An authorised person may issue a community protection notice (dogs) to the owner or person for the time being in control of the dog if they have reasonable cause to believe that—

(a) the dog is not under sufficient control, and

(b) preventative measures are required to protect the public, the dog itself, or another protected animal.

(2) An “authorised person” means a police officer, local authority dog warden, or other authorised person.

(3) A community protection notice (dogs) is a notice that imposes any of the following requirements on the owner or person for the time being in control of the dog—

(a) a requirement to have the dog microchipped;

(b) a requirement to obtain third party liability insurance;

(c) a requirement for the dog to be kept on a leash in public;

(d) a requirement for the dog to be muzzled in public;

(e) a requirement for the transferring or relinquishing of ownership of the dog without notifying the enforcing authority.

(4) A community protection notice may be issued—

(a) without notice, and

(b) with immediate effect.

(5) A person issued with a community protection notice (dogs) who fails to comply with it commits an offence.

(6) A person guilty of an offence under subsection (5) is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale.

15 Oct 2013 : Column 657

New clause 18—Requirement to fit a post box guard where a dog is present—

(1) The Secretary of State shall bring forward regulations to require householders to fit a guard to their letterbox if—

(a) the householder owns a dog,

(b) the dog is kept in residential premises to which the letterbox is fitted,

(c) the letterbox opens directly into those premises, and

(d) a person may reasonably conclude that there is the possibility of the dog causing harm to someone using the letterbox.

(2) Regulations made under subsection (1) shall include provision in respect of—

(a) the size and style of the guard to be fitted, and

(b) the householder to be liable to a civil penalty for any harm caused as a result of failing to comply with this requirement.

(3) Regulations under this section—

(a) shall be made by statutory instrument, and

(b) may not be made unless a draft has been laid before and approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.

New clause 19—Written control notice—

(1) Where an authorised officer has reasonable cause to believe that a dog is not under sufficient control and requires greater control in any place, as a preventative measure to protect the public, the dog itself, or another protected animal, he or she may serve on the owner, and, if different, person for the time being in charge of the dog a written control notice which—

(a) states that he or she is of that belief;

(b) specifies the respects in which he or she believes the owner, and if different, the person for the time being in charge of the dog is failing to keep the dog under sufficient control;

(c) specifies the steps he or she requires the owner, and if different, the person for the time being in charge of the dog to take in order to comply with the notice.

(d) specifies the date by which the terms of the notice must be complied with; and

(e) specifies the date that the notice expires which will not be for a period which exceeds six months.

(2) In a control notice pursuant to subsection (1)(c) an authorised officer must require a dog to be microchipped (if not already done) and the owner, and if different, the person for the time being in charge of the dog, register the dog with a microchip database, and may require the following steps, where appropriate, but not limited to—

(a) keeping the dog muzzled as directed;

(b) keeping the dog on a lead when in public or under control as directed;

(c) requiring the owner, and if different, the person for the time being in charge of the dog, to seek and implement expert advice about training and behaviour for the dog;

(d) having the dog neutered where appropriate; and

(e) keeping the dog away from particular places or persons.

(3) Failure to comply with the steps required in a control notice within the time period specified, to the satisfaction of the authorised officer may lead to a complaint to a magistrates’ court under section 2 of the Dogs Act 1871.

(4) The provisions of section 2 of the Dogs Act 1871 shall have effect if the owner, and if different, the person for the time being in charge of a dog fails to comply with the steps required in a control notice within the time period specified in accordance with subsection (3) above as they would apply if a dog was dangerous and not kept under proper control.

(5) An “authorised officer” is a person that has been appointed by the local authority or police for the purposes of this Act.

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(6) A “protected animal” is one that is commonly domesticated in the British Islands, is under the control of man whether on a permanent or temporary basis, or is not living in wild state.

(7) A person served with a dog control notice may appeal against the notice to a magistrates’ court within the period of 14 days beginning with the date on which that person was served with the notice.

(8) The grounds on which a person served such a notice may appeal are one or more of the following—

(a) that the notice contains required steps which are unreasonable in character, or extent, or are unnecessary; or

(b) that there has been some defect or error in, or in connection with, the notice.

(9) On hearing of the appeal the court may—

(a) quash the dog control notice to which the appeal relates; or

(b) vary the notice in such a manner as it thinks fit; or

(c) dismiss the appeal.

New clause 29—Improving the welfare of seized dogs—

(1) Where an expert examination is required for a dog that is alleged to be one to which section 1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 applies that examination must be carried out and completed by both the defence and prosecution within 28 days of seizure of the dog and a written report produced within one week of the examination.

(2) If the prosecution or defence fail to carry out the examination as described in subsection 1 within the requisite period the prosecution or defence, as the case may be, may not rely in evidence on any expert report involving an examination of that dog after the 28 day period unless the Court extends this period.

(3) In considering any application to extend the examination period the Court must take into account the welfare of the dog, the costs of kennelling the dog and any other relevant matters.

New clause 30—Rehoming of prohibited types of dog—

(1) The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 is amended as follows.

(2) In section 4B(1)(b) (Destruction orders otherwise than on a conviction) after the first “owner” there is inserted “or prospective owner”, and after the second “owner” there is inserted “or prospective owner”.

Amendment 143, in clause 98, page 69, line 43, leave out subsection 2(a).

Amendment 140, page 70, leave out line 3 and insert—

(ii) for “injures any person” there is substituted “injures or kills any person or assistance dog”.’.

Amendment 144, page 70, line 6, after ‘householder’, add ‘or business’.

Amendment 145, page 70, line 7, after ‘householder’, add ‘or business’.

Amendment 146, page 70, line 11, after ‘(or is both)’, add

‘or in premises used partially or wholly for business purposes’.

Amendment 147, page 70, line 17, at end insert—

(iii) D (if not present at any time) could have reasonably believed V to be in, or entering the building or part as a trespasser if they had been present.’.

Amendment 134, page 70, line 23, at end insert—

‘(1C) A person (“D”) is not guilty of an offence under subsection (1) in a case where they, or an associated person, are being attacked by another person or another dog at the relevant time.

(1D) A person (“D”) is not guilty of an offence under subsection (1) if they are a vet or someone working in a veterinary practice at the relevant time.

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(1E) A person (“D”) is not guilty of an offence under subsection (1) if they themselves are the victim of any incident involving their dog.

(1F) A person (“D”) is not guilty of an offence under subsection (1) if they are in charge of a dog they are removing in connection with their work.

(1G) A person (“D”) is not guilty of an offence under subsection (1) if they are in charge of a dog they are required to maintain in any police or court proceedings or if they are assisting the courts as a witness (expert or otherwise).

(1H) A person (“D”) is not guilty of an offence under subsection (1) if they are in charge of a dog that they are authorised or required to look after in connection with their work.

(1I) A person (“D”) is not guilty of an offence under subsection (1) if they are in charge of a dog they are looking after by virtue of the dog being in their kennels.

(1J) A person (“D”) is not guilty of an offence under subsection (1) if the dog is a police dog or a dog being used in an official capacity to assist with their work.

(1K) A person (“D”) is not guilty of an offence under subsection (1) if the dog is an assistance dog.

(1L) A person (“D”) is not guilty of an offence under subsection (1) if they are registered blind.

(1M) A person (“D”) is not guilty of the aggravated offence under subsection (1) if, as a result of any disability, they were not able to physically prevent the offence.

(1N) A person (“D”) is not guilty of the aggravated offence under subsection (1) unless they encouraged the dog in its actions.’.

Amendment 133, page 70, line 28, at end insert—

‘(2A) If an owner of a dog, and if different the person for the time being in charge of a dog unreasonably omits to keep the dog under proper control, or if he causes, or encourages the dog to attack a protected animal, and any of those things lead to the injury or death of a protected animal he shall be guilty of an offence.

(2B) A “protected animal” has the same meaning as in section 2 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006.’.

Amendment 141, page 70, line 28, at end insert—

(iii) for “two years” there is substituted “fourteen years”.’.

Amendment 142, page 70, line 28, at end insert—

‘(1C) In proceedings for an offence under section 3(1) it shall be a defence for the accused to prove that he took reasonable steps to prevent the dog being dangerously out of control.’.

Amendment 135, page 70, line 41, at end insert—

‘(1B) Anyone authorised to seize a dog under subsection 1A is exempted from the provisions of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.’.

Amendment 98, page 70, leave out lines 45 and 46 and insert

‘for the purposes of this Act, “assistance dog” means a dog which has been accredited to assist a disabled person by a prescribed charity or other organisation.’.

Amendment 97, page 70, line 46, at end insert

‘“dwelling”, for the purposes of section 3, includes enclosed buildings within the curtilage of the dwelling and associated with it, where a person might reasonably expect to find a dog, such as garages, sheds and other outbuildings;’.

Amendment 132, page 70, line 47, leave out subsection (6)(b).

Amendment 99, in clause 99, page 71, line 33, at end add—.

‘(5) After section 7 there is inserted—

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7A Fit and proper person code of practice

(1) The Secretary of State must prepare a draft code of practice giving guidance about the matters to be considered when determining whether someone is a fit and proper person for the purposes of sections 1, 4 and 4B.

(2) The Secretary of State must lay before Parliament—

(a) any draft code of practice prepared under this section; and

(b) an order to be made by statutory instrument providing for the code to come into force, subject to subsection (4).

(3) Before preparing such a draft code, the Secretary of State must consult such persons as the Secretary of State thinks appropriate.

(4) Where a draft is laid before Parliament under subsection (2)(a), if neither House passes a resolution disapproving the draft within 40 days—

(a) the Secretary of State may issue the code in the form of the draft; and

(b) it shall come into force in accordance with provision made under subsection (2)(b).”.’.

Mr Reed: It is a pleasure to speak in this debate and to move this new clause, which stands in the names of my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Luciana Berger) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Oxford East (Mr Smith).

Dangerous dogs, or, perhaps more accurately, irresponsible dog owners, are a serious public threat. Not only do we have a duty to act, but there is widespread agreement on what form that action should take. I regret to say that the Government are the only ones standing meekly on the sidelines, refusing to take the necessary action. Having failed to lead from the start with this Bill, the Government refused to act in Committee, despite the support of their own Back Benchers for such action, but I hope, with a new Minister in place, there will be a fresh approach and a chance to move forward and tackle this menace.

I want to start by speaking to amendment 141, which was tabled by the hon. Member for Bedford (Richard Fuller). I have strong sympathy with the case he is making, and which he made in Committee, for a much stronger punishment for irresponsible dog owners who allow their dogs to maim and kill. We were deeply disappointed, however, that the Government failed to meet their own promise, made in an open Committee, to publish the findings of a consultation on what level of sentencing would be appropriate in such cases before the Bill returned to the Chamber.

As it was, the Minister wrote to members of the Committee last Friday, after the tabling deadline. An e-mail was sent at 5.50 in the evening, stating that the Government had not had time to review the consultation responses, and that therefore no Government amendment would be put before the House. It was in good faith that the Opposition did not table an amendment, as we believed his predecessor’s word that the consultation would result in a Government amendment. Announcing that he would not do anything after the tabling deadline was not a welcome start to the Minister’s tenure in the Home Office. I hope that we will not see a repeat of those tactics.

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3 pm

Richard Fuller (Bedford) (Con): Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the families and loved ones of victims who have been injured or killed by out-of-control dogs will be very disappointed that their representatives in this House will not be able to vote on the precise measures and changes that are required to increase the sentences for such actions?

Mr Reed: I thank the hon. Gentleman for his intervention. I have read the comments that he made in Committee and sympathise with his views. I hope to address them further in my comments.

The Opposition supported increasing the guideline prison terms for manslaughter under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 in Committee. We continue to support an increase, although we would prefer to have the consultation response before the House so that an informed decision can be made. Our starting point is that the current maximum sentence of two years’ imprisonment for allowing one’s dog to kill someone is far too lenient. I hope that the hon. Member for Bedford will accept our support in principle for toughening the sentencing guidelines and work with us in the other place to agree on appropriate sentencing guidelines, informed by the consultation response when the Government get around to publishing it.

New clause 3 would introduce dog control notices. I believe that this measure enjoys widespread cross-party support in the House and near-unanimous support from outside organisations with an interest in dangerous dogs and animal welfare. When reading the Committee transcripts, I was struck by the strength of support from Government Back Benchers, in addition to the support from Labour Members. However, that should not be surprising. Taking responsible, tough action to protect people from dangerous dogs and irresponsible dog owners is plain common sense and something that Members on all sides of the House should support.

Yesterday, I joined my hon. Friend the Member for Bolton West (Julie Hilling) to meet the father of Jade Anderson, who was savaged to death by four dogs when she was just 14 years old. Michael Anderson and his friend Royston had cycled down from Bolton in support of the Justice for Jade campaign. They came to lobby Members of this House because they want dog control notices to be introduced in England and Wales, as they have been in Scotland. To lose a child is bad enough; to live with the knowledge of the appalling circumstances in which they died is almost too much to bear. I can offer Mr Anderson only my support, sympathy and admiration that he is seeking to make something good out of such desperate and tragic circumstances.

Sadly, Jade’s case is not an isolated one. Since 2005, nine children and seven adults have died as a consequence of dog attacks. In the three years to February 2013, 18,000 people were admitted to hospital in England and Wales after dog attacks. That is almost 20 attacks a day that result in someone ending up in hospital. Not only could many of those attacks be prevented by dog control notices, but the cost of those attacks to the NHS, the police and communities is an avoidable drain on already overstretched resources.

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Dog control notices are not punitive. They provide a menu of options that local authorities and the police can use to act in the interests of their local communities against dangerous dogs and irresponsible owners.

Huw Irranca-Davies (Ogmore) (Lab): I commend my hon. Friend and those who tabled new clause 3, which would improve the Bill. May I also commend to him and other hon. Members new clause 17, which was tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Penistone and Stocksbridge (Angela Smith)? It would dovetail nicely with new clause 3 and would allow the notices to be published there and then at the point when they are needed, rather than waiting for an attack to take place.

Mr Reed: I thank my hon. Friend, who has an abiding interest in this issue, for that most helpful intervention. I will seek to address his point further in my comments.

Dog control notices include the following measures: requiring a potentially dangerous dog to be muzzled whenever it is in a public place; requiring it to be kept on a lead in places to which the public have access; neutering male dogs; and requiring dogs and dog owners to attend training classes to bring potentially dangerous animals back under control. A dog control notice would also require the dog to be microchipped and registered, so that any dogs that were found to be in breach could be identified clearly and unambiguously—something that is absolutely necessary for effective enforcement.

Mr Mark Spencer (Sherwood) (Con): May I draw the hon. Gentleman’s attention to new clause 19, which appears in my name and that of my hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Miss McIntosh)? It talks about not only the dog owner, but the person who is in control of the dog at the time. I hope that he will recognise that it is important to hold that person responsible.

Mr Reed: The hon. Gentleman makes a sensible and helpful point. I recognise the sense of what he says.

It is disappointing that on Second Reading and in Committee, the Government resisted dog control notices and said that community protection notices would be sufficient. I can only hope that, having read the Committee transcripts, the new Minister will bring fresh eyes to the issue and use fresh ears to listen to the experience of outside organisations, the victims of dog attacks and Members from all parts of the House who want tougher action.

The use of community protection notices, as advocated by the Government, is simply not sufficient. They are slow to serve, can be challenged in the courts, causing further delays, and have been described by one outside organisation as a sledgehammer to crack a nut. The Government had a perfect opportunity to show leadership on this issue. They could have led this House and this country to act to protect children and adults alike from further dog attacks. However, the powers in the Bill and the limited changes to which the Government are clinging are not sufficient—not even close.

Jim Fitzpatrick (Poplar and Limehouse) (Lab): My hon. Friend is making an excellent case for new clause 3. Does he agree that one of the successes of devolution is that we in Westminster can learn from the experiences of the devolved authorities in various matters and do

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not have to reinvent the wheel? Will he refer later in his speech to the experiences of Northern Ireland and Scotland?

Mr Reed: I thank my hon. Friend for that helpful reference to the situation in Scotland. Given that the experience of dog control notices in Scotland shows that they work effectively, it is all the more baffling that the Government refuse to support them. I hope that the House can persuade the Minister to change his position.

The position for which I am arguing is not just a Labour one. The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, which has a coalition majority, considered the Bill and concluded:

“We consider there to be strong evidence that targeted measures would be more effective in tackling dog-related problems than the general powers proposed under the Government’s anti-social behaviour and crime legislation…We recommend that the Government reconsider its rejection of our recommendation and legislate to introduce Dog Control Notices to provide law enforcers with tailored powers to tackle aggressive dogs before they injure people and other animals.”

Luciana Berger (Liverpool, Wavertree) (Lab/Co-op): My hon. Friend has eloquently set out the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee’s response on this serious issue. I do not know whether he saw the Chair of that Committee’s summary of what was in the report, in which she said that what the Government had brought forward was “woefully inadequate”. She said that unless we have a measure that deals effectively with prevention, we will not tackle the problem at its source. Does my hon. Friend agree that without the introduction of dog control notices, what the Government propose is indeed woefully inadequate?

Mr Reed: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for putting that sensible view on the record. Of course, I am sympathetic to it. Indeed, I will add another sensible view, that of the chief executive of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, who said:

“We remain unconvinced that CPNs will fulfil the same purpose as bespoke Dog Control Notices.”

I could go on to read the evidence to the Bill Committee of organisation after organisation: the Kennel Club, Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, police and crime commissioners, the Local Government Association and the Association of Chief Police Officers. Although that would support my argument, I fear that a lengthy recitation would weary the House. However, two further sources of support for dog control notices are worth drawing to the House’s attention.

First, the hon. Member for Chatham and Aylesford (Tracey Crouch) helpfully drew the Bill Committee’s attention to the fact that before the general election, the Conservative party pledged to give police and councils more power to tackle the problem of dangerous dogs through the introduction of dog control notices. As it happens, the same is true of the Liberal Democrats, who also supported such notices when in opposition. We are used to the policies of one or other Government party being lost in coalition fudges, but I am not aware of a policy supported by both parties being lost in such a way. On this occasion, not only do I agree with Nick, but I am willing to agree with Dave as well. If we all agree, for goodness’ sake let us act and bring in long-overdue

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and much-needed tough but fair measures to deal with dangerous dogs. Six thousand hospitalisations a year is too many simply to look the other way. I would challenge any Member to sit down with Michael Anderson, Jade’s father, as I did yesterday, and not conclude that the measures that we suggest must be on the statute book.

I commend my hon. Friend the Member for Bolton West, who is in her place, for tabling new clause 6, which is similar to new clause 3 in many ways. It highlights her commitment to bringing her constituency issues to the House in the most powerful way possible.

New clauses 17, 29 and 30, tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Penistone and Stocksbridge (Angela Smith), were mentioned earlier. They include a number of further sensible and proportionate measures to deal with dangerous dogs, and I am sure that Members of the other place will want to study them carefully in their less time-pressured environment and take up many of them.

I must push the Minister to accept new clause 3. To date, the Bill has been a missed opportunity for the Government. The need for tougher action is clear and well evidenced, and the desire to act has been endorsed not just by the parties of government before the last election but by the cross-party Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee and by every major organisation that deals with dangerous dogs, animal welfare and irresponsible owners. The means to act are now before the Minister, and I urge him to take the chance to do so.

Huw Irranca-Davies: In the many months since the Government brought forward their provisional proposals, they have failed to persuade any of those good and sensible people and organisations of their case. Those are not stupid organisations and people, and I urge Members to support them and support new clause 3.

Mr Reed: We wait with bated breath to see whether the new Minister has now been convinced.

Mr Spencer: I rise to speak to new clause 19 and amendments 97 to 99, which I and my hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Miss McIntosh) tabled. Like the hon. Member for Croydon North (Mr Reed), we are keen to ensure that there is provision for written notices so that not only dog owners but those in charge of a dog at any time have control of that animal and prevent it from causing injury or damage to any person or any other animal.

3.15 pm

Of course, there has to be a balance in the process, and I emphasise the need for home owners to be able to protect their property using a dog. Dogs must be allowed to protect property from burglars or trespassers who may be there to commit a crime. It is important that we get that balance right and that home owners are allowed to protect their property. Dogs must be allowed to defend property and act in a territorial manner, as they are inclined to do, without a home owner having to fear prosecution.

I also wish to draw attention to the plight of those who are disabled and have a guide dog or hearing dog. People who are fortunate enough to be able-bodied can only imagine what it must be like for a blind person if

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their guide dog is attacked in the street. Not only do they lose their means of getting home, but the animal for which they care is disabled or injured, and they are unable to get it the assistance it requires. I hope the Minister will ensure that the Bill protects and provides adequately for people who have a guide dog or hearing dog. For a disabled person to be in those circumstances is absolutely intolerable.

Finally, I seek the Minister’s assurance that he will look long and hard at the new clauses and amendments on written notices, take on board Members’ comments and consider the position.

Angela Smith (Penistone and Stocksbridge) (Lab): We have all heard the tragic tales of those who have been injured or even killed by dogs that are out of control, and the issue is of growing concern to the public. I am therefore glad at least to see that the Government are prepared to do something to tackle the problem.

The cases that have stuck out in the debate that has taken place over the past few years relate to children such as John Paul Massey, from Liverpool, who died three or four years ago; the girl from Chingford who was in the park and nearly lost part of her ear because of an attack by a dog that was running free, unrestrained by its owner; and Jade Anderson, who died recently and about whom we have heard today. There was also the case of Keith Davies, the postman in Cambridgeshire who was attacked in a cul-de-sac by two rottweilers that had escaped from behind the gates of a private residence, and who nearly lost an arm. It was saved only through the skilful intervention of surgeons. Paul Coleman, the Sheffield postman who got me involved in this campaign, nearly lost his leg as a result of an attack on the street where I used to live by a dog that was roaming free on the public highway.

All those cases indicate to me that enough is enough. We spend £9.5 million a year on NHS costs alone to deal with the injuries inflicted on human beings by dogs that are out of control, and that is before considering the costs incurred by the police and other bodies in dealing with the issue. Any progress, however slight, is therefore welcome. I particularly welcome the Government’s decision to extend the law to private property. The onus will now be on owners to exercise responsible control of their dogs at all times, which will be welcomed not just by postal workers but by other delivery workers, health visitors, doctors, party members canvassing at election times and a whole range of other people. That really important safeguard will be more than welcome, because 6,000 postal workers a year alone are injured as a result of attacks on private property.

I believe that a strengthening of the defence must be built into the proposed legislation. The Bill currently includes the defence of general household protection, but amendment 142 would strengthen the defences given to householders who do their utmost to ensure they keep their dogs under reasonable control. It is my contention, and that of bodies such as the RSPCA, that the current defence does not do enough to protect householders who do their best to keep their dogs under control at all times. We can never legislate for all possibilities, and it is important that we include the best possible defences in the Bill to ensure that householders do not, for example, adopt the habit of keeping dogs imprisoned in the house for most of the day because they have

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visitors. That would be unreasonable, but the Bill as currently drafted could make dog owners feel vulnerable to the proposed legislation, and therefore adopt those unfortunate welfare standards. Amendment 142 is reasonable and I hope the Minister will take it seriously.

My general point about the content of the Bill is that we need more than currently exists. What we do have is not necessarily best designed and in many ways is inadequate for encouraging responsible dog ownership and improving the welfare of dogs more generally. We need not only consolidation of the legislation but a comprehensive look at what measures we need for dog control. That position is supported by a grand coalition of charities and trade unions, including the RSPCA, the Dogs Trust, the Blue Cross, and Battersea Dogs and Cats Home. The Dogs Trust pointed out that 12 pieces of legislation in statute deal with dog control, but little emphasis is placed on the prevention of attacks and there is little focus on responsible dog ownership.

We need legislation that deals with dog ownership in the broadest possible sense, which is why I am working with animal welfare charities on a strategy to take a long-term look at what needs to be done, and at how charities work together to improve welfare standards and responsible dog ownership. Once finalised, legislation will inevitably be part of that strategy, focusing not only on dog control by the dog owner but on the breeding and sale of dogs, and the responsibility of all involved in dog welfare, including dog owners.

The Bill does not tackle that issue holistically or comprehensively, and along with animal welfare charities I remain disappointed that we have not had a dedicated Bill to update the legislation. Community protection notices are a blunt and unwieldy measure, not suited to the task of tackling irresponsible dog ownership. As indicated by the changes in new clause 17, the Bill contains no power to issue notices instantly so as to get on top of a dog that is potentially dangerous or out of control as soon as the situation occurs. In some cases, inevitably, the authorities will wait until an attack has been committed before issuing a notice, because they will not feel they should intervene and go through the unwieldy procedure to get a written notice before they can make that move. I do not believe that the Bill tackles those issues. New clause 3, tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon North (Mr Reed), contains the important requirement that an owner whose dog is potentially out of control should be made to engage in training and behaviour courses related to their ownership of the dog, and in that sense the new clause is helpful.

New clause 17 provides for a bespoke community protection notice modelled on the dog control notices recommended by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee. Guidance has already been issued on community protection notices and the measures in the Bill, but so far that guidance is long and difficult to interpret, and much of the support offered is found in the annexes to the guidance, not the guidance itself. As far as animal welfare charities are concerned, there will be an issue about the interpretation of that guidance, and a risk that animal welfare standards will be compromised as a result of the way it has been drafted. The guidance has not been produced properly in consultation with animal welfare charities.

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Finally—you have been patient, Mr Deputy Speaker—I will refer quickly to the new clauses that relate to section 1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. Clearly, section 1 on breed-specific legislation is not working. In a consultation run by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on that Act and the measures before us today, 71% of those consulted thought that the breed-specific section of that Act should be repealed because it is not working. It costs a tremendous amount of money to kennel dogs seized under section 1 of the Act, with an annual cost over the past three financial years of £2.6 million for the Metropolitan police alone.

The new clauses relate to the need to ensure that a time limit is imposed on the courts regarding how long a banned-breed dog can be held before the issue of whether it should be exempt from the legislation is dealt with, to ensure that animal welfare standards are not compromised. That is critical. There should also be the power to rehome dogs that are fit for exemption but have nowhere to go. The only other choice available to animal welfare charities at the moment is euthanasia, which is not good enough. It is the deed not the breed, and I look forward to hearing the Minister’s comments on that important issue, which I know the Metropolitan police, as well as animal charities such as the RSPCA, are keen to see dealt with.

Several hon. Members rose

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): Order. I will not impose a time limit, but we must finish by 4.30 pm and we need 10 minutes for the Minister. I will try to get everybody in, but can we try to stick to five minutes wherever possible?

Tracey Crouch (Chatham and Aylesford) (Con): I rise to address amendment 133 tabled in my name, which looks specifically at extending the Bill to include protected animals. I tabled a similar amendment—slightly differently worded—in Committee, and it has been redrafted by animal welfare charities for consideration today. The amendment is intended to be limited in scope, and would not capture a genuine, accidental attack by a dog on a protected animal—that was one concern raised in Committee. For example, some dogs chase cats or other small animals, and that would not be caught by the amendment, which refers specifically to attacks.

From previous discussions in Committee we know there has been an increase in attacks on protected animals. Charities, law enforcement agencies and the general public are concerned about the increase, yet we do not have a public record of the number of attacks and must rely on press reports. We know that there have been 66 reports of attacks—mostly fatal—on cats, including one last week, when the death of Caspar, which was devastating for the family involved, was reported in the Bolton News.

The problem is genuine for people who love their pets—it is incredibly important to them. My proposal is designed to deal not only with dog-chasing-cat events; attacks are often aggravated. The argument in Committee was that the current legislation deals with the problem, but some animal welfare charities beg to differ. For example, it is true that the RSPCA has used section 4 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 on occasion to prosecute

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following dog attacks on other animals, but there is often incitement by the animal’s keeper or a history of other attacks. It can therefore be difficult to obtain information or prove a case, which means that section 4 is not a straightforward mechanism for prosecution.

3.30 pm

We discussed the Dogs Act 1871 in Committee. It is true that the Act can be used for attacks on protected animals, but it is limited in scope and application in the case of one-off incidents. The current legislation is not conducive to early intervention or a preventive approach, or to dealing with less severe problems. We therefore need to look at the Act again.

There has been an increase in the number of attacks on horses, which I mentioned in Committee on behalf of the British Horse Society. The Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 is applicable, but, under that Act, the attack must take place on agricultural land for an offence to be committed. Horses on bridleways are therefore not included. It is also not clear whether the Act is applicable when attacks take place on private property—it depends whether land is considered grazing land.

Animal welfare charities do not believe that the current legislation is sufficient, which is why I have felt compelled to table amendment 133 again on Report. I believe that that will send a strong message to the other place that many people—not just scrutinisers of legislation, but those who love their companion animals—are concerned.

Briefly, on dog control notices and community protection notices, the hon. Member for Croydon North (Mr Reed) was right to indicate that I said in Committee that there was a manifesto commitment. I stand by that commitment, and the Government have gone a long way to address the problems with dog control notices. Tellingly, organisations such as the Dogs Trust have made it clear that they are assured that the principle of DCNs could be applied within a CPN. However, the Dogs Trust has said—I am sympathetic to this—that the draft guidance on CPN enforcement is vague, particularly with regard to application. The Minister therefore needs to reassure the House, the charities that have been in touch with hon. Members on DCNs, and trade unions such as the Communication Workers Union, which provided an excellent briefing in advance of the debate, that CPNs will do as much if not more than DCNs. It is important that we send a clear message that we take the problem seriously.

Finally, my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley (Philip Davies) is not in his place to speak to the amendments he has tabled, but they are interesting and worthy of consideration, specifically on exemptions—for example, should a person who is the victim of an attack and whose dog then attacks the other person be liable? I am not suggesting that the Minister should accept all the exemptions proposed by my hon. Friend, but I urge him to consider them in a meaningful way.

This is an incredibly important issue and one that drives a great deal of emotion and passion, not only among victims of attacks but among those who care very much about their companion animals. The fact is that the dangerous dogs and animal welfare legislation is incredibly complex. I am not convinced that the Bill simplifies it in any way, shape or form, but I hope the Minister acts on the concerns with regard to protected animals.

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Ann Coffey: I shall speak to new clause 18, which is in my name and those of my hon. Friends. Rightly, there is a lot of concern about serious injury and death caused by aggressive dogs, and I support the measures proposed by my hon. Friends to tighten the current criminal law and introduce stricter penalties.

New clause 18 deals with a different situation—it is a simple preventive measure to stop injuries to many people who, every year, post millions of bits of paper through letterboxes. It is not unknown for dogs to regard fingers put through letterboxes as curiosities and fair game for fastening their teeth on. Some dogs are aggressive, but others might simply believe they are being playful. The thought of a dog hurtling itself at a letterbox might conjure up visions of an hilarious scene from a sitcom, but for the real-life recipient, it can be traumatic and painful. People can sustain injuries ranging from bite marks and minor bruising to fingers or nerves being severed, causing long-term injury. Some years ago, I had to take my constituency assistant to accident and emergency for a serious injury to her hand sustained while leafleting.

The amendment requires householders who keep a dog in their house to put up a wire mesh guard around their letterbox where there is a reasonable probability that, either through aggression or playfulness, it could go for somebody’s hand. I am not saying that every dog owner must rush out and buy a wire guard—if they have a good dog there is no need to worry. However, if there is a chance that their dog might jump up and, for whatever reason, bite someone through the letterbox, it would be up to them to take responsibility to prevent accidents and put in a simple wire guard.

Kelvin Hopkins (Luton North) (Lab): I strongly support what my hon. Friend is saying. While delivering leaflets during the previous general election campaign, I was bitten by a dog. It took an hour out of my life to have a tetanus injection at the hospital.

Ann Coffey: I thank my hon. Friend for that intervention. I am sure his experience is shared by a lot of hon. Members.

If dog owners fail to comply with the requirement and there is an incident, the person bitten would be entitled to take a civil court action against them. By this simple measure, I believe that many injuries could be averted every year, and it has the added advantage of protecting householders from the hostility generated if their dog bites someone, particularly if that happens to be a child.

I understand that there may not be much public sympathy for politicians who get bitten by dogs, but this is not simply a problem for politicians. Many people push leaflets and letters through doors, including: postmen and women; newspaper boys and girls; people starting up new businesses or advertising pizza and other fast food services; neighbours posting Christmas and birthday cards; and people posting leaflets advertising community events.

I support the other amendments that have been tabled that aim to change criminal law, to make owners manage their dogs better and to put stricter penalties in place. However, my amendment is designed with safety, not the criminal law, in mind and I hope the Government

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will feel able to accept it. If they do not, I hope they will include the proposal in any future consultation.

Richard Fuller: I rise to speak to amendments 140 and 141 in my name, which would increase the maximum sentence to 14 years for owners of an out-of-control dog that kills or injures a person or assistance dog. I am happy that the Government responded to the requests of the Committee and conducted a consultation over the summer. However, I am disappointed that the results are not available.

People have the right to see their representatives debate fully and vote on what sentences they feel are appropriate to be imposed on the owners of out-of-control dogs. Those people include the constituents of the hon. Member for Bolton West (Julie Hilling), who has been an outstanding campaigner on behalf of her constituents and the victims of out-of-control dogs across the country. They include the families who have lost loved ones over the years, as hon. Members have mentioned in their speeches, and the 13-year-old boy who was attacked in Bradford a couple of months ago. As reported by the Daily Mail, he suffered a 10-minute attack which ended with the young boy saying, “I’m going to die, I’m going to die.” These people have the right to see us debate how we intend to increase sentences.

The Communication Workers Union has a lot on its plate these days, but like any good union it is thinking first and foremost about the safety and well-being of its members. Five thousand postal workers are attacked each year by dogs. They have the right to have the House debate the right sentence. It is important for the Minister to understand that the CWU supports a 14-year sentence for the killing of a person by an out-of-control dog. The police also have a right to see us debate and vote on this issue today. In their evidence to the Committee, they raised the total and utter inadequacy of the current legislation in dealing with the important and increasing problem of attacks by out-of-control dogs. I will listen carefully to the Minister’s comments. I do not want to hear any flim-flam from him about how he is not sure where this is going and how we should just trust the Government to get it right.

Jim Fitzpatrick rose

Richard Fuller: If the hon. Gentleman does not mind, I will not give way, because others want to get in.

I believe that 14 years is the right maximum penalty. I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for North East Cambridgeshire (Stephen Barclay) and my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham (Stephen Phillips) for saying that, in many ways, it is equivalent to the maximum penalty imposed for dangerous driving. I believe that 14 years would send a strong message that owners must now take responsibility, and not just assume that it lies with the dog, and to judges, who today, even with the inadequate maximum penalty available, are not handing out very significant sentences when they should.

I want us to provide reassurance that this would be a maximum penalty, not a mandatory penalty, and that we are not asking people to lock up their dogs, as the hon. Member for Penistone and Stocksbridge (Angela Smith) mentioned; we have to get the balance right. I will listen to the Minister, who is casting a fresh set of

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eyes on this, but let us not forget that at the moment the dog gets a death penalty, but the owner walks away pretty much scot-free. That is not responsible. The Government need to be responsible today and say what they intend to do.

Julie Hilling (Bolton West) (Lab): I want to speak specifically to new clause 6, other new clauses in my name and some of the amendments.

The House will be aware of the tragedy that occurred in my constituency on 26 March, when 14-year-old Jade Lomas-Anderson was killed by four out-of-control dogs in the house of a friend where she was staying overnight. My hon. Friend the Member for Croydon North (Mr Reed) has paid tribute to Jade’s dad and his friend Royston Brett, who cycled from Atherton to Westminster over the weekend to add their voice to those calling for the legislation to be strengthened in this area.

By all accounts, Jade was a smashing girl, full of life, kind to everyone and a good friend to many. When her parents were asked what Jade would have thought about their campaign for justice, they answered that she would have been the first to campaign, as she was such a caring girl. Her life was cut tragically short, but because of shortcomings in current legislation, no one can be held accountable. The tragedy has had a profound effect, not only on Jade’s mum and dad, Shirley and Michael, and her immediate family, but on the whole community of Atherton.

Jade’s parents have bravely led a campaign supported by the community and by Wigan council to ensure that no other family suffers like they have. As Michael says, this is a problem of epidemic proportions. According to the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals, 1 million dogs have displayed dangerous behaviour towards people and animals in the past year. About 250,000 attacks are made by dogs each year and 12 postal workers will have been attacked by dogs today. The cost to the NHS and taxpayers is about £9.5 million. According to my figures, more than 6,000 people are hospitalised each year, many of whom will have received life-changing injuries, although my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon North said the number was higher. There have been 16 deaths since 2005 and I cannot even say that Jade was the last person to die, because in May 79-year-old Clifford Clarke was killed in Liverpool. In the area around Hag Fold, where Jade was killed, I know of three serious attacks since March. It is endless.

I am pleased that the Government are taking the issue seriously and that people could now be prosecuted for attacks on private property, and I sincerely hope that they will bring forward proposals to increase the penalties when the Bill goes to the other place, in the way that the hon. Member for Bedford (Richard Fuller) just described. I still believe, however, that they are missing a trick by ignoring the call from all the dog charities, the CWU, vets, nurses and the police to introduce straightforward legislation on dog control notices. I am sure that they believe their proposals will tackle this issue, but when all the dog charities and other vested interests are telling them they have got it wrong, they should listen. Fears that the Government’s proposals are too bureaucratic; that there would have to be more than one incident; that they would not apply if the dog

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had already been brought under control; and that they would not tackle the problem of dogs first becoming dangerously out of control must be taken seriously and be addressed either today or when the Bill goes to the other place. I hope that the Government see sense today and accept new clause 3.

Let me move on to new clause 6. I believe that the issue of having too many dogs in a household should be tackled as part of dog control notices. I wish I could talk in detail about the dogs that killed Jade, but unfortunately I cannot because the dogs’ owner still awaits sentence on dog cruelty charges. This demonstrates well how dog welfare and community safety are closely linked. For that reason, I will have to speak in the abstract.

3.45 pm

First, it is well documented that dogs will act in packs and that unless they are well trained, well socialised and kept under control, they will act together to the detriment of the community.

Far too many people do not think through what sort of dog they should have in their household. Are there children? Do they have time to exercise the dogs? How much room do they have? Can they afford to keep and feed the dogs and get them veterinary treatment? Should they get small or big dogs? These questions are not even considered by far too many people when they purchase their puppy. Clearly, then, we need better education. What happens when people make the wrong choice? I believe, as do Jade’s parents, that there should be the ability to take quick and immediate action to instruct an owner to reduce the number of dogs they have. The number of dogs people have is not a problem only for community safety.

Angie Bray (Ealing Central and Acton) (Con): What the hon. Lady says about the number of animals sometimes kept in the home is extremely important. On a lot of estates, it is the number of animals that often leads to a lack of control. Does she agree that one of the most important ways of trying to tackle the problem is to get local authorities to engage with housing tenancies and use the management of those tenancies to control the number of dogs in houses and perhaps to say that the top of a tall building, for example, is entirely unsuitable for keeping pets?

Julie Hilling: I want to say more about that. I agree with the hon. Lady, but the issue does not apply only to social housing, which is why we need legislative change so that the problem of people having too many dogs can be tackled wherever somebody lives. She is right that we need to do more for people in social housing and other rented properties.

The number of dogs creates a problem not just in relation to community safety. A recent event was organised on Hag Fold estate by Wigan council to micro-chip dogs and promote responsible ownership as part of the Jade campaign. Two volunteers, Councillor Karen Aldred and the wonderful local resident Sandi Lucas, went knocking on doors to try to find dog owners to encourage them to attend the event. When they knocked on one door, they were told, “Well, I haven’t got any dogs, but go over there because the owner has loads of dogs and is creating mayhem in the community.” That owner had seven dogs in a small house, creating noise, unpleasant

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smells and making life a misery for the neighbours. I am working with Wigan and Leigh Housing on tenancy clauses for dog ownership, but as I said, the issue is not confined to social housing; we need simple remedies for all.

The new clause does not specify how many dogs should be in a household because I am not trying to restrict the responsible ownership of dogs. Frankly, if someone lives on a country estate with vast grounds, they can have as many dogs as they want, as long as they do not cause danger or disturbance to anyone else. I hope that the Government will listen to calls from communities to give them the powers they need for people to live peaceful and safe lives.

Let me touch briefly on the issue of breeding dogs. We know that a strong contributory factor to dogs becoming out of control is how they are socialised in the first few weeks of their lives—whether, for example, they are taken away from their mother too soon or are appropriately socialised with other dogs and people or are sold to people who know how to train and look after them. This may be an issue for the urgently needed dog welfare and control Act, which I shall continue to press the Government to introduce because, whatever the results of these provisions, we still need holistic legislation to deal with those issues.

Finally, I want to press the Government to extend the legislation to cover attacks on all protected animals. Attacking other animals is a sign that dogs are becoming dangerously out of control and therefore a threat to people. Why should a responsible pet owner have to face the trauma of an attack and the related veterinary expenses and heartache? Many owners are actually injured while trying to protect their beloved pets, such as the woman in Atherton who, just two weeks ago, lost part of her finger when she picked up her dog to protect it from a ferocious dog.

There is much in the Bill to be welcomed, but it does not go far enough. I ask the Government to look again and to support our new clauses and amendments to strengthen the Bill. Jade, her parents and all the other victims of dog attacks deserve no less.

Martin Horwood (Cheltenham) (LD): It is an honour to follow the hon. Member for Bolton West (Julie Hilling). I am sure that she spoke for the whole House in relation to the case of poor Jade Anderson. Sadly, that is just the latest and most tragic example of what the hon. Lady rightly described as an epidemic of dog attacks which are hospitalising thousands, and injuring thousands of postal workers and others. I am afraid that there have been many distressing cases in my own constituency, which led me to become involved in what has been quite a long campaign. I pay tribute to, in particular, the hon. Members for Penistone and Stocksbridge (Angela Smith) and for Ealing Central and Acton (Angie Bray), both of whom have campaigned very persistently.

For many years it seemed as if the Government were not budging at all on the issue, so it is enormously welcome that we are considering it in the context of this Bill, and that the Government are taking action. Their action is being taken step by step—it is rather gradualist—and that may be frustrating for some of us, but we should not make the best the enemy of the good. We should recognise the positive steps that are being taken

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in the Bill, not least in the context of the Government’s earlier action in setting a timetable for the introduction of universal microchipping. That will help us to identify the real culprits, who—as many Members have pointed out—are irresponsible dog owners as much as the dogs themselves, some of which are just more victims of this phenomenon.

The hon. Member for Croydon North (Mr Reed) and others have made a strong case for dog control orders. I have been sympathetic to that idea for many years, but I should be content if we could achieve the same outcome by other means. I understand the Government’s position; I realise that their main purpose is to simplify and rationalise antisocial behaviour legislation without sacrificing flexibility. The Bill underlines the important point that the issue of dangerous dogs is inextricably linked with that of human antisocial behaviour. If we can tackle one by tackling the other, I shall be satisfied, even if the legislation does not include the actual words “dog control order”.

One of the most important provisions involves the extension of liability for dangerous dogs to private property. Liberty has expressed some concern about the so-called “bite a burglar” provisions, and I think that Ministers need to consider those carefully. Our two contradictory instincts are to say, quite rightly, that burglars who enter other people’s properties with malicious intent should do so entirely at their own risk, and to support the extension to private property of liability for the dangerous behaviour of animals. Both are worthy instincts, and resolving that conflict will be a difficult task for Ministers. I speak as the brother of a postal worker who is very keen for the Bill to proceed.

Mr Spencer: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Martin Horwood: I am sorry, but I will not, because of the time.

Another important provision, which has not been mentioned much in the debate so far, is clause 99, which begins the necessary shift from breed to deed. It requires a court to establish whether a dog is

“a danger to public safety”,


“the temperament of the dog and its past behaviour”,

and to establish whether the dog’s owner is a “fit and proper person” to own a dog. I agree with the criticism by the hon. Member for Penistone and Stocksbridge of the rather strange list of obscure breeds, which I am not sure that most police forces would recognise even if they came across them. I do not know whether we will eventually abolish that list, but I certainly think it significant that the Bill is embarking on that shift towards tackling deed and behaviour rather than just breed.

I have some sympathy for the amendments tabled by the hon. Member for Bedford (Richard Fuller). They seek tougher sentencing, underlining the fact that in many instances dogs are used as lethal weapons, and that we should see that in the context of the responsibility of their owners. I also have some sympathy for the amendment tabled by the hon. Member for Stockport (Ann Coffey), as, I think, will legions of Liberal Democrat “Focus” deliverers. My constituent Councillor Rob Reid provided me with a paddle which I now use to push leaflets through letter boxes. A deliverer can take some

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responsible action. The paddle now bears a good many teeth marks, which could have been on my fingers. Councillor Reid made it by cutting up old “Yes to the alternative vote” campaign placards, which is probably one of the lesser but more positive outcomes of that campaign.

Angela Smith: Is it not true that, if we legislate specifically to require dog owners to put guards on their letter boxes, we will run the danger of neglecting the other risks that people face when they go on to private property, such as dogs running free in back gardens? Is it not the case that there are a number of possibilities in terms of dog attacks once someone passes the boundary of the gate?

Martin Horwood: It is important that the Government consult carefully on all these things. We do not want to intrude too much into the realm of private property and what people are allowed to do with their dogs in their property, but the point that the hon. Lady makes is well made.

I ask the Minister to consider carefully the campaign by Naturewatch, which is based in my constituency and led me to table early-day motion 412 to address the issues of irresponsible breeders and the need to regulate the advertising and selling of pets. That could be the next important step that the Government take in their rather gradualist approach to the issue. In many ways, that is one of the root causes of the phenomenon of dangerous and trophy dogs and dogs used as weapons.

For now, however, we should congratulate the Government on taking some important steps to tackle the issue. The steps we are voting on today will help to save lives. They will potentially save the lives of children like poor Jade Anderson and the lives of adults. They will certainly save the lives of pets. Those steps are overwhelmingly to be welcomed.

Luciana Berger: In November four years ago, my constituent, John Paul Massey, was killed by a dog in Wavertree. He was four. It happened during the run-up to the general election. I remember the impact that his death had not only on his family and their friends but on the wider community. To this day, I have people who come to talk to me about the experience of that happening in our community and how it has impacted on them, even though they may just have been a neighbour or someone who lived in a neighbouring street. It is not just John Paul Massey who tragically lost his life. Hon. Members on both sides of the House have mentioned many other victims. One life lost because of a dog is one life too many. I hope that the Minister will reflect on that in his response.

I am going to echo many of the comments made by hon. Friends and Members on the Government Benches. I notice that there are people present who have been long-standing campaigners on the issue for far longer than I have following my election in May 2010. I pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Penistone and Stocksbridge (Angela Smith) for the hard work that she has done for so many more years than I have on the issue. My hon. Friend the Member for Bolton West (Julie Hilling) has been affected in more recent times.

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We have heard the worst examples and seen evidence in newspapers and on television of the most tragic injuries and of people who are permanently disfigured. As we have heard, every year, thousands of people are hospitalised. Every year, hundreds of thousands of people are attacked by a dog and may not present themselves to the NHS. For many of those people, there are long-term psychological consequences. For people on the front line who go into homes, be they social workers, BT workers, meter readers or energy company staff, such attacks can have a long-term impact on their ability to work.

As we have heard, the attacks come at a great cost. The estimates that we have are very conservative. There is a cost of £10 million a year to the NHS. That should cause any Government concern. Equally, as the hon. Member for Sherwood (Mr Spencer) said, people who are visually impaired will be affected if their guide dog is attacked. I do not think that enough of us know—I learned this only recently—that it costs £50,000 to train and look after a guide dog over its lifetime. That is all charitable money. If a guide dog is attacked by a dog, not only will there be a cost and long-term consequences for the guide dog, but the owner, who has spent time bonding with the guide dog and has depended on it, will no longer have a friend. That can also have long-term consequences.

I support new clause 3, which is in my name and that of many hon. Friends, because I share the criticism by the Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and many hon. Members on both sides of the House. Although I welcome what the Government have done on the issue, the clear message that I have heard from professionals in the field is that we should prevent dog attacks from happening in the first place.

I have listened very closely to the contributions of Members on both sides of the House, in particular those on the Government Benches who spoke in support of what the Government have come forward with thus far. I have also looked very closely at the community protection notices and I have listened to the professionals who know far better than I do how this will operate in practice, and I will listen very carefully to the Minister’s response, too, but I have strong concerns. As it stands, CPNs are very bureaucratic and practitioners will need a lot of time and resource to implement them. They will not sufficiently address dog behaviour and welfare. That is, essentially, what all of us here are talking about today. There are also concerns that the CPN will come too late, because the dog owner must be served with a written warning before they can be issued with a CPN.

4 pm

I support dog control notices as I believe they would increase the profile of the issues and awareness of them among the target audience. They would also serve to impress upon enforcers the need to ensure expertise among those authorised to issue notices. We have not spoken about what a DCN would specifically do. It would place a responsibility on an owner to undertake requirements tailored to the need of the individual and their dog. That could be something as simple as the use of a lead or a muzzle at an appropriate time, or the maintenance of a dog-proof fence, or a request to undertake some training. I have attended events the Dogs Trust puts on for free, so I have met many people

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who love their pet but do not have the skills or expertise to best look after it. A DCN could address that very well.

The focus of a DCN is on education and supporting the individual, rather than being punitive to the owner or dog. I urge the Minister to think very seriously about this issue because we have a problem in this country. We see it in communities all the time, and not just in inner-city urban communities, but in rural communities too. We need something that is going to deal with dog attacks effectively, so we never again open a newspaper or switch on our TV and learn of somebody tragically being maimed or losing their life because of a dog.

I know the Minister is new in his post, and I urge him to listen to the professionals, including the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Dogs Trust, the Kennel Club, the British Veterinary Association and others, and also to the Communication Workers Union, which represents thousands of postmen and women who deliver our mail every day, and up to 20 of whom are attacked just delivering our post. I ask the Minister to consider the new clause again. If the Government are not going to support it today, I urge them to consider it in the other place, because we need serious action to prevent dog attacks in the first place.

Mr Robert Syms (Poole) (Con): I welcome what the Government are doing. It is quite brave. Dealing with any topic such as this one fuels great passions. All of us love dogs, but those of us who are parents feel slight fear when we see an unruly dog in a playground or somewhere else.

We have to strike a proper balance. The whole thrust of what the Government are doing in this area is to simplify and make flexible antisocial behaviour legislation so it can be more easily used. Therefore I urge the Minister to resist most of the amendments, although I accept they have been tabled for understandable and strong reasons, and the hon. Member for Bolton West (Julie Hilling) certainly made a very good contribution. We ought to go forward with what is being proposed, which is CPNs, and see whether they deliver what the Government have assured us they will.

There are DPNs in Scotland and Northern Ireland and the Government have looked at them and concluded they would rather have CPNs. If devolution is to mean anything, it must allow Scotland and Northern Ireland to go their own way and the rest of the United Kingdom to go a different way if it perceives that is a better way to deal with the problem.

Jim Shannon: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr Syms: No.

We all know the problem is irresponsible dog owners, and the Government’s raft of proposed legislation ought to be able to deal with that effectively. I therefore urge the Minister to resist most of the amendments, but I also urge him to give special attention to what my hon. Friend the Member for Bedford (Richard Fuller) said. The Committee came up with some refreshing ideas. Some of the Back-Bench Members had meetings with Ministers, including the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Minister Lord de Mauley. The refreshing thing was that they were prepared to look at the issue of the tariff and sentencing. A consultation

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took place in the summer, and although my hon. Friend is disappointed that it has not yet been published and any changes will be made in the House of Lords, by Whitehall standards this is the speed of light: we have a Bill, we meet a Minister, the Minister undertakes to have a consultation, we have the consultation and in a matter of weeks something will come back to the other place. That is pretty good, so I welcome what the DEFRA officials and the Minister have said.

Richard Fuller: I join my hon. Friend in commending Lord de Mauley for his speed of reaction in DEFRA. We are just looking for the same speed of reaction from the Home Office.

Mr Syms: Absolutely. Progress has been made and the Government listened to our Committee debates. I was surprised that my hon. Friend the Member for Chatham and Aylesford (Tracey Crouch), who mentioned cats, did not mention Mungo and Basil, as they got a mention in Committee. It was an interesting Committee and things were well debated. We made proposals that will improve the Bill. I urge the Minister to resist most of the amendments, but to consider the amendment to do with the tariff, which needs to be given serious consideration.

To go back to my first point, the Bill is about simplifying things and making them more flexible, and I urge the Minister to resist more complicated legislation. Let us get on with the job and let us make it easier for legislators. This is a good Bill, extending the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 to private property and protecting assistance dogs. It contains a lot of good things and if we can get the tariff up as well, it will be a result for those who served on the Committee and for this House.

John Healey (Wentworth and Dearne) (Lab): It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Poole (Mr Syms) and it was good to hear him speaking in the House, after a period in the Whips on the Front Bench, although what he had to say was still a little too loyal for my taste.

I welcome clause 98 and the extension of the offence of allowing a dog to cause injury or the fear of injury to all places, including all private property. That is long awaited and closes a significant loophole in the law. Ministers have simply been much too slow to make this change. Today, however, particularly with new clause 3, the new Minister has the opportunity to act ahead of a serious and growing problem, instead of just giving a long-delayed response to a problem, as we have seen so far. I am talking about the introduction of dog control notices.

We know that thousands of victims are injured and hospitalised each year as a result of dog attacks. We know that the number of owners sentenced for offences related to dangerous dogs has increased by more than one third since 2009. Just in South Yorkshire the police tell me that in the past year they have responded to 464 dog attack incidents, and that just in 2013 they have so far taken out 26 court cases pursuing prosecution against those owners.

The latest case reported to me was that of Rebecca Lowman of Goldthorpe, who was attacked and badly injured in the arm and leg last month when she was defending a woman who was being attacked by her own dog in her own house. While Becky was still in hospital,

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I sat down with her husband John, who was very upset by Becky’s injuries and very angry that the police had no ability to act on that dog because the attack took place in that private house.

Since I started campaigning on this issue in the past few weeks, a lot of people have contacted me, including Norma Saunders, who told me that she knows someone who was a victim of a dog attack. She said:

“After the dog attacked several times, our community felt terrorized. I did not let my little boy play in the garden & I did not walk to the shops, but the authorities were not interested.”

I pay tribute to Hallam FM in South Yorkshire, which has taken up this campaign, aired the problems and given listeners the chance to give their experiences over the past week. A couple have phoned in with very powerful points. One said that the law must be changed:

“I was mauled by an American Pitt bull crossed with a Bull mastiff at my friend’s house and as it was in its rightful house nothing could have been done…I have been left with traumatic memories and ugly scars, this dog has not been put down and has in fact bitten someone else”.

Another caller simply said that we should

“just do what is definitely necessary to prevent any more horrific and fatal attacks on innocent people and children.”

The Minister has the chance to do just that this afternoon.

I urge the Minister, taking advantage of his fresh mandate as a new Minister in a new post, to accept new clause 3. Dog control notices have been legislated for in Scotland for three years and this represents a sensible extension of the scope for local authorities, courts and the police to take action against a person in control of a dog whose behaviour is out of control. My hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Luciana Berger) has explained some of the steps and sanctions available to the authorities when a dog control notice is in place.

Labour has been arguing this case but Ministers have been dragging their feet for three years now. During that time, thousands more have suffered serious and often debilitating injuries. Most dog owners are responsible and their dogs are well behaved, but a minority see dogs as status symbols or even offensive weapons. The Government must go further than this Bill. Closing the loophole in the legislation over attacks on some private property is a sensible step, but one that they have been pushed to take. Let us see Ministers take the next sensible step this afternoon, introduce and accept the principle of dog control notices and help to reverse the rising trend of attacks and to head off some of the attacks we will otherwise definitely see, which will leave adults and children badly scarred, badly injured, badly traumatised and, in some cases, dead.

Sir Edward Leigh (Gainsborough) (Con): I support the Government’s gradualist and sensible approach and I urge the Minister to resist new clause 3. We all regret and are desperately unhappy about vicious attacks by dogs, particularly on children—although also on anybody else—and if legislation could solve that problem and new clause 3 could deal with it without causing massive potential inconvenience to millions of peaceable people who own dogs, I would be in favour of it. However, like all such amendments, it would probably, sadly, do little to control the vicious people who use dogs as weapons and it could impact severely on millions of ordinary, peaceable dog owners.

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I declare an interest because, like you, Mr Deputy Speaker, I am a dog owner. My dog, a little border terrier called William, is a lot smaller than yours. I saw yours in the Westminster dog show last year and many people think that your breed of dog is quite powerful, but I know from having witnessed your dog that it is well brought up and peaceable.

Let us be sensible about this. I know that new clause 3 is well intentioned, but it could have draconian effects. All it states is:

“Where an authorised officer has reasonable cause to believe that a dog is not under sufficient control”.

It requires a reasonable belief—that is not probability. We all know that there are disputes between neighbours, or that people have rows with other people. That is such a small bar to get over for an “authorised officer”.

Luciana Berger rose

Sir Edward Leigh: I had better not give way, because I do not want Mr Deputy Speaker to set his dogs of war on me. I shall be very brief and will not take any interventions.

Let me make a simple point. Who is this “authorised officer”? What is this “reasonable cause”? Simply because that officer of the state has some sort of belief, which might have been motivated by other people, the dog might have to be muzzled, neutered or prevented from going in particular places. I am very worried about that.

I am also very worried about the other amendments. I do not agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Bedford (Richard Fuller), who was talking about 14-year sentences. It was in the papers last year that somebody had driven their car dangerously and killed somebody while they were looking at their global positioning system device. They did not look out of the window for 18 seconds and they killed a cyclist, and they went to prison for three years. We all think that is ridiculous. Are we really going to send someone to prison for 14 years for this offence?

Let us be honest about it. Dogs have been bred for thousands of years to be guard dogs. Even my pathetic little border terrier, William, barks when people come up the garden path. That is what dogs are bred to do. All this nonsense about Liberal party canvassers who are scared of getting their fingers bitten when they put a leaflet through the door—I have delivered thousands of useless Conservative party pamphlets through the door. When I see a dog behind the door, I am delighted not to put the pamphlet through the letterbox. Just show some common sense. Dogs are dogs. We cannot change dogs with legislation.

New clause 3 is just one extra bit of legislation that will not impact on the people who really cause trouble, but will, as I said, impact on millions of dog owners. We should be calm, take a gradualist approach and support what the Government are doing.

4.15 pm

Norman Baker: We have had a good wide-ranging debate. In the time left available to me, I will try as always to address the points that have been raised, but if I am unable to respond to all of them, I will write to the individual Members who have raised points and have not had those addressed as part of my response.

Let me say first that we are very sympathetic to the calls from many people for an increase in the maximum

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penalty for a dog attack. The Government agrees that two years’ imprisonment is not a sufficient penalty for the devastation and damage that a serious dog attack can do. There were over 3,000 responses to the consultation, and although there was strong support for an increased maximum penalty, there was no consensus as to where to set the bar. Given the volume of responses, I regret that it has not been possible for the Department to conclude its consideration of the issue in time to table a Government amendment on Report, but I can reassure my hon. Friend the Member for Bedford (Richard Fuller) that the Government will table an amendment to increase the maximum penalties for dog attacks when the Bill is in the other place. The response to the consultation on changes will, I can assure the shadow Minister, be published in good time to inform the debates on the issue in the other place.

The Government amendment will reflect the high public concern that two years is an insufficient penalty for these offences, and the fact that some 16 adults and children have died in dog attacks since 2005, and some 10 assistance dogs are attacked by other dogs every month. As the consultation made clear, we will be looking to distinguish between attacks on people and attacks on assistance dogs. For attacks on people and where a person is killed or seriously injured, I am attracted—perhaps given my former role as a Transport Minister—by the comparison with penalties for causing death or serious injury by dangerous driving. Where a dog attacks an assistance dog, we will be looking at a lower maximum penalty, but one that is higher than the present one that applies.

I should say to my hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Sir Edward Leigh) that some people are breeding dogs deliberately to use as weapons. It is under those circumstances that higher penalties would be applicable. I hope that in the light of the reassurances that I have given on this matter, and the commitment that I am giving to a Government amendment, my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley (Philip Davies) will not press his amendments today.

New clauses 3, 6, 17, 18 and 19 deal with dog control notices, dog number control notices and the requirement for all households with a dog to fit letterbox guards. I understand the intentions of hon. Members who tabled these amendments. There is a genuine need for an additional tool to address poor dog ownership and to enable early action to prevent dog bites and attacks. I understand the point made by the hon. Member for Stockport (Ann Coffey), who sought to take matters forward with her new clause 18. Every day thousands of postal workers and others, including those who deliver political literature, face uncertainty and apprehension as they approach houses with dogs to deliver mail and so on. The Government believe that such individuals must be able to go about their duties without fear of injury.

It is paramount for local officers from the police or the local council to have at their disposal the right tools so that they may take action in cases of irresponsible dog ownership. But as was made clear when the issue was raised on Second Reading and again in Committee, the measures in parts 1 to 4 introduce powers that will allow exactly the type of early intervention that the new clauses seek to provide.

15 Oct 2013 : Column 682

Those measures can address all types of such irresponsible behaviour with a dog, regardless of the specific manifestation. For example, a community protection notice can be served in cases where there are too many dogs in one home—the point made by the hon. Member for Bolton West (Julie Hilling)—where an owner does not have proper control of his or her dog, where a dog strays and in many other scenarios. Those measures are in addition to existing statutory measures, notably offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 relating to welfare standards, the law on statutory nuisance and, for commercial dog breeders, any licence requirements.

I want to reassure Members—this is an important point—that all the requirements they suggest under new clauses 3 and 6, such as muzzling, neutering, microchipping, keeping a dog on a lead, attending training classes, fitting a letterbox guard to the door of a property and seeking expert advice, can be required under a community protection notice. The new clauses, although well intentioned, are simply not necessary. The powers are already there in the Bill. To pick up on a point made by the shadow Minister, that is how the Liberal Democrat and Conservative manifesto commitments are being delivered.

Luciana Berger: Will the Minister acknowledge that, as the legislation is currently drafted, individuals will still require a written warning before they can receive a community protection notice, which will add delays? Who knows what could happen during the intervening period?

Norman Baker: I want to address that point. Only this month the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs published a draft practitioners’ manual—it is a draft because we are inviting comments on it—entitled, “Tackling irresponsible dog ownership”. It gives an example on page 15. If a dog is out of control in a park, a written notice can be issued on the spot by the relevant officer who has control in that situation. The owner would then be given a “reasonable time”, which might be just five minutes, to respond. If the dog is not brought under control in that time, the community protection notice can be issued right away. I do not understand why the Opposition think that there could be huge delays in the process, because there could not. It is a simple piece of legislation to make it effective and quick, and that relates to the issues to which attention is rightly being drawn.

Mr Spencer: I am concerned about the term “owner”, because the person in control of the dog in the park might not be the owner, so the “It’s my cousin’s dog” defence could deflect the notice.

Norman Baker: The provision might specify the person in control of the dog, so if I have that wrong I will correct it. I absolutely accept my hon. Friend’s point and will reflect on it.

The measures in the Bill go further and allow officers to make innovative requirements based on the specifics of the case they are dealing with, for example by requesting that signage be put up to warn visitors to a property of the presence of a dog, or that a letterbox guard be

15 Oct 2013 : Column 683

fitted. I have genuinely heard nothing during the course of the debate to suggest that there is a gap in what is proposed in the Bill.

The Local Government Association stated in written evidence to the Public Bill Committee:

“The LGA remains to be convinced that separate tools are necessary as no details have been provided of the specific gaps in the provisions for the injunctions, community protection notices or public space protection orders that a dog control notice is needed to fill.”

We all share the objective of trying to do something about this matter, but Opposition Members seem to think that a measure cannot be effective if it does not have the word “dog” in the title, which is simply wrong.

Mr Steve Reed: Will the Minister give way?

Norman Baker: I will give way one more time.

Mr Reed: It is not just the Opposition who are making those points; so too are many experienced organisations, including the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Association of Chief Police Officers, the British Veterinary Association, Battersea Dogs and Cats Home and this House’s Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee. All of those organisations have more experience in this area than either the Minister or I have, yet he is not taking their views on board.

Norman Baker: The shadow Minister made that point in his opening remarks. I have not been a Home Office Minister for long, but I dealt with dog legislation for many years in opposition, so I think I know what the legislation says. I have given him an absolute assurance that the issues the Opposition are concerned about, as am I, such as microchipping and neutering, could all be dealt with under the community protection notice. I have given the hon. Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Luciana Berger) an assurance that those matters can be dealt with very quickly. Those are the two points that the Opposition are perfectly correct to pursue, and I have given answers that I had hoped would satisfy them. I guess the proof of the pudding is in the eating. As far as I am concerned, the measures they want to deal with the problem that they, and we, have identified are in the Bill.

Notwithstanding that, I understand the concern that, as Labour Members have said, any dog issues may be lost in the breadth of these measures. However, these powers recognise, first, that antisocial behaviour does not come packaged into distinct areas, and secondly, that what matters is whether it can be dealt with quickly and effectively, which is what the Bill does. The practitioners’ manual from DEFRA is the Government’s attempt to reassure people that these matters will be dealt with properly.

Angie Bray: Does the Minister recognise that sometimes it is not the attacks themselves that cause anxiety but the intimidating nature of some of the dogs that are attached to what I would call dangerous owners? That blights the lives of people trying to use the parks. Just the presence of this intimidating animal with its owner can do some damage.

15 Oct 2013 : Column 684

Norman Baker: I do recognise that. That is a good reason why it is better to have flexible, general legislation rather than specific legislation that then creates loopholes. That is what the Opposition, who are well intentioned, would do if they had their way in the construction of antisocial behaviour legislation.

Angela Smith: Will the Minister give way?

Norman Baker: I must not, because I have lots of people to try to reply to. I am sorry.

I hope that I have been able to persuade Opposition Members that the approach put forward in the new clause is already provided for in the Bill. If they were minded to press it, I would invite the House to reject it. [Interruption.]

The hon. Member for Penistone and Stocksbridge (Angela Smith), who is seeking to intervene while I am trying to respond to her points, proposes to reduce the time delay that can take place following the seizure of a suspected section 1 dog, such as a pit bull terrier, before it is examined by expert witnesses for the defence or prosecution to assess whether it is a prohibited dog. I understand her concerns about the impact that such delays can have on the welfare of dogs. That is why we are committed to bringing forward regulations next year to make it clear that when the police seize a suspected prohibited dog they will not be required to kennel it, but only in cases where they are satisfied that the situation of dog and owner do not present a risk to public safety. It is right to give the police this discretion, and that is the aim that we intend to take forward. It will be a condition of release, if release occurs, that the owner consents to the dog being muzzled and on a lead in public, as well as being microchipped and neutered before it can be released back to the owner. This is to ensure public safety and to prevent breeding from section 1 dogs. On that basis, we do not consider the hon. Lady’s new clause 29 to be necessary.

I now want to deal with the amendments eloquently presented by my hon. Friend the Member for Chatham and Aylesford (Tracey Crouch), which seek to extend the offence in section 3 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 to cover incidents where a dog injures or kills a protected animal. I entirely understand and sympathise with her reason for proposing that measure. She listed some of the existing legislation, which does have an effect and can be used in certain circumstances, including the Animal Welfare Act 2006, the Animals Act 1971, the Dogs Act 1871, and the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953. It is rather unfortunate that the Criminal Damage Act 1971 classifies animals as goods or property in this respect.

I understand the concern of people whose cat is savaged by a dog, but the way forward is to consider other solutions. Instead of more legislation, we want better education for owners, training for dogs, and increased awareness among the public and the authorities who can use the new antisocial behaviour powers to address these incidents and help to prevent them before they happen.

I draw my hon. Friend’s attention to particular resources in legislation in respect of horses, which she mentioned. The Dangerous Dogs Act would apply in a situation where a dog threatens or attacks a horse and a rider, because the rider is likely to have “reasonable apprehension”

15 Oct 2013 : Column 685

that the dog will injure them, and therefore an offence would be created. My hon. Friend also referred to the livestock issues that I mentioned earlier. We are keen to make sure that other animals are protected. However, as I said, the general nature of the legislation provides options through, for example, the injunction procedure to see whether there are other avenues that can be taken to deal with dogs that present a danger to the public and, indeed, to other animals.

On amendment 142, tabled by the hon. Member for Penistone and Stocksbridge, I regret that because of the lack of time I will have to write to her with a specific response to the point she raises.

The actions that this Government are taking in tackling dangerous dogs are absolutely right. Everybody in the House agrees that that needs to happen better than it has done in the past, and I believe the Bill will achieve that. The provisions will enable all the dreadful acts that have been taking place to be tackled in a sensible and effective way.

Mr Steve Reed: I have listened carefully to the Minister, but I am afraid I remain unconvinced and we will press new clause 3 to a vote.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time.

The House divided:

Ayes 236, Noes 315.

Division No. 100]


4.30 pm


Abbott, Ms Diane

Abrahams, Debbie

Ainsworth, rh Mr Bob

Alexander, rh Mr Douglas

Alexander, Heidi

Ali, Rushanara

Allen, Mr Graham

Ashworth, Jonathan

Austin, Ian

Bailey, Mr Adrian

Bain, Mr William

Balls, rh Ed

Barron, rh Mr Kevin

Bayley, Hugh

Beckett, rh Margaret

Begg, Dame Anne

Benn, rh Hilary

Berger, Luciana

Betts, Mr Clive

Blackman-Woods, Roberta

Blears, rh Hazel

Blomfield, Paul

Blunkett, rh Mr David

Bradshaw, rh Mr Ben

Brennan, Kevin

Brown, Lyn

Brown, rh Mr Nicholas

Brown, Mr Russell

Bryant, Chris

Buck, Ms Karen

Burden, Richard

Burnham, rh Andy

Byrne, rh Mr Liam

Campbell, Mr Alan

Campbell, Mr Ronnie

Caton, Martin

Champion, Sarah

Chapman, Jenny

Clark, Katy

Clarke, rh Mr Tom

Clwyd, rh Ann

Coaker, Vernon

Coffey, Ann

Connarty, Michael

Cooper, Rosie

Cooper, rh Yvette

Corbyn, Jeremy

Crausby, Mr David

Creagh, Mary

Creasy, Stella

Cruddas, Jon

Cryer, John

Cunningham, Alex

Cunningham, Mr Jim

Cunningham, Sir Tony

Curran, Margaret

Dakin, Nic

Danczuk, Simon

Darling, rh Mr Alistair

David, Wayne

Davidson, Mr Ian

Davies, Geraint

De Piero, Gloria

Denham, rh Mr John

Dobson, rh Frank

Donohoe, Mr Brian H.

Doran, Mr Frank

Doughty, Stephen

Dowd, Jim

Dromey, Jack

Dugher, Michael

Durkan, Mark

Eagle, Ms Angela

Eagle, Maria

Efford, Clive

Elliott, Julie

Ellman, Mrs Louise

Engel, Natascha

Esterson, Bill

Evans, Chris

Farrelly, Paul

Field, rh Mr Frank

Fitzpatrick, Jim

Flello, Robert

Flint, rh Caroline

Flynn, Paul

Fovargue, Yvonne

Francis, Dr Hywel

Gardiner, Barry

Gilmore, Sheila

Glass, Pat

Glindon, Mrs Mary

Godsiff, Mr Roger

Goggins, rh Paul

Goodman, Helen

Greatrex, Tom

Greenwood, Lilian

Griffith, Nia

Gwynne, Andrew

Hain, rh Mr Peter

Hamilton, Mr David

Hamilton, Fabian

Hanson, rh Mr David

Harman, rh Ms Harriet

Harris, Mr Tom

Havard, Mr Dai

Healey, rh John

Hendrick, Mark

Heyes, David

Hillier, Meg

Hilling, Julie

Hodge, rh Margaret

Hodgson, Mrs Sharon

Hood, Mr Jim

Hopkins, Kelvin

Howarth, rh Mr George

Hunt, Tristram

Irranca-Davies, Huw

Jackson, Glenda

James, Mrs Siân C.

Jamieson, Cathy

Jarvis, Dan

Johnson, rh Alan

Johnson, Diana

Jones, Graham

Jones, Helen

Jones, Mr Kevan

Jowell, rh Dame Tessa

Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald

Keeley, Barbara

Kendall, Liz

Khan, rh Sadiq

Lammy, rh Mr David

Lavery, Ian

Lazarowicz, Mark

Leslie, Chris

Lewell-Buck, Mrs Emma

Lewis, Mr Ivan

Long, Naomi

Love, Mr Andrew

Lucas, Caroline

Lucas, Ian

Mactaggart, Fiona

Mahmood, Mr Khalid

Mahmood, Shabana

Malhotra, Seema

Mann, John

Marsden, Mr Gordon

McCabe, Steve

McCann, Mr Michael

McCarthy, Kerry

McClymont, Gregg

McDonald, Andy

McDonnell, John

McFadden, rh Mr Pat

McGovern, Alison

McGovern, Jim

McKechin, Ann

McKenzie, Mr Iain

McKinnell, Catherine

Meacher, rh Mr Michael

Meale, Sir Alan

Mearns, Ian

Miliband, rh Edward

Miller, Andrew

Moon, Mrs Madeleine

Morden, Jessica

Morrice, Graeme


Morris, Grahame M.


Mudie, Mr George

Munn, Meg

Murphy, rh Paul

Murray, Ian

Nandy, Lisa

O'Donnell, Fiona

Onwurah, Chi

Osborne, Sandra

Owen, Albert

Perkins, Toby

Pound, Stephen

Powell, Lucy

Qureshi, Yasmin

Raynsford, rh Mr Nick

Reed, Mr Jamie

Reed, Mr Steve

Reeves, Rachel

Reynolds, Emma

Reynolds, Jonathan

Riordan, Mrs Linda

Ritchie, Ms Margaret

Robertson, Angus

Robertson, John

Robinson, Mr Geoffrey

Rotheram, Steve

Roy, Mr Frank

Roy, Lindsay

Ruane, Chris

Ruddock, rh Dame Joan

Sarwar, Anas

Sawford, Andy

Seabeck, Alison

Sharma, Mr Virendra

Sheerman, Mr Barry

Sheridan, Jim

Shuker, Gavin

Skinner, Mr Dennis

Slaughter, Mr Andy

Smith, rh Mr Andrew

Smith, Angela

Smith, Nick

Smith, Owen

Spellar, rh Mr John

Stringer, Graham

Stuart, Ms Gisela

Sutcliffe, Mr Gerry

Tami, Mark

Thornberry, Emily

Timms, rh Stephen

Trickett, Jon

Turner, Karl

Twigg, Derek

Twigg, Stephen

Vaz, rh Keith

Vaz, Valerie

Walley, Joan

Watts, Mr Dave

Weir, Mr Mike

Whitehead, Dr Alan

Williams, Hywel

Williamson, Chris

Wilson, Phil

Winnick, Mr David

Winterton, rh Ms Rosie

Wishart, Pete

Wright, David

Wright, Mr Iain

Tellers for the Ayes:

Tom Blenkinsop


Susan Elan Jones


Adams, Nigel

Afriyie, Adam

Aldous, Peter

Alexander, rh Danny

Amess, Mr David

Andrew, Stuart

Arbuthnot, rh Mr James

Bacon, Mr Richard

Baker, Norman

Baker, Steve

Baldwin, Harriett

Barclay, Stephen

Barker, rh Gregory

Baron, Mr John

Bebb, Guto

Beith, rh Sir Alan

Bellingham, Mr Henry

Benyon, Richard

Beresford, Sir Paul

Berry, Jake

Bingham, Andrew

Binley, Mr Brian

Birtwistle, Gordon

Blackman, Bob

Blackwood, Nicola

Boles, Nick

Bone, Mr Peter

Bottomley, Sir Peter

Bradley, Karen

Brady, Mr Graham

Brake, rh Tom

Bray, Angie

Brazier, Mr Julian

Bridgen, Andrew

Brine, Steve

Brokenshire, James

Brooke, Annette

Browne, Mr Jeremy

Bruce, Fiona

Bruce, rh Sir Malcolm

Buckland, Mr Robert

Burley, Mr Aidan

Burns, Conor

Burns, rh Mr Simon

Burrowes, Mr David

Burt, Lorely

Byles, Dan

Cable, rh Vince

Cairns, Alun

Campbell, Mr Gregory

Carmichael, rh Mr Alistair

Carmichael, Neil

Carswell, Mr Douglas

Cash, Mr William

Chishti, Rehman

Chope, Mr Christopher

Clappison, Mr James

Clark, rh Greg

Clarke, rh Mr Kenneth

Clegg, rh Mr Nick

Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey

Coffey, Dr Thérèse

Collins, Damian

Colvile, Oliver

Crabb, Stephen

Crockart, Mike

Davey, rh Mr Edward

Davies, David T. C.


Davies, Glyn

Davies, Philip

Davis, rh Mr David

de Bois, Nick

Djanogly, Mr Jonathan

Dodds, rh Mr Nigel

Donaldson, rh Mr Jeffrey M.

Dorrell, rh Mr Stephen

Dorries, Nadine

Doyle-Price, Jackie

Drax, Richard

Duddridge, James

Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain

Dunne, Mr Philip

Ellis, Michael

Ellison, Jane

Ellwood, Mr Tobias

Elphicke, Charlie

Eustice, George

Evans, Graham

Evans, Jonathan

Evans, Mr Nigel

Evennett, Mr David

Fabricant, Michael

Fallon, rh Michael

Farron, Tim

Featherstone, Lynne

Field, Mark

Fox, rh Dr Liam

Francois, rh Mr Mark

Freeman, George

Freer, Mike

Fullbrook, Lorraine

Fuller, Richard

Garnier, Sir Edward

Garnier, Mark

George, Andrew

Gibb, Mr Nick

Gilbert, Stephen

Gillan, rh Mrs Cheryl

Glen, John

Goldsmith, Zac

Goodwill, Mr Robert

Graham, Richard

Grant, Mrs Helen

Gray, Mr James

Grayling, rh Chris

Green, rh Damian

Greening, rh Justine

Griffiths, Andrew

Gummer, Ben

Gyimah, Mr Sam

Halfon, Robert

Hames, Duncan

Hammond, rh Mr Philip

Hammond, Stephen

Hands, Greg

Harper, Mr Mark

Harrington, Richard

Harris, Rebecca

Hart, Simon

Harvey, Sir Nick

Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan

Heald, Oliver

Heath, Mr David

Heaton-Harris, Chris

Hemming, John

Henderson, Gordon

Hendry, Charles

Herbert, rh Nick

Hermon, Lady

Hinds, Damian

Hoban, Mr Mark

Hollingbery, George

Holloway, Mr Adam

Hopkins, Kris

Horwood, Martin

Howell, John

Hughes, rh Simon

Hunt, rh Mr Jeremy

Hunter, Mark

Huppert, Dr Julian

Hurd, Mr Nick

Jackson, Mr Stewart

James, Margot

Jenkin, Mr Bernard

Johnson, Gareth

Johnson, Joseph

Jones, Andrew

Jones, Mr Marcus

Kawczynski, Daniel

Kelly, Chris

Kirby, Simon

Knight, rh Mr Greg

Kwarteng, Kwasi

Laing, Mrs Eleanor

Lamb, Norman

Lancaster, Mark

Latham, Pauline

Laws, rh Mr David

Leadsom, Andrea

Lee, Jessica

Lee, Dr Phillip

Leech, Mr John

Leigh, Sir Edward

Leslie, Charlotte

Letwin, rh Mr Oliver

Lewis, Brandon

Lewis, Dr Julian

Liddell-Grainger, Mr Ian

Lilley, rh Mr Peter

Lloyd, Stephen

Lord, Jonathan

Loughton, Tim

Luff, Peter

Lumley, Karen

Macleod, Mary

Main, Mrs Anne

Maude, rh Mr Francis

May, rh Mrs Theresa

Maynard, Paul

McCartney, Jason

McCartney, Karl

McCrea, Dr William

McIntosh, Miss Anne

McLoughlin, rh Mr Patrick

McPartland, Stephen

Menzies, Mark

Mercer, Patrick

Metcalfe, Stephen

Milton, Anne

Mitchell, rh Mr Andrew

Moore, rh Michael

Mordaunt, Penny

Morgan, Nicky

Morris, Anne Marie

Morris, David

Mosley, Stephen

Mowat, David

Mulholland, Greg

Munt, Tessa

Murray, Sheryll

Newmark, Mr Brooks

Newton, Sarah

Nokes, Caroline

Norman, Jesse

Nuttall, Mr David

O'Brien, rh Mr Stephen

Offord, Dr Matthew

Ollerenshaw, Eric

Opperman, Guy

Ottaway, rh Richard

Paice, rh Sir James

Parish, Neil

Patel, Priti

Pawsey, Mark

Penning, Mike

Penrose, John

Perry, Claire

Phillips, Stephen

Pickles, rh Mr Eric

Pincher, Christopher

Poulter, Dr Daniel

Prisk, Mr Mark

Pugh, John

Raab, Mr Dominic

Randall, rh Mr John

Reckless, Mark

Redwood, rh Mr John

Rees-Mogg, Jacob

Reevell, Simon

Reid, Mr Alan

Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm

Rosindell, Andrew

Rudd, Amber

Ruffley, Mr David

Russell, Sir Bob

Rutley, David

Sanders, Mr Adrian

Sandys, Laura

Scott, Mr Lee

Selous, Andrew

Shannon, Jim

Sharma, Alok

Simpson, David

Simpson, Mr Keith

Skidmore, Chris

Smith, Miss Chloe

Smith, Henry

Smith, Julian

Smith, Sir Robert

Soames, rh Nicholas

Soubry, Anna

Spelman, rh Mrs Caroline

Spencer, Mr Mark

Stanley, rh Sir John

Stephenson, Andrew

Stevenson, John

Stewart, Bob

Stewart, Iain

Streeter, Mr Gary

Stride, Mel

Stuart, Mr Graham

Stunell, rh Sir Andrew

Sturdy, Julian

Swales, Ian

Swayne, rh Mr Desmond

Swire, rh Mr Hugo

Syms, Mr Robert

Tapsell, rh Sir Peter

Thornton, Mike

Thurso, John

Timpson, Mr Edward

Tomlinson, Justin

Tredinnick, David

Truss, Elizabeth

Turner, Mr Andrew

Tyrie, Mr Andrew

Uppal, Paul

Vaizey, Mr Edward

Vara, Mr Shailesh

Vickers, Martin

Villiers, rh Mrs Theresa

Walker, Mr Charles

Walker, Mr Robin

Wallace, Mr Ben

Walter, Mr Robert

Ward, Mr David

Watkinson, Dame Angela

Weatherley, Mike

Webb, Steve

Wharton, James

Wheeler, Heather

White, Chris

Whittaker, Craig

Whittingdale, Mr John

Wiggin, Bill

Williams, Mr Mark

Williams, Roger

Williams, Stephen

Williamson, Gavin

Wilson, Mr Rob

Wollaston, Dr Sarah

Wright, Jeremy

Wright, Simon

Young, rh Sir George

Zahawi, Nadhim

Tellers for the Noes:

Gavin Barwell


Jenny Willott

Question accordingly negatived.

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Third Reading

4.44 pm

Damian Green: I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

I take the opportunity to welcome for his last hurrah on this Bill the right hon. Member for Delyn (Mr Hanson), before he moves to the equally exciting field of immigration policy. It is an area that—I say this with some experience—I know he will find life enhancing.

The Bill has been much improved by the scrutiny of this House. We often beat ourselves up—and are beaten up by people outside—about the level and quality of scrutiny we apply to legislation in this House, but I think the Bill is now in better shape than it was when it entered Committee, and for that I thank hon. Members from across the House. Foremost among the improvements is the insertion of a whole new part of the Bill at the instigation of my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford West and Abingdon (Nicola Blackwood), and 67 other right hon. and hon. Members from across the House who supported new clause 5. I pay tribute to my hon. Friend for the energy and perseverance she has shown in pursuit of her Childhood Lost campaign.

In 2012-13, well over 1,000 people were convicted in this country of offences relating to child sexual exploitation. It is a horrible and repulsive crime and we owe it to the victims, and to all children, to do all we can to eliminate it. Prosecutions and convictions are essential, but by then, of course, the damage is done—or, as my hon. Friend put it, a childhood has been lost. We must therefore do more to prevent such horrendous crimes from occurring in the first place.

Civil orders, which help protect the public from individuals whose behaviour means there is a risk that they will sexually abuse or otherwise sexually harm others, play an important part in our prevention strategy.

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Although provision for such orders has been in statute for 10 years, and there are many cases in which they have been used effectively, it is clear that the current regime in the Sexual Offences Act 2003 is too inflexible. Instead of supporting the protection of vulnerable children, it places unreasonable obstacles in the way of keeping them safe. The new sexual harm prevention order and sexual risk order will simplify and strengthen the current powers available to the police, rebalancing the scales of justice in favour of children and vulnerable adults.

In many respects, the approach we are taking to the reform of civil prevention orders under the Sexual Offences Act mirrors our approach to antisocial behaviour powers, and as in that case, the Bill sweeps away the complex and bureaucratic array of powers that put unnecessary obstacles in the way of front-line professionals taking fast and effective action to protect vulnerable people and communities. With the ASBO, however, there was an additional problem because the existing powers simply do not work. ASBOs can take many months to obtain, and, once secured, most are breached with more than four in 10 breached repeatedly. We need powers that will not only offer fast and immediate protection for those at risk of harm, but drive a change in behaviour and provide a long-term solution.

In her article in The Independent last month, the hon. Member for Ashfield (Gloria De Piero) bemoaned the fact that the ASBO is “much maligned”. She has recently moved on from the Home Affairs brief, on which I congratulate her, but I put it to her and to her colleagues who remain on the Front Benches that it is also time to move on from the ASBO. The ASBO is maligned for the good reason that it has been ineffective, and the Bill will rightly see the back of it.

As well as ensuring that front-line professionals have the powers they need, our reforms place the victim at the heart of the response to antisocial behaviour. The community remedy will be enhanced if it is developed locally within a national framework. Out-of-court disposals must be seen to be a fair and effective way of dealing with offending behaviour if they are to have the confidence of the community. To achieve that, each and every one should have a punitive, restorative or rehabilitative element, or a combination of those. I commend my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham (Stephen Phillips) for his comments about strengthening the provisions of the Bill to that end. Out-of-court disposals must be used appropriately, and as I have repeatedly said, they should only be used as the first response to low-level offending. When the seriousness of an offence, or the frequency of the offending behaviour, warrants prosecution, prosecution is what should happen.

Under the Bill, victims of antisocial behaviour will be able to take advantage of the community trigger. No one should have to suffer repeated incidents of antisocial behaviour because the police, local authority or landlord repeatedly fails to respond to the victim’s call for action.

The community trigger will give victims the power to demand a case review. That case review must assess whether further action is required, and it can result in the relevant authority being required to take appropriate action. That is real accountability. It gives ordinary people real power to compel the authorities to respond in a way that will stop them being victimised.

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After the debate on Report and the House’s clear rejection of new clause 3, I hope we can move on from the debate about dog control notices. Hon. Members on both sides of the House agree on the need for more effective preventive powers to tackle irresponsible dog owners. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has published the draft of a comprehensive practitioners manual that shows how the new antisocial behaviour powers in the Bill can be used to tackle dog-related problems. I put it to the House that the time has come for all parties, including animal welfare groups, the police, local authorities and others, to work together to ensure that the provisions in the Bill deliver the outcomes we all want.

Lady Hermon: The Minister will know very well that responsibility for policing and justice was devolved to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 2010, but bits of clause 98, on dangerous dogs, appear to apply to Northern Ireland. I do not understand why some bits and pieces apply to Northern Ireland when other bits and pieces do not, but on the bits that apply, what consultation was there with the Northern Ireland Department of Justice and the Northern Ireland Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, which is responsible for dogs?

Damian Green: I am happy to assure the hon. Lady that, throughout the passage of the Bill and on many other matters, there has been regular, continuous contact at all levels. I see the Northern Ireland Minister of Justice regularly, and our officials are in contact on detailed matters. We work closely with the Northern Ireland Department of Justice.

Julie Hilling: The Minister says he hopes the charities and so on get behind the Bill. It is not too late for him to reconsider and listen to what they say on how to improve the Bill rather than asking them to support measures that they believe are second best.

Damian Green: I sense the hon. Lady is trying to lure me into a debate she has just had with my hon. Friend the Minister. I heard his speech, in which he replied fully to the points made by her and others. She says it is not too late, but, in practical terms, it is—we have just had a Division and have moved on to Third Reading. [Interruption.] There will indeed be debates in other places.

The examination and detention of David Miranda at Heathrow airport in August has put a renewed spotlight on the changes we are making in the Bill to the powers in schedule 7 to the Terrorism Act 2000. Schedule 7 remains a key part of the UK’s border security arrangements and is vital to preserving the safety of the public. I welcome the renewed scrutiny of the provisions. It is right that, as part of his function of reporting on the operation of the Terrorism Acts, the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, David Anderson QC, has decided to investigate and report on the exercise of the powers in Mr Miranda’s case. The Government will carefully consider his report when it is received.

Dr Huppert: We had a slightly truncated debate on that earlier. The Home Secretary has rightly expressed concern about the use of stop and search—it disproportionately affects the ethnic minority population—

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and taken steps to deal with it. Given that a huge proportion of people who are stopped under schedule 7 are ethnic minorities—it is massively disproportionate—does the Minister agree that similar actions should be taken on schedule 7 stops?

Damian Green: The sensible thing to do is to wait for Mr Anderson’s report and then decide what changes, if any, are needed. Let us look at the evidence and then decide what changes are necessary, because the police need the power to stop, question and, when necessary, detain and search people travelling through airports and ports if they are to be able to determine whether an individual is, or has been, involved in terrorism. That power is essential to the prevention of terrorism because it enables the police to detect and disrupt individuals who might be travelling for the purposes of planning, financing and training for terrorist attacks.

The amendments to schedule 7 are in line with the Government’s continuing commitment to ensure that respect for individual freedoms is balanced appropriately and carefully against the need to reduce the threat of terrorism to the British public and British interests overseas. I have no doubt that the other place will want to examine the provisions particularly closely, including in the light of Mr Anderson’s report, but we should wait until we have all had the opportunity to look at the report before rushing to make a judgment on whether we have the balance right.

I should say a few words about the much expanded part 11, which deals with extradition. The ability to extradite people to and from this country is an important component of our criminal justice system. Those who commit serious crimes should not be able to evade justice by crossing international borders to escape arrest. We owe it to the victims of crime to ensure that there are efficient and effective arrangements in place to prevent justice being denied in that way.

Nick de Bois (Enfield North) (Con): The Minister says that the Bill was improved in Committee and on the Floor of the House. While I am sure that that is the case for most of the Bill, he is well aware that we did not have the opportunity to scrutinise Government new clauses on extradition, or discuss the amendments tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Esher and Walton (Mr Raab) and 28 other hon. Members from across the House. How confident is the Minister that we are providing protections that British citizens have lacked in the past?

Damian Green: I am conscious of my hon. Friend’s particular constituency interest, which he has pursued diligently. I am sure that he and I agree that our extradition arrangements need to be fair and proportionate. It is a big step to extradite a person from one country to another. The impact on family life and employment will be far greater than in cases where a person is prosecuted in his or her own country of residence. We should not, therefore, be hoovering up British residents and dispatching them to all corners of Europe to spend months in prison awaiting trial for minor offences. I am sure he would agree with that. That is why in July I recommended to the House that the United Kingdom opt back into the European arrest warrant, but only on condition that we first rectify a number of serious weaknesses in the way it has operated. That is what we are now doing.

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Part 11 introduces a new proportionality bar to extradition to prevent people from being extradited for trivial offences. It also introduces a new bar to extradition where the prosecuting authorities in the requesting state have not yet taken a decision to charge and try the accused. That will stop extradited persons languishing in a foreign jail while an investigation takes place. We will amend the Extradition Act 2003 so that a British citizen cannot be extradited for conduct that is not a crime in this country.

These are all important new safeguards that will help to ensure that our extradition arrangements with other EU member states are fair both to the victims of crime and the accused. They are not particularly difficult or onerous. They could and should have been included in the Extradition Act 2003. To leave them out was a mistake, which is being rectified by this Government.

This is a significant piece of legislation, one much enhanced as it has made its way through the House. It will help us to cut crime further, to protect the public and to extend the modernisation of the police. I commend the Bill to the House.

4.58 pm

Mr David Hanson (Delyn) (Lab): I thank the Minister for thanking me for my service as shadow spokesperson on police. It is a privilege to move on to another shadow Home Office role. He and I appear to have job swapped in the course of our time on the Bill. I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Ashfield (Gloria De Piero), who has now joined the shadow Cabinet, for her work on the Bill. I thank my hon. Friends the Members for Birmingham, Erdington (Jack Dromey), for Croydon North (Mr Reed) and for Warrington North (Helen Jones), who joined the shadow Home Office team and worked on the Bill in the past two days. I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull North (Diana Johnson) for her work on Report. I also thank my hon. Friend the Member for Sedgefield (Phil Wilson) for his efforts in Committee.

I thank the Minister for his consideration during the Bill’s progress and the Minister of State, Home Department, the hon. Member for Lewes (Norman Baker), for his consideration over the last couple of days. I also thank the former Ministers, the hon. Member for Taunton Deane (Mr Browne), and, in particular, the hon. Member for Poole (Mr Syms), whom I think, in a challenging Committee full of very different views, did his job with integrity; I personally was sorry to see him leave his post in the recent reshuffle. Members of the Committee, some of whom are present today, know that it was an interesting and exciting time, and I thank them also.

Third Reading is about what is in a Bill, not what might have been, and with that in mind, I will first welcome those aspects of the Bill with which the Opposition agree. We welcome the instigation of the College of Policing, which is an opportunity to provide training and investment and to set standards. We perhaps want to see it develop in different ways from the Government, but it is a positive and forward-looking initiative, and I wish both the chair and the chief officer well in their task.

I welcome the measures on firearms and the intent to supply, which, as I mentioned in Committee, had their genesis even before the last general election. These important provisions will help to reduce the supply of guns, and therefore deaths and criminality.

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I welcome the extension of the role of the Independent Police Complaints Commission to private contractors and staff working for police authorities, particularly because my right hon. Friend the Member for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper) proposed such a measure last year. I am pleased that the Government have taken it up. Again, we would like to see further action, but I welcome the provision none the less.

I welcome the measures on terrorism and on terrorists travelling abroad and the long-overdue measures on forced marriage, which, in my view and that of the Committee, will strengthen the legal basis for tackling this immensely challenging problem.

I particularly welcome new clause 5 and the measures on sexual harm prevention notices, to which my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull North gave a fair wind yesterday. Their introduction to the Bill was a positive development, and I am pleased that the hon. Member for Oxford West and Abingdon (Nicola Blackwood) brought them forward, with support from across the House.

I welcome the measures on witness protection and, as far as they go—I will return to this shortly—the measures on dogs, although we think they could have gone further. I particularly welcome the measures against dog attacks in the home.

I welcome the policing pay review body, which we will give a fair wind, but we need to look again at the commissioning of victims’ services by police and crime commissioners, as I still worry that it will lead to the fragmentation of victims’ services across the country.

We therefore welcome several measures in the Bill. We challenged them in Committee, but they remain and broadly have the Opposition’s support. I have to say, however, that I do not welcome the changes to the ASBO regime or the developments on the injunctions to prevent nuisance and annoyance. I cannot for the life of me understand why a party that, during my formative political years, prided itself on being the party of law and order continues to bring forward measures that reduce the ability of the police and communities to tackle elements that need tackling in our communities. We have seen it on DNA and CCTV, and we are now seeing it on ASBOs. The changes are a reprehensible and retrograde step.

On the same theme, I do not welcome the same party’s introducing thresholds for low-value shoplifting, which we had a strong discussion about in Committee. When the Association of Convenience Stores, which represents 33,000 shopkeepers across the country, is worried about such criminality and the changes relating to low-value shoplifting, the party of law and order—as was, but not anymore—needs to give some serious consideration to the matter.

We support aspects of the Bill, then, but firmly do not support other aspects. On balance—to let you into a secret, Madam Deputy Speaker—Labour Members will give the Bill an unopposed Third Reading, but we will seek to take those matters forward. As I have said, we have to deal with what is in the Bill on Third Reading. We have identified important shortcomings, but we will grant the Third Reading. The Government must reflect further on the issues that have been debated, which have been raised by Members of all parties. Some issues have seen cross-party co-operation—for example,

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on the importance of dog notices, on the points about covert policing raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Erdington and on how to protect shop workers and other staff from assaults at work. Domestic violence and gun control are other serious issues debated in Committee on which I hope the other place will reflect carefully. Another issue to be considered is that of legal highs and reducing their availability in our communities.

While we are giving fair wind to the Bill, I hope that the other place will look carefully at the improvements we have suggested and listen not just to what Members have said today about dog notices, but to what all organisations have said about them. We want the other place to look at bringing forward measures to tackle covert policing, to protect people from assaults at work and further to reduce and stop the potential for gun use, for domestic violence and for legal highs.

I thank the Minister for his consideration in Committee, but we think there is more to be done. We think that we have been constructive on Second Reading, in Committee and on Report about the changes that need to be made. Ultimately, we think that the issues I have mentioned that are not covered by the Bill now will be part of it following consideration in the House of Lords.

I have enjoyed my role as shadow policing Minister and move on now to shadow Minister on immigration. I thank my colleagues for their support over the three years in opposition and one year in government in which I have discharged this role. I look forward to watching from afar as this Bill is further improved following consideration by the other place.

5.7 pm

Tracey Crouch: It was a pleasure to serve on the Committee that considered this Bill. It was indeed the first Public Bill Committee on which I served. After my active participation, I am in no doubt that it may well be my last! I was pleased to play a role and I think that we Back Benchers sometimes underestimate and undervalue the work we do in scrutinising legislation, which is an incredibly important aspect of our job. I am proud to have been part of a team that has, as the Minister said, improved the Bill before it goes to the other place.

I am particularly proud to have made some progress on the issue of bullying—a subject on which I feel strongly, and I believe that the House should continue to feel strongly about it. It is an issue that affects many children and their parents throughout the country. Building advice on bullying into Home Office guidance is a very positive step forward. I would have liked to see more, but that is for another day. We can continue to discuss online safety and cyber-bullying via the Select Committee on Home Affairs and the Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport, and I have no doubt that we will come back to those issues at some future date.

As I said many times in Committee, I have a great deal of respect for the right hon. Member for Delyn (Mr Hanson), but I disagree that we should be harking back to the halcyon days of ASBOs. Although they might have started off as a very good measure for tackling antisocial behaviour, the simple truth is that the breach rates are far too high. Clearly, then, because

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it is broke, it needs fixing. We can argue about how best to fix it, but I think that the Government proposals will strengthen our response to antisocial behaviour.

The Minister and the House will be pleased to hear that I recently attended a residents’ meeting in Chatham at which we discussed the significantly high levels of antisocial behaviour in one small part of a ward. The police told residents that new provisions were going through Parliament as they spoke that would enable them to deal much more effectively with this problem in the future, including by ensuring some sort of community punishment. We have introduced what I consider to be sensible measures to ensure that people who commit crimes do not go into the stocks, but I can tell the Minister that my residents were very keen to put some of those perpetrators of antisocial behaviour into the stocks. I am pleased that we have amended the Bill to provide for proportionality of response, but I am also pleased that there will be an opportunity to impose community punishments such as cleaning up all the litter or getting rid of all the graffiti. That will be greatly welcomed in parts of my constituency.

I have no doubt that the House of Lords will improve the Bill further through its precise scrutiny of specific clauses, and that it will consider some of the matters raised by the right hon. Member for Delyn, including legal highs and aspects of the dog legislation with which we have dealt at such length this afternoon, not least the sentencing issues.

I am pleased to have played my part in the Bill’s passage so far, although I am not sure that the Ministers and the former Whip would be so delighted by my active participation. I think that this is a good Bill, and I look forward to its return from the House of Lords.