HL Deb 10 July 1991 vol 530 cc1407-61

3.26 p.m.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Earl Ferrers)

My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Earl Ferrers.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.


Clause 1 [Dogs bred for fighting]:

Lord Houghton of Sowerby moved Amendment No. 1: Page 1, line 7, leave out paragraph (b).

The noble Lord said: In introducing the amendment perhaps I may be permitted to make a few comments about the nine amendments that I have tabled. The Bill deserves far more attention than it has received from what I believe to be a constitutional point of view. My amendments are intended to deal with the injustices caused by the Bill's provisions which detract from the liberty of the subject. I make no claim to be a fighting Peer. I have not been born, bred or trained for fighting, but I feel deeply about a Bill which changes the civil rights of the individual. Panic measures are being taken to deal with a situation which has been whipped up into an emergency and which is nothing of the kind.

In dealing with Amendment No. 1, we have a classic example of how the Bill will proceed. The Japanese Tosa is included in the Bill with pit bull terriers. It is believed that there are about 10,000 pit bull terriers in the country, but there can be no doubt that there is only one Tosa in this country. It was in quarantine until April of this year. It has never bitten anyone; no one has been frightened by it; and no savagery has been committed by it. It has been a law-abiding dog, and so have the owners, who are not domestic owners but in business in kennels and pet shops.

That dog is to be banned, along with pit bull terriers, without having committed any misdemeanours. The case for including that dog in the ban is based wholly on its repute elsewhere. We have had no experience of it ourselves. I wonder about banning a breed of which there is only one dog in the country. How could one dog have committed any crimes which would justify a legal ban? If it was intended to keep out dogs which might come in and which were undesirable because of their fighting propensities, breeding traditions or whatever, that might be a point. However, I understand that the proposal is linked to the ban which was imposed on the entry of the dogs as an entirely separate matter from the treatment of the dogs under the Bill.

Apparently banning a dog from entering the country interferes with import freedom. That can be justified under the regulations—presumably those of the EC—only if the dog to be banned is prohibited for domestic purposes, use or ownership. So the dog is banned at home in order to justify banning the importing of dogs from elsewhere. That is how the Tosa is fixed at the moment. It is swept up in the general provisions of the Bill dealing with dangerous dogs solely because it happens to be here and finds itself on the wrong side of the line after its arrival.

Can we do anything sensible in order to remove the injustice imposed on the dog's owners? I do not necessarily wish to interfere with the provisions of the Bill to ban the Japanese Tosa, but I feel that an injustice is being done to a dog and to a breed which has not yet been seen in the country to the extent which would justify banning it.

I do not know whether a provision later in Clause I would enable the Home Secretary to prescribe special conditions for the dog while its future is being considered. It is a male dog; no females are to be imported for it. It was intended as a show dog and, had it been allowed to remain, would have been a pioneer in the entry of a new breed of show dogs. However, there must now be a question over its future. It is an expensive dog to bring over; it took a lot of time and it will take more time and expense to return it, if that is to be its future.

Anyhow, the immediate problem is to protect the Tosa from causing serious loss and difficulty to its owners. I hope that the noble Earl can offer a suggestion. For the sake of the record, I shall read to the Committee the assessment of the dog by the Japanese Embassy in London. A letter from them to me states that, there is no reason to believe that the rate of incidence of attacks by Tosa dogs on humans is any higher than that of any other dogs. Local authorities in Japan classify certain animals (for example, crocodiles and tigers) as 'dangerous animals' and apply certain restrictions to their possession. There are, however, no local authorities in Japan which attach this description to the Tosa dog. There are approximately 2,000 Tosa dogs in Japan at present".

The letter further states that, As in the case of other dogs, the owner, under the law, is obliged to have the dog injected against rabies, and to get a dog licence. There are no other special legal requirements".

That letter does not imply that there is an animal of serious fighting qualities in the country. However that may be, common sense must be used. Can we consider the dog as a dog and not rest upon it all the penalties which would otherwise apply to the breed under Clause 1? That is the plea that I make. Is it possible to prescribe special conditions under which the dog may remain here, at least for the time being, unmutilated, but complying with other requirements about being kept on a leash at all times, so that the public is safeguarded from attack or harm?

If the Home Secretary feels able to take action under the permissive paragraphs in Clause 1, it would be worth seeing how far we could go in arranging, between the Home Secretary and the owners of the dog, the dog's future and to facilitate that future if possible. I beg to move.

3.30 p.m.

Lord Tordoff

As a matter of information, can someone please inform the Committee of the size of the dog? I understand that the breed can grow as large as 17 stone and that they are bred as fighting dogs. That does not sound like the description that the noble Lord has just given us.

Lord Soulsby of Swaffham Prior

I may have misunderstood the amendment but I was under the impression that the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, wished to eliminate the Japanese Tosa from the type of dog that is regarded as dangerous. If I have misunderstood him, I apologise.

To answer the question of the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, on size, the dogs can grow to the size of a small pony, up to 16 or 17 stone in weight. The acute observation of the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, that the Japanese Tosa, which he apparently knows well—he says it is a jovial creature, a little like himself—illustrates the point that he has decided that this friendly creature is a member of one of the dangerous breeds of dogs that have been described.

The point is that not all dangerous dogs are dangerous. With proper care and attention they can be acceptable. Nevertheless, that observation overlays the mare important fact that the so-called dangerous breeds of dogs are much more likely to act in a dangerous manner than all other types. With careful ownership and training even the most dangerous animals can be kept as domestic pets. There is an Act on dangerous animals which permits them to be kept, as the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, mentioned. One has to be licensed to keep them; they are owned, admired and revered by various people.

However, the Japanese Tosa is a dog that has been bred for fighting purposes. It is very large indeed. Some of us are familiar with the situation 20 years ago when the pit bull terrier was initially imported into the country for the purpose of dog fighting. It was illegal, of course, but nevertheless they were brought in. Certain bodies, including the British Veterinary Association, were concerned and issued a warning that there should be some control over the importation of such dogs. No control was placed on them and 20 years later there are 20,000 in the country. Many people think there are probably more because they are "underground" dogs and not declared. Let us not make the same mistake again with regard to the Japanese Tosa. The House may decide to follow the route suggested by the noble Lord and exempt this one animal. However, I believe it would be dangerous to remove this breed of fighting dog from the list of fighting dogs. If we do so, in 20 years' time we may be in the same position with that breed as we are now with other breeds. We may have hundreds, if not thousands, of those dogs in the country causing great problems. That situation may result in the kind of legislation that we are considering today. Perhaps if we had acted with greater caution 20 years ago we would not need to discuss this legislation today.

Baroness Strange

I hope we shall not be overrun by Japanese Tosas as we have been by Japanese knotweed. The noble Earl, Lord Longford, told me that he has been in correspondence with the owners of the Japanese Tosa named Ish. He suggested to the dog's owners that the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, should visit the dog. I believe that the noble Lord has seen the dog. Perhaps he can tell us more about this dog.

Lord Addington

We must remember that the Japanese Tosa is a dog that is bred for fighting. It is a huge dog. Any dog that is maltreated is liable to attack people. Unfortunately there is a cult of owning aggressive dogs. These aggressive dogs are liable to attack people. Therefore we must try to eliminate those dogs which have been deliberately imported for fighting purposes. I should like the Bill to go a little further and include all the other breeds of fighting dogs which exist throughout the world. Nearly every country has a specialist fighting dog. We should have named all those breeds of dog at the beginning and thereby saved ourselves a lot of trouble later on.

Lord Richard

I have considerable sympathy with the speech of my noble friend Lord Houghton. However, like the noble Lord, Lord Soulsby, I do not have much sympathy with the terms of the amendment. It makes a clear distinction in the way we treat one individual dog. Apparently, according to my noble friend Lord Houghton, that dog is amiable and well disposed to the human race. That was certainly the case when my noble friend saw the dog. It is one issue to talk about an individual dog and how we keep it in an amiable state and in conditions of relative safety for the rest of its life, but to remove the Tosa from the list of fighting dogs frankly seems to me to be an act of the most extraordinary rashness.

I do not agree with the argument expounded by my noble friend when he said that the dog had not committed any bad acts at the moment. That is hardly surprising as it has been here for only three months, and there is only one dog of this breed in any case. My noble friend said that as the dog had not done anything bad we could not justify including it on the list of fighting dogs. I far prefer that we should take action before we have to deal with the difficulties that might arise from having another breed of fighting dog in our midst. This single Tosa that is in Britain at the moment may be of a friendly disposition and it may now be in responsible hands, but if those dogs are to be imported into this country it does not follow that all the owners will be responsible or that all the dogs will be friendly. I shudder to think what might happen in 10 years' time if my noble friend's amendment were to be accepted. I cannot support the amendment.

3.45 p.m.

Earl Ferrers

The noble Lord, Lord Houghton, warned us on Second Reading that he was going to be the champion of the Tosa. He has started the Committee stage in just that spirit. He pulled out all the stops in defence of this animal. He said that by banning it we should be detracting from the liberty of the subject and changing the civil rights of individuals. I thought that that was going a little too far. The noble Lord added that this whole situation had been whipped up into an emergency when it was nothing of the kind. But that is exactly what it is. The Bill is the result of an emergency situation in which a lot of people are being viciously bitten by dogs. The noble Lord, Lord Houghton, shakes his head but he would be nearer the truth if he nodded.

The Bill was introduced in the first place because of the emergency situation we are in. The noble Lord, Lord Houghton, said that the Tosa in this country has never bitten anyone and that it is a law-abiding dog. I do not know how one decides whether a dog is law-abiding, but we can all use our imagination. The noble Lord stressed that there was only one Tosa in this country and said that we should not ban something that most of us had not seen or had any experience of. According to the noble Lord, the evidence we would need to be able to ban the dog is evidence of the dog having bitten someone. I believe that that is an experience we can happily do without.

The noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, asked what kind of an animal this was, as he had thought it weighed 17-stone but the description given by the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, did not seem to marry with that concept. I did not think that the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, was describing a dog which had been bred for fighting. My noble friend Lord Soulsby of Swafffiam Prior said that when the first pit bull terrier puppies were imported into the country in the mid-1970s people regarded them as nice cuddly little dogs. They appeared to be loveable little creatures. No one would have thought, looking at those two little dogs, that they were capable of the kind of vicious and sustained attacks which we are still reading about in our newspapers.

One of the RSPCA's most senior and respected inspectors was left alone with those two puppies when they first entered this country. He has said that if he could turn back the clock he would have had them put down there and then. My noble friend Lord Soulsby is distinguished in the realms of veterinary practice. He also has said that if we had had those pit bull terrier puppies put down when they first entered the country we might not be discussing this legislation today. The fact is that we do not want any more of these fighting dogs in our country, particularly dogs which can attain a weight of 17-stone. That is the size of a small pony, as my noble friend said.

The steps which we have taken in imposing a ban on the import of the Tosa and in seeking in this Bill to prohibit its ownership are sensible and humane. There is not a large number of the dogs in this country to put down. But by taking the action now that we propose to take we shall prevent the problem occurring. No dog will suffer other than the dog which the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, has befriended. If that dog stays in this country, it will have to be neutered. However, I am told that the dog, sensible and law-abiding as it is, has moved to France. If the government of the day had taken this step in respect of the pit bull terrier when they had the opportunity to do so in the 1970s I doubt whether we should be discussing this Bill today. I urge the Committee to keep the Tosa in the Bill.

Lord Houghton of Sowerby

That was a disappointing answer. I do not think the Government can come before the Chamber full of virtue and confidence in this matter as previously they have denied that any such problem existed. The then Parliamentary Secretary in the Home Office, Mr. Douglas Hogg, said in June 1989 that a ban on the import of dogs was not on. He said the difficulties were too great. He discounted any idea of solving the problem by preventing dogs entering the country.

In March 1990 the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Mr. Heathcoat-Amory would not accept various proposals that had been made to him for dealing with the problem of dangerous dogs. The answer given to all demands for action was that the matter of dangerous dogs had been completely taken care of by the Dangerous Dogs Act 1989. That Bill was introduced in this Chamber by none other than the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby. The truth of the matter is that the Government have not introduced any Bill on dog control since 1906 and prior to that no Bill on this matter had been introduced after 1871. The Government have not been interested in the problem of dangerous dogs. They have denied that there is any problem and they insisted that any problem that may have existed in this area had been taken care of in the Bill that I introduced in this Chamber. The Bill was introduced in the House of Commons by Dame Janet Fookes. We were assisted in the preparation of that Bill by the Home Office. It was not entirely our own work but it was thought in 1989 to be adequate to deal with the dangerous dog problem.

In the Government's own discussion document of August 1989 entitled Action on Dogs and the later publication, an illustrated, blue-covered discussion paper called The Control of Dogs, of June 1990 proposals for the control of dogs were put forward in response to pressure from both Houses of Parliament to have dog registration written into the Environmental Protection Bill. There is no record to support the Government's present anxiety, although it may be that they want to do what the same Government failed to do earlier.

When I put down the amendment, I did not know that to take the Japanese Tosa out of the Bill would undo the ban which has already been imposed on the import of more of that breed. I can understand the desire to retain the ban on imports of dogs of that and other breeds. However, if we are prohibited from dealing with that particular dog separately from other dogs by the undertakings which have been given to link import with prohibition at home that is a parlous position. I should have thought that there was scope in later subsections of Clause 1 relating to the permitted retention of dogs under certain conditions, especially if awaiting export to another country, to accommodate the case of that particular dog while leaving the Bill intact.

I can only ask the noble Earl whether he can give me any encouragement to submit proposals to him to that end so that I can withdraw my amendment and we do not have to discuss amending the Bill to deal with one particular dog. That should provide adequate protection. The regulations have caught one dog and one dog only. There is no experience of the breed having caused any problem in this country. The dog is an innocent party and has been caught by the change of the law after its arrival in this country. The owners are seriously incommoded by having a dog which, if it were to undergo the treatment which it may be required by law to undergo, will be very much reduced in value. The dog came from America and may well have to return there. The notice which has been given to the owners leaves them with very little opportunity to dispose of a dog of such unique build and characteristics and which involved them in considerable expense in bringing it here. If there is anything that the noble Earl can do to meet the suggestion that we might have an exchange of views about the use of sub-paragraphs in Clause 1, I believe that we can dispose of the matter.

Earl Ferrers

I hope that we can dispose of the matter. The noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, asked whether we can have a discussion and whether I can offer him any help. I am bound to tell the noble Lord _hat I cannot for the simple reason that we do not want any Japanese Tosas in the country. That is the principle of the Bill. The noble Lord said that there is only one poor little dog in this country and asked what harm it had done. If there were 100,000, the noble Lord would say that one could not possibly do away with 100,000 dogs, and think of all the people who have those lovely dogs. It does not matter what the figure is, we do not want dangerous dogs—of which the Japanese Tosa is one —in this country.

Therefore, I cannot suggest to the noble Lord that even if he were to come to me and use his beguiling charm I should be able to say anything other than that we do not want the Japanese Tosa in this country. Therefore, I ask the Committee not to accept the amendment.

The Earl of Selkirk

The Bill refers to a dog which appears to be bred for fighting. Can my noble friend tell rn2 whether dog fighting is going on in this country? I hear that is so. Is that being stopped? What action has been taken? How many people have been prosecuted for dog fighting in the past 12 months?

Earl Ferrers

The Japanese Tosa is bred for fighting and is apparently used for fighting in Japan. Other dogs such as the pit bull terrier are used for fighting. I understand that that is done in some parts of the country; but of course it is illegal.

Lord Houghton of Sowerby

Despite the lack of enthusiasm in the noble Earl's reply I shall beg leave to withdraw the amendment. However, I still feel that some exchange of view may be possible about the future of that particular dog, even if it is only an extension of the time that it can stay here until it can go elsewhere. That might be a reasonable proposition for a dog of this kind and value. I shall have to do the best I can.

The Government's record on dangerous dogs is appalling. They are now introducing measures which are authoritarian in character and objectionable in principle in many respects. However, we shall operate within them as best we can and do all we can to accommodate the problem. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The Chairman of Committees

If Amendment No. 2 is agreed, to I cannot call Amendment No. 3.

Lord Houghton of Sowerby moved Amendment No. 2: Page 1, line 8, leave out paragraph (c).

The noble Lord said: The purpose of the amendment is to delete paragraph (c). That paragraph provides that: any dog of any type designated for the purposes of this section by an order of the Secretary of State, being a type appearing to him to be bred for fighting or to have the characteristics of a dog bred for that purpose

may be added to the list of prohibited dogs.

Is the purpose of paragraph (c) to add to the list dogs which have not yet arrived in this country, or is the purpose to add to the list dogs which are already here and belong to breeds which are not at present included in the prohibited list in Clause 1?

I ask that question because the Secretary of State said in the other place on 22nd May (at col. 945 of the Official Report): I emphasise that the ban will initially apply only to those breeds of fighting dogs,"— those mentioned in Clause 1— but it is clearly important to prevent new and dangerous breeds coming in to replace dogs which have been banned from domestic ownership. I understand that there are three other possible breeds in the world today".

That suggests that the purpose of the paragraph is to enable the Home Secretary to ban dogs from coming into the country which are not already here if they seem to him to be fighting dogs or to have the characteristics of fighting dogs. However, if it means bringing into the list fresh categories of dog which are already here would that include Alsatians, Dobermanns, Staffordshire bull terriers and other breeds which come close to the description of fighting dogs?

Is the paragraph intended to allow the Home Secretary to add to the list Alsatians, for example, or any other breed which in his opinion appears to be bred for fighting? It is important to know definitely whether that is a safeguard against new entrant fighting dogs or a means of extending the list of prohibition to include dogs in the canine population at the present time which are not included in the list. If the latter is the case, it is a serious matter if the Home Secretary is to be given powers to add other breeds of dogs, which may affect hundreds of thousands of citizens throughout the country merely on his say-so. We cannot possibly allow that. I should be glad to know what interpretation is to be placed on paragraph (c). I beg to move.

4 p.m.

Baroness Phillips

I do not intend to vote for my noble friend's amendment if he presses it to a Division. I have received—I cannot be alone in this—some menacing and unpleasant letters from people who purport to be in favour of dogs. One letter even suggested that, if I paid £10 to the writers, I would not be known as anti-dog. I could not care less whether I am known as anti-dog. I should be much more worried if I were known as anti-human beings.

If their menacing correspondence is anything to go by—I have met those breeders—they are not the kind of people about whom we should worry too much. They breed those dogs to make money. That is what they do it for. They often breed them in the most unsuitable conditions. I love animals as much as my noble friend, but, listening to him speak on the last amendment, I began to wonder whether, as a Leo according to my stars, I could perhaps import a nice, little lion and say that it is not really difficult unless you annoy it. There is just about as much logic in that. If a dog is bred to be dangerous, it will be dangerous. Only those people who have the worst motives will want those dogs.

Like many other noble Lords, I have received a letter from the Union of Communication Workers, a group for which I have great respect. It says that the number of attacks on postmen by dogs last year rose to 7,400. That figure included some particularly vicious attacks. Are those the kind of people about whom we are worrying? Dangerous dogs should not be able to do that. We must have a clause of this kind because there will always be another new breed from which people will want to make money.

Lord Campbell of Alloway

I oppose the amendment. The inclusion of Clause 1(1) (c) is totally reasonable and proper and is wholly essential to the type of control envisaged by the Government, which is necessary. The problem arises later. The reference to the words "to him" in the second line of the paragraph, which must be construed against a statutory presumption in Clause 5(5), would create a substantial hardship and injustice. I shall deal with that matter when I move Amendment No. 5. However, the structure of Clause 1(1) (c) is wholly correct and proper, subject to the matters that I have mentioned, and is essential to the Bill. It is for those reasons that I cannot support the noble Lord's amendment.

Lord Addington

We must have this type of wording in the Bill if we are to restrict dangerous dogs. We must stop new breeds being brought in and the designation of breeds which have effectively been perverted by breeding. A fighting dog is in effect an example of the application of the oldest form of genetic engineering—in other words, selective breeding—which is used to make it more savage. The common ancestor of the dog is the wolf which did not attack or slaughter its own pack to any great extent. We must include the provision. We should also bear in mind the fact that fighting dogs primarily kill other dogs. When a pit bull terrier comes across a smaller terrier on the street, it will probably kill it because the small terrier will not back down either. For every fighting dog, X number of ordinary domestic pets are placed in danger and will invariably be torn apart by it.

Lord Richard

As I understand the scope of Clause 1, if the Home Secretary concluded that there was in the country a dog of a type appearing to him to be bred for fighting, he would be entitled to apply the same provisions in relation to that dog as are at present applied by the Bill to the pit bull terrier and the Japanese Tosa. I imagine that it is therefore an insurance policy, so to speak, to enable the Home Secretary to deal with situations which are not at present envisaged.

As I understand it—other Members of the Committee know far more about the matter than I —the pit bull terrier is itself a relatively new innovation, not just in terms of coming into the country, but in terms of being a cross-breed. It is not even designated a breed for the purposes of categorisation. If that is so, I shudder to think what would happen if someone attempted to produce a cross-breed from some of the more vigorous dogs in the country at the moment, for example, a special strain of Rottweiler which as yet does not exist and which was bred specifically for the purpose of fighting. In those circumstances the Home Secretary should have the power to look at the dog. If he concluded that it was bred for fighting, that same provision should apply to it as applies to the pit bull terrier and the Tosa. I would not be in favour—I agree with my noble friend to this extent—of using Clause 1(1)(c) to designate an existing breed with which this country has now lived for some time as a fighting dog within the definition of Clause 1. It may be a dangerous dog under other parts of the Bill, but that is a separate issue. If the Government have in mind what I anticipate they have in mind, I support them and not the amendment.

Viscount Hanworth

One might consider for a moment why people want to have dangerous dogs. I can think of three reasons: protection of the home; having one over the neighbours; and for fighting. None of those desires is particularly reasonable and, on the whole, we should not support them. People should therefore be careful as regards which dogs they buy or train. In the long run, therefore, the amendment is essential.

Earl Ferrers

I am trying to work out the conclusion of the noble Viscount's remarks because I thought that he intended to say that the amendment was not therefore desirable. I was surprised that he concluded that it was desirable.

Lord Richard

I thought the noble Viscount said that the clause was desirable.

Earl Ferrers

The noble Lord, Lord Richard, said that h;, thought the noble Viscount said that the clause was desirable. I thought the noble Viscount said that the amendment was desirable.

Viscount Hanworth

I apologise. I was wrong. I should have said that the clause was desirable.

Earl Ferrers

I thought that I had misheard the noble Viscount and my mental gymnastics to come to that conclusion were unnecessary and misdirected. I apologise.

The noble Lord, Lord Richard, was quite right when he drew a distinction between a fighting dog and a dangerous dog. Under Clause 1(1)(c), the Home Secretary can take action to apply by order the criminal offences in Clause 1 in respect of a named type of fighting dog. It also contains the power which, had it been available in the mid-1970s, would have enabled the Home Secretary of the day to take precisely that action against pit bull terriers. It is therefore an important power.

It is by no means certain that new fighting dogs, perhaps dogs even more horrible than the pit bull terrier, will emerge in the years to come. The noble Lord, Lord Addington, mentioned at Second Reading that the RSPCA had a number of dogs specifically in mind. If those kind of fighting dogs emerge, or are likely to emerge, in this country, we need to be able to take quick action to ban their ownership, breeding and sale. If they emerge overseas and there is a risk that they might be imported into this country, the Government need to be able immediately to ban their import. In order to do so, we should need an equivalent ban on domestic ownership in order to meet our international obligations. The power to ban would not be available without Clause 1(1) (c).

The noble Lord, Lord Houghton, asked whether the provision will refer to dogs which are already in this country or dogs which come from overseas. The answer is that we believe that the Bill as presently drafted covers the fighting dogs that are known to be in this country; namely, the pit bull terrier and the Tosa. They are different from the Alsatians or German shepherd dogs, Dobermanns and Rottweilers which may be guard dogs but which are not specifically dogs bred for fighting. We propose at present to bring in an order under this clause which would ban the ownership and allow us to ban the import of two more fighting dogs: the Dogo Argentine and the Fila Braziliera. The Committee will be glad to know that they are not at present resident in this country. However, they are fighting dogs and we may wish to take order making powers against them.

If this particular clause is not available, we shall be powerless to take effective action against new types of fighting dogs. I hope that the Committee will realise that this is an important power and do not accept the amendment.

Lord Houghton of Sowerby

I am not sure whether I fully understood the importance of this amendment from the statement just made by the noble Earl. There is a provision in Clause 2(4) which states: In determining whether to make an order under this section in relation to dogs of any type". It seems that that again refers to other specially dangerous dogs which people may seek to bring into the country. If the noble Earl wishes to stop these dogs from coming into the country, I am completely in agreement with him. However, a great fear exists among many dog owners today, especially owners of dogs in the classifications which years ago were the source of much public concern. The Alsatian had a poor reputation some years ago and the Rottweiler has been a matter of prime concern. In fact, when the Home Office discussion document was issued in the middle of last year indicating the range of dangerous dogs, it did not put the pit bull terrier at the head of the list. That dog was fourth on the list. I do not know whether it is fourth in degree of dangerousness. It is very important to know whether the Home Secretary seeks powers under the Bill to extend the categories of dogs to be brought within the scope of the Bill—dogs which are already here, which are already classified and which, if they are in a classified category, should be in the Bill now.

Many people fear that this measure is the thin end of the wedge and only the beginning of the new canocide. They fear that the Home Secretary will be able to extend merely by a statutory instrument the area of banning and criminality. We have to allay the fears of owners of Alsatians, Rottweilers and other dogs in this country. They should know that they are not in danger of having their animals brought within the scope of this Bill and that if any attempt were to be made or thought to be necessary to include them, primary legislation would be required to do it. It is most important that the matter should be clearly understood. I hope that we receive a clear answer from the noble Earl.

4.15 p.m.

Earl Ferrers

I shall do my best to help the noble Lord. Perhaps I may say that he has a very vivid imagination to regard this Bill as the Government's permission to indulge in canocide. Perhaps his confusion arises from Clause 2, which we have not yet discussed. It carries reserve powers, powers which will enable the Home Secretary by order to put certain dogs on a list which means that they may have to be muzzled or kept on a lead. Those dogs could be—I do not say that they will be—Alsatians, Rottweilers or any of the other dogs which happen to be in this country. All sorts of restrictions will apply before that happens and I do not want to come on to that topic now. But that is the effect of Clause 2.

Clause 1 bans the import of these animals. That is the reason why Clause 1 refers to fighting dogs which are not in the country at the moment but could arrive. Under Clause 1 it would be possible to create a ban. Clause 2 refers to the reserve powers which deal with muzzling and keeping on a lead dogs which may not be fighting dogs but nevertheless might still be quite dangerous dogs.

Lord Houghton of Sowerby

That is fairly clear. It is an important statement to make. It will remove the fears of a great many people about the possible use of this Bill to include one breed to start with but then to begin a creeping extension of the range of prohibition on dogs which, though perhaps not bred for fighting, as a breed might be regarded as dangerous. If that is not to happen under the Bill, we know where we stand.

In those circumstances there is no need for me to press my amendment to remove paragraph (c). That is intended to stop imports. I do not wish to amend that provision. I merely say that the wording of the amendment is not perhaps ideal from the point of view of statute law. I should not have thought that the characteristics of a dog bred for the purpose of fighting are easily distinguished from another condition of a dog. However, I am not unduly bothered about that. I am anxious to have a clear understanding of what the noble Earl said. I beg leave to withdraw Amendment No. 2.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The Earl of Radnor moved Amendment No. 3: Page 1, line 10, leave out from ("fighting") to end of line 11.

The noble Earl said: I shall speak briefly to this amendment but before doing so I should like to say that I agree entirely with those who have already spoken in this debate, not least my noble friend Lord Ferrers, that paragraph (c) is of great importance, as indeed are the first two paragraphs of Clause 1(1). I do not want in any way to disturb the idea that unpleasant fighting dogs might be brought into the country, bred in the country or should appear here in any way.

In reading Clause 1, I noticed that the strictures put on such dogs are very rightly immensely severe. They amount to a phasing out of those unpleasant animals that are in existence or may come into existence in this country. It seems perfectly reasonable, as is stated in paragraph (c), that the provision applies to: any dog of any type designated for the purposes of this section by an order of the Secretary of State, being a type appearing to him to be bred for fighting". The sentence should end there. But, unless I construe the sentence completely wrongly, it goes on to say: or to have the characteristics of a dog bred for that purpose".

Taking the sentence as a whole, it implies that the first part is concerned with fighting dogs—those are the important dogs, the nasty dogs that we are after —and the second part of the sentence is an alternative. It concerns dogs which look like or have the characteristics of fighting dogs but which in fact are not fighting dogs. When the time comes I should be interested to learn whether my noble friend can tell me if my interpretation of the grammar is right or wrong.

When considering the characteristics of a fighting dog, there are already immense differences in size. The pit bull terrier is a reasonable size; the Tosa is obviously a quite unreasonable size. What are the characteristics of a fighting dog? They are its strong teeth, strong jaw, good spread of rib to carry a big heart and lungs, strong quarters, and so on. Are not those the characteristics of almost any dog except the poodle, the pug and a few others which have had those characteristics bred out of them years ago? I believe that the latter part of Clause 1(1) (c) is at best superfluous and at worst thoroughly dangerous.

If I am right, such a provision extends to the whole canine field the dogs that might be designated. I hope that my brief amendment, which seems reasonable, will prove acceptable. I beg to move.

Lord Campbell of Alloway

I support the amendment. What are the characteristics of a dog bred for the purpose of fighting? How does one define "for the purpose of fighting"? All we know is that under the structure of Clause 1(1) (c) it is a composite set of characteristics which appear to a Secretary of State to have that quality. An amendment that I shall move later refers to what I consider to be the evil of the Bill. Let us consider Clause 5(5). It provides that, If in any proceedings it is alleged by the prosecution that a dog is one to which section 1 … applies". I leave out the reference to Section 2 for the moment. Clause 1 refers to any dog of the type which appears to the Secretary of State to have the characteristics of a dog bred for the purpose of fighting. Clause 5(5) continues: it shall be presumed that it is such a dog unless the contrary is shown by the accused". That is an oppressive and intolerable situation with which I shall seek to deal when I move my amendment. If my amendment were carried, it would mitigate the problem to which my noble friend Lord Radnor has referred.

However, my amendment does not deal with my noble friend's second point: what does the provision add? Is it not sufficient in this structure that it is a dog of a type which appears to the Secretary of State to be bred for fighting? One does not need the surplusage of a dog which appears to the Secretary of State to have the characteristics of a dog bred for the purpose of fighting. One comes round full circle. What are the characteristics of a dog which appears to the Secretary of State to be a dog bred for the purpose of fighting if it does not appear to the Secretary of State to be bred for that purpose? It is a little abstruse. Perhaps the draftsman was not doggy minded; I do not know. It does not seem to make much sense. I support my noble friend's amendment and the spirit in which it was moved.

Lord Addington

I understood the wording to cover cross-breeds and mongrels which may have the strain of a fighting dog in them. When the Minister replies perhaps he will clarify that that is why the words are included. If so, I suggest that the wording remains in that form because there is the problem of a feral dog which has a strain of pit bull terrier, Tosa or any other fighting dog in it. We should not overlook that danger.

Viscount Massereene and Ferrard

I have great experience of dogs. I have kept many dogs. We seem to have forgotten about the human being who owns and controls the dog. He can either teach the dog to be savage or extremely gentle. About 100 years ago the miners in Staffordshire used to keep Staffordshire bull terriers. Presumably they taught them to fight. Now they are kept as family dogs. My children have them; they are charming dogs.

Let us consider the Alsatian. My daughter has kept three Alsatians. Your Lordships may think that she is mad but she is not; quite the contrary. Appalling crimes occur in this country. Therefore the Alsatian used to guard her children when she was in a flat in London. If anyone had tried to harm the children that Alsatian could have killed such a person, yet one could not have had a more gentle dog.

I realise that the Secretary of State has advisors. However, some Secretary of States may never have kept a dog in their lives. To judge a dog's suitability or otherwise for breeding from its fierce appearance is utter nonsense.

Let us consider greyhounds which race on the track. Many greyhounds are taught by men to race. Perhaps they get them excited by rats or cats. However, some greyhounds do not race instinctively. I believe that dogs are having a bad time and that it is unfair.

Lord Clifford of Chudleigh

I agree entirely with what the noble Viscount said. Dogs are the property of human beings. Whether the dog is vicious or tender is a reflection of the character and mannerisms of the owner. One has to consider also the manner in which the dog is kept. Will it be locked up in a little shed all day or will it be looked after properly?

I do not believe that reference has to be made to the Secretary of State in relation to every provision. Such monitoring should be more local. For example, the local district council has to allocate a vet to inspect the premises and conditions under which horses and donkeys are kept. Similar monitoring should apply with regard to dogs. The location in which a dog is kept should be inspected by a vet on behalf of the local district council.

4.30 p.m.

Lord Peyton of Yeovil

Like others of your Lordships, I have given very deep thought to this important matter. Like others, I have enormous, profound, almost unlimited, admiration for the intellectual qualities and powers of perception of all Secretaries of State. But having paid that unqualified tribute to them, I have to admit that the possibility occurs to me that even such intellectual giants, as they undoubtedly are, might be ever so slightly puzzled and embarrassed in the performance of the duty laid upon them by this clause: any dog of any type designated for the purposes of this section by an order of the Secretary of State, being a type appearing to him to be bred for fighting". He might manage that, but I do not know how he would judge, or to have the characteristics of a dog bred for that purpose". The judgment which the Secretary of State will be called upon to exercise will be of a highly subjective order. It might possibly provoke some measure of disagreement and argument. I can see such an argument going on almost without end. Greatly as I admire all Secretaries of State —indeed, I am swept away by admiration for them—I find it possible to sympathise with them in the difficulty which would confront them in calling such an argument to an end. Only weariness would be on their side.

For those reasons, and because I wish to relieve Secretaries of State of embarrassment and do not wish them to be in any danger of revealing mere human limitations, I support my noble friend's amendment.

Baroness Strange

I should like to support my noble friend's amendment for exactly the same reasons. The matter is very wide. After all, dogs fight with their teeth. Nearly all dogs have teeth, which would mean that all dogs would be banned and that any dog which had prominent teeth would immediately become banned. In fact, the only dog that has ever bitten me was a Pekinese, and it had the greatest difficulty in doing so.

Lord Borthwick

I too should like to support the amendment, but I should like some clarification. First, what is a fighting dog? Terriers are bred for fighting but I am sure that they are not meant to be included in this blanket cover; they are a different type, small and harmless. I have had terriers, but unlike the noble Lord opposite I usually find the terrier looks after me rather than the other way round. Many dogs are like that: if their owner is attacked, the attacker finds himself in trouble. The dog cannot be blamed for that. He is looking after where his food comes from.

We should look further into the wording of the clause and not make it so general, and omit terriers from it if possible.

Lord Morris

One can only assume that the reason why the Bill is silent after the word "fighting" on the question of fighting what, is that it presumably means bred for fighting other dogs. It is silent on the matter, so presumably it is quite clear to everybody that a dachshund deliberately bred to fight and kill badgers and a foxhound deliberately bred to fight and kill foxes come within that ambit. I am not sure about this but, as the noble Lord, Lord Peyton of Yeovil, suggested, the last part of the subsection raises considerable difficulties.

Lord Richard

This is a wondrous place where one learns facts daily. I had no idea that the noble Lord, Lord Peyton, felt that way about Secretaries of State. I can only say that in the decade that I observed him performing in another place his admiration was exceedingly well controlled.

Coming to the amendment, I am wondering whether there is some legal justification for the last qualification, or to have the characteristics of a dog bred for that purpose". If the Secretary of State were to be challenged—which, as Lord Peyton would say, heaven forfend—on the basis of designating a type appearing to him to be bred for fighting, he might not be able to say that it appeared to be bred for fighting but he would be able to say that it had the characteristics of a dog bred for fighting, in which case he would have the legal protection which would otherwise be denied him. Perhaps I am being unduly complicated in looking at those words but, the admiration of the noble Lord, Lord Peyton, for Secretaries of State is undimmed, so I am bound to say is my admiration for parliamentary draftsmen. On the whole, if something is in a Bill there is usually a reason for it, and with my somewhat suspicious mind it seemed to me that those words gave a Secretary of State additional protection in law which he might not otherwise possess.

Lord Campbell of Alloway

With respect to the noble Lord, Lord Richard, surely that cannot be the reason if one looks at the form of statutory presumption in Clause 5(5). If one construes the Bill as a whole, that cannot be the effective reason. I see the noble Lord is nodding. So if there is no effective reason, and that is the only effective reason that has been suggested, perhaps my noble friend the Minister might be able to take some advice on the matter.

The Earl of Selkirk

The whole of the first clause deals with dog fighting. Dog fighting is illegal. Therefore, why does the Home Secretary, with the immense powers which we have heard he already has, not prevent dog fighting? If he does not have power to do that, would he ask for it? I believe that the whole Committee would support him in taking strong powers to enable him to prevent that obviously undesirable practice taking place. If he did that, he would no longer need to be in a position to define what the dogs were wanted for. If this aspect plays a major part in the consideration, it should be stopped. I believe that my noble friend would agree with that.

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy

Could the definition "bred for fighting" be taken to include bred for hunting?

Earl Ferrers

I agree wholeheartedly with my noble friend Lord Peyton of Yeovil when he says that he had much sympathy with all Home Secretaries because when they had this problem to consider the argument would go on and on. I think that that has happened. If I may say so with the greatest respect, this is out of all proportion.

The noble Lord, Lord Clifford of Chudleigh, said that dogs are the property of human beings and on the manner of their keeping depends the nature of the dogs. That may be so as to the character of dogs, but dogs are bred for different purposes in the same way as cows are bred for different purposes. A cow bred to give milk and one bred to give beef are two different animals. A dog bred for fighting is a specific description of an animal.

The noble Lady, Lady Saltoun, asked whether fighting can mean hunting. One might just as well ask whether hunting can mean going to do the shopping. Fighting means fighting and does not mean hunting.

All we are doing in Clause 1 is to list the types of dog which can be banned from this country. Clause 1(1) (a) refers to the pit bull terrier; (1) (b) refers to the Japanese Tosa; and (1) (c) refers to any dog which the Home Secretary may designate by order, being a type appearing to him to be bred for fighting or to have the characteristics of a dog bred for that purpose". There is no precise way to define a fighting dog. Some, like the pit bull terrier, will clearly be dogs that are bred for fighting. The noble Lord, Lord Addington, is quite right; others will be cross-breeds. Although they may not have actually been bred for fighting, nevertheless they will show all the characteristics of a fighting dog. Those are the kinds of animals that may be brought into the country, and if they were, they would represent a considerable danger to the public.

It is necessary to take action to prevent the import of further undesirable types of dog so that we do not end up with the problem that we face in regard to the pit bull terrier, which itself is not a breed but a cross-breed. To support an import ban there needs to be a power to ban the ownership in this country of dogs of the same type.

It may be that some Members of the Committee fear that a future government would use the reference to these characteristics to take action to ban the ownership of dogs which are not fighting dogs. But the Bill is clear in the distinction which it makes between, on the one hand, fighting dogs and those with fighting characteristics and, on the other hand, other dangerous dogs. Clause 2 specifies the conditions which the Secretary of State could impose on other especially dangerous dogs which constitute a serious risk to the public. The power to take action against a type of dog which displays all the characteristics of a dog bred for fighting, even though it may not specifically have been bred for fighting, is an important element in protecting the public. I hope the Committee agrees with that.

My noble friend Lord Selkirk asked why the Government do not take action against dogs bred for fighting. That is precisely what we are doing. We do not want to see dogs bred for fighting being brought into the country. Whether it is done legally or illegally, we do not want dog fighting taking place or the types of dog which do that to be allowed to direct their energies to human beings.

The Earl of Radnor

That was an interesting debate and went on a great deal longer than I expected. My speech had the merit of probably being the shortest one of all. We have ranged over the subject of my amendment and indeed other subjects as well.

I do not feel that I received a proper answer to my question of whether the final part of the subsection is superfluous or dangerous. All dogs have similar characteristics to fighting dogs. The nearest I came to hearing a good reason for the provision was from the noble Lord, Lord Richard.

Having had the matter so thoroughly aired this afternoon, I hope that my noble friend on the Front Bench will take it back to the Home Secretary or to the people who drafted the Bill. Perhaps they will examine what I thought was a matter of semantics as much as anything else to see whether a danger exists. Meanwhile, I shall read what has been said and reserve my position. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

4.45 p.m.

Lord Houghton of Sowerby moved Amendment No. 4:

Page 1, line 11, at end insert: ("( ) Any person who disputes any designation of a dog under this section shall have the right of appeal to an independent person with knowledge of breeds of dogs nominated by the Secretary of State and whose adjudication shall be final for the purposes of this section.").

The noble Lord said: I presume that the only dogs which are to be subject to the Bill at present are those mentioned in subsection ( I ). Any further dogs to be added to the list will be dogs which are not in this country but which we should stop coming into the country. If that is so then no other change in the scope of the Bill regarding dogs already here could be undertaken without an amending provision. That is what I need to be clear about. I am still doubtful whether it is as clear as I believe it to be.

Amendment No. 4 can apply at the moment only to dogs classified as pit bull terriers. It is under that classification that we intend to ban around 10,000 dogs. We hope that that situation will not arise again —that never again will 10,000 dogs be allowed into this country which should have been banned from the beginning. As the noble Earl said, the Government had the opportunity of banning pit bull terriers 10 years ago but they did not do so. That is why we are faced with the grievous situation of dealing with dogs already here by the thousand. We are to convert them into prohibited dogs and make their owners criminals if they fail to comply with the coercive terms of the Bill. That is bad luck on them. That is probably the main principle and mischief of the Bill to which serious objection can be taken.

A dog owner who has not committed any offence under the existing law may find himself having the custody of a prohibited dog. If he does not comply with the provisions of the Bill he is open to a criminal charge and severe punishment for keeping that prohibited dog. That is the heavy burden which many good Jog owners and dogs have to bear. They are converted from law-abiding citizens and dogs into criminals; the dog is prohibited and the owner turned into a criminal if he hangs on to it.

If I am clearly stating the present position, let me come to the case of the pit bull terrier owner who has a dog which he claims is not a pit bull terrier. There is no provision in the Bill for a possible dispute to be resolved. It is certain to arise in some cases. I have only to quote from the speeches made by four Ministers on the subject to give chapter and verse of the difficulties they foresaw regarding identification of a dog. There are mongrels about; they are not pure bred. What is a pit bull terrier? What antecedents does a dog need to have to be a pit bull terrier? I do not know how the matter will be approached. However, I know that we require some machinery to resolve the situation.

An owner may say, "My dog is not a pit bull terrier and I want to obtain a judgment on the matter. I know its pedigree. It is an English bull terrier", or he may say that it is a Staffordshire bull terrier. I understand that problems of differentiation arise because all these dogs come from common stock. The bull terrier is a mastiff and the English terrier a cross-breed. That is how it began. They went to America in that shape and there began lot of cross-breeding. However, it is basically an English dog. Where does the owner go who says, "My dog is not a pit bull terrier and I refuse to give him up on that ground", for his right of appeal?

The amendment provides that an independent person with a knowledge of the breeds of dogs nominated by the Secretary of State should adjudicate on whether the dog is a pit bull terrier. Otherwise, how does a man know whether he is within the law? Who is to say that a person has a pit bull terrier when the owner says that he has not? Who is to decide who is right? There is the possibility of serious trouble. There is a packet of trouble in the Bill for the individual, with the prospect of potential violence and scenes in homes and streets. We want to keep clear of such situations. There must be an opportunity for people with grievances resulting from the Bill to get them resolved when there is doubt whether they are within the law.

I leave the matter of the Tosa dog at the moment because he is not involved in the dispute on classification. We are talking about the pit bull terrier. That is the most difficult classification of all and it has to be settled somehow presumably for an individual dog and not for the breed. If it is claimed that the dog is not of that breed then the owner can say that it is not covered by the Bill. I hope that I have put the point over and that we are clear as to where the remedy lies if there is a dispute over the identification of a particular dog. I beg to move.

Lord Campbell of Alloway

I oppose the amendment. It is not a question of grievances but disputes as to designation. There is machinery under Clause 5(5) to which I propose to object when I move my Amendment No. 52. However, under the Bill as drafted there is full provision, using the statutory presumption, for disputes as to designation. Therefore the amendment cannot fit in with the Bill.

Lord Renton

I hope that the Committee will oppose the amendment. I do not think that it is necessary because the courts will be able to decide the issues that the noble Lord has mentioned. I am sure that the public, especially those who may have been alarmed by these dogs, would much rather the courts decided the matter than a person designated by the Home Secretary under the terms of the amendment and whose decision should be final. In any event such a procedure would lead to unnecessary delay and uncertainty.

There is a further problem. It is not absolutely clear whether in the amendment the noble Lord is referring to subsection (1), paragraph (a) and (b) only or whether he is also referring to paragraph (c), where the Home Secretary will have to take various decisions before making an order. The noble Lord did not quite express the matter in this way, but if he is anxious that the Home Secretary in taking such decisions, should get advice from experts who know about breeds of dogs, then it is much better that he should simply get that advice rather than nominate somebody to take a decision which may be contrary to that which he had intended to take and which would, in effect, overrule him.

For these and other reasons which one could mention, I suggest that the amendment should be opposed. Above all, it should be opposed because it is best to leave these matters to be decided, as my noble friend Lord Campbell of Alloway said, by other provisions in the Bill. Above all, these matters should be decided by the courts.

Lord Clifford of Chudleigh

I am fascinated by the idea that the American pit bull terrier is pure-bred. If only a few more people would listen to the noble Lord, Lord Addington. He has said again and again that the best American pit bull terrier is a cross-bred animal. If we look back in our history books we see that the Staffordshire bull terrier was exported to the United States in the early part of this century specifically to be crossed with dogs with fighting temperaments because in the United States that was not illegal. The dog returned to this country and we crossed it many times in order to bring into being a positively vicious animal, as the press has told us on several occasions.

I say to the Secretary of State that I wish to ease the burden on his shoulders. If he can designate to the local authority or the district council the task of appointing various people such as vets, wardens or other authorities to designate the characteristic of a dangerous dog and not necessarily a fighting dog, then we will not have the massive number of appeals that has been suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Houghton.

There is another way out, if the noble Lord does not mind. I understand that there are about 10,000 pit bull terriers in this country. Rather than go to the expense of an appeal the owners could send the dogs to his house and they could stay there.

Earl Ferrers

I shall deal first with the point raised at the beginning by the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby. I believe that he asked whether he was right in saying that the clause refers only to dogs coming into the country. That needs clarification. Subsection (1), paragraphs (a) and (b), refer to the pit bull terrier and the Japanese Tosa, both of which are at present in this country. Paragraph (c) refers to any other dog which may be added by the Secretary of State by order after approval by both Houses of Parliament. That is likely to include dogs which at the moment are not in this country. The present discussion concerns what happens to a person who is in possession of what is considered to be a prohibited dog, which both the pit bull terrier and the Tosa will become if and when the Bill becomes law.

I believe that there are enough safeguards in the Bill to render the noble Lord's amendment unnecessary. My noble friends Lord Campbell of Alloway and Lord Renton are right. It is a job for the courts. That is the right place for a person to have his complaint or dispute settled. Perhaps I may tell the Committee what it is proposed shall be done.

All police forces and other relevant bodies will be issued with detailed guidelines on how to recognise pit bull terriers and other types of prohibited dogs. That should ensure that very few incorrect designations are made in the first place. If there is any doubt in the mind of the police as to whether the dog is of a prohibited type, they will of course check with the veterinary surgeon before they proceed with a prosecution.

If a case comes to court because a person is in possession of a prohibited dog, expert witnesses can be called to advise on the designation of the dog. The court is just the place where the evidence of an expert who has knowledge of breeds will be most useful. I envisage that the court will be looking to the expert for guidance when there is a dispute as to whether a dog is of a prohibited type. If a defendant wishes to appeal against the decision of the court he is perfectly entitled to do so. The case would then be heard on appeal in a higher court. There would be fresh consideration of the evidence. Therefore, I believe that there is plenty of opportunity for a person to say, "My dog is not of the kind that I am accused of having. I believe that it is a different dog". He can bring witnesses to support his case.

All that would ensure that the owner has every opportunity to prove that his dog is not a pit bull terrier or another type of prohibited dog. The fact is that veterinary surgeons can say with some certainty that a dog is not a pit bull terrier. However, it cannot be said with the same certainty that a dog is a pit bull terrier. That is the reason why the Bill is drafted in the way that it is. I do not think that we need to provide separate appeals procedures which the amendment proposes. There are sufficient procedures to allow for justice in the Bill as it is at the moment.

5 p.m.

Lord Houghton of Sowerby

My assessment of the Bill might require some revision in the light of some of the statements made by the noble Earl. The interpretation of the Bill has certainly been taken further than I have been able to take it. I see here the difference between an independent adjudicator and a court—that seems to be the difference. The court is apparently available to a person who says, "I have a dog which is not a pit bull terrier. Therefore I don't surrender him to anybody. He is outside the scope of the Bill". If someone then says that the dog has all the characteristics of a pit bull terrier, the question will then have to be decided by the court as to whether it is a pit bull terrier for the purpose of the Act. That I presume to be what the noble Earl has just said. It may be an expensive business to go to the court to get classification of a dog; but that is more satisfactory than having no recourse to the right of appeal at all.

There are a great many questions still which must be asked about this matter. It will be very difficult for us to complete all stages of the Bill without being given a glimpse of the regulations to follow. There is much here that could be settled when we know what the guidelines will be; for example, instructions to the police as to how they are to recognise a pit bull terrier, and so forth. It is vitally important because the classification determines whether the man has a prohibited dog. Possession of a prohibited dog is a criminal offence. There is criminality in the background of everything connected with the Bill. The mere fact of possession is enough to make someone become a member of the criminal classes. The Bill could widely extend the area of the criminal classes, especially if there were more dogs brought into the country. That is still a fear that may lurk in the minds of people. However, I gather from what the noble Earl has said that we can be quite clear that the dogs identified in the Bill are the ones in the Bill and that no more breeds will be added until the Secretary of State is of the opinion that some that want to come in should be stopped from coming in and any in that classification that have crept in will be covered by the ban. At least the Bill will not extend widely in the range of existing dogs of different breeds that are not classified in this Bill as fighting dogs. If that is clear then a good deal of the fear and objections to the Bill begin to disappear. So far as I am concerned on this amendment I shall take what the noble Earl has said about recourse to the courts, as that is where a dispute might ultimately have to go. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Earl Ferrers

Before the noble Lord does so, I wonder whether I can help him. He is still worried about this matter, and I want to clear his mind about it. The position is that those dogs which will be banned are the pit bull terrier and the Japanese Tosa. If any others are banned it will be under an order produced by the Secretary of State which will be put to both Houses of Parliament and which has to be agreed by both Houses of Parliament. That will refer to fighting dogs only. As all the fighting dogs that we know of in this country are already included in the Bill, any other fighting dogs which might be included under this ban will be those which are not at present in the country. I hope that will lay the noble Lord's anxieties to rest.

Lord Houghton of Sowerby

I am much obliged to the noble Earl. It completely clears the situation.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Campbell of Alloway moved Amendment No. 5: Page 1, line 12, after ("person") insert ("knowing, suspecting, or having cause to suspect that the dog has been bred for fighting, or has the characteristics of a dog bred for that purpose").

The noble Lord said: I move Amendment No. 5 which stands in my name irrespective of whether in due course it may have to be amended as a result of Amendment No. 3 in the name of my noble friend Lord Radnor. With the leave of the Committee, I shall also speak to Amendments Nos. 16 and 52 which are in effect consequential.

At the outset, as we are concerned with an important point of construction and interpretation, I should like to thank the Minister for the explanations that he has given in the debate and for his interpretation of the provisions which fortunately square with my own, so we start on entirely common ground.

The object of this set of amendments is to mitigate the severity of the statutory regime proposed by the Bill by excising the statutory presumption in Clause 5(5), particularly Amendment No. 52 and by these amendments, to restore the traditional process of a criminal trial where the burden of proof rests upon the Crown, and excise totally the concept of an absolute offence in which a statutory presumption serves as an aid to conviction. The absolute offence is as set out in Clause 1(2). The statutory presumption used to serve as an aid for conviction of the absolute offence, which seems to me to be the same type of offence as riding a bicycle without a rear light, is in Clause 5(5).

The key amendment is Amendment No. 5 to which I speak and which, as it stands, creates a series of five statutory absolute offences. The effect of the amendment is to require the Crown to prove that the accused knew, suspected or had cause to suspect either that the dog had been bred for fighting or had the characteristics of a dog bred for that purpose. Never mind about the drafting. The Committee will know that I am no draftsman, and I have had no assistance. I am trying to produce a form of words which makes it necessary to establish as in the ordinary process of a criminal trial that the accused had guilty knowledge, or a culpable state of mind. That is what I am seeking to do—and this as an essential ingredient of the offence. If this amendment were carried, it would affect I think prosecutions for breach of muzzling and abandonment of other types of dangerous dogs under restrictions to be imposed by the Secretary of State by order under Clause 2. If one is going to have guilty knowledge as an essential ingredient in Clause 1, it would be reasonable and consistent to follow that pattern in Clause 2, but not necessarily in other parts of the Bill.

The initiative of government is much to be welcomed. It is only the form it has taken which, I respectively suggest to the Committee, warrants very careful examination. The Committee may well think that Clause 1(2), together with the presumption in Clause 5(5), constitutes an overreaction which is not requisite to deal with a serious problem and could work a measure of oppression against the innocent who had no guilty knowledge.

Amendment No. 5, with its sister amendments which stand in my name, has been tabled only to engender discussion and debate and to canvass the opinions of Members of the Committee. It would not be my intention to divide the Committee on the amendment unless there were a very wide margin of apparent consensus. If there were no such apparent consensus I would wish to consider everything that Members of the Committee had said. If in due course, by leave, Amendment No. 5 were to be withdrawn, it would not be the intention to move either of the sister amendments, Amendments Nos. 16 or 52, but I would reserve the right to return to Amendment No. 52 at a subsequent stage of the proceedings on the Bill. I beg to move.

Lord Renton

In my opinion, and with respect to my noble friend Lord Campbell of Alloway, Amendments Nos. 16 and 52 deserve to be considered on their own merits and quite independently of Amendment No. 5, which I do not regard as a necessary paving amendment for either of the others. I make no further comment on Amendment No. 5. However, I greatly sympathise with what my noble friend said about Amendments Nos. 16 and 52. I should like briefly to comment on them.

Amendment No. 16 proposes to leave out some words which are very unusual in a statute. They presuppose that somebody can be convicted of an offence for which normally, under the Bill, imprisonment or a fine would be possible. However, in this case the Bill states that on conviction the person shall not be liable to imprisonment. That might be all right but for the fact that the burden of proof which brings about that situation rests upon him. I really do not see why it should do so. I agree with my noble friend to that extent.

With Amendment No. 52, which proposes to leave out subsection (5) of Clause 5, we have a very much more serious proposition. There we are dealing with a presumption on the question of innocence or guilt. The presumption is entirely placed upon the accused person. We even find it stated that the accused shall not be permitted to adduce evidence of a certain kind, as mentioned earlier, unless he has given the prosecution notice of his intention to do so not later than 21 days before the trial. In the circumstances likely to arise in such cases, that is an onerous condition anyway quite apart from the fact that it places the burden of proof on the accused. I earnestly hope that my noble friend Lord Ferrers will consider this subsection again. It does not necessarily fit into the Bill. It is certainly unusual and does not fit into our normal methods of conducting criminal trials.

5.15 p.m.

Earl Ferrers

I agree with my noble friend Lord Renton to the extent that I am not sure that Amendment No. 16 does not sit somewhat uneasily with Amendment No. 5. However, I am quite happy to take them together as that is what my noble friend Lord Campbell wished.

I have some sympathy with the first amendment which seeks to protect people who unknowingly happen to own a prohibited dog. We intend to publicise widely the provisions of the Bill before they come into force and to suggest to those who are not sure whether their dog is a Clause 1 dog that they should take expert advice. This will enable people to know whether or not their dog is of a prohibited type. Most people know that already. But by the time the offence of possessing a prohibited dog, as set out in Clause 1(3), comes into force in November, I do not think anyone will be in a position honestly to say that he had no idea or had no cause to suspect that his dog was a pit bull terrier. I do not see the value of inviting the court to spend its time listening to arguments along those lines which would be the result of my noble friend's amendment.

The second related amendment suggests that the burden of proof should be shifted back onto the prosecution so that it would be for the prosecution to prove that the dog in question was a Clause 1 dog. I know that the burden of proof normally rests on the prosecution, but there are good reasons for setting aside that general principle in this case. We are not dealing with a complex series of actions and assertions, as is often the case with court hearings. Here all that is at issue is whether or not the dog is of a prohibited type.

In most cases that question will have been settled before the case even comes near the court. The owner of a dog which is not, say, a pit bull terrier will provide evidence to the police from a veterinary surgeon or from some other expert that his dog is not a pit bull terrier. If that is so, no charges will be brought. However, if the police or the prosecuting authorities say, "Despite what your veterinary surgeon says, our veterinary surgeon says it is a pit bull terrier and you ought not to have it", then the matter will go to court. If the burden of proof were on the prosecution, and if they were expected, whenever the accused pleaded not guilty, to call expert witnesses to testify that the dog was a pit bull terrier, that would be difficult. It would be an opportunity for unscrupulous defendants to lengthen court cases unnecessarily. It would be far better to allow that the dog is assumed to be of a prohibited type unless the defendant can produce evidence to prove that it is not. That still gives the accused plenty of opportunity to make his point if he believes that a mistake has genuinely been made without requiring expert witnesses to be called when there is no real question as to the dog's type.

My noble friend referred to Amendment No. 16. It removes the protection for publishers which has been carefully drafted into the Bill. It seems only reasonable to us that a distinction should be drawn between the person who tries to sell, exchange or give away his dog by means of an advertisement and the person who, without helping to draft the copy, actually prints the advertisement. I accept that the latter person is guilty of the offence of advertising a prohibited dog. However, it seems only common sense that the offence which he has committed is not as serious as that committed by the owner who is trying to get rid of his dog. That is why we propose that, if found guilty, the publisher may be fined but not imprisoned.

To take the matter a step further, it is only fair that a publisher should not be liable to be convicted at all if he prints an advertisement which he genuinely had no idea referred to a prohibited dog. I understand that much jargon and obscure language are already used in advertisements to describe the fighting prowess of pit bull terriers. I gather that if you state that it is a "heroic dog" it means that it has had one fight; if you describe it as "especially heroic", that means that it has had at least two or possibly more fights; and, finally, if you refer to its "gameness", you are referring to its propensity to fight. There is a kind of coding in some of these advertisements.

I imagine that in the future that practice may develop to such an extent that such coding will evolve to a greater extent. It would not be sensible or fair to prosecute a publisher for printing such an advertisement if he were able to show that he had no reason to know to what it really referred. The burden of proof would be on the publisher to show that he had no reasonable cause to suspect the real purpose of the advertisement. That is only right. We would not want publishers to be able to print illegal advertisements with impunity. However, as it stands, the provision allows the genuinely innocent party a chance to escape conviction.

For those reasons, I hope that the Committee will agree that the Bill as drafted would be preferable to having my noble friend's amendments incorporated in it.

Lord Monson

Does the Minister agree that the Government have precedent on their side in the matter of absolute offences? Does he agree that for many years it was an absolute offence for anyone in this country to be in possession of gold coins, whether or not they knew or had any reason to know that such gold coins were in their possession, possibly because they were in the bottom of a trunk in the attic which once belonged to some remote member of their family?

Earl Ferrers

The noble Lord has the advantage on me. Without advice, I have not the slightest idea what the position was as regards handling or possessing gold coins. However, if he believes that what he says is comet, I have no doubt that it is.

Lord Airedale

During part of his argument the Minister said that the amendment would give accused people the opportunity to waste the time of the court. However, when that happens they usually cop it when it comes to the pronouncement of sentence. Therefore, I do not believe that that part of the noble Earl's argument was his strongest point.

Earl Ferrers

I was merely trying to point out that, when such a case comes to court, if the burden of proof was on the prosecution it would have to reply every time the accused pleaded not guilty. In other words, as soon as the accused says "Not guilty", you have to wheel in all the arguments to prove that he is guilty.

We are suggesting that the person should have to prove that what he is accused of having is in fact not what he is accused of having. That is a much simpler way to deal with it and would greatly expedite the work of the courts. I should not care to speculate on whether the accused person would "cop it", as the noble Lord so graphically put it, by pleading not guilty and then being proved guilty; that would be a matter for the court in each case.

Lord Campbell of Alloway

I am extremely grateful to all Members of the Committee who have spoken. Certain questions have been raised and, to some extent, noble Lords may think that the answers still remain somewhat open. I am especially grateful to my noble friend Lord Renton for the measure of support he was able to give to this set of amendments. I am also grateful to my noble friend the Minister for his sympathy, which is always welcome. However, his attitude on the reversal of the burden of proof is frankly neither understood nor so far as I am concerned accepted.

The Crown in practice—and I ask my noble friend to consider what would happen in practice in a criminal trial—will send a veterinary deposition to the defence which says, "This dog is a prohibited dog". But 99 times out of 100 we now have, or have had for the past 10 years, a process of making formal admissions in criminal trials. Moreover, 99 times out of 100 in such cases the defence will write back to say, "We admit that the dog is a prohibited dog on the basis of your deposition". It is only in the very rare case where there is something adrift that the defence will not admit. In such circumstances, the Crown should he required to prove the case in the traditional way.

I should like to have the opportunity to consider with great care everything that has been said by Members of the Committee. I especially wish to consider whether I am mistaken in seeing the nexus between these three amendments. It is open to any noble Lord to move Amendment No. 16 or Amendment No. 52 in Committee, if so advised. For example, if my noble friend Lord Renton wishes to do so, I should be honoured and delighted. However, I shall not do so.

I still, perhaps mistakenly, see a consistency between the three amendments in the set and a requisite nexus. I should prefer to study the matter and reserve my position until the next stage of the Bill's proceedings. On that occasion I may move these amendments together or separately. In the circumstances, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Richard moved Amendment No. 6: Page 1, line 18, leave out ("owner") and insert ("keeper").

The noble Lord said: In moving this amendment I shall, with the leave of the Committee, speak also to Amendments Nos. 25, 27, 42 to 44, 51 and 56. Amendment No. 56 contains the text which is perhaps the most explicable in terms of what is proposed. In general terms, the purpose of these amendments is to make it clear beyond all reasonable doubt, in what, after all, are criminal proceedings, who will be subject to the criminal sanctions in the Bill.

There are no fewer than seven references in the Bill to an "owner" but nowhere is there any definition of the word. While that was not a problem in the days when the Dog Licences Act 1959 was in force, the absence of such clarity in this Bill will make it virtually impossible for the enforcement of its provisions to succeed. I am bound to say that the definition as it appears at present in the Bill will provide a field day for members of my profession who will find themselves defending dog owners or dogs.

The amendment follows the rule at common law that responsibility for an animal's acts depends on ownership or possession of it. It is in the same form as the eminently sensible provisions of the Animals Act 1971 which sets out with clarity the liability for other "dangerous animals" and which makes clear parents' responsibility for their children's pets.

Perhaps I may briefly refer to Amendment No. 56 which concerns Clause 8. Here I am seeking to say that for the purpose of the Act a person is a keeper of a dog if,

  1. "(a) he owns the dog or has it in his possession; or
  2. (b) he is the head of a household of which a member under the age of 16 owns the dog or has it in his possession".

The amendment continues to state: If at any time a dog to which this Act applies ceases to be owned by or to be in the possession of a person, any person who immediately before that time was a keeper thereof by virtue of the preceding provisions of this subsection continues to be a keeper of the dog until another person becomes a keeper".

The object of the last provision is simple: it is to prevent people abandoning pit bull terriers and thereby escape liability.

Without the main provisions of the amendments, the procedure under Section 2 of the Dogs Act 1871, which is preserved in the Bill, would be wholly ineffective. Courts have said that in civil proceedings under the 1871 Act no order can be made against someone who was the owner of a dog when it was dangerous but who bona fide transferred the dog to someone else before the hearing, and that such an order can be made against the new owner provided that he or she can be identified. That is a patent shortcoming in the 1871 Act which would be removed by the amendment.

The general point that is sought to be made is simple. As there is no definition of an owner in the Bill, there is a legal loophole which needs filling. The definition that I propose in Amendment No. 56 refers to the "keeper of a dog". That is a much more graspable—if I may use that word—legal definition than the somewhat fuzzy one that we have at the moment. I beg to move.

5.30 p.m.

Lord Morris

The Committee should be grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Richard, for raising this important and difficult point. It is not just a dry drafting point. I can illustrate how difficult the position can be. I am ashamed to say that a few years ago I once rounded, pompously and aggressively, on a woman who had allowed her dog to defecate fulsomely and unattractively on a beach in South Cornwall which was populated at the time by mothers and children and, much more importantly, by me. She disarmed me by turning round and saying, "But it is not my dog". In practice, establishing the ownership, custody and control of a dog is difficult.

The problem with the Bill is clear. Clause 1(2) (d), to which Amendment No. 6 relates, refers to: the owner or of which he is for the time being in charge", and yet the Bill's Long Title refers to "possession or custody". "Possession" and "custody" can be construed differently from "ownership" and "being in charge". For that reason the noble Lord, Lord Richard, seeks to improve the Bill. I ask my noble friend to consider the point carefully, because it is an important one.

Viscount Mountgarret

I echo the remarks made by my noble friend Lord Morris and congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Richard, on raising this important point. I am sure that there are many people like myself who have staff and employees who by the nature of their employment are required to have dogs. Although I have given them the dogs I am still the legal owner. They are the keepers of the dog. The definition should be the one that the noble Lord, Lord Richard, has proposed, and I hope that my noble friend will take that point on board.

Earl Ferrers

The noble Lord, Lord Richard, is right to draw attention to the fact that it is important for this legislation to cover the keeper of the dog rather than confine itself to the owner. Difficulties in enforcement have occurred under previous legislation which was framed solely in terms of the owner. That is why the Bill is already framed in such a way as to cope with that difficulty. Repeatedly throughout the Bill provision is made for both the owner and for the person for the time being in charge", of the dog. It could be argued that the term "keeper" proposed by the noble Lord is already included in the Bill in the phrase, the person for the time being in charge of the dog". That covers the "keeper". Under the amendment, a person is the keeper if he owns the dog or has it in his possession.

There are significant advantages in staying with the term, the person for the time being in charge of it". If the dog that I happen to be taking for a walk slips its lead and gallops across the meadow, there can be little doubt that I am the person for the time being in charge of it, but it may be more open to argument whether I possessed it at the time—as it slipped its lead, presumably I did not possess it—or whether the person who possessed it was the owner, and he may be a different person from me.

The strength of the noble Lord's argument is that where a young person is involved, his parents cannot sidestep their responsibilities by claiming that the dog is both owned and kept by the youngster. There might be an advantage in that argument.

I should like to consider the noble Lord's argument and those put forward by my noble friends. My impression is that the notion of, the person for the time being in charge of the dog", is probably the preferable definition. I shall come forward on Report with an amendment which will pick up the point about the head of the household where the owner of a dog is a young person. I am happy to consider the points that the Committee has made.

Lord Richard

In view of the Minister saying that he will study the definition point to decide whether the notion of keeping a dog is sufficiently covered by the Bill and consider possession of a dog by someone under the age of 16, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The Viscount of Falkland moved Amendment No. 7: Page 1, line 20, at end insert: ("( ) allow such a dog of which he is the owner to be kept in insecure conditions in and around the place where the owner is residing;").

The noble Viscount said: The amendment attempts to deal with a point which most Members of the Committee will agree is fundamental to the Bill, which was introduced as a result of tragic attacks on people, some young and some old. Those attacks were dangerous, distressing and sometimes fatal. The Bill goes a long way towards dealing with the dangers caused by dogs specified in this part of the Bill.

I am sure that the Minister will agree that we want so far as is possible to prevent those tragic accidents. The purpose of the amendment is to ensure that dogs are kept in secure conditions although the wording provides that the person shall not, allow such a dog of which he is the owner to be kept in insecure conditions".

The intention is that the permit enabling someone to own a pit bull terrier, the main type of dog that we are considering, should contain a distinct condition which the owner should fulfil that the dog should be kept in secure conditions. Secure conditions may be many and various depending upon the particular case, but a responsible owner would in any event seek professional advice. What is more important, if a dog warden or a police officer saw that a dog was being kept in unsatisfactory conditions, with fences that were too low and with insufficient space available to the dog, or in insecure conditions, the permit could be withdrawn. That is the aim of my amendment. I am advised that in the United States there is a body of literature published by animal welfare organisations entitled The Long-Term Care of Aggressive Pit Bull Terriers. It stresses the serious and difficult problems invoked in providing genuinely secure conditions for such dogs.

Obviously, responsible owners will have no problems with this. They will find the best way in which to provide the ideal secure surroundings for their dogs. Others will not. However, if my amendment is accepted, it will go a long way towards giving power to the professionals, like the dog wardens or others, who are responsible, to make sure that the dogs are not a danger to the public because of the conditions in which they are kept. That would be of great help. I beg to move.

Lord Richard

I support the amendment. It seems to me that if one looks at the way in which Clause 1(2) is framed, it contains a series of prohibitions on the part of any person who owns a dog of the type known as a pit bull terrier. Subsection (2) (d) states that a person shall not: allow such a dog of which he is the owner or of which he is for the time being in charge to be in a public place without being muzzled and kept on a lead". It seems to me that the amendment is designed to take that prohibition one stage further. Even if the dog is not in public place, nevertheless it should be kept in secure conditions. That is for two reasons. First, the definition of a public place is somewhat imprecise. One could have a situation where a dog is being kept in a private place but where it is nevertheless terrorising the immediate neighbourhood. Secondly, it seems to me that an obligation to keep one of these dogs in secure conditions is a good way of preventing it escaping. If it escapes another offence may be committed but the damage will have been done. The Bill is not designed to enact legalities, it is designed to make a practical contribution to how the dogs shall be looked after. I support the amendment.

5.45 p.m.

Baroness Phillips

I support my noble friend. At Second Reading I mentioned that the police had told me that they had gone to arrest people who they knew had committed offences. When they went to the estate they could not get near the front door because people had quite deliberately obtained dogs which were not friendly. Someone asked earlier how one would know; I do not think that there is much doubt: if a dog bares its teeth at you it is not exactly saying hello.

There is a real problem on these estates because people have even been using the dogs to prevent rents being collected. All kinds of other horrific things are going on and this would be an answer to the problem. It applies not only to a public place but to any where, in and around the place where the owner is residing".

Lord Monson

I am grateful to the noble Viscount for introducing this important and vital amendment. Unless it or something similar is accepted, Clause 1 will be incomplete and the Government's laudable objectives will be only half achieved. So important is the amendment that two days ago I added my name to it. I was in the Public Bill Office when my name was written down and I can only suppose that a printer's error omitted it from the Marshalled List. I mention that in order to convince my noble friends on these Benches, if they need convincing, that this is by no means a party political amendment. It can and should be supported by Members in all parts of the Committee.

When I am in the country I live only four miles from where not long ago Mr. Frank Tempest, the bakery worker, was horribly attacked by a pit bull terrier while walking home from a night shift. He suffered terrible injuries, of which Members of the Committee may have seen photographs which he bravely allowed to be published in the national press. He was not attacked by a dog in a public place but by one which had jumped over an insecure fence.

If the Bill had been enacted two years ago with the inclusion of this amendment, there is a good chance that that appalling incident would never have occurred. Mr. Tempest's face would have remained intact and he would not have to suffer the misery which he will suffer possibly for the rest of his life. If the Bill had been enacted minus the amendment the attack could well still have taken place during any time up to the year 2015 or however long it takes for these breeds to become extinct. It would not prevent these dangerous animals being kept in insecure private premises. The dogs can easily escape from them and attack men, women and children who may be playing in an adjoining garden.

Unless this amendment or something similar is agreed to either today or at the next stage, there will be a gaping hole in Clause 1 through which hundreds of dangerous dogs will—literally as well as metaphorically—be able to escape, possibly at the expense of hundreds of innocent men, women and children.

Baroness Oppenheim-Barnes

I have great sympathy with the objectives of the amendment. However, I am not sure whether it or the Bill itself is likely to achieve the degree of security that I am sure the Committee wishes to see. I do not believe that either the Bill or the amendment defines precisely what "secure" means. I accept that it is difficult. We have all heard stories, which we have been told are correct, where pit bull terriers have eaten their way through heavy doors. They have managed to eat away fences, getting through or over them. If that were to occur, the person would then be able to say, "But this was a secure fence or a secure door for almost any type of dog but not for a pit bull". That is not prescribed in the Bill, nor is it fully defined in the amendment.

There are other cases where secure premises are provided for such dogs but a child or some other person in the family may leave a door open a chink. Then one of these dangerous dogs may escape through it while someone is passing. Is that covered? The premises would be secure; they would only be temporarily made insecure by the action of a child. Who would be responsible? Would it be the owner? If my noble friend can clarify these points, I shall listen with great interest.

Earl Ferrers

Like other Members of the Committee, I have a great deal of sympathy for the motivation behind the amendment of the noble Viscount. However, for the reasons which I propose to give the Committee, I do not believe that it is necessary.

Clause 1(2) (e) of the Bill provides that no person shall allow his prohibited dog to stray. Anyone who kept his dog in insecure conditions would be bound to fall foul of this provision. That would act as a powerful incentive to those who wish to retain the dogs, to ensure that they are securely kept.

My noble friend Lady Oppenheim-Barnes asks, "What about pit bull terriers who eat their way through doors and protected places?". Although it will be for the courts to interpret this, not me, my interpretation is that if a dog escapes from a building which is supposed to be secure, it obviously is not secure. Therefore the person would be guilty of the offence of not keeping the dog in an adequately secure place.

We have tabled a new amendment to Clause 3. Amendment No. 28 would apply the provisions of the offence in Clause 3(1) in the case of an owner who lets his dog go onto private property on which it is not permitted and where that dog subsequently becomes dangerously out of control. I believe that that covers the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, who has temporarily disappeared. Perhaps she has been eaten by a Rottweiler. However, I am sure she will reappear in due course.

The Government's Amendment No. 28 states quite clearly that if an owner allows his dog to: enter a place which is not a public place but where it is not permitted to be and while it is there—

  1. (a) it injures any person; or
  2. (b) there are grounds for reasonable apprehension that it will do so, he is guilty of an offence".
I believe that means that the offence of a dog being dangerously out of control could be committed if the dog were in a next door neighbour's garden. That is another strong incentive for owners to ensure that their dogs are securely controlled.

Furthermore, Clause 3(4) of the Bill ensures that anyone who is concerned that a particular dog is dangerous and is not being kept under proper control may request a court order specifying how the dog should be brought under control. A dog does not have to have caused injury for that to be done. A person can take his neighbour to court if the person fears his neighbour's dog might cause injury. It would be quite within the court's powers to order that the owner should keep his dog in secure buildings or in any other specified manner. The court may even order that the owner has to build a lock-up safe for his dog and put the dog in it, if the court feels such a step is appropriate. I hope that if people have any doubts about whether a dog is being kept securely, they will not hesitate to use that power. I hope I have covered the concerns of the noble Viscount. I and other Members of the Committee share those concerns, but I believe they have been met in Amendment No. 28.

Lord Monson

Before the noble Earl sits down, I hope I may ask him whether allowing a dog effectively to jump out of a private garden or house into the road, where two minutes later it severely injures someone, constitutes straying in law. Straying surely presupposes that a dog is loose for a considerable period of time.

My next comment follows from what the noble Earl has just said. Even if it is the case that the incident that I have just described constitutes straying in law, and even if the Government's amendment—I agree that Amendment No. 28 is certainly a great improvement on the Bill as it first came to the Chamber—is agreed to, the Government are still effectively shutting the kennel door after the pit bull terrier has escaped. The amendment of the noble Viscount would prevent these terrible incidents taking place whereas the Government's amendment would simply allow people to be prosecuted after the incident had taken place. Surely prevention is better than a penalty.

Earl Ferrers

With regard to the first point made by the noble Lord, if a dog escapes onto the road it is straying. As regards the noble Lord's second point, obviously a person will be prosecuted after an offence has occurred. One cannot prosecute him before it has occurred. All one can do is to make provisions in the Bill which state that if an owner keeps his dog in a manner which contravenes the terms of the Bill, he is committing an offence and he will be prosecuted.

Lord Richard

Before the noble Earl sits down, I hope I may revert to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Monson. There is a distinction between keeping a dog in a secure place and allowing it to stray. One could keep a dog in an insecure place but on a lead. If the dog breaks its lead, the lead slips or the lead is not sufficiently strong, the dog can perfectly well stray if the place in which it is kept is insecure. If the place is secure, the dog is penned in whether or not it is on a lead. However, under the terms of the Bill the dog should be kept on a lead, and I totally accept that. The noble Earl asked us to look at the Government's Amendment No. 28 to Clause 3. That amendment states: If the owner or, if different, the person for the time being in charge of a dog allows it to enter a place which is not a public place but where it is not permitted to be". If the dog is at home with his owner, it is in a place where it is permitted to be. It is not in a place where it is not permitted to be. I support the amendment of the noble Viscount because it provides that if someone were to be permitted to own a pit bull terrier or a fighting dog, he should keep it in a secure place so that it does not get out or stray and possibly injure people as a result.

Earl Ferrers

If a person keeps a pit bull terrier inside his house, the dog is permitted to be there. However, if the pit bull terrier then jumps over the garden fence and sits in a next door neighbour's garden, he is in a place where he is not permitted to be. That is the offence we are discussing.

The noble Lord, Lord Richard, is concerned about this matter, but the Bill contains provisions to protect any person who is concerned about a particular dog. I received a letter from a lady the other day who was very worried. She said that she could not leave her house because of her next door neighbour's pit bull terrier. She said the neighbour would not do anything about the dog and she was petrified by it. That person can go to court under the terms of the Dogs Act and ask for an order to be made against the dog concerned. However, the Bill we are discussing permits a court to state what the dog's owner must do to bring his dog under control. Therefore I believe that point is covered in the Bill. The concern of a person who believes a dog may attack him, even though it has not yet done so, is also covered. I believe that the Bill offers reasonable protection in this regard.

The Earl of Limerick

I did not intend to intervene as I have sympathy with the substance of the amendments. However, I was prompted by the intervention of the noble Lord, Lord Richard, to make a point about drafting. Amendment No. 7 states that an owner must not allow his dog to be kept in insecure conditions, in and around the place where the owner is residing". A garden constitutes a place that is around a house where a dog's owner is residing. That garden may have an eight foot fence which is perfectly secure, but if an intruder climbs that fence and the dog is in the garden—dogs enter gardens regularly for obvious reasons—and the dog bites the intruder, that would seem to pose a problem as regards the drafting of the amendment. I do not believe it was intended to create a difficulty, but a difficulty is created by the drafting of the amendment.

Earl Ferrers

I do not think that that constitutes a drafting problem. It may constitute a problem for the person who is climbing an eight foot fence. If he is eaten by a dog, that serves him jolly well right.

Lord Airedale

If a dog is chained up in the garden of its owner's house and it breaks the chain and bites the postman, the dog has not strayed and it is still confined within its own garden. Nevertheless a tragedy has occurred. I do not think that the noble Earl's argument about straying has any relevance to that situation. I believe that we need a provision along the lines suggested by my noble friend's amendment.

Earl Ferrers

Obviously if a person has a dog on a lead and the lead is insufficient to hold the dog, the dog is not secure. That is one of the reasons why my right honourable friend may bring in an order under the reserve powers to state the type of lead or muzzle that must be provided for the dog that is the subject of the reserve powers. There is no virtue in saying that a dog must merely be put on a lead if that lead is 100 yards long. Equally there is no virtue in restraining a pit bull terrier with a lead that one would use to take a Pekinese out for a walk. That is why my right honourable friend has the power under the terms of this Bill to bring in an order which states the type of lead that is required to keep the animal concerned under control.

Lord Richard

I am sorry to intervene again. The noble Earl looks a little apprehensive. There appears to be nothing in the Bill which states that one must keep a pit bull terrier secure. The word "secure" does not appear. One is under an obligation not to allow it to stray, but that is an entirely different proposition. I should also point out that Clause 3 applies not only to fighting dogs but, as I understand it, to any dog which may be dangerous or dangerously out of control. The Government are not in effect placing a specific obligation on an owner of a pit hull terrier. The obligation imposed under Clause 3 may apply to an Alsatian, a Rottweiler or to any other dog, even to a corgi if it were sufficiently incensed. The important point is that nowhere in this Bill is there an obligation to keep a pit bull terrier secure. That is what we trying to introduce.

Baroness Seear

I apologise for arriving late for this debate. Am I to understand that the law will allow a dog to be kept in a permitted place, which would include the garden of the owner's house? What about the children or the domestic help, if the owners are lucky enough to have one? However, I do not suppose that the domestic help would stay if there were a pit bull terrier about. If the dog is allowed to be in the garden there is nothing to stop it savaging children who go out there or the domestic help who pops out to hang the tea towels out to dry. Is there any protection then?

Earl Ferrers

It may help the Committee if I reply now to the noble Baroness's question. We are talking about an exempted dog whose owner has the right to keep it. The owners are entitled to look after that dog in whatever way they wish. If their children are there, that is perfectly all right.

There is nothing which says that the dog must not stray. However, one commits an offence if one does not keep the dog in secure conditions and as a result damage could occur. It is also an offence to keep a dog in such a way as to cause other people to fear for their lives or their safety. That is where the sanction lies.

The Viscount of Falkland

I am gratified that there was so much support for the general drift of the amendment. It has been an interesting debate. I had a clear idea of what I thought were secure surroundings for a dog of this kind but I am not quite so sure following the debate. For that reason, and because various points have been put forward by the noble Earl and by other Members of the Committee which I should like to consider, perhaps I may return to the matter later.

I take the line of the noble Lord, Lord Richard, that the difference between allowing a dog to stray and not keeping a dog in secure surroundings is an important one. I should like to see such an onus placed upon owners of pit bull terriers, although that is very difficult to enforce until an offence has occurred. It will become clear only after a period of time and with experience, which one hopes will not be an unhappy experience as a result of more people being attacked by such dogs. However, I believe that there is a need for the Bill to impose an obligation to provide secure surroundings for the dogs.

I should like to take the amendment away, read carefully in the Official Report what has been said and perhaps return to the matter at another stage. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 8 not moved.]

6 p.m.

The Viscount of Falkland moved Amendment No. 9: Page 2, line 5, leave out ("or").

The noble Viscount said: In speaking to Amendment No. 9 I shall speak also to Amendment No. 10. The amendments are concerned with those people who for one reason or another are looking after or keeping a fighting dog of the kind specified in the Bill either for veterinary treatment or because the local authority or police have taken charge of the dog until such time as the owner appears in court. For example, if a dog is seized by the police at a dog fight the animal will be needed as evidence and may be kept for some weeks before the offender comes to court.

The amendment attempts to protect such keepers of unexempted fighting dogs from the implications of the Bill. They will normally be the police, local authorities or veterinary surgeons. I beg to move.

Viscount Astor

The effect of the noble Viscount's amendment is, or should be, very marginal. After November this year when Clause 1(3) comes into effect, there should be no unexempted pit bull terriers or other Clause 1 dogs which will need veterinary treatment.

Equally, the provision which the noble Viscount proposes in his paragraph (d) is unnecessary as existing paragraphs (a) and (b) already provide what he seeks. Where a dog is being held pending further criminal proceedings, that would surely fall under either paragraph (a) or (b). I am not, therefore, persuaded that there is a problem which the amendment addresses.

The only possible effect of the amendment would be to enable veterinary surgeons to treat illegally held, unexempted dogs. If someone wants an illegally held pit bull terrier to be treated by a veterinary surgeon he should have it exempted rather than try to compromise the veterinary surgeon by asking him to treat a dog which would clearly be in breach of the law. I am sure that the noble Viscount did not intend his amendment to have that effect, and I urge the Committee to reject it.

The Viscount of Falkland

I note what the noble Viscount says. Here again I should like to study his remarks in the Official Report and consider the implications of what he said. Perhaps I may return to the matter and discuss it further at a later stage. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 10 not moved.]

Viscount Astor moved Amendment No. 11:) Page 2, line 8, after ("shall") insert ("by order").

The noble Viscount said: In moving Amendment No. 11 I should like to speak also to Amendments Nos. 14, 17 and 19. The Committee will be aware that we hope that an agency will deal with most of the day-to-day running of the compensation and exemption schemes. We issued an invitation to tender a couple of weeks ago and are now sifting through the 30 or so tenders we have received. We expect to be able to announce to whom we have awarded the contract by the end of next week.

As the Bill stands there is no provision for the Secretary of State to delegate or contract out the administration of the schemes. The amendments make the necessary changes to Clause 1 so that an agency may be appointed to do the work.

The Committee may wish to know that the draft of the compensation and exemption schemes order has been placed in the Library for information. It outlines in more detail how the schemes will operate. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Viscount Astor moved Amendment No. 12: Page 2, line 9, leave out ("destroy them, or").

The noble Viscount said: This amendment was originally put down by the Opposition in another place. It is a good suggestion for which we ourselves take no credit.

We would not wish an owner who had destroyed his dog by inhumane means to be able to claim compensation and the cost of the dog's destruction. As it would not be practicable to determine in every case whether an owner had destroyed his dog humanely, it seems right that only owners who arrange for a vet or other responsible organisation to put the animal down can claim compensation.

The amendment was not debated in another place because of lack of time. I hope that the Committee will support it. I beg to move.

Baroness Ewart-Biggs

We are grateful to the Minister for having taken on board the suggestion made in another place.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 13 not moved.]

Viscount Astor moved Amendment No. 14: Page 2, line 20, at end insert: ("( ) A scheme under subsection (3) or (5) above may provide for specified functions under the scheme to be discharged by such persons or bodies as the Secretary of State thinks appropriate.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Ewart-Biggs moved Amendment No. 15: Page 2, line 20, at end insert: ("( ) Any person requested by the Secretary of State to undertake the administration of any scheme of exemption under subsection (5) above shall, before commencing the operation of such a scheme, consult such persons as may appear to be concerned, including persons representative of chief constables of police and of local authorities.").

The noble Baroness said: The clause seeks to ensure that the person or agency operating the exemption scheme consults other organisations with expertise in the care and control of dogs. Both the police service and local authorities are well placed to respond to consultations of that type. It is true that the police service has for many years been responsible for the welfare of dogs, particularly in emergencies. In addition, it uses dogs for operational purposes.

Furthermore, local authorities, either directly or indirectly, have access to expertise and kennelling facilities. The AMA survey conducted in response to the Action on Dogs proposals identified that more than 70 per cent of authorities in its membership directly employed animal welfare or dog wardens. Taken together, therefore, the police and the dog warden service of local authorities should be able to advise and assist in the formulation of policy on exemptions and, where appropriate, offer support in any enforcement measures required.

The question of who would implement the exemption scheme was raised on Second Reading by a number of noble Lords. The Minister explained that the agency had not yet been chosen and that the matter was therefore still under consideration.

This is an important clause because it is clear that all the expertise will be necessary and that whatever charity or agency is responsible for the scheme could well do with that expertise. It is essential to the success of the Bill that the scheme should be administered well. If it is not, it will weaken the working of the Bill. I cannot therefore believe that the Government will reject the amendment, which simply seeks to ensure that all available expertise will be at the disposal of the agency running the exemption scheme. I beg to move.

Lord Airedale

Towards the end of the amendment the Committee will see the phrase: consult such persons as may appear to be concerned". The amendment does not state to whom the word "appear" applies. I suspect that it is intended to mean "appear to the Secretary of State", but there appears to be a small lacuna at that point.

6.15 p.m.

Earl Ferrers

I appreciate the concern of the noble Baroness, Lady Ewart-Biggs, that a scheme of the type proposed by my right honourable friend should not be put in place without proper consultation. However, I find it difficult to go along with the amendment for three reasons. First, it is for the government departments concerned to hold those consultations, not for the agency itself. Secondly, we need to get the scheme in operation quickly and, given the way the amendment is framed, it would introduce a significant delay. Thirdly, although it is clearly important that the police and local authorities should be consulted, the sequence of doing so may not in all circumstances follow that set out in the amendment. For instance, in the scheme as proposed by my right honourable friend at the moment local authorities will not be playing a major part, partly because they have asked not to do so and partly because we see major advantages in organising the scheme relating to pit bull terriers on a national, rather than a local authority, basis.

There are only a relatively small number of pit bull terriers, so some local authorities may have only a handful. It does not make sense for each local authority to have to establish its own procedures. I agree with the noble Baroness that, next April, after the provisions relating to dog wardens in the Environmental Protection Act 1990 come into force, local authority dog wardens will have a larger part to play. We shall be in touch with them about this role well before then.

In asking the Committee not to accept this amendment, I can assure Members that consultations have already taken place with the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Association of Chief Police Officers for Scotland. Their views have been taken closely into account in the formulation of the scheme, the way it will operate and the involvement of the police. Consultations have also taken place with a number of other organisations, including in this instance the Association of British Insurers, as the need for third party insurance for exempted dogs is an essential part of my right honourable friend's proposals. Consultations like those are part and parcel of the machinery of government and there is no need for them to appear on the face of the Bill. I hope that I have reassured the noble Baroness on that point.

Baroness Ewart-Biggs

I am grateful to the Minister for having answered so fully. I accept that there has been consultation, as there should be, but the agency that will administer the scheme has not yet been named and it should have the benefit of all the consultation that it needs. I am not sure whether I agree with the Minister that that would be too long a process. It is important that the Bill should contain the right conditions. I am grateful to the noble Earl for his assurances and in the meantime I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 16 not moved.]

Viscount Astor moved Amendment No. 17: Page 2, line 36, leave out ("and a scheme").

The noble Viscount said: I spoke to this amendment with Amendment No. 11. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Houghton of Sowerby moved Amendment No. 18: Page 2, line 38, leave out ("(1) or").

The noble Lord said: I admit that the amendment is a complete shot in the dark. I do not know what the exemptions are intended for. As I understand the position, the owner of a prohibited dog will have to comply with the conditions of neutering and muzzling on a lead but will nonetheless not be in lawful custody of that dog after the appointed day unless he has a permit. What is this permit business? Is it an exemption? If so, to whom are owners to go? Who will issue the permits? We have had a great deal of informal information to the effect that someone will run the show and issue exemptions. I am in the dark as to what the exemptions are for. Can some light be thrown on the position.

Baroness Nicol

I rather think that my noble friend may be speaking to Amendment No. 13, which was called while he was out of the Chamber. We are now discussing Amendment No. 18.

Lord Houghton of Sowerby

Have I missed Amendment No. 13?

Baroness Nicol

My noble friend has missed Amendment No. 13. We are now on Amendment No. 18, which has again been tabled by my noble friend.

Viscount Astor

The noble Lord should be speaking to Amendment No. 18.

Lord Houghton of Sowerby

I was away for a few minutes and something happened in my absence. This amendment is concerned with the authority that will be necessary for regulations made under Clause 1. The proposal is that an order shall be: subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament". That is called the negative procedure. That is quite different from the affirmative procedure, which requires the positive assent of both Chambers. For the purpose of this provision, the order will be subject to what is called the negative procedure.

I am rather sorry about that. In debating the Bill, my purpose is to safeguard so far as is reasonable and possible the interests of the people who will be deprived of their property. That is what I am trying to do. That property is not only property in a legal sense but ownership of a dog to which they may be strongly attached. I am told that some outside agency will be given the job—the scheme will be trailed around and put out to tender. We ought to know more about this.

When an entirely new authoritarian scheme of this kind is introduced, whatever is done under it by regulation should be subject to the affirmative procedure. That is not difficult. My experience in another place is that it is difficult to have an annulment Motion debated in the House of Commons. The sanction of the Whips has to be obtained. If they are busy and do not want the Motion to be called, it is not debated and one is put off again and again. I know that such an annulment Motion is easier to obtain in this Chamber. I have had personal experience of this situation in the past.

One also has to bear in mind that the Bill has not been discussed at any meaningful Committee stage in another place, which had to swallow it whole at three o'clock in the morning, having spent much fruitless time debating the registration scheme and little else. So we have not had the benefit of a viewpoint expressed by another place. When new types of Bill contain measures unprecedented in the history of dogs and man in this country they ought to be subject to the affirmative procedure. Otherwise such Bills should be the subject of primary legislation.

Let us remember our discussions last week on the questions: What is a badger sett? What may people do about a badger sett? What may the hunt do about a badger sett? These measures are all set out in statute law and there are no regulations involved. It was desirable when introducing new conditions on badger protection that the law should be clear. When introducing new conditions which relate to how people stand under this Bill, those provisions should be subject to affirmative procedure. I feel strongly about this matter. I feel that that is the only right way to proceed. We cannot give too much away to secondary legislation in a matter of this kind.

I have kept in a very temperate frame of mind up to now in the debate, but one must realise that what we are now discussing was not the first choice of the Secretary of State. To begin with he blurted out a very different proposition. This is a modified form of his intention to deal with the problem in a dramatic fashion.

I believe that every safeguard against secondary legislation affecting a person's rights under the Bill should be put in the Bill. On whether he has exemption may depend whether or not he can keep his dog. If he cannot keep his dog, he has to get rid of it. So far as he is concerned, that is the ultimate decision. I beg to move.

Viscount Astor

The Bill has two levels of parliamentary process. The order-making powers in Clause 2 are tightly circumscribed by consultation as well as parliamentary process, and rightly so. But the Secretary of State needs to be able to act much more quickly in making an order under Clause 1. There may be a particular need for speed. There is certainly a need for speed in implementing this Bill. We want to ensure that the criminal offences come into force quickly during the Recess in order to stop the proliferation of the pit bull terrier and adding to the problems that we already have. The need to go through the affirmative resolution procedure on the orders made under the Bill, particularly when we have spent so much time debating the issue of principle, would delay matters considerably.

There may also be a need for quick action in the future to ban from the country new and dangerous types of dog by order. Making the orders subject to the negative resolution procedure, as we have done, does not stifle debate. It is still possible to pray against the order—I point out to the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, that one has 40 sitting days in which to do so—and then have it debated. There seems to be no good reason why the desire for debate should rule out quick action by the Secretary of State if it is needed, as it might be. I ought also to point out to the noble Lord in case he was not in the Chamber at the time, that the draft of the compensation and exemption scheme order has been placed in the Library. I hope that noble Lords will not support this amendment.

Lord Houghton of Sowerby

In order to keep my options open, I shall withdraw the amendment. One must wait for a later stage in the Bill to find out the true position. I am tolerant. I shall give way until the next time round. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Viscount Astor moved Amendment No. 19: Page 2, line 38, leave out ("a scheme") and insert ("an order containing a scheme under subsection (3)").

The noble Viscount said: This amendment was spoken to with Amendment No. 11. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 20 not moved.]

Clause 1, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 2 [Other specially dangerous dogs]:

Lord Stanley of Alderley moved Amendment No. 21: Page 2, line 44, at end insert: ("; and he shall by order require the owners or keepers of dogs of that type to apply for a permit to keep such a dog.").

The noble Lord said: The amendment would only come into effect in the unfortunate circumstance that the Home Secretary decides that it is necessary to put restrictions on keeping a type or breed of dog other than those detailed in Clause 1. I should much prefer that the Home Secretary should not be given this power at all. I shall be interested to hear what the Committee has to say when my noble friend Lord Radnor suggests removing the whole clause. However, as it stands, Clause 2 gives the Home Secretary those powers, so I suggest that we should try to make sure that they are technically possible to enforce. That is the purpose of the amendment.

The amendment would ensure that any breed or type of dog that the Home Secretary by order decides to control under Clause 2 would, exactly like the dogs in Clause 1, be obliged to have a permit. The Bill demands that all dogs mentioned in Clause 1 must have a permit if the owner wishes to keep them. Therefore it is only logical that any new breed or type of dog which the Home Secretary decides to classify as what I would call Clause 2 dangerous types should have the same controls and need to be identified by having a similar permit 'to those in Clause 1.

If this provision is not made, for the life of me I cannot see how the powers in subsection (2) (d) and (e), to which they would become subject, can possibly be enforced. I beg to move.

6.30 p.m.

Earl Ferrers

My noble friend is on the point where he wishes to have a permit for those animals. That is one step away from registration. We are introducing a scheme under Clause 1, not to register dogs, but to keep a list of clogs to which something has happened and in respect of which certain action has been taken.

Clause 1 dogs, which have been exempted, are distinguished from any other Clause 1 dogs by the fact that they have been neutered, marked and—for which evidence has been provided—have third party insurance in force. We need that database to distinguish those exempted Clause 1 dogs from other dogs which are covered by Clause 1 and which are not exempted and which are therefore being held illegally.

The database distinguishes between the legal and the illegal dog. It is quite different from the situation under Clause 2 to which my noble friend's amendment applies. If the Secretary of State were to make use of the reserve powers under Clause 2, following the necessary consultation—for instance, to require a particularly fierce kind of poodle to be muzzled and on a lead when in a public place—there is no need to add to that a requirement that someone somewhere should keep a list of those dogs. We know because of the nature of the powers under Clause 2 that all such poodles should be wearing a muzzle. The need for a computer list does not arise and it would be quite pointless.

I hope that my noble friend will not feel strongly about the amendment because I do not believe that it would be suitable.

Lord Stanley of Alderley

I believe that my noble friend on the Front Bench was skating on very thin ice. He suggested that I was trying to register my Clause 2 dogs. I thought that the word "register" was forbidden in this Chamber. I certainly never used it. I simply said that they should have the same restrictions as the Clause 1 dogs. My noble friend has already said that they will not be registered; they have only a permit. I did not mention the word "register"; only my noble friend did so.

I regret that he cannot understand the point I seek to make: that if such dogs are, regrettably, placed on a dangerous dogs list—that is what the Home Secretary will have to do—they come into the same category as Clause 1 dogs and should therefore have the same restrictions. I do not intend to press the amendment. However, my noble friend could have given me a better answer than to try to lead me down that horrible path of registration which I certainly would not wish to go down. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Houghton of Sowerby moved Amendment No. 22: Page 3, line 8, leave out from ("with") to end of line 11 and insert ("an advisory body appointed by the Secretary of State composed of an independent Chairman and eight other persons who appear to him to have relevant knowledge or experience of animal welfare, veterinary science and practices or breeds of dogs, and two lay members representative of the opinions of the public at large".).

The noble Lord said: It is about time that the Home Secretary received better advice on what to do on matters within his jurisdiction. I do not know whether the proposed advisory committee would cover more than Home Office responsibility. I believe that it might well do so. When a Minister is saddled with continuous problems when deciding matters of administration or classification, which may be contentious and may raise issues of public importance, he needs shelter. He needs someone to advise him.

The noble Earl is fully aware of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Committee. It was set up under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. It is a statutory committee which is very representative. It presents advice and can be consulted by the Secretary of State on matters relating to the treatment and use of animals in laboratories.

There is also a Farm Animal Welfare Council. It is now a much bigger and more important committee. The agriculture Acts are littered with enabling legislation which deals with marketing and care of animals, and varies the conditions under which animals may be kept especially with regard to intensive husbandry, and so forth. The Farm Animal Welfare Council deals with such important matters as slaughter and ritual slaughter. It reported on both those subjects. The Government were not able to accept its advice in all areas, but I do not deal with that aspect at present. At least there is a competent advisory committee, knowledgeable in all matters on which the Minister has to decide, which can give him advice. The Government can then decide what has to be done.

The procedure that we have gone through recently with regard to the Dangerous Dogs Bill is deplorable. There is not the slightest doubt about that. Consider how long the Secretary of State has taken before introducing a Bill on dog control. Under previous Home Secretaries, every discouragement has been offered by his department to those who wished to embark on reform. That position should not be repeated.

I raise another matter which emphasises the need for something to be done. What explanation can anyone offer as to why successive governments regard dogs, animal welfare and related matters as suitable matters for a Private Member's Bill procedure? On Friday I shall move another Bill on dogs under the Private Member's Bill procedure. It has come from the Commons under the Private Member's Bill procedure. It was drafted by the Home Office. Bills have been planted for years. I have introduced more Bills on dogs than the noble Earl, Lord Ferrers, or anyone who preceded him. The Government have not introduced legislation on dog control since before the noble Earl's time in your Lordships' House. This Bill now brings matters—which hitherto the Government regarded as suitable for the Private Member's Bill procedure—into the realm of government responsibility and legislation. Legislation on the control of dangerous dogs was unaltered from 1871 to 1989. When it was altered it was under the Private Member's Bill procedure in both the House of Commons and this Chamber.

It is not good enough to regard such issues as birds, animals, bees and butterflies as suitable matters for the Private Member's Bill procedure. The Government have either regarded a subject as so trivial that they cannot be bothered with it, or have considered that it raises controversial issues which may be left to the strategems and manoeuvres that obstruct and destroy Private Member's Bills. More millions have been wasted in this Parliament on fruitless Private Member's Bills than on any other matter. That is because such a procedure has been allowed to take the responsibility for legislation in a particular sector. That has certainly been the case with regard to dogs. With regard to animal experimentation, that too was the case until after consultation between all concerned a Bill was brought forward which we could recommend to the Government. If they adopted it—which they did after discussion—we were then able to guarantee to deliver it. The Government have been afraid of Bills which might give rise to Divisions on the Floor of the House relating to matters of conscience, emotional issues and so on.

The Dangerous Dogs Bill is part of that procedure. It is time that the Home Secretary had someone to guide him. Otherwise, without such information, one never knows what he will say next. Consider, my Lords, what he said and the advice given to him after consultation. One cannot legislate like that. This Bill is the product which has come out of that mess, and it is disgraceful. The Government should consider the need for a well informed advisory committee which can steer them through all the pitfalls of dog controls, dog welfare and dog law. Then we should be on the way.

Baroness Ewart-Biggs

In case my noble friend Lord Houghton of Sowerby thinks that this Front Bench has deserted him, I hasten to rise to support him in this amendment. The Labour Party supports the amendment, and would like to see a dog advisory committee. This also has the support of the RSPCA.

This question was discussed at Second Reading and it was generally thought that a dog advisory committee on the same lines as the farm animal advisory committee would be a good addition to the Bill. Moreover, it is essential that the areas within the domain of the Department of the Environment relating to dog welfare and control are also examined by such a body. After all, many of the issues are intertwined.

It is also evident that the control of dogs will continue to be an area of developing public policy. The arguments which my noble friend Lord Houghton has put forward for the need for the Government to have a committee which would be responsible for that movement of policy about animal welfare are highly relevant. So I very much hope that the Minister will listen carefully to my noble friend's arguments and agree with what he has said.

Lord Addington

The idea of some sort of council looking at dog welfare would seem to be very sensible. Whether or not this is the right vehicle may be a matter for some discussion, but certainly there is a very strong case for dealing with the problem of dogs, which arises from having an animal sitting under the control of man in predominantly urban areas where it is patently at some disadvantage, and where the contradictory interests of dog and man will always be difficult to reconcile.

Earl Ferrers

We seem to have needled the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, and that always grieves me. He says that he has produced more Bills on animals than I have, which is perfectly true, and that we have produced none on dog control. Now that we have produced one on dog control the noble Lord castigates us for it. He says that we have done nothing about control of animals. I think he must have let his memory slip temporarily and have forgotten the Wildlife and Countryside Bill, which we introduced and which put all sorts of restrictions on birds, butterflies, natterjack toads, coots and moorhens, only leaving out the wasp and the greenfly. The Government have done a certain amount.

Lord Dormand of Easington

Some of the Bills which the noble Earl has mentioned were Private Bills, not Government Bills.

6.45 p.m.

Earl Ferrers

The Wildlife and Countryside Bill was very much a public Bill. I took part in it and remember the hoo-ha created by it.

The noble Lord is concerned to achieve some form of consultation with experts on animal welfare, and I think I he noble Lord, Lord Addington, was in favour of that too. One must remember that this is basically a Bill on dangerous dogs. I do not think it would be appropriate to produce in this Bill organisations that would have the welfare of all animals as their task.

The amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, proposes consultation with experts on animal welfare, veterinary science and veterinary practice, on breeding and the training and handling of dogs. I think he has in mind the need for the Home Secretary to seek advice from bodies such as the RSPCA, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, the British Veterinary Association, the Kennel Club and others. Of course we consulted all those bodies during the preparation of the Bill. There was frequent consultation between our officials in the Home Office and those organisations. It was a very constructive and helpful consultation.

Clause 2(4) recognises the need for consultation on a specific issue—that is, the issue of what types of animal should have the reserve powers used upon them, and the question of bringing in an order specifying restrictions on a particular type of dog. The way in which Clause 2(4) is drafted shows that we have in mind consultation on that point with the very same group of experts as those the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, obviously has in mind. His amendment would make the process of consultation rather more bureaucratic in establishing the expert persons and bodies as a statutory advisory body which would have to have an independent chairman. The noble Lord proposes that there should be two lay members of the committee representing the views of the general public.

We regard the powers in Clause 2 as reserve powers. We do not see any need at present to use the Clause 2 powers. Therefore, there is no likelihood of our needing to consult the persons or bodies specified in Clause 2(4) in the near future. They would be consulted only about the specific issues of whether a type of dog should be made the subject of certain conditions under the powers in Clause 2, and, if so, what those conditions should be.

The amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, would make those persons and bodies into a formal committee. As the role which the Bill would give to those eminent people is a specific and limited one it would he a little strange to have them formally constituted as a statutory body which might then never have to look at anything at all.

As to the need to take into account the views of the general public, there is no danger whatsoever of our overlooking the views of the general public. The subject of dogs and animals attracts one of the largest postbags of any of the issues which are covered by the Home Office. We have had something like 5,000 letters about the pit bull terrier alone. One can practically weigh them rather than count them. So I do not think there is much chance of our losing the views of the general public on that matter.

I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, will think it unnecessary to pursue the amendment and set up a great big advisory body for something which may not be required.

Lord Houghton of Sowerby

I am very much obliged to the noble Earl for that. I agree that I am under the disadvantage that we are dealing with a dangerous dogs Bill and it is difficult to latch on to that. An advisory committee would have to have much wider terms of reference. The issues arising under this Bill alone would be too narrow for a committee of the kind in question, but I am sure that Ministers do not disregard the value of advisory committees when there is a variety of subjects to be dealt with at different times.

Various small Bills have come my way, two of them on dog fighting, on advertisements, on spectators, as well as the Dangerous Dogs Bill, and on the selling of pets in open markets. My line of business in Private Member's Bill procedures is getting longer every year, and more opportunities than I welcome come my way because the House of Commons is becoming increasingly conscious of issues under that heading. Therefore I shall withdraw the amendment and see whether I can get it in a more suitable context. I really urge the Home Secretary to look after his backside, if I may put it that way, because there is no department which is subject to so much vilification. What the Home Secretary had to suffer during a very short period must have been almost unbearable. That is why he went off his head and had to return to the matter again.

Earl Ferrers

Did the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, say that my right honourable friend went off his head? Perhaps I misheard him.

Lord Houghton of Sowerby

I will not go into whether he lost his head for very long. He certainly came out with a boisterous remedy for the situation which obviously could not last for more than 10 minutes.

I wish to make one further comment. The noble Earl reproached me for having forgotten the Wildlife and Countryside Act. In fact I had not. But I thought that most of the animals dealt with in that Act were endangered species and dogs did not come into it. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

On Question, Whether Clause 2 shall stand part of the Bill?

The Earl of Radnor

When I first read the Bill I quickly became convinced that Clause 2 should not stand part of the Bill. Nothing that I have heard in the debate today has done anything to change that view. I am still of the same mind for one large and a number of smaller but equally important reasons.

Earlier in the debate my noble friend Lord Ferrers said, in response to a comment by the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, that the Bill had been introduced to deal with an emergency. Indeed, it was an emergency. We all know what it was. These vicious dogs were doing a great deal of damage and their performance was being abused in many ways; they were being used for fighting and so on. They had created and were going to create an even greater danger in the future.

The Government moved with sensible speed to deal with the situation. I never felt that they moved by way of panic or anything like that; they moved in a sensible way to deal with these vicious so-called fighting types of dogs. That is dealt with extremely efficiently under Clause 1. The restrictions and prohibitions to which such dogs will be subjected are there for everyone to see. Apart from one small point that I raised earlier in the debate that is satisfactory and sensible.

Clause 3 stipulates that any dog that is dangerously out of control makes the owner or keeper culpable. The punishments contained in the Bill are considerable. Clause 3 must be considered a severe deterrent. I am convinced that Clauses 1 and 3, with all the attendant clauses that follow afterwards, have the makings of an efficient Act to deal with the present situation and indeed any situation that is likely to arise for quite a long while.

With regard to the detail of the matter I do not like Clause 2 in any way. To put it bluntly, it gives far too much power to the Secretary of State. He can point his finger at any dog he likes—or dislikes—and impose restrictions. He must seek the help of an advisory panel chosen by himself which appears to be suitable. In this clause many things have to appear to be something or other to the Secretary of State, and that in itself I find unsatisfactory.

Many people are worried about the types of dogs that the Secretary of State will have in mind and what dogs he may be advised to prescribe to come under Clause 1(2) (d) and (e) which, although not such violent restrictions, would be serious ones if applied to a great number of dogs—and most breeds number many.

Perhaps my noble friend will say that there are exceptions and under an order they are allowed for. But what are the exceptions? We should see them specified on the face of the Bill. It is wrong that that should be left in any doubt. I received a letter from my noble friend Lord Jenkin of Roding who sends his apologies for not being able to be here to speak today. He voiced a serious worry about guide dogs for the blind and the fact that blind people rely so much upon the German shepherd dog. They are worried; no doubt the police, the RAF, the Customs and Excise officers who use sniffer dogs and all the rest are also worried. My noble friend may say that those are exceptions. However, if the clause is to be included at all, those exceptions must be specified on the face of the Bill for everyone to see.

Subsection 3 contains one of those wonderful catch-all phrases about supplementary or transitional provisions. I know that it is usual to include them in the Bill but it makes the clause look even worse. It puts even more power into the hands of the Home Secretary and vagueness into the clause.

When the Secretary of State makes up his mind, as we have heard, or tries to make up his mind about which dogs to legislate against, he must choose suitable people to advise him. It is incredible that the Bill does not contain precisely who those people should be. It is merely said that they should come from various sections of society and various professions which appear to him to be suitable.

Finally, it is all done under an order which comes before both Houses of Parliament. The noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, has already dealt adequately with that question. I believe that I am right in saying—no doubt my noble friend will correct me if I am wrong—that orders cannot be altered; they can only be thrown out, but I believe that that very seldom takes place.

All in all the individual receives no further protection by the inclusion of Clause 2 in the Bill. In a way it is an undemocratic clause which will offend many people and worries many people even now. I beg to move.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

I have a great deal of sympathy for what the noble Earl has just said. I see no conceivable need for a provision of this kind. Why have we introduced this legislation in the first place? It is because some alarming colour photographs appeared in tabloid newspapers following attacks made by pit bull terriers. Parliament has been able to legislate in a matter of weeks to deal with the situation.

Why should any Secretary of State be given a power of this kind to introduce provisions similar to those in regard to what are described as Clause 1 dogs, to cover any other breed over which the Secretary of State feels like imposing controls? I do not see a need for legislation of this character.

The noble Earl will no doubt say that there is a need to introduce the legislation on some form of emergency basis. Putting aside the interests of the present Government, we are talking about legislation which will form a permanent part of the statute book in this country. It is extremely easy to envisage a situation where some tabloid newspapers direct their attention to some other breed of dog. In circumstances of that sort some politicians are stronger than others, but I fear that there will be a temptation to give in to vigorously exposed views in tabloid daily newspapers. Parliament and particularly this House should look with the utmost caution at giving Ministers powers of this kind where no possible justification for them exists.

7 p.m.

Lord Richard

I had not intended to say a word on clause stand part until I heard the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich. I totally disagree with him. As regards dogs which present a serious danger to the public, for the life of me, if that is proven, I do not see any reason why the Home Secretary and the Government of the day should not order that in a public place they should be kept muzzled and on a lead. That is an extraordinarily mild restriction on the liberty of the Rottweiler or the Dobermann.

I also say to the noble Lord, Lord Harris, that as far as I am concerned the Government can take the measures concerning the Dobermann and the Rottweiler at any time and I would support them. I see no reason at all why dogs that have caused injury to so many people over a period of time should not be muzzled and kept on a lead in a public place.

Lord Stanley of Alderley

Surely the Home Secretary can do that under Clause 3, can he not?

Lord Richard

I do not know whether he can or he cannot However, since we are adjourning at seven o'clock I shall be able to give the noble Lord the answer at eight o'clock. Whatever the position may be, as regards dogs which pose a serious danger to the public, under Clause 2 the Secretary of State, may by order impose in relation to dogs of that type restrictions corresponding", to those in Clause 1. When one looks at the provisions in Clause 1, subsection (2) (d) provides that the dog should be muzzled and kept on a lead. As I have declared before in the Chamber, I have a cowardly and very timid dog. Each time it goes for a walk it wears a muzzle. That is not because it is a danger to anybody but because it insists on eating everything it can find and therefore makes itself ill. It has now got to the stage where the sight of the muzzle is a great enjoyment to the dog because it knows that it is about to be taken for a walk. Those who oppose the clause in the sweeping and orotund phraseology that we have heard tonight can have no conception at all of what it is like to own a small dog and to walk it in a public park in London.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

I am sorry that the noble Lord has such a cowardly dog. However, I was dealing with rat her broader issues than that. Apparently the noble Lord has made a statement of policy on behalf of the Labour Party as regards Dobermanns and other dogs which I am sure we shall all bear in mind during the rest of the debate. A serious example was given by the noble Earl, Lord Radnor, involving the German shepherd dog. I do not know whether the noble Lord, Lord Richard, intends to make a policy pronouncement on that dog as well.

Lord Richard

If this is a private fight, before anyone else joins in perhaps I may say that if the Labour Party wishes to make a public pronouncement no doubt it will. I prefaced everything that I said with the words "in my view".

Lord Mancroft

Like all Members of the Committee on this side of the House, I am delighted to see the Labour Party at the throat of the Liberal Democrats before the dinner hour.

I support my noble friend's argument. The first part of the Bill relating to fighting dogs was brought forward because of a problem which has occurred in the past few years. The fighting dogs involved are new breeds in Britain. They are not of the old established breeds. The purpose of parts of the legislation is that, should a new breed be brought in (I believe that two South American breeds have been mentioned), the legislation can be extended to cover them. It is not intended to classify as fighting dogs breeds which have existed in this country for many years and which are perfectly safe here.

Obviously dogs bite and no amount of legislation will stop that happening. If the Government have the intention to muzzle Dobermanns, Rottweilers or Alsatians under pressure from the tabloids or anyone else and to move them into the category of fighting dogs, let them say so and the issue can be debated now. If they do not wish to do that, let us remove the clause because it is unnecessary. Let us not hide the problem and have the provision slip through as secondary legislation at a later stage. If there is a discussion to be heard, it should be dealt with under primary legislation in the Chamber.

Earl Ferrers

I am not surprised that the small dog belonging to the noble Lord, Lord Richard, is cowardly and timid. If I were that dog, I am sure that I should be too. His speech was music to my ears. It was magnificent. I encourage him to keep on in that sound vein.

My noble friend has raised an important subject. He has displayed considerable anxiety, as has the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich. It is right that we should consider the point. People are concerned and the Government should give their reasons for Clause 2. My noble friend said that any Secretary of State could set his sights against specific breeds: that is a paraphrase. I do not think that that is so.

The test in Clause 2 which would need to be satisfied before the powers could be used is very clear and tough. The Home Secretary could take action under Clause 2 only if it appeared to him that a type of dog—that means the whole type or breed—represented a serious danger to the public.

In keeping with the theme of the Bill, the test relates to danger to people and not to animals. If a future Home Secretary were sufficiently bizarre to take the view, for example, that foxhounds constituted a danger to the public, before taking any action he would be obliged by law to consult the bodies and the persons specified in Clause 2(4). He could not make an order until he had done so. Although he would not be bound by the view which they expressed, it would be very difficult for any Secretary of State to proceed with a course of action in direct opposition to the views of the expert opinion which he had been obliged to consult. He certainly could not hope to keep the views which they expressed to himself. It would quickly become clear that the expert opinion did not support the action which the Home Secretary was proposing.

Even if he persisted in the attempt to impose conditions under Clause 2, he would then have to have the relevant order debated and voted on in each House of Parliament. That would be the opportunity for Members of the Committee and those in the other place who felt that the action proposed was inappropriate to say so. If the order were eventually made, the Home Secretary of the day would still be liable to judicial review for the action which he had taken because that is secondary legislation. If he had no evidence to suggest that the type of dog on which he had imposed conditions did satisfy the test in Clause 2 that it appeared to, present a serious danger to the public", he would be in trouble.

In both this Chamber and the other place we have been careful to describe the power set out in Clause 2 as a reserve power. We do not think that there is a case for taking any action under Clause 2 at the present time. But it is important that there should be this power. We might face a situation in a few years' time in which a type of dog which was not a fighting dog was responsible for a number of serious attacks on people.

It is very difficult to predict these things, but it might be that a particular type of dog emerged as being a breed far more dangerous than others. In those circumstances, the Government might wish to take action to protect the public. The Government could not use Clause 2 powers to ban a dog; they could simply impose conditions such as muzzling and keeping on a lead. It might be decided that dogs of a certain type should be kept on a lead at all times in public. It might be decided that dogs of a certain type should be muzzled at all times in public. The powers in Clause 2 would enable the Home Secretary of the day to take that action. He would either have to take one of those options, both of them, or others. The Home Secretary would still have to consult the expert bodies and have the relevant order approved by both Houses of Parliament.

We believe that the Clause 2 power is an important reserve power which would enable the Government to provide proper protection to the public if there were a number of serious incidents involving a particular type of dog. These are important safeguards. There are important safeguards in the requirement to consult and in the requirement to obtain the approval of each House of Parliament. There is the requirement to show that the type of dog in question constitutes a serious danger to the public. If that is so, I do not think that it is excessive to suggest that the Home Secretary should have those powers, subject to Parliamentary approval. I hope that the Committee will agree that Clause 2 is appropriate and should be kept in the Bill.

The Earl of Radnor

I believe that I have the right of reply. I am going to make it as short as I can. My noble friend has tracked through the arguments which of course he must track through. However, so far as I am concerned, the safeguards are just not good enough. The clause itself adds nothing to the Bill. A human being is perfectly well protected under Clauses I and 3. We see that if we read them carefully. But to me Clause 2 still represents an abuse of the democratic system. I hope that the clause does not stand part of the Bill.

7.11 p.m.

On Question, Whether Clause 2 shall stand part of the Bill?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 143; Not-Contents, 38.

Division No. 1
Ampthill, L. Howe, E.
Arran, E. Huntly, M.
Astor, V. Jeger, B.
Astor of Hever, L. Jenkins of Putney, L.
Auckland, L. Johnston of Rockport, L.
Barber, L. Kinloss, Ly.
Beaverbrook, L. Kitchener, E.
Belhaven and Stenton, L. Lane of Horsell, L.
Beloff, L. Lauderdale, E.
Belstead, L. Limerick, E.
Bessborough, E. Lindsey and Abingdon, E.
Birk, B. Liverpool, E.
Blatch, B. Long, V.
Blyth, L. Lucas of Chilworth, L.
Boardman, L. Lyell, L.
Boyd-Carpenter, L. McColl of Dulwich, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L. McIntosh of Haringey, L.
Bridgeman, V. Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L.
Brigstocke, B. Mallalieu, B.
Buckinghamshire, E. Mansfield, E.
Butterworth, L. Margadale, L.
Byron, L. Marlesford, L.
Caithness, E. Merrivale, L.
Carlisle of Bucklow, L. Mersey, V.
Carter, L. Milverton, L.
Cavendish of Furness, L. Morris, L.
Clifford of Chudleigh, L. Mountevans, L.
Clinton-Davis, L. Mountgarret, V.
Cochrane of Cults, L. Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Coleraine, L. Nelson, E.
Colwyn, L. Newall, L.
Craigmyle, L. Norrie, L.
Cumberlege, B. Oppenheim-Barnes, B.
David, B. Orkney, E.
Davidson, V. [Teller.] Orr-Ewing, L.
Dean of Beswick, L. Oxfuird, V.
Denham, L. Penrhyn, L.
Denton of Wakefield, B. Platt of Writtle, B.
Desai, L. Plumb, L.
Darmand of Easington, L. Plummer of St. Marylebone, L
Dundee, E. Prys-Davies, L.
Eccles of Moulton, B. Pym, L.
Eden of Winton, L. Rankeillour, L.
Effingham, E. Reay, L.
Elibank, L. Renwick, L.
Elles, B. Richard, L.
Erroll of Hale, L. Rotherwick, L.
Ewart-Biggs, B. Sanderson of Bowden, L.
Ferrers, E. Sandys, L.
Flather, B. Seccombe, B.
Fraser of Carmyllie, L. Shepherd, L.
Gainford, L. Sherfield, L.
Gainsborough, E. Skelmersdale, L.
Graham of Edmonton, L. Stockton, E.
Gridley, L. Stodart of Leaston, L.
Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Strathcarron, L.
Halsbury, E. Strathclyde, L.
Hanson, L. Strathmore and Kinghorne, E.
Harmar-Nicholls, L. Sudeley, L.
Hayter, L. Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Henley, L. Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Hertford, M. Thomas of Swynnerton, L.
Hesketh, L. [Teller.] Trefgarne, L.
Hilton of Eggardon, B. Trumpington, B.
Hives, L. Ullswater, V.
Holderness, L. Vaux of Harrowden, L.
Hollis of Heigham, B. Waddington, L.
Hood, V. Wade of Chorlton, L.
Whitelaw, V. Wilson of Rievaulx, L.
Wigram L. Wolfson, L.
Williams of Elvel, L. Young, B.
Addington, L. Mancroft, L. [Teller.]
Airedale, L. Massereene and Ferrard, V.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Middleton, L.
Clinton, L. Montgomery of Alamein, V.
Cross, V. Pearson of Rannoch, L.
Darcy (de Knayth), B. Radnor, E.
Ellenborough, L. Redesdale, L.
Falkland, V. Savile, L.
Glenarthur, L. Seear, B.
Gray, L. Shackleton, L.
Grey, E. Southborough, L.
Hampton, L. Stanley of Alderley, L.
Harris o f Greenwich, L. Strange, B.
Houghton of Sowerby, L. Swansea, L.
Kilbracken, L. Swinton, E.
Kimball, L. Taylor of Gryfe, L.
Knutsford, V. Tordoff, L.
Mackie of Benshie, L. Tryon, L. [Teller.]
McNair, L. Wise, L.

Resolved in the affirmative, and clause agreed to accordingly.

Viscount Astor

I beg to move that the House do now resume. In moving this Motion, perhaps I may suggest that the Committee stage of the Dangerous Dogs Bill begins again at 8.20 p.m.

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

House resumed.