HC Deb 31 July 1889 vol 338 cc1815-7

Lords Amendment considered.


The object of the Amendment having reference to the regulation of the keeping of dogs is to check the disease of rabies among these animals, but it is not in my view germane to the general purposes of the Bill. Dogs are not exclusively connected with agriculture, but, on the contrary, the danger to be apprehended is from dogs in the possession of other than agricultural persons. The Bill proposes to transfer to the Board of Agriculture certain powers prescribed by the Privy Council, and I may be wrong, but so far as my knowledge goes, the power to make regulations for dogs, and exercise control, and make orders for muzzling, etc., does not reside in the Privy Council now, but in the Home Office or the police. The Amendment contains certain provisions with reference to the operation of the Contagious Diseases (Animals) Act of 1878, applicable to the control of the movements of animals, such as horses, sheep, and cattle, but are far from being applicable to the constant muzzling and destruction of dogs. So I suggest this Amendment is not germane to the general purpose of the Bill. There are many difficulties and objections in regard to the mode of controlling, muzzling, seizing, and detaining, and disposing of dogs not kept under proper control, and the question of what is proper control is a moot point at present, and the question of compensation to dogs ordered to be slaughtered may arise. Altogether I think this is not among those matters with which the Bill was intended to deal. The Board of Agriculture is not the proper authority to deal with such a matter. The Amendment contemplates the control of all dogs in the country, but the number of dogs that have no connection at all with agriculture far exceeds the number of sheep dogs, and it does not seem to me consistent with the duties of the Board of Agriculture to undertake the control and slaughter of stray dogs in towns. If there is any doubt of this duty being with the Home Office, we have the newly-constituted County Authority, the County Council, which, in my humble judgment, is the body to have this control and management. There are provisions in the Local Government Act that transfer certain duties from the Privy Council to the County Council, and although I do not believe the Privy Council has this power now, yet obviously it was within the intention of the framers of the Local Government Act that cognate powers should be transferred from the Central to the Local Authority. I object, then, to this particular Amendment of the Lords on the ground that it is not germane to the general provisions of the Bill, and is directed to remedy evils that do not arise purely out of agricultural occupations, and also because not the Board of Agriculture, but the Home Office, or the County Council, is the proper authority to have control in this matter.

* THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH,) Strand, Westminster

I wish at once to answer my hon. Friend with reference to the argument which practically amounts to this, that the Privy Council does not possess the power now, and therefore it should not be transferred to the new department together with other control under the Contagious Diseases Animals Act. My hon. Friend must have failed to observe that within the last few days the Privy Council have issued an Order for the muzzling of dogs from the 1st of August, which proves conclusively that the Privy Council does possess that authority which the Lords by their Amend- ment would transfer. The chief question is really what authority should be charged with the duty of issuing regulations for the prevention of the spread of the dangerous malady rabies. The question is whether a Government Department should have power to issue orders and prescribe regulations which will have to be carried out by the Local Authority. That power the Privy Council now possess, it is not vested in the Home Office, or in the Local Government Board, and will not exist at all unless the Board of Agriculture is charged with it.

* MR. MARK STEWART (Kirkcudbright)

I think, speaking for the part of the country with which I am acquainted, and not for towns, that the clause will be very valuable, enabling the Local Authorities to deal with a large number of stray dogs that do much harm to our flocks and, herds. At present the Authorities have practically no power to stop these ravages, but the Department will issue just the regulations that are required.

Lords Amendment agreed to.