HL Deb 04 July 1854 vol 134 cc1075-80

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


in moving the second reading of this Bill, said, that he had no intention of entering into a lengthened discussion on the subject, inasmuch as the present measure was merely to correct an omission in a former Bill, relative to which he had presented three very important petitions the other evening. The omission to which he had alluded, and which the clause he proposed to add would remedy, had reference to carts drawn by dogs; and the purport of the new Bill was to extend to all parts of the country the clauses of the Act which had been passed to prevent carts drawn by dogs being used either in London or within a distance of fifteen miles of London, and to make the provisions of that Bill apply to all parts of the country without exception. Everybody who took the trouble to consider this subject knew very well the nuisance and the danger of these vehicles, and could probably bear testimony to the obstruction, danger, and, oftentimes, the loss of life to which they led. The treatment to which the dogs were subjected very often brought on a species of madness in them, and horses were constantly startled and frightened by the manner in which these dog-carts were driven in crowded thoroughfares.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.


entirely differed from the noble and learned Lord who had moved the second reading of the present Bill, and thought it most desirable that we should avoid, as much as possible, over-legislation in these matters; and he could not but believe that to prohibit the using dogs for a purpose in itself altogether unobjectionable would amount to a case of over-legislation, which he trusted their Lordships were not prepared to sanction. He considered that it would be very unfair to prevent poor persons making use of their clogs to assist them in their work, inasmuch as he believed that their dogs by no means objected to rendering such assistance. As to the objection raised to the probability of dogs becoming mad from being driven in these carts, he looked upon that as perfectly visionary and unstable; and as to horses being frightened by these carts, such a notion was equally insupportable, inasmuch as horses would be frightened at almost anything at times, and it was impossible to legislate so as to please their humours. He had a horse himself once which never would pass a wheelbarrow without shying; but this was no reason why the use of wheelbarrows should be prohibited. He thought such a provision as that now sought to be introduced in the Cruelty to Animals Bill was puerile and unnecessary, and he should therefore move the rejection of the measure.

Amendment moved, to leave out "now," and insert, "this day three months."


said, he should support the Bill. He thought that dogs were not intended by nature to be made use of for purposes of draught; and having applied restrictions in these respects to London and a circuit round it of fifteen miles, he considered that it would be very unjust to refuse to make the same enactments applicable generally. He was as much opposed to over-legislation as any of their Lordships could be; but he could not regard the present measure as in any way deserving such title.


said, the subject of these dog-carts was one of considerable interest in many parts of the country, and one which really required grave and considerate attention. He considered that the restrictions in reference to London and the circuit of fifteen miles round it ought to be extended to all parts of the country, and he saw no reason why it should not be so applied. Every one knew that the natural position of a dog was to stand on its toes, and that to put a collar on its neck, harness on its back, and weight upon its loins, was virtually forcing it from its natural position into one which it could only be educated to, and that with much suffering and pain. He had received representations from various parts of the country pointing out the cruelty of the practice, and the demoralising effects that attended it. One instance was given in which a man ripped up a dog, and gave its entrails to two other dogs to eat. These dog-carts were, besides, the cause of numerous accidents from frightening horses, and there was scarcely a person accustomed to ride out with his family who did not experience the dangers that arose from this source. The nuisance had already been put down by law in one part of the country, and he did not see why the prohibition should not be extended to other parts, where the evil was quite as strongly felt. He hoped, therefore, that their Lordships would consent to the second reading of the Bill.


made a few observations which were inaudible.


for his part, could not understand the justice of the first clause of the Bill, by which it was provided that the owner of an animal impounded should be liable to pay double the value of the food and water with which it might be supplied. With respect to the second clause, which prohibited the use of dogs as animals of draught, their Lordships must take care that, in putting an end to cruelty to dogs, they were not inflicting injury of another kind. He was able to state to the House, as the result of inquiries which he had instituted, that in the two counties of Sussex and Hamp- shire there were 1,500 people at least who were earning a livelihood at this moment by driving dogs in these carts, the use of which it was now proposed to prohibit. Every one of those 1,500 persons, if he continued to gain his livelihood in this way, was to be liable by this clause to be imprisoned for three calendar months—a punishment, which, he must say, was greatly disproportioned to the moral turpitude of the offence against which it was to be directed. With respect to the question of cruelty, he must remind the House that if the owners of dogs used for purposes of draught treated them cruelly, they were liable to punishment in the present state of the law; and he really wished his noble and learned Friend seriously to consider whether, in allowing this clause to pass, they would not be acting very cruelly towards those whose means of subsistence would be so seriously affected by its operation.


believed that these animals were subjected to very great suffering, and would therefore vote for the second reading of the Bill.


denied the soundness of the argument which the noble Earl opposite had deduced from the number of persons who were now using dogs for purposes of draught in the two counties to which he had alluded. Supposing the fact to be as the noble Earl had stated it, he had no doubt whatever that at the time when these dog-carts were permitted to be used in the metropolis there were fully as many as 1,500 persons using them. Did they give those persons compensation when the use of dog-carts was prohibited? If they did not give them compensation, and if they committed an act of injustice then, it might fairly be argued that they might commit an act of injustice now. He did not admit, however, that any injustice was done to those persons at that time, and he did not, therefore, concede that any injustice would be done now.


said, he had patiently listened to all that had been urged in favour of the second clause of the Bill. The burden of proof clearly lay with those who held that the clause should be enacted, but he must say that in his opinion they had entirely failed in that proof. The case was argued before their Lordships, on the ground that the practice of using dogcarts was attended with cruelty, that it was dangerous to other parties, and that it was demoralising to those engaged in it. It was said the dog was not a beast of draught. Now, it appeared to him that the very Act they wished to pass, proved that he was a beast of draught. If he was able to draw a cart suited to his strength, he was surely to that extent a beast of draught, and there was one advantage that the dog had over the horse—he had not a rusty bit in his mouth. The noble Marquess behind him spoke of the danger to passers by. There was no doubt, whatever, that there might occasionally be danger from these animals; but, if they were to legislate on everything that caused danger, and on everything that frightened a horse, they might begin with railway trains, and go on till they included wheelbarrows. He had seen a bird flying out of a hedge have a very bad effect on a horse. Then, as to the demoralising effect, he did not think that proved either. His noble Friend said, the practice was demoralising to the performers, but it was not very clear whether he meant to the men or the dogs. He referred to a case of great cruelty which had occurred; but that only proved that the dogs were entirely demoralised, because, as his noble Friend who appeared to be so well up in the natural history of the case said, they proceeded to do that which no dog in a more innocent condition would have been guilty of. As dog-carts were the cheapest mode of conveyance, they were used by the poorest class; and, in reply to what had been said of the respectability of that class, he could only say that if they went into the moral statistics as to costermongers who drove ponies and donkey carts, they would, no doubt, be found to be less respectable than those who drove their carriages and pair; but, if their Lordships should deprive persons of their means of obtaining a living, because they were less respectable than the class above them, they would be adopting a very dangerous principle. Under these circumstances, he did not consider that the case against the dog-carts had been made out.


desired to say a few words, in order to correct a mistake made by his noble Friend, who had spoken of the present measure as one which would deprive 1,500 parsons in Hampshire and Sussex of the means of obtaining a livelihood. He had made inquiries on this subject, and, as the result, found that the men who used these carts were men of bad character, and they employed this mode of conveyance, not on account of its expedition, but of its cheapness. The present Bill was generally asked for throughout the country, and he should therefore support it.


said, that during the present debate, they had not heard a single argument against this measure, but many powerful ones had been urged in its favour. His noble Friend who had moved an Amendment had spoken of the Bill as petty and over-legislative; but as three measures on this subject had passed the House of Commons, and as petitions in their favour had been presented during the present and past Sessions, he considered that the present measure was one for serious and grave deliberation, and not for humorous or witty discussion. Under these circumstances, he trusted that their Lordships would take this measure into their favourable consideration.


consented to withdraw his Amendment for the present, as he had been informed that the more formal mode of proceeding would be for him to attack the second clause, to which he objected, in Committee.


denied that he had ever had anything to do with the second clause, and he was, consequently, not open to any blame that might be thought to attach to that clause. He regretted that his noble Friend had spoken of him with some asperity, and said that he was influenced by feelings of great humanity; he (Lord St. Leopards) had done nothing to show that he had more humanity than anybody else; he might have as much as the common run of mankind, but he could not lay claim to anything more.

Motion, by leave of the House, withdrawn: Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the whole House on Monday next.

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