Section 4 — Arrest, search and seizure

Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 – in the Scottish Parliament at 4:15 pm on 13th February 2002.

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Photo of David Mundell David Mundell Conservative

I am hopeful—no, I am not hopeful. [Laughter.] Let us not kid anyone. I would like members who support the bill to set out in the debate on this group why they believe that the criminal powers that are contained in section 4 are required for offences of the nature listed in the bill. I hope that that involves not just reading from a brief or quoting from the Rural Development Committee, but setting out coherently and cogently why the crimes require such measures.

The measures are completely over the top. If members were discussing any other issue and were concerned with civil liberties, they would not allow legislation to be passed that contains a phrase such as "appears to belong to". The phrase is totally meaningless; it allows too great an infringement of an individual's personal liberties relative to the offence. The phrase should be rejected unless it can be coherently argued for.

My view is that the bill does not provide sufficient safeguards in respect of animals that are seized or detained in the course of an arrest or a criminal inquiry. Amendment 15 is an attempt to insert a subsection that would require animals, birds of prey or possibly even fish to be cared for immediately after they are seized or detained. Amendment 15 also attempts to address a legitimate concern among people who feel threatened by the bill that animals—some of which may be very valuable or highly trained—could be put down because no proper arrangement has been made for them.

It is regrettable that, although we hear a great deal about the welfare of foxes from members, including Cathy Peattie, we do not hear about the welfare of rabbits. Cathy Peattie may have a stuffed fox on her desk, but she is in favour of rabbits being torn apart by dogs. If she thought that that was cruel, she could have included a provision in the bill to outlaw it.

Amendment 15 would allow animals that are seized or detained to be kept and not put down without the consent of the owner.

I move amendment 13.

Photo of Allan Wilson Allan Wilson Labour

The police are already under a duty to look after animals that are seized properly. The duty is similar to the duty to look after articles or other evidence that is seized in a case. If an animal becomes evidence in a case, the responsibility passes to the Crown, which also has a duty to care properly for it. The Executive regards it as highly unlikely that animals would be used as evidence in cases, but Mr Mundell's amendment 15 appears to place all the responsibility to care for seized animals on the police. That is not an accurate statement of the position.

As members can imagine, financial consequences would flow from the provisions in amendment 15. The Executive invites the Parliament to reject the amendment.

Photo of Murray Tosh Murray Tosh Conservative

I understand that, in this case, Mr Muldoon has waived his right to respond in favour of John Young.

Photo of John Young John Young Conservative

Some have said that I must feel like a fox surrounded by hounds. I emphasise that I am surrounded by very nice hounds.

I regret that David Mundell has lodged amendments that were rejected previously by the Rural Development Committee. His amendment 13 was defeated by seven votes to four in committee and his amendment 15 was withdrawn in the face of opposition from the Executive and the SSPCA. I am not sure why he has chosen to lodge the amendments again at stage 3. I am sure that David will forgive me if I express my gratitude to the Presiding Officers for not selecting some of his other more imaginative amendments.

Amendment 13 would restrict the ability of a constable to search vehicles. It is curious that David wants to do that. For some 43 years I have been a paid-up member of the Conservative party. I have always found the party to be a vigorous supporter of law and order. I hope that David will reconsider the matter.

I oppose amendment 15 for the same reason that the Executive and the SSPCA opposed it at stage 2. As the minister said, the police have a duty of care. The SSPCA does not believe that a criminal dog owner should be able to prevent the humane or mercy killing of a dog.

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell Conservative

I am not persuaded by Mr Young. I have not been alive for 43 years, never mind been a member of the Conservative party for that length of time. I congratulate John in that regard; indeed, it is one of his activities that we will encourage.

The situation today is exactly the same as it was at the Rural Development Committee. No arguments have been advanced in support of this draconian criminal provision, apart from the comment that the matter is serious; indeed, it is treated more seriously than many drugs-related offences. I fully accept the minister's legitimate concerns about the public purse. I will raise that matter when I speak to another amendment, because I am concerned that the Executive and the Crown Office will pass on the cost of keeping dogs that have been seized to people who are prosecuted.

The safeguard outlined in amendment 15 is necessary for those who have their dogs taken away; those dogs should not be put down without a by-your-leave.

I will press amendment 13 and amendment 15.

Photo of Murray Tosh Murray Tosh Conservative

The question is, that amendment 13 be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members:

No.

Division number 30

For: Aitken, Bill, Davidson, Mr David, Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James, Fergusson, Alex, Fitzpatrick, Brian, Fraser, Murdo, Gallie, Phil, Goldie, Miss Annabel, Grahame, Christine, Harding, Mr Keith, Johnstone, Alex, Lyon, George, MacDonald, Ms Margo, McGrigor, Mr Jamie, McIntosh, Mrs Lyndsay, McLetchie, David, Monteith, Mr Brian, Mundell, David, Munro, John Farquhar, Robson, Euan, Scanlon, Mary, Scott, John, Wallace, Ben
Against: Adam, Brian, Alexander, Ms Wendy, Baillie, Jackie, Barrie, Scott, Boyack, Sarah, Brankin, Rhona, Brown, Robert, Butler, Bill, Campbell, Colin, Canavan, Dennis, Chisholm, Malcolm, Craigie, Cathie, Crawford, Bruce, Cunningham, Roseanna, Curran, Ms Margaret, Deacon, Susan, Ewing, Dr Winnie, Ewing, Fergus, Ewing, Mrs Margaret, Fabiani, Linda, Ferguson, Patricia, Finnie, Ross, Gibson, Mr Kenneth, Gillon, Karen, Godman, Trish, Gorrie, Donald, Grant, Rhoda, Gray, Iain, Hamilton, Mr Duncan, Harper, Robin, Henry, Hugh, Home Robertson, Mr John, Hughes, Janis, Ingram, Mr Adam, Jackson, Dr Sylvia, Jackson, Gordon, Jamieson, Cathy, Jamieson, Margaret, Jenkins, Ian, Kerr, Mr Andy, Lamont, Johann, Livingstone, Marilyn, Lochhead, Richard, MacAskill, Mr Kenny, Macdonald, Lewis, Macintosh, Mr Kenneth, MacKay, Angus, Maclean, Kate, Macmillan, Maureen, Martin, Paul, Marwick, Tricia, Matheson, Michael, McAllion, Mr John, McAveety, Mr Frank, McCabe, Mr Tom, McConnell, Mr Jack, McGugan, Irene, McLeish, Henry, McLeod, Fiona, McMahon, Mr Michael, McNeil, Mr Duncan, McNeill, Pauline, McNulty, Des, Morgan, Alasdair, Morrison, Mr Alasdair, Muldoon, Bristow, Mulligan, Mrs Mary, Murray, Dr Elaine, Neil, Alex, Oldfather, Irene, Paterson, Mr Gil, Peacock, Peter, Peattie, Cathy, Quinan, Mr Lloyd, Radcliffe, Nora, Raffan, Mr Keith, Robison, Shona, Rumbles, Mr Mike, Scott, Tavish, Sheridan, Tommy, Simpson, Dr Richard, Smith, Elaine, Smith, Iain, Smith, Mrs Margaret, Stephen, Nicol, Stevenson, Stewart, Stone, Mr Jamie, Sturgeon, Nicola, Swinney, Mr John, Thomson, Elaine, Ullrich, Kay, Wallace, Mr Jim, Watson, Mike, Welsh, Mr Andrew, Whitefield, Karen, Wilson, Allan, Wilson, Andrew, Young, John
Abstentions: Reid, Mr George

Photo of Murray Tosh Murray Tosh Conservative

The result of the division is: For 23, Against 98, Abstentions 1.

Amendment 13 disagreed to.

Amendment 15 moved—[David Mundell].

Photo of Murray Tosh Murray Tosh Conservative

The question is, that amendment 15 be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members:

No.

Division number 31

For: Aitken, Bill, Davidson, Mr David, Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James, Fergusson, Alex, Fraser, Murdo, Gallie, Phil, Goldie, Miss Annabel, Grahame, Christine, Harding, Mr Keith, Johnstone, Alex, McGrigor, Mr Jamie, McIntosh, Mrs Lyndsay, McLetchie, David, Monteith, Mr Brian, Mundell, David, Munro, John Farquhar, Scanlon, Mary, Scott, John, Wallace, Ben
Against: Adam, Brian, Baillie, Jackie, Barrie, Scott, Boyack, Sarah, Brankin, Rhona, Brown, Robert, Butler, Bill, Campbell, Colin, Canavan, Dennis, Chisholm, Malcolm, Craigie, Cathie, Crawford, Bruce, Cunningham, Roseanna, Curran, Ms Margaret, Deacon, Susan, Ewing, Dr Winnie, Ewing, Mrs Margaret, Fabiani, Linda, Ferguson, Patricia, Finnie, Ross, Fitzpatrick, Brian, Gibson, Mr Kenneth, Gillon, Karen, Godman, Trish, Gorrie, Donald, Grant, Rhoda, Gray, Iain, Hamilton, Mr Duncan, Harper, Robin, Henry, Hugh, Home Robertson, Mr John, Hughes, Janis, Hyslop, Fiona, Ingram, Mr Adam, Jackson, Dr Sylvia, Jackson, Gordon, Jamieson, Cathy, Jamieson, Margaret, Jenkins, Ian, Kerr, Mr Andy, Lamont, Johann, Livingstone, Marilyn, Lochhead, Richard, Lyon, George, MacAskill, Mr Kenny, Macdonald, Lewis, MacDonald, Ms Margo, Macintosh, Mr Kenneth, MacKay, Angus, Maclean, Kate, Macmillan, Maureen, Martin, Paul, Marwick, Tricia, Matheson, Michael, McAllion, Mr John, McAveety, Mr Frank, McConnell, Mr Jack, McGugan, Irene, McLeish, Henry, McLeod, Fiona, McMahon, Mr Michael, McNeil, Mr Duncan, McNeill, Pauline, McNulty, Des, Morgan, Alasdair, Morrison, Mr Alasdair, Muldoon, Bristow, Mulligan, Mrs Mary, Murray, Dr Elaine, Neil, Alex, Oldfather, Irene, Paterson, Mr Gil, Peacock, Peter, Peattie, Cathy, Radcliffe, Nora, Raffan, Mr Keith, Robison, Shona, Robson, Euan, Rumbles, Mr Mike, Scott, Tavish, Sheridan, Tommy, Simpson, Dr Richard, Smith, Elaine, Smith, Iain, Smith, Mrs Margaret, Stephen, Nicol, Stevenson, Stewart, Stone, Mr Jamie, Sturgeon, Nicola, Swinney, Mr John, Thomson, Elaine, Ullrich, Kay, Wallace, Mr Jim, Watson, Mike, Welsh, Mr Andrew, Whitefield, Karen, Wilson, Allan, Wilson, Andrew, Young, John
Abstentions: Reid, Mr George

Photo of Murray Tosh Murray Tosh Conservative

The result of the division is: For 19, Against 99, Abstentions 1.

Amendment 15 disagreed to.