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Lord Dubs: My Lords, perhaps I may make a brief comment. I was trying to understand the significance of Amendment 151. However, I believe that the noble Baroness has helped me. I understand that there have been occasions when dogs have fouled land with toxocariasis, which has had a damaging effect on farm animals. My concern is whether the amendment would provide some protection in those instances where necessary.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, when responding to the previous group of amendments, I said that I thought we had struck the right balance. It is clear that some people wish to go further, but I am sticking to my balance. That inevitably means that some noble Lords will be disappointed. Perhaps I may explain that in terms of Amendment No. 118.

Because of the particular use and nature of grouse moors, we have recognised that it is sensible to refer to the restriction in relation to grouse moors. When we are talking about East Anglian heathland, which has a variety of uses and a variety of different activities taking place on it, that is an entirely different issue. To some extent the distinction is arbitrary, but we believe that that is the right balance. Similarly, in relation to lambing, we have recognised that there would be a difficulty if a dog got into an enclosed area where lambing was taking place. We have not extended that to cover hill lambing in all circumstances beyond the general restriction on dogs in the vicinity of livestock. So there is a balance here. I should like to stick to the balance reflected in Amendment No. 118.

I turn now to the other queries on Amendment No. 118. I can tell the noble Earl, Lord Caithness, that the plural does include the singular in this case. The prescribed steps will be set down in regulations by the Secretary of State or the Welsh Assembly. That will deal with the period of notice to which the noble Baroness, Lady Byford, referred. I shall consider whether the term "owner" is consistent with its usage elsewhere in the Bill, provided that the noble Earl does not think that the term "entitled owner" confines the proposition to Members of this House!

Most of my remarks concern Amendment No. 45. The noble Lord, Lord Marlesford, asked whether I was correct in what I said previously. I believe that I correctly stated that owners can reach an agreement with a countryside body to relax restrictions. Owners can allow their own dogs, or permit others to allow their dogs which would otherwise be required to be on the lead, to run free on their land provided that land is not subject to other restrictions.

As regards Amendments Nos. 46 and 49, I have already indicated that at Third Reading we shall bring forward an amendment on the issue of short leads that would apply in every context in which leads are required.

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Amendment No. 151 relates to dog fouling. I recognise that there may be problems in this area. Our understanding is that local restrictions or by-laws are already available to local authorities to deal with this problem in "honey pot" situations or in any other situation where dog fouling has become a serious menace to livestock or to humans. I believe that that matter is already covered and that local authorities already have the relevant powers. I hope therefore that my noble friend Lord Hardy will not press his amendment because I do not consider it to be necessary.

The Earl of Caithness: My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, will he comment further on what steps he has in mind? Will there be consultation on those steps? Will the relevant resolution be affirmative or negative?

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I understand that the resolution will be negative in this context. However, there will obviously be consultation on the regulations.

Lord Hardy of Wath: My Lords, I shall withdraw my amendment. However, I take the point that the noble Lord, Lord Marlesford, made. The amendment was tabled to try to clarify a situation. I believe that it would have done so, had it been accepted. As matters stand, I certainly expect unnecessary litigation to be put in train as the years pass. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The Deputy Speaker (Lord Ampthill): My Lords, I have to inform the House that this is without exception the most eccentric grouping that I have encountered in over 20 years sitting on this Woolsack.

[Amendment No. 46 not moved.]

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 47:

    Page 65, line 19, leave out sub-paragraph (2).

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move.

The Deputy Speaker: My Lords, are you sure? I do not believe that you have spoken to it.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I believe that Amendment No. 47 is consequential on Amendment No. 118. However, I shall check that.

The Deputy Speaker: My Lords, I apologise to the noble Lord. He spoke to Amendment No. 47 with Amendment No. 45, or perhaps he did not. However, we shall assume that he did.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

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Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 48:

    Page 65, line 21, leave out ("apply to a person who") and insert ("entitle a person to be on any land if he").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 49 not moved.]

Viscount Bledisloe moved Amendment No. 50:

    Page 65, line 23, at end insert--

("(2) Section 2(1) does not apply to a person who at night takes onto the land in question, or allows to enter or remain on that land, any dog.
(3) In sub-paragraph (2), "night" means the period from one hour after sunset to one hour before sunrise on the following day.").

The noble Viscount said: My Lords, the amendment draws together the two vexed questions of night times and dogs. Let us assume, as the House has decided, that there is to be night access and access for dogs. I suggest that it is wholly unreasonable that dogs should be allowed on land, off leads and at night. The scope for damage by them is enormous. The ability to control them is nil because one cannot see whether they are on a lead. None of the reasons advanced for being allowed to take a dog on land applies at night.

Surely the Government can accept that it is not desirable to have dogs on land at night. Birds which are disturbed do not go back to their nests. There is more likelihood of sheep being disturbed and unable to reassemble. The reasons advanced for night access have nothing to do with taking a dog, in particular a dog off the lead. I beg to move.

Baroness Byford: My Lords, I have put my name to the amendment. I shall not waste the time of the House. I support the amendment.

Lord Williamson of Horton: My Lords, I, too, support Amendment No. 50. It is a little different from previous amendments. The substance of the Government's position on dogs is set out in paragraph 5 of Schedule 2; namely, that a dog can be on a lead in the vicinity of livestock but there are restrictions. We are talking about night time. It will be difficult to operate that provision at night time. I believe that it is reasonable to make the general amendment to restrict dogs off a lead during the night hours.

I said earlier that I hoped the noble Lord would be able to reach a century before close of play. If he accepts the amendment, he will have at least half a century.

The Duke of Montrose: My Lords, I support the amendment. Although I do not disagree with the reasons given by the noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe,

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I should like to approach the issue from another angle. Disturbance to wildlife and animals is an important issue. They are more vulnerable at night. One may meet someone at night with a dog, without knowing his purpose. A dog is one of the main tools used by the rustling and poaching fraternity.

The noble Lord, Lord Dubs--he is no longer in his seat--asked earlier what evidence we had of disturbance in the Lake District. I cannot give him any. However, I was speaking last week to a gentleman in our area who can be described as a game warden. He polices wildlife sites over an area of at least 20 to 30 square miles. He told me that in the last year he has had to speak to between 30 and 40 people who were undertaking activities which were detrimental to, or not acceptable in, our area.

The noble Lord, Lord Judd, said that he likes to enjoy the countryside without new technology. There is much to be said for the more staid era that used to surround us. Some people would probably enjoy driving a horse and carriage down Piccadilly. They should be allowed to do so if they would like to. However, some people in the countryside now use new technology, and none more so than those who want to gain access at night for illegal purposes.

I support the amendment because of the increasing problem of poachers and rustlers, who use a combination of new and old technology. I was given one example that shows the lengths to which people are ready to go. Landowners have to try to guard against lurcher dogs. People with lurcher dogs now hire a van to take the dogs into the country. The van can no longer be confiscated if they are accosted and accused of indulging in poaching. They get a very strong light with a red filter and drive on to the moors to look for deer. They shine the light until they catch a deer in the beam. They then let the dogs go. The deer does not see what is happening until the dogs are on it.

That is one way in which dogs are a danger at night. Another problem is rustling sheep, which cannot be done at night without a dog. All sorts of serious problems will result from allowing people access to the countryside at night with dogs. I support the amendment.

11.45 p.m.

Lord Marlesford: My Lords, I, too support the amendment. The Bill is putting Labour's rural vote on thin ice. The issue of night-time access will dig a hole in that rural vote. Perhaps it has nothing to do with me if the Government wish to do that. If they persist with freedom for dogs at night on access land, major discontent with the Government could easily be generated. I am not particularly worried about that, but as a supporter of the Bill I am more worried that

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the provisions could help to bring it into discredit. I ask the Government to think again seriously about the issue.

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