HC Deb 18 July 1831 vol 4 cc1406-7

On the motion of Lord Althorp, the Order of the Day for the House to go into a Committee of Supply was read.

Mr. George Dawson

begged to say a few words before the House went into Committee, on the subject of shooting dogs in Hyde Park. A few days since, he had taken an opportunity of mentioning to the noble Lord (Duncannon), the Chief Commissioner of Woods and Forests, that he had seen no less than seven dogs shot in Hyde Park, in one day, by the keepers; and that he was convinced, so cruel and needless an act was entirely unsanctioned by, and unknown to, his royal highness the Duke of Sussex, the Ranger of that Park. He made this communication, because he thought, that it was within the province of the Board of Woods and Forests to give orders that such a practice as this should be discontinued. He was informed, however that only the day before yesterday, two other dogs had been shot in Hyde Park by the keepers, and he therefore took this opportunity of asking the noble Lord, whether the keepers were au- thorized to shoot these dogs; and if so, to submit to him the propriety of suggesting to the royal Duke the necessity of ordering that no more dogs be shot. The practice was not only cruel and disgusting, but was actually attended with great danger, for children were constantly playing about in that part of the Park where the keepers were stationed to shoot the dogs, and an accident might happen to them of serious consequences. Independent, however, of this consideration, it might be asked, what right the keepers had to shoot any dogs which were roaming about in the Park, any more than they had to shoot them on the high road? He knew of no law by which they were authorized to do so; and if they took this license upon themselves, why should they not take to shooting horses as well as dogs? That such an undue exercise of authority had been practised by the keepers, was certain, for he was credibly informed, that they spared no dogs whatever which they found straying or roaming in the Park, but shot them all indiscriminately, from the lady's lap dog up to the Newfoundland dog.

Lord Duncannon

acknowledged having been favoured by a communication from the right hon. Member opposite, on the subject of the dogs that were shot in Hyde Park; and he had reported the observations that had been made to him, to the Superintendent of the Ranger's establishment, who replied, that the keepers had orders to shoot no dogs whatever, except when they were chasing the deer. He was convinced, upon the statement of the right hon. Member, that the keepers must have exceeded their orders; and he should take an early opportunity of representing the matter to his royal highness, the Ranger, who, he was sure, was most anxious that no such unnecessary cruelty should continue to be practised.

Mr. O'Connell

observed, that the right hon. Member had expressed some doubts as to the legality of the keepers shooting dogs in Hyde Park. He could confirm those doubts; for he would take upon him to say, that they had no more right to shoot dogs in Hyde Park, unless they were chasing deer, than they had to fire upon them in the highway.