To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will introduce legislation to increase the sentences available to the courts for offences of dog fighting; and if he will make a statement.
The Government entirely share the public abhorrence of the barbaric practice of dog fighting. The penalties for such activities, provided under the Protection of Animals Act 1911, were recently doubled by the Protection of Animals (Penalties) Act 1987 to the maximum penalties available summarily, that is, to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale (£2,000), or six months' imprisonment, or both. We are giving full support, in which I hope the hon. Member will join us, to the proposals by my hon. Friend the Member for Winchester (Mr. Browne) in his Protection of Animals (Amendment) Bill to increase substantially the maximum penalties for attendance at animal fights or baiting.
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will introduce legislation to prevent advertisements for the sale of fighting dogs being placed in British newspapers.
We have no such plans.
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many convictions for dog fighting were obtained in 1987; where the offences were committed; and what sentences were given by the courts concerned in each case.
Information collected centrally does not distinguish offences relating to dog fights from other offences under the Protection of Animals Act 1911.
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will take urgent action to prevent the importing of American pit bull dogs for use in illegal dog fighting rings; and if he will make a statement.
We do not consider that such a ban would be effective in preventing illegal fighting, given the number of dogs already in the United Kingdom which are susceptible to abuse, and the difficulty in distinguishing between dogs bred for fighting and as pets. In addition, an import ban on the whole of a particular strain of dog would be contrary to our international trading obligations unless the domestic sale and commercial breeding of dogs of the strain in question were similarly prohibited.