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“Many people are already close to crisis point. They feel so beaten up by the changes that they are finding it hard to articulate. It is not that they do not care. They just do not have the energy left and are just trying to survive.”—[Official Report, House of Lords, 29 February 2016; Vol. 769, c. 607-8.]

I could reel off any number of quotations from third sector organisations that have been mentioned in previous debates, and we agree with what they have said. Last week the Minister said that she had worked with them, but they remain concerned about the cuts, and we have to ask ourselves why. They have drawn attention to the impact that those cuts will have on the people they represent. I implore Conservative Members to consider what they have to say, and to weigh that expert evidence against the Government’s failure to provide any evidence at all.

The amendments offer a sensible opportunity for the Government to take stock, gather the evidence relating to a cut of £30 per week for those who are sick and disabled, and explain in detail what replacement they propose. Surely if DWP Ministers have confidence in their arguments, they will have no problem supplying the necessary evidence to the House, and to those who will suffer the impact of these cuts.

2 Mar 2016 : Column 1055

Several hon. Members rose

Madam Deputy Speaker (Mrs Eleanor Laing): Order. There are 18 minutes left before the debate must end. I trust that no Member will speak for more than two minutes, as a courtesy to other Members.

Simon Hoare (North Dorset) (Con): Playing ping-pong with the other place, or receiving a Lords message, sounds rather genteel and polite, doesn’t it? However, I ask all Members almost to divorce their thinking from the issue on which we shall be voting later. Dare I say to my right hon. Friend the Minister, and indeed to the shadow Minister, that virtually everything they said was an irrelevance? The House has already debated the point, and, as my right hon. Friend the Minister had noted, we have voted on it on five occasions and have voted in the affirmative. We are now concerned with a much bigger issue, which should, in my judgment, unite all quarters of the House: the issue of the supremacy of this place as the elected House of Commons. As we know, in the last century the House had exactly the same debate on the people’s Budget.

The Minister was right. The Lords amendments are wrecking amendments, and the unelectable seem to be relying on the unelected to try to frustrate the policies and the position of Her Majesty’s Government, which was well articulated during the general election campaign and has been debated incredibly thoroughly in the House and elsewhere. Last night the House of Lords played a very dangerous game. It said to the democratically accountable House of Parliament in this country, “We know better than you, the electorate; we know better than you, the elected Government.” We are on the cusp—issue apart—of a constitutional conundrum which will not end easily for the upper House. The authority of this place is now under significant and serious challenge. It is time for parties to unite, and for us to exercise and exert our supremacy in a democratic Parliament.

Stephen Timms: I think that the hon. Member for North Dorset (Simon Hoare) must be rather inexperienced in the procedures of Parliament, because ping-pong is a well-established feature of our proceedings.

I welcome the change of heart on the publication of child poverty indicators, but I am very disappointed by the position that the Minister has taken on the Lords amendments on the employment and support allowance. It is a shame that the Secretary of State is not here tonight. As we have heard, he has written to Back-Bench Conservative Members to tell them that it is “impossible to provide” the information that is required. However, that is not what the Equality and Human Rights Commission says, as my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham East and Saddleworth (Debbie Abrahams) pointed out in her excellent speech. A letter from the commission’s chief executive dated 16 September last year made this point:

“Assessments need to include sufficient detail and analysis to demonstrate that the draft proposals have been adequately considered for their potential impact on equality. We have considerable expertise in this area”.

However, the Secretary of State rejected its offer of help and now says that it is impossible to provide the information. It is perfectly possible to provide that information, but

2 Mar 2016 : Column 1056

Ministers do not wish to provide it because the House would then be able to see what the effects would be.

An attempt has been made to present these changes as in the interests of disabled people, but they are not supported by a single one of the organisations representing disabled people. Parkinson’s UK has made its position very clear:

“The policy is likely to have a significant, harmful impact on the health and wellbeing of people with Parkinson’s.”

Macmillan Cancer Support states:

“Macmillan strongly opposes the proposed reductions because of the negative impact they will have on people affected by cancer and other long-term conditions.”

The judgment that the House has to make tonight is whether Ministers are speaking for disabled people or whether the organisations representing disabled people are speaking for them. I hope that the House will choose in favour of the latter.

Graham Evans (Weaver Vale) (Con): This is a very important debate. It is important to note that these changes relating to the provision of the employment and support allowance work-related activity component will have no impact on existing claimants. They will apply only to new claimants and to claims made after April next year.

Additionally, the Government have said that they will publish a White Paper this spring detailing how they plan to improve support for people with health conditions and disabilities. I look forward to seeing what is in that White Paper, particularly on the role of employers in reducing the disability employment gap. I carried out my fifth jobs and apprenticeships fair in my constituency recently, and the 40 employers I spoke to all agreed that they would commit to a Disability Confident-aware fair, which is what I will hold this year. I am going to play my part, and everybody in this House has a role to play in helping people who wish to get into work.

There is an overwhelming body of evidence that work is generally good for physical and mental wellbeing, and 61% of those in work-related activity groups say that they want to work. The existing policy set up by Labour in 2008 is failing those claimants. Despite £2.7 billion being spent this year supporting those in the ESA work-related activity group, just 1% of the WRAG claimants moved off ESA each month. The policy is clearly not working, and we need a better system than this.

Jo Cox (Batley and Spen) (Lab): I urge the Government to remember that, by their own definition, claimants receiving work-related ESA are not capable of work at that time. They are people the Government’s own work capability assessment has deemed not to be fit for work. Surely it is therefore preposterous that the Government think they can cure those people’s complex and long-term ailments and miraculously incentivise them to return to work by reducing their financial support.

If implemented, these cuts will surely also hinder the Government’s ambition to halve the disability employment gap. Instead, they will push many disabled people further into poverty and have a significant and harmful impact on the health and wellbeing of many people, including many in my constituency. As has been mentioned, a Macmillan survey of nearly 1,000 people living with cancer recently found that one in 10 would be unable, or would struggle, to pay their rent or mortgage if they lost

2 Mar 2016 : Column 1057

£30 a week. How can this Government think it is acceptable to risk cancer patients losing their homes as a result of these cuts? Surely, as has been said by many hon. Members, particularly the hon. Member for Stevenage (Stephen McPartland), who spoke articulately and with such passion and principle, it is time to listen to Macmillan, Scope, Sense and Parkinson’s UK, to the many experts who have lined up and to the recommendations of the parliamentary review of the proposed cuts and reverse the removal of the work-related ESA component—and the equivalent payment under universal credit—as proposed by these amendments. It is also surely time for a thorough impact assessment of the proposed changes before they come into effect.

Finally, instead of cutting these life-saving benefits, the Government should, as my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham East and Saddleworth (Debbie Abrahams) has so clearly articulated, put in place much more effective back-to-work support and provide more disability employment advisers to help these people deal properly with the barriers they face. We should not be punishing some of the most vulnerable people in our country—we should be giving them a helping hand.

Peter Heaton-Jones (North Devon) (Con): When I spoke on this matter in this House a week ago, I referred to the issue of the publication of data and the Lords amendments then before us. I recall saying, in answer to an intervention from an Opposition Member, that I felt sure the Minister for Employment, my right hon. Friend the Member for Witham (Priti Patel) would be giving an assurance that the Government would be guaranteeing that the sort of data that the Labour party was asking for would be guaranteed and would be published annually. Lo and behold, that is what has happened. She has been absolutely correct in making that concession to the Lords, and the resulting Lords amendments 1B, 1C and 1D are to be welcomed. I hope we can all support them this evening.

On the other Lords amendments, 8B, 8C, 9B and 9C, my hon. Friend the Member for North Dorset (Simon Hoare) has articulated the parliamentary process. I will not go through any more of those arguments, but it is clearly the fact that this House—the democratically elected House—has quite properly voted on these matters on many occasions. I served on the Bill Committee, along with the hon. Member for Oldham East and Saddleworth (Debbie Abrahams), for many occasions last autumn, and all these issues have been discussed in full and passed by this House.

Rather than the process, what is important to remember is this: everybody, on both sides of this House, wants to do the right thing. This Government have at the heart of their policy the fact that we will ensure that those with long-term illnesses or physical or mental disabilities will get all the help that they need to move closer to work. Of course that is the right approach, and it is the essence of the Government’s policy.

While on the issue, I should say that I am holding a Disability Confident event this Friday in my constituency, with the Under-Secretary of State for Disabled People, my hon. Friend the Member for North Swindon (Justin Tomlinson), and that shows that with a rounded package of measures, this Government are absolutely committed

2 Mar 2016 : Column 1058

to helping those who need the most support to get closer to work. It is time to get these measures on the statute book.

Helen Goodman (Bishop Auckland) (Lab): The proposal to cut the incomes of people on ESA WRAG by £1,500 is one of the most mean-spirited yet from this Government. The fact that the cut applies only to new claimants, in a little over a year’s time, demonstrates the unease Ministers have about it and their hope—a vain one—that because it applies only to new claimants, somehow people will not notice. The fact is that Ministers are looking for large savings at the expense of the poorest and most vulnerable. That was not made clear in the general election campaign; then, the Prime Minister said that disabled people would be protected.

The Minister said that she was going to spend another £100 million on supporting these people. If her scheme was going to work, she would not need to cut this £30 from such people’s weekly income, because she would get the savings as they all moved into work. This is doomed to fail and the Minister knows it. If she was convinced that it was going to work, she would do the impact assessment, because she would be confident of the upshot. She is not doing so, and she is ignoring the very real impact that this will have on the health of the most vulnerable of our fellow citizens.

7 pm

Mr Rees-Mogg: I am in complete support of my right hon. Friend the Minister and entirely in disagreement with the hon. Member for Airdrie and Shotts (Neil Gray), who is a very civilised gentleman. When he said that this was a pseudo-constitutional issue, he could not have been more wrong. This House’s democratic authority is wholly based on financial privilege, which is why, when we reject amendments that engage financial privilege, we give no further reason. Not only is that important to the current Government, but it will be important to the Opposition when they are in government, too. If the House of Lords can challenge the Commons on matters of financial privilege, then the country becomes ungovernable. Those who have the democratic mandate have a right, because of the people whom they represent, to determine issues relating to finance. The other place is increasingly trespassing on that right. The amendment that it passed in lieu decided to give it the right to consider the secondary legislation on a financial matter, which it does not need to do; it has taken it from primary to secondary, upgrading their role on a financial matter. Constitutionally, that is quite wrong. Any Member of this House who thinks that, one day, he may speak from the Treasury Bench Dispatch Box should bear in mind the importance of ensuring that the constitutional norms are maintained.

Jim McMahon (Oldham West and Royton) (Lab): There are plenty of cameras in this place, but they do not always pick up what is going on across the Chamber. When my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham East and Saddleworth (Debbie Abrahams) was speaking, the Minister was engaged in conversation with a person to her immediate left. I am not sure whether that conversation was related to the debate in hand, but they thought it fit to laugh during the debate when the true impact of these cuts on the people who can least afford them was

2 Mar 2016 : Column 1059

being laid out. Either the Minister was not paying attention to the debate because of disinterest, or she thought that what was being laid out was funny. Either way, she should be ashamed of herself.

Paul Maynard (Blackpool North and Cleveleys) (Con): The first thing that I did when I was elected to this place in 2010 was to attend a dinner in honour of Alf Morris, the first disabled Minister, to celebrate the passing of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970. At that dinner, I sat between Roger Berry, the former MP for Kingswood, and the late Paul Goggins, the former MP for Wythenshawe. Both were excellent Labour disability Ministers, who did a superb job. Also there was William Hague, who brought in the disability living allowance. What that brought home to me was that the only time that real progress is made on disability issues is when there is a spirit of bipartisanship in this Chamber. On this particular issue, that bipartisanship is clearly lacking.

For the past six years—[Interruption.] Will the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Helen Goodman) please be quiet? Her behaviour now reminds me why I chose not to vote for her for the Public Accounts Committee. She is showing me no courtesy at all.

For six years now, I have believed that we need to improve our support for those with a disability. There is a crying need for reform. We now have a White Paper. I want us all to engage in the process, not just to sit there. I was proud to stand on a manifesto that promised to halve the disability employment gap. Nothing would upset me more than to think that Opposition Members actively want us to fail in that goal, because they see some sort of short-term political gain. They owe it to their constituents and to the country to help us achieve our goal, and I do not think that some of them want to do that.

Barry Gardiner (Brent North) (Lab): The cuts to employment and support allowance—

Barbara Keeley (Worsley and Eccles South) (Lab): On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. We have just heard a Government Member pray in aid my right hon. Friend Paul Goggins, who is dead, and try to include him on the Government’s side of the argument. It is terribly wrong to do that.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Mrs Eleanor Laing): Thank you. I call Mr Barry Gardiner.

Barry Gardiner: The cuts to employment and support allowance will make the lives of disabled people harder, the lives of those with mental, cognitive and behavioural difficulties harder, and the lives of those with progressive or fluctuating conditions harder. There are 9,290 people in receipt of employment and support allowance in my borough, Brent. In 2012 one of my constituents was placed in the WRAG group, fit to work—

7.4 pm

One hour having elapsed since the commencement of proceedings on consideration of the Lords message, the debate was interrupted (Programme Order, 23 February).

The Deputy Speaker put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair (Standing Order No. 83G), That Lords amendments 1B, 1C and 1D be made.

2 Mar 2016 : Column 1060

Lords amendment 1B, 1C and 1D agreed to.

The Deputy Speaker then put forthwith the Questions necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded at that time (Standing Order No. 83G).

Motion made, and Question put, That this House disagrees with Lords amendments 8B and 8C.—(Priti Patel.)

The House divided:

Ayes 309, Noes 274.

Division No. 203]

[

7.5 pm

AYES

Adams, Nigel

Afriyie, Adam

Aldous, Peter

Allan, Lucy

Andrew, Stuart

Ansell, Caroline

Argar, Edward

Atkins, Victoria

Bacon, Mr Richard

Baker, Mr Steve

Baldwin, Harriett

Barclay, Stephen

Baron, Mr John

Barwell, Gavin

Bebb, Guto

Bellingham, Sir Henry

Benyon, Richard

Beresford, Sir Paul

Berry, Jake

Berry, James

Bingham, Andrew

Blackman, Bob

Blackwood, Nicola

Blunt, Crispin

Boles, Nick

Bone, Mr Peter

Borwick, Victoria

Bottomley, Sir Peter

Bradley, Karen

Brady, Mr Graham

Brazier, Mr Julian

Bridgen, Andrew

Brine, Steve

Brokenshire, rh James

Buckland, Robert

Burns, Conor

Burns, rh Sir Simon

Burrowes, Mr David

Burt, rh Alistair

Cairns, Alun

Carmichael, Neil

Cartlidge, James

Cash, Sir William

Caulfield, Maria

Chalk, Alex

Chishti, Rehman

Chope, Mr Christopher

Churchill, Jo

Clark, rh Greg

Cleverly, James

Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey

Coffey, Dr Thérèse

Collins, Damian

Colvile, Oliver

Costa, Alberto

Cox, Mr Geoffrey

Crabb, rh Stephen

Davies, Byron

Davies, Chris

Davies, David T. C.

Davies, Glyn

Davies, Dr James

Davies, Mims

Davies, Philip

Davis, rh Mr David

Dinenage, Caroline

Djanogly, Mr Jonathan

Donelan, Michelle

Dorries, Nadine

Double, Steve

Dowden, Oliver

Drax, Richard

Drummond, Mrs Flick

Duddridge, James

Duncan, rh Sir Alan

Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain

Dunne, Mr Philip

Ellis, Michael

Ellison, Jane

Ellwood, Mr Tobias

Elphicke, Charlie

Eustice, George

Evans, Graham

Evans, Mr Nigel

Evennett, rh Mr David

Fabricant, Michael

Fallon, rh Michael

Fernandes, Suella

Field, rh Mark

Foster, Kevin

Fox, rh Dr Liam

Francois, rh Mr Mark

Frazer, Lucy

Freeman, George

Freer, Mike

Fuller, Richard

Fysh, Marcus

Gale, Sir Roger

Garnier, rh Sir Edward

Garnier, Mark

Gauke, Mr David

Ghani, Nusrat

Gibb, Mr Nick

Gillan, rh Mrs Cheryl

Glen, John

Goldsmith, Zac

Goodwill, Mr Robert

Gove, rh Michael

Graham, Richard

Gray, Mr James

Grayling, rh Chris

Green, Chris

Green, rh Damian

Greening, rh Justine

Grieve, rh Mr Dominic

Griffiths, Andrew

Gummer, Ben

Gyimah, Mr Sam

Halfon, rh Robert

Hall, Luke

Hammond, rh Mr Philip

Hammond, Stephen

Hancock, rh Matthew

Hands, rh Greg

Harper, rh Mr Mark

Harrington, Richard

Harris, Rebecca

Hart, Simon

Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan

Hayes, rh Mr John

Heald, Sir Oliver

Heappey, James

Heaton-Harris, Chris

Heaton-Jones, Peter

Henderson, Gordon

Herbert, rh Nick

Hinds, Damian

Hoare, Simon

Hollingbery, George

Hollinrake, Kevin

Hollobone, Mr Philip

Holloway, Mr Adam

Hopkins, Kris

Howarth, Sir Gerald

Howell, John

Howlett, Ben

Huddleston, Nigel

Hunt, rh Mr Jeremy

Hurd, Mr Nick

Jackson, Mr Stewart

James, Margot

Javid, rh Sajid

Jayawardena, Mr Ranil

Jenkin, Mr Bernard

Jenkyns, Andrea

Jenrick, Robert

Johnson, Boris

Johnson, Gareth

Johnson, Joseph

Jones, Andrew

Jones, rh Mr David

Jones, Mr Marcus

Kawczynski, Daniel

Kennedy, Seema

Knight, rh Sir Greg

Knight, Julian

Kwarteng, Kwasi

Lancaster, Mark

Leadsom, Andrea

Lee, Dr Phillip

Leigh, Sir Edward

Leslie, Charlotte

Letwin, rh Mr Oliver

Lewis, Brandon

Lewis, rh Dr Julian

Lidington, rh Mr David

Lilley, rh Mr Peter

Lopresti, Jack

Lord, Jonathan

Loughton, Tim

Lumley, Karen

Mackinlay, Craig

Mackintosh, David

Main, Mrs Anne

Mak, Mr Alan

Malthouse, Kit

Mann, Scott

Mathias, Dr Tania

Maynard, Paul

McCartney, Karl

McLoughlin, rh Mr Patrick

Menzies, Mark

Mercer, Johnny

Merriman, Huw

Metcalfe, Stephen

Miller, rh Mrs Maria

Milling, Amanda

Mills, Nigel

Milton, rh Anne

Mitchell, rh Mr Andrew

Mordaunt, Penny

Morgan, rh Nicky

Morris, Anne Marie

Morris, David

Morris, James

Mowat, David

Mundell, rh David

Murray, Mrs Sheryll

Neill, Robert

Newton, Sarah

Nokes, Caroline

Norman, Jesse

Nuttall, Mr David

Offord, Dr Matthew

Opperman, Guy

Osborne, rh Mr George

Parish, Neil

Patel, rh Priti

Paterson, rh Mr Owen

Pawsey, Mark

Penning, rh Mike

Penrose, John

Percy, Andrew

Perry, Claire

Phillips, Stephen

Philp, Chris

Pickles, rh Sir Eric

Pincher, Christopher

Poulter, Dr Daniel

Prentis, Victoria

Prisk, Mr Mark

Pritchard, Mark

Pursglove, Tom

Quin, Jeremy

Quince, Will

Raab, Mr Dominic

Redwood, rh John

Rees-Mogg, Mr Jacob

Robertson, Mr Laurence

Robinson, Mary

Rosindell, Andrew

Rudd, rh Amber

Rutley, David

Sandbach, Antoinette

Scully, Paul

Selous, Andrew

Shapps, rh Grant

Sharma, Alok

Shelbrooke, Alec

Simpson, rh Mr Keith

Skidmore, Chris

Smith, Chloe

Smith, Henry

Smith, Julian

Smith, Royston

Soames, rh Sir Nicholas

Solloway, Amanda

Soubry, rh Anna

Spelman, rh Mrs Caroline

Spencer, Mark

Stephenson, Andrew

Stevenson, John

Stewart, Bob

Stewart, Iain

Stewart, Rory

Stride, Mel

Stuart, Graham

Sturdy, Julian

Sunak, Rishi

Swayne, rh Mr Desmond

Swire, rh Mr Hugo

Syms, Mr Robert

Thomas, Derek

Throup, Maggie

Timpson, Edward

Tolhurst, Kelly

Tomlinson, Justin

Tomlinson, Michael

Tracey, Craig

Tredinnick, David

Trevelyan, Mrs Anne-Marie

Truss, rh Elizabeth

Tugendhat, Tom

Turner, Mr Andrew

Tyrie, rh Mr Andrew

Vaizey, Mr Edward

Vara, Mr Shailesh

Vickers, Martin

Walker, Mr Charles

Walker, Mr Robin

Wallace, Mr Ben

Warburton, David

Warman, Matt

Watkinson, Dame Angela

Wharton, James

Whately, Helen

Wheeler, Heather

White, Chris

Whittaker, Craig

Whittingdale, rh Mr John

Wiggin, Bill

Williams, Craig

Williamson, rh Gavin

Wilson, Mr Rob

Wollaston, Dr Sarah

Wood, Mike

Wragg, William

Wright, rh Jeremy

Zahawi, Nadhim

Tellers for the Ayes:

Simon Kirby

and

Jackie Doyle-Price

NOES

Abbott, Ms Diane

Abrahams, Debbie

Ahmed-Sheikh, Ms Tasmina

Alexander, Heidi

Ali, Rushanara

Allen, Mr Graham

Allen, Heidi

Anderson, Mr David

Arkless, Richard

Ashworth, Jonathan

Austin, Ian

Bailey, Mr Adrian

Bardell, Hannah

Beckett, rh Margaret

Benn, rh Hilary

Berger, Luciana

Betts, Mr Clive

Black, Mhairi

Blackman, Kirsty

Blackman-Woods, Dr Roberta

Blenkinsop, Tom

Blomfield, Paul

Boswell, Philip

Bradshaw, rh Mr Ben

Brake, rh Tom

Brennan, Kevin

Brock, Deidre

Brown, Alan

Brown, Lyn

Brown, rh Mr Nicholas

Bryant, Chris

Buck, Ms Karen

Burden, Richard

Burgon, Richard

Burnham, rh Andy

Byrne, rh Liam

Cadbury, Ruth

Campbell, rh Mr Alan

Campbell, Mr Ronnie

Carmichael, rh Mr Alistair

Champion, Sarah

Chapman, Douglas

Chapman, Jenny

Cherry, Joanna

Coaker, Vernon

Coffey, Ann

Cooper, Julie

Cooper, Rosie

Cooper, rh Yvette

Corbyn, rh Jeremy

Cowan, Ronnie

Cox, Jo

Coyle, Neil

Crausby, Mr David

Crawley, Angela

Creagh, Mary

Creasy, Stella

Cruddas, Jon

Cryer, John

Cummins, Judith

Cunningham, Alex

Cunningham, Mr Jim

Dakin, Nic

Danczuk, Simon

David, Wayne

Davies, Geraint

Day, Martyn

De Piero, Gloria

Docherty-Hughes, Martin

Donaldson, Stuart Blair

Doughty, Stephen

Dowd, Jim

Dowd, Peter

Dromey, Jack

Eagle, Ms Angela

Eagle, Maria

Efford, Clive

Elliott, Julie

Elliott, Tom

Ellman, Mrs Louise

Esterson, Bill

Evans, Chris

Farrelly, Paul

Farron, Tim

Fellows, Marion

Ferrier, Margaret

Field, rh Frank

Fitzpatrick, Jim

Fletcher, Colleen

Flint, rh Caroline

Flynn, Paul

Fovargue, Yvonne

Gardiner, Barry

Gethins, Stephen

Gibson, Patricia

Glass, Pat

Glindon, Mary

Godsiff, Mr Roger

Goodman, Helen

Grady, Patrick

Grant, Peter

Gray, Neil

Greenwood, Lilian

Greenwood, Margaret

Griffith, Nia

Gwynne, Andrew

Haigh, Louise

Hamilton, Fabian

Hanson, rh Mr David

Harman, rh Ms Harriet

Harris, Carolyn

Hayes, Helen

Healey, rh John

Hendry, Drew

Hepburn, Mr Stephen

Hillier, Meg

Hodgson, Mrs Sharon

Hoey, Kate

Hollern, Kate

Hopkins, Kelvin

Hosie, Stewart

Howarth, rh Mr George

Hunt, Tristram

Huq, Dr Rupa

Hussain, Imran

Irranca-Davies, Huw

Jarvis, Dan

Johnson, rh Alan

Johnson, Diana

Jones, Gerald

Jones, Graham

Jones, Helen

Jones, Mr Kevan

Jones, Susan Elan

Kane, Mike

Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald

Keeley, Barbara

Kendall, Liz

Kerevan, George

Kerr, Calum

Kinahan, Danny

Kinnock, Stephen

Kyle, Peter

Lammy, rh Mr David

Lavery, Ian

Law, Chris

Leslie, Chris

Lewell-Buck, Mrs Emma

Lewis, Clive

Lewis, Mr Ivan

Long Bailey, Rebecca

Lucas, Caroline

Lucas, Ian C.

Lynch, Holly

MacNeil, Mr Angus Brendan

Mactaggart, rh Fiona

Madders, Justin

Mahmood, Mr Khalid

Mahmood, Shabana

Malhotra, Seema

Mann, John

Marris, Rob

Marsden, Mr Gordon

Maskell, Rachael

Matheson, Christian

Mc Nally, John

McCabe, Steve

McCaig, Callum

McCarthy, Kerry

McCartney, Jason

McDonagh, Siobhain

McDonald, Andy

McDonald, Stewart Malcolm

McDonald, Stuart C.

McDonnell, John

McFadden, rh Mr Pat

McGarry, Natalie

McGinn, Conor

McGovern, Alison

McInnes, Liz

McKinnell, Catherine

McLaughlin, Anne

McMahon, Jim

McPartland, Stephen

Meale, Sir Alan

Mearns, Ian

Miliband, rh Edward

Monaghan, Carol

Monaghan, Dr Paul

Moon, Mrs Madeleine

Morden, Jessica

Morris, Grahame M.

Mulholland, Greg

Mullin, Roger

Nandy, Lisa

Newlands, Gavin

Nicolson, John

O'Hara, Brendan

Onn, Melanie

Onwurah, Chi

Oswald, Kirsten

Paterson, Steven

Pearce, Teresa

Pennycook, Matthew

Perkins, Toby

Phillips, Jess

Pound, Stephen

Powell, Lucy

Pugh, John

Qureshi, Yasmin

Rayner, Angela

Reed, Mr Steve

Rees, Christina

Reeves, Rachel

Reynolds, Emma

Reynolds, Jonathan

Rimmer, Marie

Ritchie, Ms Margaret

Robertson, rh Angus

Robinson, Gavin

Robinson, Mr Geoffrey

Rotheram, Steve

Ryan, rh Joan

Salmond, rh Alex

Saville Roberts, Liz

Shah, Naz

Shannon, Jim

Sheppard, Tommy

Sherriff, Paula

Siddiq, Tulip

Skinner, Mr Dennis

Slaughter, Andy

Smeeth, Ruth

Smith, rh Mr Andrew

Smith, Angela

Smith, Cat

Smith, Jeff

Smith, Nick

Smith, Owen

Smyth, Karin

Spellar, rh Mr John

Starmer, Keir

Stephens, Chris

Stevens, Jo

Streeting, Wes

Stringer, Graham

Stuart, rh Ms Gisela

Tami, Mark

Thewliss, Alison

Thomas, Mr Gareth

Thomas-Symonds, Nick

Thompson, Owen

Thomson, Michelle

Thornberry, Emily

Timms, rh Stephen

Trickett, Jon

Turley, Anna

Turner, Karl

Twigg, Derek

Vaz, Valerie

Weir, Mike

West, Catherine

Whiteford, Dr Eilidh

Whitehead, Dr Alan

Whitford, Dr Philippa

Williams, Mr Mark

Wilson, Corri

Wilson, Phil

Winnick, Mr David

Winterton, rh Dame Rosie

Wishart, Pete

Woodcock, John

Wright, Mr Iain

Zeichner, Daniel

Tellers for the Noes:

Vicky Foxcroft

and

Sue Hayman

Question accordingly agreed to.

2 Mar 2016 : Column 1061

2 Mar 2016 : Column 1062

2 Mar 2016 : Column 1063

2 Mar 2016 : Column 1064

Lords amendment 8B and 8C disagreed to.

Clause 14

Universal credit: limited capability for work element

Motion made, and Question put, That this House disagrees with Lords amendments 9B and 9C.—(Priti Patel.)

The House divided:

Ayes 309, Noes 275.

Division No. 204]

[

7.19 pm

AYES

Adams, Nigel

Afriyie, Adam

Aldous, Peter

Allan, Lucy

Andrew, Stuart

Ansell, Caroline

Argar, Edward

Atkins, Victoria

Bacon, Mr Richard

Baker, Mr Steve

Baldwin, Harriett

Barclay, Stephen

Baron, Mr John

Barwell, Gavin

Bebb, Guto

Bellingham, Sir Henry

Benyon, Richard

Beresford, Sir Paul

Berry, Jake

Berry, James

Bingham, Andrew

Blackman, Bob

Blackwood, Nicola

Blunt, Crispin

Boles, Nick

Bone, Mr Peter

Borwick, Victoria

Bottomley, Sir Peter

Bradley, Karen

Brady, Mr Graham

Brazier, Mr Julian

Bridgen, Andrew

Brine, Steve

Brokenshire, rh James

Buckland, Robert

Burns, Conor

Burns, rh Sir Simon

Burrowes, Mr David

Burt, rh Alistair

Cairns, Alun

Carmichael, Neil

Cartlidge, James

Cash, Sir William

Caulfield, Maria

Chalk, Alex

Chishti, Rehman

Chope, Mr Christopher

Churchill, Jo

Clark, rh Greg

Clarke, rh Mr Kenneth

Cleverly, James

Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey

Coffey, Dr Thérèse

Collins, Damian

Colvile, Oliver

Costa, Alberto

Cox, Mr Geoffrey

Crabb, rh Stephen

Davies, Byron

Davies, Chris

Davies, David T. C.

Davies, Glyn

Davies, Dr James

Davies, Mims

Davies, Philip

Davis, rh Mr David

Dinenage, Caroline

Djanogly, Mr Jonathan

Donelan, Michelle

Dorries, Nadine

Double, Steve

Dowden, Oliver

Drax, Richard

Drummond, Mrs Flick

Duddridge, James

Duncan, rh Sir Alan

Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain

Dunne, Mr Philip

Ellis, Michael

Ellison, Jane

Ellwood, Mr Tobias

Elphicke, Charlie

Eustice, George

Evans, Graham

Evans, Mr Nigel

Evennett, rh Mr David

Fabricant, Michael

Fallon, rh Michael

Fernandes, Suella

Field, rh Mark

Foster, Kevin

Fox, rh Dr Liam

Francois, rh Mr Mark

Frazer, Lucy

Freeman, George

Freer, Mike

Fuller, Richard

Fysh, Marcus

Gale, Sir Roger

Garnier, rh Sir Edward

Garnier, Mark

Gauke, Mr David

Ghani, Nusrat

Gibb, Mr Nick

Gillan, rh Mrs Cheryl

Glen, John

Goldsmith, Zac

Goodwill, Mr Robert

Gove, rh Michael

Graham, Richard

Grayling, rh Chris

Green, Chris

Green, rh Damian

Greening, rh Justine

Grieve, rh Mr Dominic

Griffiths, Andrew

Gummer, Ben

Gyimah, Mr Sam

Halfon, rh Robert

Hall, Luke

Hammond, rh Mr Philip

Hammond, Stephen

Hancock, rh Matthew

Hands, rh Greg

Harper, rh Mr Mark

Harrington, Richard

Harris, Rebecca

Hart, Simon

Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan

Hayes, rh Mr John

Heald, Sir Oliver

Heappey, James

Heaton-Harris, Chris

Heaton-Jones, Peter

Henderson, Gordon

Herbert, rh Nick

Hinds, Damian

Hoare, Simon

Hollingbery, George

Hollinrake, Kevin

Hollobone, Mr Philip

Holloway, Mr Adam

Hopkins, Kris

Howarth, Sir Gerald

Howell, John

Howlett, Ben

Huddleston, Nigel

Hunt, rh Mr Jeremy

Hurd, Mr Nick

Jackson, Mr Stewart

James, Margot

Javid, rh Sajid

Jayawardena, Mr Ranil

Jenkin, Mr Bernard

Jenkyns, Andrea

Jenrick, Robert

Johnson, Boris

Johnson, Gareth

Johnson, Joseph

Jones, Andrew

Jones, rh Mr David

Jones, Mr Marcus

Kawczynski, Daniel

Kennedy, Seema

Knight, rh Sir Greg

Knight, Julian

Kwarteng, Kwasi

Lancaster, Mark

Leadsom, Andrea

Lee, Dr Phillip

Leigh, Sir Edward

Leslie, Charlotte

Letwin, rh Mr Oliver

Lewis, Brandon

Lewis, rh Dr Julian

Lidington, rh Mr David

Lilley, rh Mr Peter

Lopresti, Jack

Lord, Jonathan

Loughton, Tim

Lumley, Karen

Mackinlay, Craig

Mackintosh, David

Main, Mrs Anne

Mak, Mr Alan

Malthouse, Kit

Mann, Scott

Mathias, Dr Tania

Maynard, Paul

McCartney, Karl

McLoughlin, rh Mr Patrick

Menzies, Mark

Mercer, Johnny

Merriman, Huw

Metcalfe, Stephen

Miller, rh Mrs Maria

Milling, Amanda

Mills, Nigel

Milton, rh Anne

Mitchell, rh Mr Andrew

Mordaunt, Penny

Morgan, rh Nicky

Morris, Anne Marie

Morris, David

Morris, James

Mowat, David

Mundell, rh David

Murray, Mrs Sheryll

Neill, Robert

Newton, Sarah

Nokes, Caroline

Norman, Jesse

Nuttall, Mr David

Offord, Dr Matthew

Opperman, Guy

Osborne, rh Mr George

Parish, Neil

Patel, rh Priti

Paterson, rh Mr Owen

Pawsey, Mark

Penning, rh Mike

Penrose, John

Percy, Andrew

Perry, Claire

Phillips, Stephen

Philp, Chris

Pickles, rh Sir Eric

Pincher, Christopher

Poulter, Dr Daniel

Prentis, Victoria

Prisk, Mr Mark

Pritchard, Mark

Pursglove, Tom

Quin, Jeremy

Quince, Will

Raab, Mr Dominic

Redwood, rh John

Rees-Mogg, Mr Jacob

Robertson, Mr Laurence

Robinson, Mary

Rosindell, Andrew

Rudd, rh Amber

Rutley, David

Sandbach, Antoinette

Scully, Paul

Selous, Andrew

Shapps, rh Grant

Sharma, Alok

Shelbrooke, Alec

Simpson, rh Mr Keith

Skidmore, Chris

Smith, Chloe

Smith, Henry

Smith, Julian

Smith, Royston

Soames, rh Sir Nicholas

Solloway, Amanda

Soubry, rh Anna

Spelman, rh Mrs Caroline

Spencer, Mark

Stephenson, Andrew

Stevenson, John

Stewart, Bob

Stewart, Iain

Stewart, Rory

Stride, Mel

Stuart, Graham

Sturdy, Julian

Sunak, Rishi

Swayne, rh Mr Desmond

Swire, rh Mr Hugo

Syms, Mr Robert

Thomas, Derek

Throup, Maggie

Timpson, Edward

Tolhurst, Kelly

Tomlinson, Justin

Tomlinson, Michael

Tracey, Craig

Tredinnick, David

Trevelyan, Mrs Anne-Marie

Truss, rh Elizabeth

Tugendhat, Tom

Turner, Mr Andrew

Tyrie, rh Mr Andrew

Vaizey, Mr Edward

Vara, Mr Shailesh

Vickers, Martin

Walker, Mr Charles

Walker, Mr Robin

Wallace, Mr Ben

Warburton, David

Warman, Matt

Watkinson, Dame Angela

Wharton, James

Whately, Helen

Wheeler, Heather

White, Chris

Whittaker, Craig

Whittingdale, rh Mr John

Wiggin, Bill

Williams, Craig

Williamson, rh Gavin

Wilson, Mr Rob

Wollaston, Dr Sarah

Wood, Mike

Wragg, William

Wright, rh Jeremy

Zahawi, Nadhim

Tellers for the Ayes:

Simon Kirby

and

Jackie Doyle-Price

NOES

Abbott, Ms Diane

Abrahams, Debbie

Ahmed-Sheikh, Ms Tasmina

Alexander, Heidi

Ali, Rushanara

Allen, Mr Graham

Allen, Heidi

Anderson, Mr David

Arkless, Richard

Ashworth, Jonathan

Austin, Ian

Bailey, Mr Adrian

Bardell, Hannah

Beckett, rh Margaret

Benn, rh Hilary

Berger, Luciana

Betts, Mr Clive

Black, Mhairi

Blackman, Kirsty

Blackman-Woods, Dr Roberta

Blenkinsop, Tom

Blomfield, Paul

Boswell, Philip

Bradshaw, rh Mr Ben

Brake, rh Tom

Brennan, Kevin

Brock, Deidre

Brown, Alan

Brown, Lyn

Brown, rh Mr Nicholas

Bryant, Chris

Buck, Ms Karen

Burden, Richard

Burgon, Richard

Burnham, rh Andy

Byrne, rh Liam

Cadbury, Ruth

Campbell, rh Mr Alan

Campbell, Mr Ronnie

Carmichael, rh Mr Alistair

Champion, Sarah

Chapman, Douglas

Chapman, Jenny

Cherry, Joanna

Coaker, Vernon

Coffey, Ann

Cooper, Julie

Cooper, Rosie

Cooper, rh Yvette

Corbyn, rh Jeremy

Cowan, Ronnie

Cox, Jo

Coyle, Neil

Crausby, Mr David

Crawley, Angela

Creagh, Mary

Creasy, Stella

Cruddas, Jon

Cryer, John

Cummins, Judith

Cunningham, Alex

Cunningham, Mr Jim

Dakin, Nic

Danczuk, Simon

David, Wayne

Davies, Geraint

Day, Martyn

De Piero, Gloria

Docherty-Hughes, Martin

Donaldson, Stuart Blair

Doughty, Stephen

Dowd, Jim

Dowd, Peter

Dromey, Jack

Eagle, Ms Angela

Eagle, Maria

Efford, Clive

Elliott, Julie

Elliott, Tom

Ellman, Mrs Louise

Esterson, Bill

Evans, Chris

Farrelly, Paul

Farron, Tim

Fellows, Marion

Ferrier, Margaret

Field, rh Frank

Fitzpatrick, Jim

Fletcher, Colleen

Flint, rh Caroline

Flynn, Paul

Fovargue, Yvonne

Gardiner, Barry

Gethins, Stephen

Gibson, Patricia

Glass, Pat

Glindon, Mary

Godsiff, Mr Roger

Goodman, Helen

Grady, Patrick

Grant, Peter

Gray, Neil

Greenwood, Lilian

Greenwood, Margaret

Griffith, Nia

Gwynne, Andrew

Haigh, Louise

Hamilton, Fabian

Hanson, rh Mr David

Harman, rh Ms Harriet

Harris, Carolyn

Hayes, Helen

Healey, rh John

Hendry, Drew

Hepburn, Mr Stephen

Hillier, Meg

Hodgson, Mrs Sharon

Hoey, Kate

Hollern, Kate

Hopkins, Kelvin

Hosie, Stewart

Howarth, rh Mr George

Hunt, Tristram

Huq, Dr Rupa

Hussain, Imran

Irranca-Davies, Huw

Jarvis, Dan

Johnson, rh Alan

Johnson, Diana

Jones, Gerald

Jones, Graham

Jones, Helen

Jones, Mr Kevan

Jones, Susan Elan

Kane, Mike

Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald

Keeley, Barbara

Kendall, Liz

Kerevan, George

Kerr, Calum

Kinahan, Danny

Kinnock, Stephen

Kyle, Peter

Lammy, rh Mr David

Lavery, Ian

Law, Chris

Leslie, Chris

Lewell-Buck, Mrs Emma

Lewis, Clive

Lewis, Mr Ivan

Long Bailey, Rebecca

Lucas, Caroline

Lucas, Ian C.

Lynch, Holly

MacNeil, Mr Angus Brendan

Mactaggart, rh Fiona

Madders, Justin

Mahmood, Mr Khalid

Mahmood, Shabana

Malhotra, Seema

Mann, John

Marris, Rob

Marsden, Mr Gordon

Maskell, Rachael

Matheson, Christian

Mc Nally, John

McCabe, Steve

McCaig, Callum

McCarthy, Kerry

McCartney, Jason

McDonagh, Siobhain

McDonald, Andy

McDonald, Stewart Malcolm

McDonald, Stuart C.

McDonnell, Dr Alasdair

McDonnell, John

McFadden, rh Mr Pat

McGarry, Natalie

McGinn, Conor

McGovern, Alison

McInnes, Liz

McKinnell, Catherine

McLaughlin, Anne

McMahon, Jim

McPartland, Stephen

Meale, Sir Alan

Mearns, Ian

Miliband, rh Edward

Monaghan, Carol

Monaghan, Dr Paul

Moon, Mrs Madeleine

Morden, Jessica

Morris, Grahame M.

Mulholland, Greg

Mullin, Roger

Nandy, Lisa

Newlands, Gavin

Nicolson, John

O'Hara, Brendan

Onn, Melanie

Onwurah, Chi

Oswald, Kirsten

Paterson, Steven

Pearce, Teresa

Pennycook, Matthew

Perkins, Toby

Phillips, Jess

Pound, Stephen

Powell, Lucy

Pugh, John

Qureshi, Yasmin

Rayner, Angela

Reed, Mr Steve

Rees, Christina

Reeves, Rachel

Reynolds, Emma

Reynolds, Jonathan

Rimmer, Marie

Ritchie, Ms Margaret

Robertson, rh Angus

Robinson, Gavin

Robinson, Mr Geoffrey

Rotheram, Steve

Ryan, rh Joan

Salmond, rh Alex

Saville Roberts, Liz

Shah, Naz

Shannon, Jim

Sheppard, Tommy

Sherriff, Paula

Siddiq, Tulip

Skinner, Mr Dennis

Slaughter, Andy

Smeeth, Ruth

Smith, rh Mr Andrew

Smith, Angela

Smith, Cat

Smith, Jeff

Smith, Nick

Smith, Owen

Smyth, Karin

Spellar, rh Mr John

Starmer, Keir

Stephens, Chris

Stevens, Jo

Streeting, Wes

Stringer, Graham

Stuart, rh Ms Gisela

Tami, Mark

Thewliss, Alison

Thomas, Mr Gareth

Thomas-Symonds, Nick

Thompson, Owen

Thomson, Michelle

Thornberry, Emily

Timms, rh Stephen

Trickett, Jon

Turley, Anna

Turner, Karl

Twigg, Derek

Vaz, Valerie

Weir, Mike

West, Catherine

Whiteford, Dr Eilidh

Whitehead, Dr Alan

Whitford, Dr Philippa

Williams, Mr Mark

Wilson, Corri

Wilson, Phil

Winnick, Mr David

Winterton, rh Dame Rosie

Wishart, Pete

Woodcock, John

Wright, Mr Iain

Zeichner, Daniel

Tellers for the Noes:

Vicky Foxcroft

and

Sue Hayman

Question accordingly agreed to.

2 Mar 2016 : Column 1065

2 Mar 2016 : Column 1066

2 Mar 2016 : Column 1067

2 Mar 2016 : Column 1068

Lords amendments9B and 9C disagreed to.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 83H), That a Committee be appointed to draw up Reasons to be assigned to the Lords for disagreeing to their amendments 8B, 8C, 9B and 9C.

That Debbie Abrahams, Neil Gray, Holly Lynch, Guy Opperman, Priti Patel, David Rutley and Helen Whately be members of the Committee;

That Priti Patel be the Chair of the Committee;

That three be the quorum of the Committee;

That the Committee do withdraw immediately.—(Guy Opperman.)

Question agreed to.

Committee to withdraw immediately; reasons to be reported and communicated to the Lords.

2 Mar 2016 : Column 1069

Estimates 2015-16

The Deputy Speaker put the deferred Questions (Standing Order No. 54(6)).

Supplementary Estimate

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Question put,

That, for the year ending with 31 March 2016, for expenditure by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office:

1) the resources authorised for use for current purposes be reduced by £20,292,000 as set out in HC 747,

(2) further resources, not exceeding £37,171,000 be authorised for use for capital purposes as so set out, and

(3) a further sum, not exceeding £16,879,000 be granted to Her Majesty to be issued by the Treasury out of the Consolidated Fund and applied for expenditure on the use of resources authorised by Parliament.

The House divided:

Ayes 305, Noes 55.

Division No. 205]

[

7.33 pm

AYES

Adams, Nigel

Afriyie, Adam

Aldous, Peter

Allan, Lucy

Allen, Heidi

Andrew, Stuart

Ansell, Caroline

Argar, Edward

Atkins, Victoria

Bacon, Mr Richard

Baker, Mr Steve

Baldwin, Harriett

Barclay, Stephen

Baron, Mr John

Barwell, Gavin

Bebb, Guto

Bellingham, Sir Henry

Benyon, Richard

Beresford, Sir Paul

Berry, Jake

Berry, James

Bingham, Andrew

Blackman, Bob

Blackwood, Nicola

Boles, Nick

Bone, Mr Peter

Borwick, Victoria

Bottomley, Sir Peter

Bradley, Karen

Brazier, Mr Julian

Bridgen, Andrew

Brine, Steve

Brokenshire, rh James

Buckland, Robert

Burns, Conor

Burns, rh Sir Simon

Burrowes, Mr David

Burt, rh Alistair

Cairns, Alun

Carmichael, Neil

Cartlidge, James

Caulfield, Maria

Chalk, Alex

Chishti, Rehman

Chope, Mr Christopher

Churchill, Jo

Clark, rh Greg

Clarke, rh Mr Kenneth

Cleverly, James

Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey

Coffey, Dr Thérèse

Collins, Damian

Colvile, Oliver

Costa, Alberto

Cox, Mr Geoffrey

Crabb, rh Stephen

Davies, Byron

Davies, Chris

Davies, David T. C.

Davies, Glyn

Davies, Dr James

Davies, Mims

Davis, rh Mr David

Dinenage, Caroline

Djanogly, Mr Jonathan

Donelan, Michelle

Dorries, Nadine

Double, Steve

Dowden, Oliver

Drax, Richard

Drummond, Mrs Flick

Duddridge, James

Duncan, rh Sir Alan

Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain

Dunne, Mr Philip

Elliott, Tom

Ellis, Michael

Ellison, Jane

Ellwood, Mr Tobias

Elphicke, Charlie

Eustice, George

Evans, Graham

Evans, Mr Nigel

Evennett, rh Mr David

Fabricant, Michael

Fallon, rh Michael

Fernandes, Suella

Field, rh Mark

Foster, Kevin

Fox, rh Dr Liam

Francois, rh Mr Mark

Frazer, Lucy

Freeman, George

Freer, Mike

Fuller, Richard

Fysh, Marcus

Gale, Sir Roger

Garnier, rh Sir Edward

Garnier, Mark

Gauke, Mr David

Ghani, Nusrat

Gibb, Mr Nick

Gillan, rh Mrs Cheryl

Glen, John

Goodwill, Mr Robert

Gove, rh Michael

Graham, Richard

Gray, Mr James

Grayling, rh Chris

Green, Chris

Green, rh Damian

Greening, rh Justine

Grieve, rh Mr Dominic

Griffiths, Andrew

Gummer, Ben

Gyimah, Mr Sam

Halfon, rh Robert

Hall, Luke

Hammond, rh Mr Philip

Hammond, Stephen

Hands, rh Greg

Harper, rh Mr Mark

Harrington, Richard

Harris, Rebecca

Hart, Simon

Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan

Heald, Sir Oliver

Heappey, James

Heaton-Harris, Chris

Heaton-Jones, Peter

Henderson, Gordon

Herbert, rh Nick

Hinds, Damian

Hoare, Simon

Hollingbery, George

Hollinrake, Kevin

Hollobone, Mr Philip

Holloway, Mr Adam

Hopkins, Kris

Howarth, Sir Gerald

Howell, John

Howlett, Ben

Huddleston, Nigel

Hunt, rh Mr Jeremy

Hurd, Mr Nick

Jackson, Mr Stewart

James, Margot

Javid, rh Sajid

Jayawardena, Mr Ranil

Jenkin, Mr Bernard

Jenkyns, Andrea

Jenrick, Robert

Johnson, Boris

Johnson, Gareth

Johnson, Joseph

Jones, Andrew

Jones, rh Mr David

Jones, Mr Marcus

Kawczynski, Daniel

Kennedy, Seema

Kinahan, Danny

Knight, rh Sir Greg

Knight, Julian

Kwarteng, Kwasi

Lancaster, Mark

Leadsom, Andrea

Lee, Dr Phillip

Leslie, Charlotte

Letwin, rh Mr Oliver

Lewis, Brandon

Lewis, rh Dr Julian

Lidington, rh Mr David

Lilley, rh Mr Peter

Lopresti, Jack

Lord, Jonathan

Loughton, Tim

Lumley, Karen

Mackinlay, Craig

Mackintosh, David

Main, Mrs Anne

Mak, Mr Alan

Malthouse, Kit

Mann, Scott

Mathias, Dr Tania

Maynard, Paul

McCartney, Jason

McCartney, Karl

McLoughlin, rh Mr Patrick

McPartland, Stephen

Menzies, Mark

Mercer, Johnny

Merriman, Huw

Metcalfe, Stephen

Miller, rh Mrs Maria

Milling, Amanda

Mills, Nigel

Milton, rh Anne

Mordaunt, Penny

Morgan, rh Nicky

Morris, Anne Marie

Morris, David

Morris, James

Mowat, David

Mundell, rh David

Murray, Mrs Sheryll

Murrison, Dr Andrew

Neill, Robert

Newton, Sarah

Nokes, Caroline

Norman, Jesse

Nuttall, Mr David

Offord, Dr Matthew

Opperman, Guy

Parish, Neil

Patel, rh Priti

Paterson, rh Mr Owen

Pawsey, Mark

Penning, rh Mike

Penrose, John

Percy, Andrew

Perry, Claire

Phillips, Stephen

Philp, Chris

Pincher, Christopher

Poulter, Dr Daniel

Prentis, Victoria

Prisk, Mr Mark

Pritchard, Mark

Pursglove, Tom

Quin, Jeremy

Quince, Will

Raab, Mr Dominic

Redwood, rh John

Rees-Mogg, Mr Jacob

Robertson, Mr Laurence

Robinson, Gavin

Robinson, Mary

Rosindell, Andrew

Rudd, rh Amber

Rutley, David

Sandbach, Antoinette

Scully, Paul

Selous, Andrew

Shannon, Jim

Shapps, rh Grant

Sharma, Alok

Shelbrooke, Alec

Simpson, rh Mr Keith

Skidmore, Chris

Smith, Chloe

Smith, Henry

Smith, Julian

Smith, Royston

Soames, rh Sir Nicholas

Solloway, Amanda

Soubry, rh Anna

Spelman, rh Mrs Caroline

Spencer, Mark

Stephenson, Andrew

Stevenson, John

Stewart, Bob

Stewart, Iain

Stewart, Rory

Stride, Mel

Stuart, Graham

Sturdy, Julian

Sunak, Rishi

Swayne, rh Mr Desmond

Swire, rh Mr Hugo

Syms, Mr Robert

Thomas, Derek

Throup, Maggie

Timpson, Edward

Tolhurst, Kelly

Tomlinson, Justin

Tomlinson, Michael

Tracey, Craig

Trevelyan, Mrs Anne-Marie

Truss, rh Elizabeth

Tugendhat, Tom

Turner, Mr Andrew

Tyrie, rh Mr Andrew

Vaizey, Mr Edward

Vara, Mr Shailesh

Vickers, Martin

Walker, Mr Charles

Walker, Mr Robin

Wallace, Mr Ben

Warburton, David

Warman, Matt

Watkinson, Dame Angela

Wharton, James

Whately, Helen

White, Chris

Whittaker, Craig

Whittingdale, rh Mr John

Wiggin, Bill

Williams, Craig

Williamson, rh Gavin

Wilson, Mr Rob

Wollaston, Dr Sarah

Wood, Mike

Wragg, William

Wright, rh Jeremy

Zahawi, Nadhim

Tellers for the Ayes:

Simon Kirby

and

Jackie Doyle-Price

NOES

Ahmed-Sheikh, Ms Tasmina

Arkless, Richard

Bardell, Hannah

Black, Mhairi

Blackman, Kirsty

Boswell, Philip

Brock, Deidre

Brown, Alan

Chapman, Douglas

Cherry, Joanna

Cowan, Ronnie

Crawley, Angela

Day, Martyn

Docherty-Hughes, Martin

Donaldson, Stuart Blair

Ferrier, Margaret

Gethins, Stephen

Gibson, Patricia

Grady, Patrick

Grant, Peter

Gray, Neil

Hendry, Drew

Hosie, Stewart

Kerevan, George

Kerr, Calum

Law, Chris

MacNeil, Mr Angus Brendan

Mc Nally, John

McCaig, Callum

McDonald, Stewart Malcolm

McDonald, Stuart C.

McDonnell, Dr Alasdair

McGarry, Natalie

McLaughlin, Anne

Monaghan, Carol

Monaghan, Dr Paul

Mullin, Roger

Newlands, Gavin

Nicolson, John

O'Hara, Brendan

Oswald, Kirsten

Paterson, Steven

Ritchie, Ms Margaret

Robertson, rh Angus

Salmond, rh Alex

Saville Roberts, Liz

Sheppard, Tommy

Stephens, Chris

Thewliss, Alison

Thomson, Michelle

Weir, Mike

Whiteford, Dr Eilidh

Whitford, Dr Philippa

Wilson, Corri

Wishart, Pete

Tellers for the Noes:

Owen Thompson

and

Marion Fellows

Question accordingly agreed to.

2 Mar 2016 : Column 1070

2 Mar 2016 : Column 1071

2 Mar 2016 : Column 1072


Supplementary Estimate

Home Office

Resolved,

That, for the year ending with 31 March 2016, for expenditure by the Home Office:

(1) further resources, not exceeding £256,729,000 be authorised for use for current purposes as set out in HC 747,

(2) further resources, not exceeding £356,056,000 be authorised for use for capital purposes as so set out, and

(3) a further sum, not exceeding £1,328,197,000 be granted to Her Majesty to be issued by the Treasury out of the Consolidated Fund and applied for expenditure on the use of resources authorised by Parliament.

Supplementary Estimate

Business, Innovation and Skills

Resolved,

That, for the year ending with 31 March 2016, for expenditure by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills:

(1) the resources authorised for use for current purposes be reduced by £7,152,214,000 as set out in HC 747,

(2) further resources, not exceeding £195,006,000 be authorised for use for capital purposes as so set out, and

(3) a further sum, not exceeding £72,412,000 be granted to Her Majesty to be issued by the Treasury out of the Consolidated Fund and applied for expenditure on the use of resources authorised by Parliament.

Supplementary Estimate

Department of Health

Resolved,

Thatfor the year ending with 31 March 2016, for expenditure by the Department of

Health:

(1) further resources, not exceeding £25,869,317,000 be authorised for use for current purposes as set out in HC 747,

(2) the resources authorised for use for capital purposes be reduced by £945,313,000 as so set out, and

(3) a further sum, not exceeding £252,304,000 be granted to Her Majesty to be issued by the Treasury out of the Consolidated Fund and applied for expenditure on the use of resources authorised by Parliament.


The Deputy Speaker then put the Questions on the outstanding Estimates (Standing Order No. 55).

Supplementary Estimates 2015-16 (Navy) Vote A

Resolved,

That, during the year ending with 31 March 2016, modifications in the maximum numbers in the Reserve Naval and Marine Forces set out in Supplementary Votes A 2015-16, HC 716, be authorised for the purposes of Parts 1 and 3 of the Reserve Forces Act 1996.—(Mel Stride.)

Estimates 2016-17 (Navy) Vote A

Resolved,

That, during the year ending with 31 March 2017, a number not exceeding 34,960 all ranks be maintained for Naval and Marine Service and that numbers in the Reserve Naval and Marines Forces be authorised for the purposes of Parts 1, 3, 4 and 5 of the Reserve Forces Act 1996 up to the maximum numbers set out in Votes A 2016–17, HC 715.—(Mel Stride.)

2 Mar 2016 : Column 1073

Estimates 2016-17 (Army) Vote A

Resolved,

That, during the year ending with 31 March 2017, a number not exceeding 112,900 all ranks be maintained for Army Service and that numbers in the Reserve Land Forces be authorised for the purposes of Parts 1, 3, 4 and 5 of the Reserve Forces Act 1996 up to the maximum numbers set out in Votes A 2016–17, HC 715.—(Mel Stride.)

Estimates 2016-17 (Air) Vote A

Resolved,

That, during the year ending with 31 March 2017, a number not exceeding 35,500 all ranks be maintained for Air Force Service and that numbers in the Reserve Air Forces be authorised for the purposes of Parts 1, 3, 4 and 5 of the Reserve Forces Act 1996 up to the maximum numbers set out in Votes A 2016–17, HC 715.—(Mel Stride.)

Estimates, Excesses 2014-15

Resolved,

That, for the year ending with 31 March 2015—

(1) resources, not exceeding £104,823,000, be authorised to make good excesses for use for current purposes as set out in Statement of Excesses 2014–15, HC 749,

(2) resources, not exceeding £406,000, be authorised to make good excesses for use for capital purposes as set out in Statement of Excesses 2014–15, HC 749, and

(3) a sum, not exceeding £275,000 be granted to Her Majesty to be issued by the Treasury out of the Consolidated Fund to make good excesses on the use of resources authorised by Parliament as set out in Statement of Excesses 2014-15, HC 749.(Mel Stride.)

Supplementary Estimates 2015-16

Resolved,

That, for the year ending with 31 March 2016:

(1) further resources, not exceeding £143,043,583,000 be authorised for use for current purposes, as set out in HC 747 and HC 750,

(2) the resources authorised for use for capital purposes be reduced by £21,730,537,000 as so set out, and

(3) the sum authorised for issue out of the Consolidated Fund be reduced by £5,410,893,000 as so set out.—(Mel Stride.)


Estimates, Vote on Account 2016-17

Resolved,

That, for the year ending with 31 March 2017—

(1) resources, not exceeding £229,024,490,000 be authorised, on account, for use for current purposes as set out in HC 748, HC 751, HC 757, HC 762, HC 802 and HC 812,

(2) resources, not exceeding £29,298,192,000, be authorised, on account, for use for capital purposes as so set out, and

(3) a sum, not exceeding £222,965,394,000, be granted to Her Majesty to be issued by the Treasury out of the Consolidated Fund, on account, and applied for expenditure on the use of resources authorised by Parliament.—(Mel Stride.)

Ordered,That a Bill be brought in upon the foregoing Resolutions;

That the Chairman of Ways and Means, Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, Greg Hands, Harriett Baldwin, Damian Hinds and Mr David Gauke bring in the Bill.

2 Mar 2016 : Column 1074

Supply and Appropriation (Anticipation and Adjustments) Bill

Presentation and First Reading, and remaining stages

Mr David Gaukeaccordingly presented a Bill toauthorise the use of resources for the years ending with 31 March 2015, 31 March 2016 and 31 March 2017; to authorise the issue of sums out of the Consolidated Fund for those years; and to appropriate the supply authorised by this Act for the years ending with 31 March 2015 and 31 March 2016.

Bill read the First time; to be printed (Bill 147).

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 56 and Order 24 February), That the Bill be now read a Second time.

Question agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time.

Question put forthwith, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

Question agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed.

Business without Debate

Delegated Legislation

Mr Speaker: With the leave of the House, we shall take motions 13 to 18 together.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 118(6)),

Constitutional Law

That the draft National Assembly for Wales (Representation of the People) (Amendment) Order 2016, which was laid before this House on 17 December 2015, be approved.

That the draft National Assembly for Wales (Representation of the People) (Amendment) (No. 2) Order 2016, which was laid before this House on 3 February, be approved.


Police

That the draft Police and Crime Commissioner Elections (Amendment) Order 2016, which was laid before this House on 17 December 2015, be approved.


Patents

That the draft Patents (European Patent with Unitary Effect and Unified Patent Court) Order 2016, which was laid before this House on 19 January, be approved.


Health Care and Associated Professions

That the draft Pharmacy (Premises Standards, Information Obligations, etc.) Order 2016, which was laid before this House on 21 January, be approved.


Electricity

That the draft Electricity Supplier Payments (Amendment) Regulations 2016, which were laid before this House on 25 January, be approved.—(Mel Stride.)

Question agreed to.

2 Mar 2016 : Column 1075

Dog Theft: Sentencing

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—(Mel Stride.)

7.48 pm

Gareth Johnson (Dartford) (Con): I am pleased to have secured this debate, and as a dog owner I was minded to do so for a couple of reasons—first, the inadequate sentencing guidelines for this type of offence, and secondly, the sheer nastiness of this offence and the fact that it needs clamping down on far more than currently happens.

I do not criticise this or any previous Government, but it is necessary to appreciate the devastating impact that the theft of a dog has on its owner. That emotional impact overrides the financial loss, but too often our court systems are geared up to deal with such thefts simply as a form of property crime. The theft of a dog is a particularly nasty offence. Sometimes dogs are targeted because of their monetary value, but often it is done to allow grief stricken owners to put up reward posters in the area, with those rewards then claimed by the actual perpetrator.

Before coming to this House I spent nearly 20 years working in the criminal justice system so I have some appreciation of the difficulties and complexities that the courts are labouring under. I am also aware that organisations such as the Sentencing Council endeavour to provide user friendly, concise guidelines for a multitude of different situations, but I feel that it needs to reflect on its guidelines for offences of theft, as there is little to ensure that those who steal dogs get an appropriate sentence.

Julian Knight (Solihull) (Con): I congratulate my hon. Friend on securing this debate. There was a debate in Westminster Hall a few months ago, initiated by my hon. Friend the Member for Sherwood (Mark Spencer) on dog theft, cat killing and cruelty to pets and one point that arose then is that the law equates the loss of a pet to the loss of property, which is wrong. The law takes no account at all of the wider emotional impact of the theft, or of the societal needs for proper punishment in such cases.

Gareth Johnson: My hon. Friend makes a pertinent point, and he is right when he says that there is a failure to acknowledge the emotional impact of such thefts—that is one reason why I secured this debate. Because of the failure of the system, few statistics are kept, and stolen dogs are often deemed to have run away as there is little proof they have been stolen. There is also no separate category of the theft of a dog, and such thefts tend to be lumped together with all the other chattels that get stolen. It is believed by Blue Cross that roughly three dogs are stolen each day. Three cats are also stolen each day, and my hon. Friend was right to mention that because the same principles apply. Almost half those thefts are from people’s gardens, one in five is from burglaries, one in seven is from owners walking their dogs, and most of the other thefts take place when people leave their dogs tied up outside shops.

Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP): I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on securing this debate. Dogs have been domesticated for millennia, they have been man’s

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best friend for centuries, and today they remain an integral part of many families and are loved as much as any member. Does the hon. Gentleman agree that introducing a new category would reflect the fact that, although dogs are animals, for many people up and down this nation their dog is as much a part of the family as any other member?

Gareth Johnson: As is often the case, the hon. Gentleman is absolutely right to point out the failure of the current system. I argue that we can deal with that by amending the sentencing guidelines. It does not necessarily need a change in the law; it needs a change in the approach to sentencing, which is completely inadequate at the moment.

Kevin Foster (Torbay) (Con): I congratulate my hon. Friend on securing this debate. To reinforce the point just made by the hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon), too often people are sentenced as if they have nicked a garden gnome, TV or video that can easily be replaced by buying another one. The theft of a dog is stealing part of the family, and the sentence should reflect the impact that that theft has, which goes far beyond the impact of stealing a TV.

Gareth Johnson: My hon. Friend is absolutely right, and this debate generates a fair amount of passion because of the pain that such thefts impose on people who go through the loss of a quasi-member of their own family.

Julian Knight: My hon. Friend mentions how pets are stolen in burglaries. Perhaps the courts could consider an offence of aggravated burglary in relation to crimes involving pets.

Gareth Johnson: That is a very interesting point. There should certainly be an aggravating feature of the offence of theft. Unfortunately, that is not the case according to the Sentencing Council’s guidelines. That is what is missing. Dogs are stolen in burglaries for a multitude of reasons: for fighting, for ransoms, for breeding or for selling on.

This crime is increasing and the emotional impact it has on both the owner and the dogs is immeasurable. Anyone who has had a dog stolen from them is able to say how painful an experience it is for both the owner and the animal, yet I fear penalties will now be reduced rather than increased. This is due to the flawed sentencing guidelines introduced just last month. Under the guidelines, theft sentencing is split into three categories—high, medium and lesser culpability. These are defined by specific characteristics. However, none of those characteristics includes anything that would normally apply for the theft of a dog. This forms the very starting point for sentencing. The guidelines then go on to look at the harm caused, which does cover emotional distress to the victim but is assessed primarily by the financial loss to the victim. That cannot be the right approach.

Chris Evans (Islwyn) (Lab/Co-op): I apologise for coming late to the debate. I was caught out by the previous Division. The hon. Gentleman mentions the emotional impact of the theft of a dog. That is so important. For those of us who love dogs and have owned them all their lives, we know how terrible it is when we have to say goodbye to them. It is terrible to

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lose a dog in circumstances where we do not what has happened, whether stolen by a criminal gang to be used for fighting or whatever. Does he agree that the emotional impact should be reflected in sentences for people who steal dogs?

Gareth Johnson: I certainly do. I agree with everything the hon. Gentleman says. It is one of those offences where the emotional loss is not catered for in the guidelines. It does not just relate to dog theft and other animals but to personal items. The emotional impact of the theft of family photographs belonging to family members who have passed away is not properly taken into account when the courts are sentencing offenders either.

Courts cannot place dog thefts in the top half of offending categories unless the dog has a high monetary value, and that is not always the case. It means there is a greater chance of prison for the theft of a pedigree than there is for the theft of a mongrel. This approach completely fails to understand the nature of dog theft. The impact an offence like this has on a victim is not even mentioned in the list of aggravating factors that the court should take in to account. Dog theft is now seen as an easy way of making money with little chance of a prison sentence imposed on the offender. In fact, under the current guidelines it is very difficult for a court to imprison someone for the theft of a dog that is worth less in monetary terms than £500. It is no wonder, then, that these offences are on the increase.

I fully accept that the Sentencing Council cannot cater for every type of theft and that it has an extremely difficult job, but there needs to be a greater appreciation of the emotional impact an offence can have on an individual.

Craig Mackinlay (South Thanet) (Con): I applaud my hon. Friend for securing this debate. I am a dog owner and have been a magistrate for some 10 years. I have never actually seen a dog theft in my years as a magistrate, which is to the good, but I can very much imagine the anguish it would cause. From memory, the sentencing band for a low level theft would be probably from a conditional discharge to a fine, and perhaps in extremis a low level community order. I am sure it would be far more beneficial for the victim impact statement to have a far greater bearing, and the ability to go to a small custodial sentence may be the way forward in such cases.

Gareth Johnson: I completely agree with everything my hon. Friend has said. I am not surprised that he has not seen one of these cases because of the difficulty of bringing them to court. The problem brings us back to the over-reliance on the monetary value of the item stolen. If I were to sell my scruffy mutt, I would be lucky to get a fiver for it, quite frankly—but that rather misses the point. I would sooner have my mobile phone or even my car stolen than my dog. It is not a chattel and should not be treated as such. A distinction should be made when it comes to sentencing.

I have seen posters in my local area and my constituency seeking lost dogs, and they often say something like “reward—no questions asked”. This problem is thus going on under the radar of the authorities, which is

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why we do not see as many cases going to court as we should. The deterrent factor that a prison sentence would offer is often missing, yet this is an offence that causes misery for thousands of people around our country.

The message to people who are thinking of buying a dog is that they should do so only from a reputable source. There are some excellent organisations helping to tackle this problem: Blue Cross, Dog Theft Action and Dog Lost, which commended much of the work carried out on this by my local Kent police force and a few other forces as well. Yet if the criminal justice system allows those who commit these offences to walk away with light penalties, this problem will only grow and grow.


8.1 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Mr Dominic Raab): I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Dartford (Gareth Johnson) on his habitual tenacity, which enabled him to secure this very important debate. The truth is that many people become very attached to their pets and treat them like family—sometimes better than family. I know at first hand that the distress caused when a pet disappears is heightened if it is suspected or found that the pet has been stolen for nefarious purposes of one sort or another. That can only aggravate the fear that the pet may come to some form of harm. As I say, I know this at first hand, because I grew up with dogs. I had a dog that I loved very dearly, so I know the worry when dogs go missing. In my case, the dog was a Rhodesian Ridgeback. Anyone who knows the breed will realise that it is unlikely to be stolen. None the less, we fretted every time he jumped the gate or the back garden. I know what the feeling is like.

Sadly, the truth is that we are seeing a growing trend of disappearances and thefts of pets, with all the distress that can cause to individual owners. We in government have to make sure that the criminal justice system is able to respond to these incidents, that we have the resources and expertise to investigate the cases, that there is the will to prosecute them, and that the courts—this is the key to my hon. Friend’s debate—have the necessary criminal and sentencing powers to ensure that we punish offenders and, let us not forget, deter offending.

I hold ministerial responsibility for sentencing, so I need to be assured that courts have the right framework and the right powers in place. I would like to talk a little about deterrence, if only because it is not necessarily always talked about, yet it is an important part of the matter, preventing offences from happening in the first place. I will return to that in a moment, if I may.

Let me say a few words about the available offences and the sentences connected with them. First, we have offences of animal cruelty and failure to meet an animal’s basic needs. These are set out in the Animal Welfare Act 2006. Those offences carry a maximum of six months imprisonment or a fine, or both. The courts also have the power to ban an offender from keeping animals in the future. It is not always the case that a stolen pet has been mistreated, but where it has been, this offence may apply.

Where the offence charged is theft, under the Theft Act 1968, the maximum penalty is seven years. That applies to domestic animals, just as it does to any other

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goods or chattels. My hon. Friend has made the point that animals should not be treated just like some kind of inanimate object or chattel, and I think he is absolutely right. When it comes to the criminal law, we have to think carefully about how those concerns should be properly reflected.

Of course, justice must be more than the dry letter of the law. The courts will always take into account the circumstances of a case, but that does not necessarily mean that they will need definitions of separate and bespoke offences relating to every possible variation of the crime of theft or every possible contingency. I am slightly worried—I suppose I say this as a Minister, but also as a Conservative—about the creation of specific penalties for behaviour that is already covered; I am not sure that that achieves very much. We need to enforce the penalties that already exist. Creating new offences applying to every conceivable situation risks complicating the law, and making it less transparent and less accessible. I do not think that that is what my hon. Friend was calling for, but I think that the point is worth making. The rule of law requires clear, consistent, predictable rules for victims and for citizens in general, and the sending of a clear message of deterrence to offenders.

It is for the courts to decide the right sentence in individual cases, within the maximum set by Parliament. The courts hear all the circumstances of a case, and are best placed to make that decision. They are helped by the sentencing guidelines that are issued by the independent—I stress the word “independent”—Sentencing Council. They must follow those guidelines, unless it is not in the interests of justice to do so. Even then, there is some wriggle room. The guidelines are there to ensure that sentencing is more consistent, and to identify sentencing ranges and aggravating and mitigating factors. There must be a balance between ensuring that rules are fair and consistent, and doing justice to the particular facts of a case and, in the case of a dog theft, the impact on the dog’s owner.

The new sentencing guideline on theft came into force at the beginning of last month. I understand that my hon. Friend may be disappointed that it does not specifically mention pet theft. If he has not done so already, he may wish to check out the Sentencing Council’s website, where he will see that the council’s consultation on the draft of the new guideline elicited responses and suggestions relating to this specific issue, including the suggestion that there should be a separate guideline on pet theft.

The council’s response to the consultation is available on the website. Having carefully considered the views of respondents, it concluded that the aggravating factors already in the guideline would enable the courts to sentence appropriately for pet theft. Aggravating factors in the guideline include emotional distress caused to the victim, and the fact that the stolen item may be of particular subjective value to the owner regardless of its strict monetary worth. I think that that was one of my hon. Friend’s key points. Judges are human beings, and many have a strong sense of empathy. Moreover, they

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have all the powers, and, most important, the discretion, to take account of the full range of impacts on individuals of this very serious offence, including the emotional impact on owners and, indeed, dogs.

The guideline mentions the following aggravating factors: the offender is acting as part of a group or gang, so that there is an organised crime element; there is significant planning of the offence; or the goods are stolen to order. Unfortunately, all those factors are often present when a dog has been stolen. The courts have adequate criminal powers, and I believe that they have adequate sentencing powers at their disposal, as well as recent and substantial guidance to help them to reach balanced, proportionate and consistent sentencing decisions, all the while taking account of all the facts of the case. It is precisely because we want them to take account of the individual impact in an individual case that we must allow judges to retain that measure of discretion.

Let me say a little about deterrence. The sentences passed by the courts are partly aimed at deterring other prospective offenders, but people can, of course, take action themselves to prevent their dogs from being stolen. Improvements in technology are one of the major reasons why we have managed to reduce the incidence of crime in recent years. Microchipping of dogs has been available for more than 25 years, and I am told that about 83% of dogs are now voluntarily chipped by their owners. My hon. Friend was, of course, one of the tenacious campaigners for the compulsory microchipping of dogs, and I congratulate him on his efforts. He, like me, will have been pleased to learn that the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is to introduce compulsory microchipping in England on 6 April this year. Similar arrangements will also be in place in Scotland and Wales.

This measure is to be welcomed because it is an important step for animal welfare more broadly. It will make it easier to identify dogs and reunite them with their owners. It will also make it easier to prove that a dog has been stolen, which is important for prosecutions, and I know that my hon. Friend wants to see more of those. Most importantly, however, it can act as a deterrent. A prospective criminal who knows that a dog is microchipped is significantly less likely to target that animal for theft. The fact that all dogs must now be microchipped is as important a factor in reducing these distressing offences as the effective and flexible sentencing response, which I believe is already available.

I congratulate my hon. Friend again on securing the debate. He has been tenacious in raising this important matter, and we will always keep these issues under review, but I believe that on balance we now have the right powers, criminal offences and sentencing discretion in place to deal with this very serious crime.

Question put and agreed to.

8.10 pm

House adjourned.