HL Deb 21 May 1963 vol 250 cc239-43

7.27 p.m.

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, at the present time anybody can turn any premises into a boarding establishment for dogs and cats. Many of these boarding establishments are quite satisfactory, but for a long time R.S.P.C.A. inspectors have been worried about a certain number of them, and it is thought that there are probably about 50 per cent. of such establishments in this country which are unsatisfactory. Some of them spring up merely during the holiday season to take care of the pets of people who go away. In 1956 the Huddersfield Corporation brought in a Bill, which was passed by your Lordships, by which they took

7.20 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 154) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 26; Not-Contents, 51.

Amulree, L. Henley, L. Shackleton, L.
Archibald, L. Hughes, L. Shepherd, L.
Attlee, E. Latham, L. Strang, L.
Burden, L. [Teller.] Lawson, L. Summerskill, B.
Burton of Coventry, B. Listowel, E. Walston, L.
Champion, L. Longford, E. Williams, L.
Crook, L. Lucan, E. [Teller.] Williams of Barnburgh, L.
Faringdon, L. Milner of Leeds, L. Wootton of Abinger, B.
Henderson, L. Morrison of Lambeth, L.
Albemarle, E. Devonshire, D. Margesson, V.
Aldington, L. Dilhorne, L. (L. Chancellor.) Milverton, L.
Auckland, L. Dudley, E. Monk Bretton, L.
Beauchamp, E. Dundee, E. Monsell, V.
Bossom L. Eccles, L. Montgomery of Alamein, V.
Boston, L. Effingham, E. Newton, L.
Bradford, E. Exeter, M. Ormonde, M.
Brecon, L. Falmouth, V. Remnant, L.
Carrington, L. Ferrers, E. Rochdale, V.
Chesham, L. Goschen, V. [Teller.] St. Aldwyn, E. [Teller.]
Colgrain, L. Grenfell, L. Swansea, L.
Colville of Culross, V. Hailsham, V. (L. President.) Swinton, E.
Conesford, L. Hastings, L. Teynham, L.
Cranbrook, E. Ilford, L. Waldegrave, E.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L. Jellicoe, E. Waleran, L.
Denham, L. Kilmuir, E. Wellington, D.
Derwent, L. Lothian, M. Woolton, E.

Resolved in the negative, and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.

powers to control these boarding establishments for cats and dogs, paying particular attention to temperature, size, lighting, ventilation et cetera. The Bill which I am now proposing to your Lordships roughly follows that Act of Parliament.

I should like briefly to outline what the Bill seeks to do. Clause 1 provides that no person should keep a boarding establishment for dogs or cats who has not a licence granted by a local authority—that is, by a county borough, a county council, a metropolitan borough, or the City of London; or, in Scotland, a county or burgh. The person applying for that licence will pay a fee of 10s. a year—which I do not think is an unreasonable sum to put forward, because the charges made by these establishments for taking care of their dogs and cats vary. The charges for dogs can be 7s. 6d., 10s. or 12s. 6d. per day; whereas the charges for cats can vary from 2s. 6d. to 5s. 6d. per day.

The points which the local authority have to consider when they are granting a licence is that the construction of the establishment is satisfactory, that it is of a reasonable size, that there are not going to be too many animals there and that there shall exist facilities for giving the animals exercise. At the same time, the temperature, lighting, ventilation and cleanliness must be of a satisfactory state. The construction at the present time among the unsatisfactory establishments ranges over an enormous variety of buildings, from stables to huts made of chicken boxes with corrugated iron roofs, packing cases, timber and old pieces of crate et cetera. I have a number of photographs of these but I do not propose to show them to your Lordships now. At the same time there must be available a supply of food and drink and bedding material in suitable quantities, and somebody must be available to visit the animals, if need be, at suitable intervals.

Precautions must be taken to prevent the spread of infectious or contagious diseases, and adequate isolation facilities must be provided should one of the animals be taken sick. A further provision is that appropriate steps must be taken to protect the animals in the case of fire or other emergency. A provision which is new is that a register shall be kept, giving the date of arrival of the animal and the date of departure, together with the name and address of the owner; and that register is to be opened for inspection to an officer of the licensing authority or to a veterinary officer authorised under Clause 2, subsection (1), of the present Bill. There is an appeal to a magistrates' court in England, or to the sheriffs' court in Scotland, if an application for a licence should be refused. The licence shall extend for one year. Suppose the licensee were to die during the year, the licence remains automatically in force for one month, and then the local authority may grant licences at monthly intervals until the estate has been wound up and the establishment can be disposed of finally.

Clause 2 gives the local authority power to authorise inspection by any of its officers or by a veterinary surgeon or practitioner. The third clause is the penalty clause: there is to be a fine of £25 or up to three months' imprisonment, with discretion to cancel a licence or to disqualify the holder. Clause 4 gives powers to a local authority in England and Wales to prosecute for offences in its area. Clause 5 makes a sensible provision among the interpretations: that the terms of the Bill shall not apply to people who take in one dog or one cat for a friend who is going away for a short holiday. That, I think, is a very sensible provision. Clause 6 provides that people who have been running these establishments before the passing of the Bill may continue to work those establishments for one month before they need apply for their licence—that is to say, provided they have not been disqualified in any way before that.

My Lords, this measure has the modified approval of the Association of Municipal Corporations; and the British Veterinary Association has approved it, too. I trust, therefore, that I have said enough to show that this is quite a useful little Bill which will enable some bad establishments either to be improved or to be suppressed altogether. It is part of the general work towards the betterment of conditions of animals in this country, and it really carries on the work which was started by the Pet Animals Act, 1951, which made certain requirements in shops where pets may be sold. My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Amulree.)


My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Amulree, has explained the purpose of this Bill with his usual clarity. I do not wish to add anything to what he has said, except to tell your Lordships that the Government regard this as a useful measure which should be of assistance to local authorities in checking the abuses that undoubtedly exist at the moment, and in seeing that dogs and cats which are boarded out in this way get a reasonably square deal. I am sure that this aim is one which will commend itself to the whole House; and I hope, therefore, that the Bill will be given a Second Reading.


My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Marquess for regarding my Bill with a mild and magnificent eye.

On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.


My Lords, I beg to move that the House do adjourn during pleasure until 8.35 p.m.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

[The Sitting was suspended at twenty-five minutes before eight o'clock and resumed at twenty-five minutes before nine o'clock.]