HL Deb 20 June 1978 vol 393 cc949-50

2.41 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the first Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will now implement the remaining sections of the Guard Dogs Act 1975.


My Lords, the Government are not currently planning to bring those sections into force, but will keep the matter under review.


My Lords, in thanking the noble Lord for that reply, may I ask him this question: Is he aware that there have been more than 300 complaints about the way in which these guard dogs are kept? Is he also aware that when we passed this Act, one of the reasons for doing so was to try to stop people who were running one-man jobs from doing this? These sections were put in the Act for that precise purpose. Is the noble Lord further aware that we shall continue to get complaints about this matter until these sections are brought into effect?


My Lords, I accept everything that the noble Lord has said. I handled this particular Act when it was a Bill before your Lordships' House. The Government made it clear during the passage of the Bill that the licensing provisions would not be brought into effect for some time because of their implication for local authorities on whom the burden of administering the system would fall. The noble Lord will be aware that to implement Sections 2, 3 and 4 would impose a very considerable burden on the local authority.


My Lords, is my noble friend aware that we are all very grateful for the way that he facilitated the passage of the Act smoothly and quickly? Is he also aware that we hope that he is not implying that this section is in effect never going to be introduced, or is not going to be introduced for a long time, because the problems of the local authorities will remain more or less for ever? They are always overburdened. Is he aware that his reply sounded a little alarming and might suggest that this section may never be brought into force at all?


My Lords, I did not mean to imply that nothing would be done. It is mainly a question of the imposition of further duties on staff and it always means the expenditure of money, which is rather tight at the moment. We do not expect that situation to remain with us for ever. I should like to say to the noble Lord who raised the Question that I remember his saying on a previous occasion he was afraid that this matter would "sink into limbo". It is not the Government's intention that that should happen and we will certainly keep the matter under review.


My Lords, will you forgive me for intervening on a personal note for a moment. I am sorry that I forgot to thank my noble friend for the generous way in which he referred to my age, and I thank the House for the manner in which it received the remarks.