HC Deb 21 February 1980 vol 979 cc268-70W
Mr. Crowther

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he will list in the Official Report the Acts of Parliament, and amendments, orders and regulations under which Government officers, the police and local government employees have powers to investigate complaints from members of the public of suspected cruelty to animals on either private or public property; and under which Acts there are powers to enter private property without a warrant to investigate allegations of cruelty to animals.

Mr. Rifkind

Statutory provision for the welfare of animals is made in a miscellany of Acts and subordinate legislation; and the preparation of an exhaustive list would be impracticable since many of these statutory measures, though helpful in this field, do not have the prevention of cruelty as their main or explicit purpose.

So far as farm animals are concerned, the principal statutes are the Slaughter of Animals (Scotland) Act 1928—as amended—the Diseases of Animals Act 1950, the Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1968 and the Slaughter of Animals (Prevention of Cruelty) (Scotland) Regulations 1955. Under these, authorised veterinary or other Department of Agriculture staff have powers under certain circumstances to enter private property without a warrant.

For domestic and captive wild animals the main legislation is found in the Protection of Animals (Scotland) Act 1912, but the Act does not confer a power of entry without warrant except in relation to a knacker's yard. However, the police have a general responsibility for investigating any complaint alleging that a crime or offence has been committed and various common law powers to enable them to discharge that function. That responsibility and these powers would be relevant to complaints about cruelty to animals under the 1912 Act.

There are also powers of entry and inspection by Government officials under the Cruelty to Animals Act 1876 which deals with animal experiments; and under various other statutes dealing with the licensing of establishments such as pet shops, riding stables, dog kennels, etc., there are powers whereby local authority officers may enter and inspect premises at any reasonable time without warrant to ensure that the licensing requirements are being met.