We had an interesting debate, which I am sure we can all recall clearly—it is etched indelibly on the minds of Opposition Members. It is also, in absentia, etched on the mind of my hon. Friend the Member for Ribble Valley (Mr. Evans), who made a powerful point in favour of the amendment, which states that the level of penalty should be higher than that in the Bill.
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for sharing that information with the rest of the Committee, although, as a Tory Whip, I was aware of it. My hon. Friend will be returning shortly to delight and thrill us with his contributions on the later parts of the Bill which relate to waste. If we are lucky he may share his views on the control of dogs; we all await that part of the proceedings with scarcely concealed excitement.
I conclude by saying that the amendment should be pressed to a vote. We agree, in principle, with the thrust of the clause. The amendment seeks to tighten it up, to increase the deterrent effect, and it is in that spirit that I seek to press the amendment to a vote.
The issue is the level of the fine, and it arises from a narrow aspect of the Bill dealing with documentation. A balance needs to be struck, and £300 is a considerable fine for failing to produce documents. If the fine were higher, then it is likely that people would opt to go to court, and the advantages of the fixed penalty notice—the speed and the lower administration cost—would be lost. The hon. Gentleman asked whether the amount would be reviewed. It will, like all these measures, be reviewed in due course to ensure that it is fixed at the appropriate level.
Question put, That the amendment be made:—
The Committee divided: Ayes 3, Noes 9.