HL Deb 13 January 1987 vol 483 cc530-41

6.19 p.m.

The Earl of Selkirk

My Lords, I beg to move that the Animals (Scotland) Bill be now read a second time.

The task of the Scottish Law Commission is to keep the law in good repair. That is precisely what they are seeking to do in this Bill. They have come to the conclusion that there are problems of law involving animals which increasingly highlight the defects in the existing system. This is perhaps not altogether surprising because most of the rules and institutional writings go back to the 17th century. Indeed, some of the information on this matter goes back much further. We can see that Gaius, the great Roman jurist, said that if anyone was damaged by an animal he was entitled at least to compensation for loss of employment and for medical attention. Therefore, this is an old problem to which there has not yet been a simple answer.

Accordingly, the Law Commission had very wide consultations in Scotland because this is a matter which affects a great many people in a great many different circumstances. They have consulted some 70 organisations and individuals the length and breadth of the country. After long and very careful examination of the replies which they received, they drew up the present Bill and I think we should express our gratitude for the trouble which they have taken in so doing.

I am particularly glad to be informed that the Bill is welcomed by the National Farmers' Union and is wholeheartedly supported by the Law Society of Scotland which is introducing a new principle which I shall endeavour to explain. First, this is purely a Bill of law and not one of those administrative organisational Bills with which we have been so busily occupied in this House in recent times.

This Bill involves a new principle, but it leaves intact the law of negligence. In other words, action can still be taken where some fault can be proved. I suspect that that action will probably remain a more popular avenue for legal action than others. It also leaves unaffected the current law of nuisance, dealing with such things as noise, smell, etc.

That was not regarded as sufficient by the Law Commission. The particular problem which has arisen is the interpretation of the word "scienter" which simple means "knowledge", so far as I know. The origin of this word is not statutory and I do not know from where it started. It appears to have drifted from the common law of England into the common law of Scotland. However, it has led to a very rich variety of interpretations. Perhaps I may explain it in a few sentences. To use the words of Stair, where an animal, not a species, is considered to be pernicious or outrageous, or at least is known to be pernicious or outrageous, and that in fact is known by the owner or keeper, then an action will lie.

It is not easy to know whether the owner knows how pernicious his animal is. There are many ways of learning that either by hearsay or by some other way, and it has created a good deal of uncertainty. The Law Commission have tried to find a new principle on which to act. I think that it is in the tradition of Scots law that we prefer to have principles from which we deduce that application in detail rather than as in England where often one starts with inducing principles from detailed application. Be that as it may, that is the endeavour of the Scottish Law Commission.

They have sought to establish the principle that if a species of animal is known by its natural physical attributes and its habits to be likely or capable of injuring severely persons or animals, then that is a serious risk and it must be subject to strict liability. I shall refer to those animals in a moment.

The second category, dealing with cattle of all kinds, including deer, is not liable for damaging persons but it is liable for damaging property or the produce of land, crops, grass, etc. It concerns the natural quality of cattle, and it is what they will do if they are allowed to stray. This is largely what theWinter Herding Act of 1680 did, but it puts it rather more strictly.

The animals listed as causing serious risk are shown in the appendix to the Dangerous Wild Animals Act of 1976. Strictly speaking, it mostly concerns animals outside this country, but the Bill adds the word "dogs". Dogs are included among those animals which constitute a serious risk. The reason is that the report which the Law Commission received made it clear that in many cases dogs were the cause of anxiety, and in certain cases the cause of worrying sheep, if not more than that.

Therefore, the two categories which we support are first, the danger to animals and persons which are categorised as serious risk, and secondly, the danger to crops by the straying of animals. The deduction which the Law Commission makes on this is that the significance of the word "scienter" should disappear completely from Scots law. I believe that that is a great advantage.

There are limited defences which can be made to the application of strict liability. First, there is contributory negligence where damage is wholly the fault of the person who sustained damage or injury. That appears in Clause 2. Secondly, there is the case where the risk is voluntarily accepted: the principle of volenti non fit injuria. Thirdly, there is the trespasser or, as it appears in the Bill (because "trespasser" is a rather difficult word) the person not authorised or entitled to be on the land.

I think that that should not be interpreted too sharply because there are many people who are entitled to approach houses, particularly postmen who very often complain of being bitten. However, there are many other people who may be visiting or carrying on business and who are entitled to do so. Those principles are also contained in Clause 2.

That broadly is the new principle introduced by the Bill: strict liability for animals which are not restrained and who are fulfilling what is to them a natural task. That is to say, they are grazing on land or young trees when away from their own enclosures.

There are two further points which I should like to mention. First, the circumstances in which a keeper of a herd, whether of sheep or cattle, would be entitled to shoot the aggressor, particularly a dog. It is made quite clear in the Bill that that action can only be taken when it is the only way in which the sheep can be protected, and it can only be done by the keeper of the sheep. It cannot be punitive: the dog, if he has left the herd, cannot be followed and shot for a punitive purpose. Such action can only be taken when it is an essential and effective way of protecting the sheep. If a dog is killed it will be necessary for the police to be informed within 48 hours, and it cannot be done by anyone engaged in a criminal activity.

The second point deals with animal strays, and that appears in Clause 3. The occupier of the land may retain any straying animal in order to prevent it doing any damage or indeed injuring any thing. He would be liable to look after it. This is also dealt with in the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982.

Those are the main purposes of the Bill. It is quite a short one and has only nine clauses in it. The Bill is intended to clarify the responsibility both to the individuals who hold animals and also to enable the courts to understand where responsibility lies. It tightens slightly the liability of animal owners, which is probably correct. It will make it easier for all to understand more clearly what their responsibilities are and what their liabilities may be. I beg to move.

Moved, That the Bill be now read a second time.—(The Earl of Selkirk.)

6.31 p.m.

Lord Houghton of Sowerby

My Lords, perhaps I should ask for the indulgence of your Lordships' House as an Englishman who dares to intrude in a debate on a Scottish Bill. It is something that few English Members of Parliament dared to do in another place. With time limited for debate, it was probably thought that an Englishman should not take Dart when Scottish Members wanted to speak to their constituents. For that reason, we had to keep out of Scottish debates. But, I may add, the Scots always wanted a three-line whip on a Scottish day.They wanted the support of the whole House if they could get it on those occasions.

I have a Scottish connection. I do not think that I need to present myself to your Lordships' House as a newcomer which would require me to state my qualifications for being here. I am president of the St.

Andrew's Animal Trust in Edinburgh, chairman of the Committee for the Reform of Animal Experimentation, which is based in Edinburgh, I am also vice-president of the Habitat organisation and I call myself a friend of the Highlands of Scotland. I dealt with teachers' pay in Scotland in 1974, and no Englishman has done that before or since.

For many years, I looked after the interests of the tax gatherers of Scotland in conjunction with those of England and Northern Ireland. The difference was that on 1st January every year taxpayers in Scotland queued up outside the collector's office to pay their dues promptly and get out of debt while many collectors in Northern Ireland, on receiving their duplicates of assessment, copied the charges directly into the schedule of default on the ground that to send out demand notes would be a waste of time. I have studied the psychology of tax gathering both in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Naturally, anything that talks about animals excites my interest, and I can be forgiven for thinking that an Animals (Scotland) Bill had something to do with the protection of animals in Scotland. I discover that it is a Bill for the protection of human beings in Scotland, their interests and compensation, and that it deals with the relations between human beings and animals. That was also the case in respect of the English Animals Act 1971 which contains quite a number of provisions which are reflected in some of the clauses of this Bill.

I am not a stickler for uniformity by any means. But there is a good deal to be said for keeping many of the laws of England and Wales on the one hand, and Scotland on the other, as much in harmony as possible. When in government, I was always intrigued as to what it was that justified having a Scottish Bill. Was it because something was so separate, so distinctive and in some respects so unique that it required a separate measure, or was it just the sentiment and tradition of nationalism? There was a mixture of both. But the Secretary of State for Scotland wanted a Scottish Bill whenever he felt it could be justified if only to maintain the distinction between the two countries.

As a member of the Royal Commission on the constitution, I was the most ardent Scottish nationalist of all. I was extremely disappointed when the Scots did not turn out in sufficient numbers to gain their own Parliament. Their own legislature would have been a very suitable place to deal with Bills relating to Scotland. But that was not to be, and I do not know when it will happen.

Dealing with the comparatively small points which I wish to raise, I know that this Bill does not slavishly copy what is in the Act of 1971 applicable to England. But there is one matter that I cannot link up between the English Act of 1971 and this Bill. That relates to animals straying on the highway.

I represented a constituency in the West Riding of Yorkshire where problems arose on the use of land for grazing. I am sure such problems are reproduced in Scotland many times over; namely, the damage caused to animals straying off the moors on to the highway and becoming involved in road accidents which may lead to very serious damage and injuries to motorists. Section 8 of the Animals Act 1971 provides in the case of common land, or land which is situated in an area where fencing is not customary, or land which has a town or village green on it that the owner of the animals has the right to place the animals on that land. He is exempt from any claim for compensation for injury by a person who sustains damage on the road by collision with an animal.

I do not see that aspect reproduced in this Bill, nor am I aware of where it may be found in Scottish law. The Roads (Scotland) Act 1984 deals with some part of this problem in Section 98. It does not seem to deal with the question of actions for compensation. The Act provides for what a person who finds an animal straying on the road may do. This could be an important point, and I apologise if it is somewhere that neither I nor my Scottish connections have been able to discover.

Section 9 of the 1971 Act deals with the killing or injuring of dogs which are worrying livestock. This point does not seem to be dealt with in this Bill in the form in which it is covered in the English Bill.

The noble Earl, whom I am glad to follow on any matter, including this one, referred to the slightly different classification of dogs in Scotland compared to their descriptions in England—perhaps because the Scots regard dogs as dogs whereas in England they are very frequently regarded as pets, as the head of the household or something higher than most human beings for loyalty, affection and devotion and coming as near to the angels as anything can. It may be that. I apologise for not having let the Lord Advocate know of those two points, but I hope that he can clear them up for me because I think it is desirable to have these matters dealt with in as much agreement as possible between the two countries.

I never cease to marvel at the philosophy of the ownership of animals. Apparently every animal must have an owner. If it does not have an owner it is in the wild, stirring up emotions in the human breast about wild and dangerous animals. We do not talk about dangerous human beings in any kind of classification. We used to own slaves, we used to own human beings. That has gone long ago, though human beings were treated at one time, if they were the right colour, very much as animals are treated today. When we talk of bad housing conditions we say, "It is not fit for an animal". This human attitude towards animals is a philosophy well worth studying and one day I should like to be able to say much more about it. We have transferred some of the most evil things about human beings into animals, We say that people are as sly as foxes, as evil as snakes, as detestable as toads, and so on. We speak of people as leopards, bulls, cows, and so on. It is most interesting how we have found something in the animal world to which we can relate some of the most detestable aspects of human nature. That I think is one great slander on the animal kingdom. But I digress; I apologise.

I think I have discharged my duty to Scotland, slender though it may be, in those few remarks. I hope that the Lord Advocate will be able to satisfy those who are watching me closely to see whether I have vindicated the confidence placed in me to see whether the law of England and of Scotland in these two important respects is as close together as it ought to be.

6.44 p.m.

Lord Mackie of Benshie

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Earl for explaining the legal purpose behind the Bill, which I must say I did not quite understand before he spoke. I understand now a few of the implications, particularly for agriculture. In agriculture we care for the animals as well as the pet lovers of England. We like to see the law able to protect animals as well as humans. We do not always speak badly of animals. We talk about being as brave as a lion. The noble Lord must agree that that is a complimentary expression.

I must also, if I may—greatly daring—correct the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, in that Clause 1 deals with animals on the road. Clause 1(5) states: Subsection (1) above shall not apply to injury or damage caused by the mere fact that an animal is present on a road or in any other place. As Scotland has an enormous number of open roads where sheep may stray, that would be a protection to the owners of sheep if they were sued. But I do not see anything enabling them to sue people who kill those sheep in enormous numbers. I wonder whether there is any legal protection.

This is a personal case in that one of my men was killed in a road accident involving a Labrador dog which ran right across the road. In swerving to avoid it, he had an accident and was killed. It appears to me that the liability for keeping that dog under control should have some purpose in that the owner should to a degree perhaps have been held responsible. I know it is difficult, but keeping an animal such as a dog under control in cases involving road accidents is quite different from the problem of open roads in the Highlands. There, sheep do not dash on to the road, but they are there and people know that they are liable to see sheep. In fact, warnings are put up.

I wonder whether there is any protection in the exceptions in the case of dangerous animals. In certain cases one must reckon that a bull can be dangerous. I know the old definition about the ox that was known to push, but if a bull is disturbed by trespassers or innocent ramblers who do not know the form or if it is with a herd of cows it can be annoyed and think that it is defending its territory in cases where people are deliberately trespassing or do not really know what they are about. There are a great number of them.

The other point on which I should like clarification is what happens when somebody leaves gates open and a bull escapes from a field which may be placarded with warnings that people should not go in. It happens frequently. A bull can do damage not only by being aggressive but by being amorous. If a bull gets into a field of pedigree heifers of another breed it can do immense damage. I wonder whether the law makes any provision on that. I am sure the Lord Advocate has this matter at his fingertips and will be able to enlighten me about it.

It is very important that farmers in tourist areas can have some protection against interference in their affairs by other people. It is difficult. I know that a burglar cannot claim any damages if he is attacked by a dog when he is committing a criminal act, but what happens when people come to a door where there is a dog and it does not understand why they are there? I know that with postmen it is different. The poor postman has to put up with a lot. A dog may be highly suspicious of people who come along. Is the owner still liable? I wonder what category tame deer—that is, deer kept like domestic animals—would come into, because a field of domestic stags can be very dangerous indeed. I should be glad if the noble and learned Lord the Lord Advocate could enlighten me on that.

On the question of controlling dogs which do enormous damage, I was very glad to see the definition in Clause 4(4) (b) (ii) about an animal which has been attacking a person or livestock and has not left the vicinity. It is very difficult to define that. I know that many people have been subjected to tremendous loss by dogs which get into a flock of pregnant ewes and harry them, so that they have a tremendous number of abortions. I assume that if a farmer finds a dog on the farm it will be regarded as being in the vicinity.

Up until now, a farmer has been at grave risk if he tried to tackle a dog which he knew would come back to harry or, in many cases, to attack and kill sheep. Perhaps there could be a little more explanation of exactly when he can protect himself if there is a dog which he strongly suspects or knows is responsible for damage. Those are practical points which particularly affect farmers in the Highlands and I should be happy to have an answer to some of the queries that I have raised.

6.51 p.m.

Lord Morton of Shuna

My Lords, I am very happy to leave to the noble and learned Lord the Lord Advocate the questions on law that appear to have been directed at him. This Bill is yet another occasion to pay tribute to the work of the Scottish Law Commission, which as usual has done very careful work and in my opinion has brought forward a Bill which will do a great deal to clarify the law in relation to this part of the activities of animals.

The noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, is to be congratulated on bringing this Bill forward. He referred to the Roman law. He could have gone further back. The Old Testament has certain aspects which have been quoted within the past 20 years in Scottish courts. It is an advantage to get rid of the Winter Herding Act 1686, the language of which is not understood totally by every resident of Scotland. The liability is now relatively clear and the disappearance of the necessity to prove knowledge on the part of the keeper of the animal that the animal was dangerous will make it much easier for the person who goes to a house that has a dangerous dog—whether he be a postman or whatever—to have some hope of recovering if he is bitten.

If I may with some hesitation deal with the points of my noble friend Lord Houghton, it appears to me as a Scottish lawyer that the difference in approach in the highways provision is the classic difference between the approach of the English legal system and the approach of the Scottish legal system. The Scottish legal system does not define with which particular area it is going to deal but prefers to act on principle. I suggest that the comparative provisions in Section 9 of the Animals Act 1971 are to be found in Clause 4 of this Bill. But the difficulties raised by the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie, will always remain.

As regards animals killed on roads, I should have thought the difficulty was not a question of the negligent driver but of the identification of the negligent driver. That applies also to the difficulty of people who leave gates open. It is a question of identification and finding somebody worth suing. In general, I welcome this Bill and wish it an easy passage.

6.55 p.m.

Lord Cameron of Lochbroom

My Lords, I am pleased on behalf of the Government to have an opportunity to declare the Government's support for this Bill. My noble friend has indicated in his very clear introduction to the Bill the purpose of it as simplifying and clarifying the existing law on civil liability in relation to animals in Scotland. Indeed, he has made it clear that the Bill is not intended to make any changes in the existing law of negligence, or indeed of nuisance.

At this point, I say in response to the questions of the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie—I feel rather like a student before a board of examiners this evening—that, in relation to, for instance, a dog causing a road accident, the case would be judged by the ordinary law of negligence if the owner of the dog could be traced and if it could be shown that in some way he had been in breach of a duty of care which any reasonable dog owner would have carried out. Similarly, with the noble Lord's amorous bull, or it may be an amorous dove, in those circumstances it would be a matter of fixing responsibility according to the rules of the law of negligence. As my noble friend made clear, the main object of the Bill is to replace the present rules of strict liability for injury or damage caused by animals with the new single principle of strict liability.

The noble Lord, Lord Houghton, raised an interesting point about separate legislation for Scotland, and to some extent he was answered by his noble friend Lord Morton of Shuna. In its report about this matter, the Scottish Law Commission deals with this issue in paragraph 1.10 and makes specific reference to the Animals Act 1971. It may be helpful to the House if I read out the last sentence of that paragraph which states: In fact as we mentioned, and as subsequent discussion will make clear, our view of this issue is that simply importing the Animals Act 1971 would not be satisfactory", and the issue was what reform should he adopted in Scotland.

I think I can assure the noble Lord that the example of the Animals Act was indeed before the Law Commission, but it felt that it was dealing with a reform in a Scottish context which should be provided with a distinct Scottish response, based upon the principles of law as they have been understood there and which, I should add, are protected by the Treaty of Union.

Noble Lords have already gauged that the present law is separately dealt with in two separate statutes. The first is the old Winter Herding Act 1686, which, as the noble Lord, Lord Morton, pointed out, is very difficult to understand because of its archaic structure and language. Indeed, some of the language has recently been found to be incomprehensible by courts which have had the problem of trying to construe it.

Furthermore, because of that its application is obscure in many instances and it is not clear what defences are available. Secondly, the Dogs Acts of 1906 to 1928 provide for compensation where dogs worry livestock or poultry. Although of more recent origin, this legislation also fails to make clear which defences are available and there are also problems concerning the definition of poultry in those Acts. Finally, there is the matter to which my noble friend referred—the scienter rule which is of very ancient derivation and was probably imported through Roman law into the common law of Scotland. It has been broadened in a way which makes it subject to many exceptions, and it is very complicated and difficult to apply in practice.

The problems are amply set out in the Scottish Law Commission Report. I should not wish to detail them today. However, it was apparent from the detailed and comprehensive study of the Scottish Law Commission regarding these three separate sources of the rules of strict liability that reform of the law was necessary, at least for the purpose of making the law more simple and clear. Consultations which were based upon the commission's provisional proposals for reform showed a consensus in favour of retaining strict liability in relation to certain recognised high-risk animals.

The manner in which the Law Commission dealt with high-risk animals has been expatiated upon by my noble friend in his opening remarks. The Government are satisfied that that manner is entirely appropriate and based upon the fullest consultation. The Bill will of course allow for flexible extension of the rule of strict liability by the courts to other animals. Therefore, to that extent it has an advantage over the present state of the law.

Perhaps at this stage I may deal with certain other points which noble Lords have raised. The noble Lord, Lord Houghton, asked about the question of animals on roads. I confirm entirely what the noble Lord, Lord Mackie, said in response to that. I think that the point is comprehensively dealt with in subsection (5) of Clause 1, bearing in mind that this is a reform of the law in relation to actions of damages. The noble Lord also asked about dogs worrying sheep. Again I would simply confirm the response of the noble Lord, Lord Morton, which is to be found in Clause 4 of this Bill.

The noble Lord, Lord Mackie, asked me questions concerning certain further points apart from those to which I have already responded. He asked about the instance of a dog attacking a visitor to a house and whether the owner was liable for any injury. The answer to that is yes. The Bill deems dogs to be liable to attack persons in terms of Clause 1(3)(a). There was again the question of dogs worrying flocks or herds and causing abortions. The response would be the same in that case. I believe that the noble Lord will understand that the real problem is the one to which the noble Lord. Lord Morton, referred, and that is a question of identification. However, Clause 7 of the Bill provides that the definition of injury should include both abortion and loss of produce. I think that is a clear indication that the ground of damage would be one which could be established by reference to the Bill if the owner was identified.

The question of straying animals and the leaving open of gates was raised by the noble Lord as well. It may well be that the keeper or owner of the animal might have a claim against the third party who left the gate open under the normal rules of the law of negligence. However, I think he will fully understand that the most difficult matter is to identify the person who has been responsible for leaving the gate open.

Lord Mackie of Benshie

My Lords, my question was this: If it could be proved that some person unknown had opened the gate, would the owner still be liable for the damage done?

Lord Cameron of Lochbroom

My Lords, I should not wish to give more than my personal opinion, which is not to be regarded as a legal opinion. My recollection of the ordinary rules of negligence is that if the gate was amply secured and plainly intended to be kept closed, and if the owner could establish that it was not he who had opened the gate, he could not be said to be in breach of a duty of care and therefore could not be liable. However, I hesitate in that I am giving an opinion off the cuff and I am no longer in private practice.

The last point put to me by the noble Lord, Lord Mackie, was the question of a person who suffers injury and who is not a burglar. In response to that, perhaps I may say that the terms of Clause 2(1)(c)(i) may be the answer: If a person is expressly or impliedly authorised to be present, then the defence of trespass cannot be involved to avoid strict liability on the owner's part.

I hope that I have dealt with the questions which your Lordships have raised. The debate serves to illustrate that this is a Bill which will perform a most useful service in clarifying and simplifying an area of law in which there are considerable difficulties and ambiguities. The approach adopted in the Bill is likely to ensure reasonable certainty by imposing strict liability only where consultations have shown that a public consensus exists and where most cases of serious damage or injury caused by animals occur. The Bill leaves it to the courts to decide on extension of strict liability to other species on a case by case basis; and it leaves unaffected the general remedy of proof of negligence for other cases.

The Bill is based upon the draft which was attached to the report of the Scottish Law Commission. I think that the care with which it has been prepared is reflected if one looks at the definition of the word "animal" in Clause 7, which is specifically declared not to include viruses, bacteria, algae, fungi or protozoa. As a townsman, I should have liked to ask my noble friend whether he could help me with a name appearing in Clause 1(3)(b) of the Bill. That relates to animals in the course of foraging and it includes reference to "hinnies".

I therefore commend the report of the Law Commission to your Lordships as providing a very useful introduction to this area of law and also as a clear and persuasive argument for the need for reform; and I also commend this Bill. It will, however, leave the legal problem of the gate crashing, stair climbing, floor bursting, tap turning cow which emerged in Inverness in 1955 to be solved in certain circumstances under the ordinary law. But my own reading of the commission's recommendations, and, indeed, my noble friend's clear advocacy of the Bill, compel me to commend the Bill to your Lordships.

7.10 p.m.

The Earl of Selkirk

My Lords, I should like to thank my noble and learned friend very much for supporting the Bill on behalf of the Scottish Office and for answering so far as I can see practically all the questions of any major consequence that have been raised. I should like just to emphasise a point that has already been made. The law of negligence remains. This is quite clearly what would apply on roads where strict liability does not apply. If one put strict liability on the open roads in Scotland, they would have to be fenced. That is absolutely impossible. It would be wrong to impose strict liability on unfenced ground. If you could identify the person on the road, which is extremely improbable, and if he were drunk, reckless or deliberately trying to kill sheep, he would quite clearly be liable.

The noble Lord, Lord Mackie, raised the question of deer. He appeared to have some very wild stags in a field. This is a new one to me and I must admit that I had not thought about it. Let me say straight away that it obviously falls into Clause 1(1)(b). The animal has physical attributes, apparently, and habits likely to injure people. It need not be in the strict list; it falls into that category automatically. If these animals were open to the public they would clearly make the owner liable.

The noble Lord mentioned the difficult question of bulls, about which I am sure he knows far more than I do. I am given to understand that by and large the anxiety of the public about bulls is probably rather exaggerated. Only a few breeds of bull are likely to be dangerous. I refer to the Ayrshires and Friesians, and these are known by the farmers. It is up to them to take precautions. I do not know that they should be added to the list. The farmers know that these are dangerous. They certainly have the physical attributes though not very often, but sometimes, the habits which make them likely to injure people. They would then quite likely fall under Clause 1(1) (b). I wonder whether it is necessary to make any special provision in the Bill.

Perhaps I may say to my noble friend Lord Houghton that we always welcome Englishmen who take the trouble to talk about Scotland. What we object to is when they completely ignore it. He asked: "Why should Scotland have a separate law?" The answer is that this comes under the terms of the Union. The law, the Church and the banks are what we retain. It is true that we do not have much of the banks now but we still retain something of the Church. That is the simple answer and I think one would find some cases of Scots law rather difficult to try in English courts.

The noble Lord raised the question of the highways. I think we have dealt with that point. It is true that we can, if necessary, add to the list of dangerous animals under Clause 1(1) (b). I would say that the Bill gives help to animals in the sense that their position is clear. The Bill makes their owner or keeper responsible for what happens.

One important and serious matter is sheep worrying. I do not think it is right to say that you can go around shooting dogs whenever you feel inclined to do so. That would be totally wrong. If a dog worries a sheep and the only way to protect the sheep is to shoot that dog, that is fair and proper. But where dogs are liable to come back surely the answer is to go to the owner, which would not be too difficult in most Highland areas, and say, "Look here, you've got to keep this dog properly under control or I will shoot it next time I see it". That is the proper conduct, but to open wider the right to shoot dogs would be quite wrong.

I think I have answered most of the questions. I beg to move that the Bill be read a second time.

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

House adjourned at sixteen minutes past seven o'clock.