HL Deb 23 May 1854 vol 133 cc784-7

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


, in moving the second reading of the Bill, stated that it contained three clauses; the first gave the justices in the rural districts the power, which was already possessed by the magistrates in the metropolitan district, to order the constables to destroy dogs in a rabid state, or to issue directions for the muzzling or tying up of dogs in the hot weather; the second clause extended to the agricultural districts the operation of the Act for the suppression of dog-carts; and the third clause was intended to prevent dangerous stock being kept in fields or inclosures, where they were likely to do injury to persons passing through.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.


said, that there was no doubt the employment of dogs in carts was attended with considerable inconvenience and often led to accidents; but on the other hand the House must not forget that there were from 16,000 to 18,000 of these carts in the district south of London alone; and supposing that each of these carts was owned only by a single individual, it was obvious that this was a very large part of the population to deprive of their bread by an Act of the Legislature. They should not forget that the owners of these carts were restrained from cruelty to their dogs by a vigilant police, to the observation of whom they were constantly exposed; and if not treated with cruelty he saw no reason why the dog should not be employed for draught, to which it was as well adapted as the horse. He strongly objected to loading the Statute-book with small Statutes of this description, which greatly fettered the liberty of various pursuits in life. In regard to the provision contained in this measure respecting horned cattle, he thought the farmers would be greatly annoyed to find that according to this Bill they could not turn a bull calf out into the fields.

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


remarked, that the clause only referred to "furious" bulls.


said, that this Bill only proposed to give to the justices of the peace in the rural districts the power which the magistrates of the metropolitan districts had possessed for twenty-five years. He certainly thought that it was quite reasonable that this should be done. At present the magistrates in the rural districts had no power to order the destruction of dogs in a rabid state, which frequently bit a number of stock before they were destroyed. With respect to the suppression of dog-carts, there could be no doubt that these vehicles were the frequent causes of accidents. Nor did he think that their owners deserved the consideration of the House; they were generally the carriers of stolen goods, and were in the habit of going about from fair to fair with their dogs, which were so savage that no common constable would dare to approach them.


thought it was highly desirable to take measures to prevent dogs being used for the purposes of draught. Their employment in these little carts was often attended with serious accidents, and the men by whom they were owned were, generally speaking, amongst the worst class of the population. He believed that the use of dogs in this manner would not answer for the purposes of honest trade; and that the only way in which the proprietors of existing dog-carts made it pay was, by keeping such savage dogs that no one liked to meddle with them, and thus they were enabled to live at free quarters in the neighbourhoods through which they passed.


deprecated the ridicule which the House seemed disposed to cast upon this measure. He certainly thought it was high time that the justices had power to order the destruction of rabid dogs. And with respect to the clause relating to dog-carts, it was at least worthy of serious consideration, for the House would recollect that the House of Commons had, in a former Session, passed a Bill for this purpose, which was only lost in that House by a very narrow majority. With regard to the third clause, no doubt many of their Lordships might very well entertain objections to that. He was surprised, however, that the noble Lord who had introduced this Bill, being himself an Irishman, should have limited the operation of this Bill to England. On what principle was it that rabid dogs were to be shot in England and not in Ireland?


said, the subject was one not unworthy consideration. In the year 1838 a Committee of the House of Commons inquired into the subject, and it was proved before them by evidence that the practice of driving dogs in carts was not only a great nuisance and caused frequent accidents, but that it also had a tendency to produce madness. It had been said that the suppression of dogcarts would be a great injury to the poorer classes; but generally the men to whom they belonged were of the lowest and most degraded character, who, although professing to live by honest industry, really gained their livelihood by the worst means. The passing of a measure like this would be attended with great advantage by diminishing strolling vagrancy, and checking the system of petty depredations on the part of these men, from which the farmers at present suffered severely. The provisions of this Bill were already in operation in the metropolis, and he was therefore quite unable to understand on what principle they could refuse to apply them to the rest of the country, when it was the fact that as many accidents were caused by dog-carts in the country as in the town.


opposed the Bill, thinking that, from the way in which it was framed, no good would result from its enactment. It was proposed that two or more credible witnesses were to go to a magistrate and state on oath that the mad dog was running about, and then they might lawfully pursue and kill it. All this time the mischief was being done. Again, if a rabid dog were running about for three days, every dog in that district was to be shut up, so that, if a meet were appointed to take place, all the hounds would have to be shut up, under penalties. The preamble of the Bill set forth that, "Whereas dogs have gone mad through being used in trucks." Now he (Lord Redesdale) had never heard of one dog going mad through any such cause; and, as to the alleged cruelty practised towards dogs in draught, he thought they did not see dogs overburdened in the way in which asses and other animals frequently were, and he believed there was less cruelty practised towards dogs in draught than towards any other animals. The whole of the legislation proposed in this Bill would not, he was of opinion, be productive of advantage.

On Question, that "now" stand part of the Motion, Resolved in the negative; and Bill to be read 2a on this day six months.