§ 3.6 p.m.
§ The MINISTER of STATE, SCOTTISH OFFICE (Lord Kirkhill)
My Lords, I beg to move that the Bill be now considered on Report.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now considered on Report.—(Lord Kirkhill.)
Lord CAMPBELL of CROY
My Lords, I have a few comments to make about this Bill and the two immediately following; they are all local authority Instruments applying in Scotland and they have one purpose—namely, that of dealing with stray dogs. There have recently been others passing through this House. I commented on one of the earlier ones and I refer the Government to what I then said. I shall not repeat it, but I would remind your Lordships 18 of the two principal points. The first was that there should be avoidance of cruelty while the animals are being detained for a number of days, that there should be provision of food and water and that they should be kept in humane conditions. The second was that there should be arrangements for owners, where the dog is not a stray, to have a reasonable time or interval and an opportunity to claim the dog before it is killed. It may be a valuable dog or a much-loved family pet.
Is the Minister satisfied that, not only in the provisions of the Bills but in the way they are being carried out, these principles are being observed? I should also like to make it clear that the Bills fill a gap in Scotland. Stray (Jogs have been becoming an increasing nuisance both in towns and in the countryside; in the countryside they have been worrying farm livestock.
No doubt the local authorities also have in mind the possibility of rabies crossing the Channel—an eventuality we all wish to prevent, but for which we should be prepared—and the noble Lord, Lord Kirkhill, may be able to tell us whether that consideration is in the minds of the local authorities promoting these Instruments. I suggest to the House, subject to what he has to say, that there is no reason to object to these three Bills, subject also to the qualifications which I fully outlined on that previous occasion.
§ Lord KIRKHILL
My Lords, I had taken careful note of what was said on the previous occasion to which the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, referred. I carefully examined what he said then and I am satisfied that this confirmation Bill and those which follow satisfy the general criteria he mentioned in the earlier discussion.
On the more specific question of rabies—the noble Lord did me the service of indicating earlier that he would mention this subject—I am advised that the Government's main policy on this question is to prevent the disease from ever reaching this country; I think that is self-evident. This is achieved primarily by tight controls over the importation of dogs, cats and other mammals. If, however, the disease should ever reach our shores, contingency plans which have 19 already been prepared would immediately be put into action to prevent the disease from spreading. These plans would include, where appropriate, the rounding up of stray dogs under powers in our anti-rabies legislation, not under the powers in this type of confirmation Bill. Clearly, however, any other measures which resulted in a reduction in the number of stray dogs—and I believe that this kind of confirmation Bill can have that type of effect—would have a spin-off benefit for our defences against rabies.
§ On Question, Bill considered on Report.