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Last Updated: Friday, 14 March 2008, 17:47 GMT
MP's animal insurance bid fails
Animal owners are facing soaring insurance premiums
An attempt to clarify the law on the liability of animal owners when an accident has occurred has failed.

A Private Member's Bill by Stephen Crabb would have seen an amendment to the Animals Act 1971.

Currently, the law means that owners of horses and cattle are liable for any accident involving their animals and many face rising insurance costs.

The Bill was defeated after a marathon speech from Labour MP Andrew Dismore, who opposed the Tory MP's proposals.

The Bill failed to go further as fewer than the necessary 40 MPs were present. It was backed by 26 votes to one.

One should accept the consequences of one's actions and owning an animal is an action
Andrew Dismore MP

Mr Crabb told the Commons that soaring insurance costs were threatening riding schools and livery stables.

Owners were paying high insurance premiums because of a lack of clarity over "strict liability". The Bill would protect careful animal owners for risks that cannot be foreseen, he said.

The proposal has the support of both the Opposition and the Government as well as horse riding bodies.

Mr Dismore, who spoke for two hours and 19 minutes, said the amendment would leave some seriously injured people unable to get compensation.

"One should accept the consequences of one's actions and owning an animal is an action," he said.

"If that animal misbehaves, for whatever reason, and injures somebody, I think the owner of the animal should be liable to pay compensation to the victim."


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