The report of the interdepartmental working party is being published today and copies are being placed in the Library together with the report of a cost-benefit study by the Department of Economics, University College, Cardiff, which was commissioned by the working party. My right hon. and learned Friends have accepted the working party's recommendation that an official of the Welsh Office should be appointed to initiate and co-ordinate remedial action with the interests concerned.
Is the Minister aware that serious accidents have occurred in Swansea in the last fortnight in which four animals were killed, and that we are worried about the problem of animals straying which might result in human fatality? Is he aware that urgent action is required for motor car owners, especially in the hours of darkness? Will he consider introducing a brand mark system in order that owners of all animals may be known? The time for discussion has passed, and I and some of my colleagues say that action is now required.
The hon. Gentleman raises a lot of questions. First of all, I am not responsible for Press reports. Secondly, when the hon. Gentleman has read the report of the working party—the first report on this subject ever made under any Government—into this most important question, and when he has also read the cost-benefit analysis prepared by University College, Cardiff, he will get a good idea of how the working party has worked and the conclusions to which it has come. The sad business to which the hon. Gentleman has referred is a separate matter, but if he writes to me I will certainly look at it.
While we are grateful to the Western Mail for having given advance information about the report. may I ask whether the Minister agrees that it is abundantly clear from the recommendations made that those of us on this side who for years have pressed for such a report have been amply justified?
Further, would not the Minister agree that it is abundantly clear that this report will be as of naught unless and until the Government proceed to a new commons registration measure since in many constituencies so many sheep, goats and other animals have been registered that it appears, certainly in my constituency, that there are more animals than electors? Until such time as we have rationalised schemes under the last Act, the report will be as of naught. When will legislation be produced?
I could not pass an opinion as to how many goats there are in the hon. Gentleman's constituency. He and his hon. Friends and many outside organisations who have made representations to the Government on this important question should read the reports. They will find something in them which is extremely helpful to local authorities.