§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ THE EARL OF CRANBROOK
My Lords, this Bill has passed through another place without opposition, and I think it may now be fairly described as a non- 780 contentious measure. It corrects several anomalies in our present law. Clause 1 extends the liability of the owner of a dog which does damage to poultry to an equality with the liability of one whose dog does damage to cattle. In view of the present increase of poultry farming as an adjunct to the farming industry, I feel sure that your Lordships will agree that it is highly necessary that the legal position of the owner of a dog which kills poultry should be the same as that of the owner of a dog which kills cattle. Clause 2 provides that any person who finds a stray dog shall either return it to the owner or take it to the nearest police station, when, if he wants to keep it and signs an undertaking to do so for at least a month, he may be allowed to do so after the police have taken full particulars. If he does not desire to keep it, the dog is dealt with by the police under the same law as obtains at present.
Clause 3 is to prevent carcases of cattle being left in fields where dogs can gain access to them, and here there is an anomaly in the present law which this clause corrects. At the present moment the owner of the cattle is legally responsible, and this clause extends the responsibility to any person having control of the cattle. As your Lordships are aware, at the present moment many farmers feed and keep cattle on their land which are the property of other owners, and it has been found that it is impossible to apply the law in these cases. This clause will make it possible. This is the first Bill that I have had the honour to present to your Lordships, and I feel it is a useful Bill and one which will correct several anomalies in the present law. I hope your Lordships will give it a Second Reading.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a—(The Earl of Cranbrook.)
THE PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY OF THE MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE AND FISHERIES (THE EARL OF STRADBROKE)
My Lords, I only wish to say on behalf of the Government that we view this Bill with approval, and hope that your Lordships will give it a Second Reading. It is a very short measure, but one which may be usefully added to the legislation of this country. It does away with several anomalies in the present law. I would like to congratulate the noble Earl on his clear and lucid explanation 781 of the Bill. He has told you that this is the first Bill he has introduced, but I hope it will be by no means the last occasion on which he will take an active part in the deliberations of your Lordship's House, in the same way as some of us remember that his grandfather did.
§ LORD PARMOOR
My Lords, this is a non-contentious Bill in every way. It is an extremely useful measure, because it covers difficulties which have been found in applying the law in farming districts, owing to the fact that the present Act is not wide enough in scope and jurisdiction. I would like to endorse what the noble Earl has said as to the clear and able way in which the measure was introduced by Lord Cranbrook.
§ VISCOUNT BERTIE OF THAME
My Lords, there are one or two discrepancies between the principal Act and this Bill which I would like to point out. In the first place, under subsection (2) of Section 3 of the principal Act where a dog is seized, even although it has no collar, and the police know to whom the dog belongs, they are under an obligation to inform the owner. In the case of a found dog there is no such obligation, and so a disagreeable finder may say to the police: "You are under no obligation, and I forbid you to inform the owner." Under subsection (5) of Section 3 of the principal Act, no dog so seized shall be given or sold for the purposes of vivisection, but found dogs under this Bill are not protected from vivisection. Then under subsection (8) of Clause 3 of the Act, there is a provision for a dog found by the police being properly fed, but there is no such provision in this Bill. I have simply raised these points on the Second Reading in order to give the noble Earl notice of them, and I shall move Amendments in Committee which I hope he will see his way to accept when the time comes.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.