19:15, October 28 335 0 theguardian.com

2017-10-28 19:15:03
From the Observer archive  From the Observer archive: this week in 1990

The time and energy that Ministers have spent opposing a dog registration scheme would have been better spent encouraging dog owners to clear up the 1,000 tons of faeces along with three million gallons of urine that are deposited daily in our parks and on our pavements.

Tomorrow, MPs have the chance, in voting on the Environmental Protection Bill, to strike a blow for man’s best friend, as well as taking a constructive step towards cleaning up the disgraceful filth of our cities.

Dog registration, which is backed by the overwhelming majority of the public, including 80 per cent of dog owners, would ensure that responsibility for dogs rests where it should – with their owners. “Let the polluter pay” is a sound principle, but it can only work where dogs are properly identified. Nor is it merely a matter of a civilised environment. Every day a thousand stray dogs have to be destroyed, yet the explosion in the dog population continues unchecked.

In countries which have dog registration schemes, the problem of stray and dangerous dogs is non-existent. In Britain we shrug it off as merely bad luck that 80,000 people are bitten every year, many of them children.

The Government’s approach to dogs is to oppose a formal registration scheme and instead load more and more responsibility for control on to local authorities. It hasn’t worked in the past and there’s no reason to think that without staff and proper funding it will work in the future. That is why Tory MPs should ignore the threats of the Whips and heed the views of their constituents tomorrow night. A dog registration scheme is not a panacea. But if the fee was set at a reasonable level, say £20, with exemptions for the blind and the old, it would help to provide local authorities with the revenues they need for enforcement, cleaning up and the care of strays.

Key quote

“They want your body and they want your soul.”

Boris Becker on tennis crowds

Talking point

Mrs Thatcher attempted to turn the tables on her EC partners in Rome last night by using the failure to reach a farm price deal as a weapon against closer European union.

Until yesterday she was prepared for a defensive and beleaguered role in the Rome talks, which were set to fix a date for European political union. But the collapse of talks in Luxembourg between EC foreign and agriculture Ministers over farm subsidies was seized on with delight by Number 10.

Front page story “Thatcher seizes on farm talks collapse”