HL Deb 13 July 1964 vol 260 cc83-8

6.50 p.m.

Report of Amendments received (according to Order).

Clause 1:

Licensing of riding establishments


(4) In determining whether to grant a licence for the keeping of a riding establishment by any person at any premises, a local authority shall in particular (but without prejudice to their discretion to withhold a licence on other grounds) have regard to the need for securing—

  1. (a) that there will be available at all times, for horses, accommodation suitable as respects construction, size, number of occupants, lighting, ventilation, drainage, and cleanliness;
  2. (b) that in the case of horses maintained at grass, there will be maintained for them at all times during which they are so maintained adequate pasture and shelter;
  3. (c) that horses will be adequately supplied with suitable food, drink and (except, in the case of horses maintained at grass, so long as they are so maintained) bedding material, and will be adequately exercised and rested and (so far as necessary) visited at suitable intervals;
  4. (d) that all reasonable precautions will be taken to prevent and control the spread among horses of infectious or contagious diseases;
  5. (e) that appropriate steps will be taken for the protection of horses in case of fire;
  6. 84
  7. (f) that adequate accommodation will be provided for forage, bedding, stable equipment and saddlery;
and shall specify such conditions in the licence, if granted by them, as appear to the local authority necessary or expedient in the particular case for securing all the objects specified in paragraphs (a) to (f) of this subsection.


moved, in subsection (4), to leave out "other" and insert "any". The noble Lord said: My Lords, may I speak to Amendments Nos. 1 and 2 together? The first of these Amendments is simply a drafting Amendment to link with the second, which is the re-drafted version of the Amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, in Committee and withdrawn on the understanding that a Government Amendment would be put forward at the Report stage. The effect of the Amendment is to require a local authority, in considering an application for the grant of a licence, to have regard to the suitability and qualifications of the applicant. It is clearly undesirable that any person whose knowledge of and experience with horses is limited should be in control of a riding establishment as both horses and riders may suffer. That was Lord Silkin's point. It is appropriate therefore that an applicant's suitability and qualifications should be taken into account by the licensing authority.

It could be argued that as Clause 1(4) of the Bill, as at present worded, gives local authorities complete discretion to withhold a licence on any grounds, they could already refuse to grant a licence to any person who is in any way unsuitable to keep a riding establishment, whether on account of lack of knowledge and experience or for other reasons. But a specific reference in Clause 1 to suitability and qualifications will make it clear to licensing authorities that these factors should be taken into due account in considering every application for a licence, and this is the effect of the proposed Amendment.

The Amendment is so worded as to indicate that an applicant may be regarded as suitably qualified if his knowledge has been gained entirely by way of experience in the management of horses. On the other hand, the words "or otherwise" enable a licence to be granted to a person whose experience has been gained in some other way, for example, in a course leading to a qualification in the care and management of horses. Competence with horses can also be regarded as one element of "suitability". The inclusion of "suitability" in the proposed Amendment, however, will enable a local authority to have regard not only to knowledge of horsemanship but also to the applicant's character and other attributes or failings which ought properly be taken into account. I hope that, in view of that explanation, my noble friend who is in charge of the Bill will be prepared to accept this Government Amendment, and I hope that it meets the points which the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, raised on Committee stage.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 16, leave out ("other") and insert ("any").—(Lord Derwent.)


My Lords, I am quite prepared to accept the Amendment. I would point out in regard to the word "qualified" that what one local authority might consider qualified another local authority might not. But, on the face of it, although this Amendment does not necessarily do a great deal of good, it certainly does not do any damage to the Bill. Therefore, I am quite prepared to support it.


My Lords, my noble friend Lord Silkin has an engagement which takes him away from this House to-day, but he asked me to express his thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, for the Amendments which appear on the Order Paper. He would like especially to express his thanks for the courtesy with which the noble Lord has dealt with this matter in consulting him at all stages. We welcome enormously the fact that this should take place behind the Speaker's chair, as it were. It oils the wheels of this place, and I think is a very good thing. Certainly on Amendments Nos. 2 and 3 my noble friend particularly wishes to express his thanks for the acceptance of the ideas which he propounded during Committee stage.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 2.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 16, after ("regard") insert ("to whether that person appears to them to be suitable and qualified, either by experience in the management of horses or otherwise, to be the holder of such a licence and").—(Lord Derwent.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


moved, in subsection (4), after paragraph (e) to insert: () that horses will be maintained in a good state of health and that in the case of a horse kept for the purpose of its being let out on hire for riding or a horse kept for the purpose of its being used in providing instruction in riding, the horse will be suitable for the purpose for which in that case it is kept;".

The noble Lord said: My Lords, with permission of the House, I should like to speak to Amendments Nos. 3 and 4 together. As my noble friend Lord Massereene and Ferrard pointed out when Lord Silkin's Amendment was discussed in Committee, an applicant for a licence may decide not to purchase any horses until he has first obtained his licence. It would be unreasonable to insist that inspection of the horses to be hired out should precede the grant of a licence since, if this were so, persons whose applications are rejected, for example, on account of unsuitability of the premises or lack of experience, would be required to incur expenditure on the acquisition of horses unnecessarily. Where horses are already in the stables at the time of the inspection, a local authority already has power to withhold the grant of the licence if the horses are unfit or unsuitable under the general discretion given to them under clause 1(4) to withhold a licence on grounds other than those specified in paragraphs (a) to (f). As pointed out in Committee in the discussion of Lord Silkin's Amendment, it would, therefore, be possible to rely on this general discretion rather than to include an additional provision in the Bill on the lines proposed by Lord Silkin.

On the other hand, however, the insertion of such a provision will serve to remind local authorities—and the veterinary surgeons carrying out the inspections on their behalf—that the health and suitability of horses in an establishment at the time of the inspection are factors which should be taken into account in considering the grant of a licence. There is another way in which the insertion of the additional paragraph proposed in the Amendment will prove advantageous. Clause 1(4) enables a local authority to specify such conditions in a licence as seem necessary for securing all the objects specified in paragraphs (a) to (f) of this subsection". If the Amendment is accepted, therefore, conditions may be included in any licence relating to the health and suitability of the horses kept for hiring out and applying to all horses acquired for this purpose during the twelve months' period of validity of the licence. In the absence of the proposed new paragraph, it would be necessary to rely entirely on the provisions of Clause 3(1) which, while making it an offence to fail to provide treatment for such horses, does not refer in any way to the suitability of the horses. In the circumstances, and notwithstanding the doubts expressed at the Committee stage, it would seem preferable, on balance, to amend the Bill in the manner proposed. I hope my noble friend will agree.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 35, at end insert the said paragraph.—(Lord Derwent.)


My Lords, I shall not oppose this Amendment, but I should like to point out, in regard to the word "suitable", that a horse might be suitable for the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, but might not be suitable for me. It is going to be rather difficult for the local authority to judge what is a suitable horse. The suitability of a horse depends to a great degree on the man who hires it. It would be hard to enforce, but that is a matter for the Home Office and not, I am glad to say, for me.

I have been doing some research in the Library and came across a book called Oliphant's Law of Horses; I understand I am about the only person who has ever looked at it in fifty years. It has certain safeguards in the book. I shall not trouble your Lordships by quoting from it at length, but it says that if a horse or carriage be let out for hire for the purpose of performing a particular journey, the party letting warrants that the horse or carriage is fit and proper and competent for such journey. It says that on page 250, and on page 252 it also points out—and this is an interesting point, because it really covers the ground—that if a horse has been selected out of the hirer's stables it makes no difference which horse is hired, as it is supposed that all the horses for hire in his stables are fit for work. Therefore, my Lords, while I do not oppose this Amendment, I think it is probably unnecessary.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


My Lords, I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 41, leave out ("(f)") and insert ("(g)").—(Lord Derwent.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.