19 The Bill’s provisions set out the framework for a local authority inspection and licensing regime where cats are bred commercially. It defines a business of breeding cats (clause 6) for which a licence would need to be obtained from the local authority.
20 There exist Model Licencing Conditions for dog breeding establishments. If the Bill is enacted something similar would be introduced for commercial cat breeding establishments.
21 The Bill provides that local authorities would be responsible for granting licences and for inspection.
Clause 1: Licensing of breeding establishments
22 Subsection (1) provides that a licence would be required under the provisions of this Act for any "breeding establishment for cats", as defined in the Act. Subsection (2) sets out who would be disqualified from applying for and obtaining a licence under the provisions of this Act, based on disqualification under other relevant legislation.
23 Subsections (3) and (4) provide for a local authority to inspect and report on any premises for which a licence under this Bill is sought.
24 Subsections (5) to (7) set out the factors that a licensing local authority should have regard to when inspecting premises for a licence, without prejudice to their discretion to withhold a licence on other grounds. Subsection (7) allows a Local Authority to impose additional licence conditions. Subsection (8) sets out the requirements on a person who holds a licence. The requirements set out in subsection (8) include: whether there is a programme for enrichment and socialisation in a form approved by the local authority and whether records are kept by the licence holder. Subsection (8) also sets as 56 days old the minimum age that kittens can be sold under a licence granted pursuant to this Act.
25 Subsection (10) sets out a right of appeal for any person who has been refused a licence by a local authority.
26 Subsection (11) explains that a licence either comes into force on the day on which it is granted, or the beginning of the following year, and subsection (12) explains that a licence remains in force until the end of the year in which it is granted.
27 Subsection (15) provides that any person who operates a breeding establishment for cats without a licence, or breaches a condition on which a licence is granted, is guilty of an offence.
Clause 2: Inspection of breeding establishments for cats
28 Subsection (1) specifies who may inspect licensed premises or premises subject to a licence application, and provides that the inspector should comply with any precautions specified by the local authority to prevent the spread of infectious or contagious diseases among animals. Subsection (3) provides that obstructing or delaying exercise of the power to inspect such premises is an offence.
Clause 3: Power to inspect premises
29 Clause 3 sets out in detail, provisions for warrants and powers of entry on suspicion of an offence under section 1 of this Act.
Clause 4: Offences and disqualifications
30 Clause 4 sets out in detail, fines and sentencing on summary conviction for an offence under section 1 of this Act. It also provides for the power to cancel licences, disqualify licence holders, require offenders to deliver up the cat(s) to a specified person, and to require offenders to pay for care of the cat(s).
Clause 5: Fees
31 Clause 5 sets out a licence fee paying system and subsection (3) outlines that a local authority might recover the "reasonable costs incurred by them", in connection with the administration and enforcement of this Act, through licence fees.
Clause 6: Interpretation
32 Clause 6 defines the circumstances in which a premises is deemed to be a breeding establishment for the purposes of this Act. Subsections (2) and (3) require that to fall within this definition, a person must be carrying on of a business of breeding cats at the premises in question. A person is deemed to be carrying on a business of breeding cats if three or more litters are born to queens at the premises within a period of twelve months. There is no requirement in clause 6 to show how many breeding queens have given rise to the minimum threshold for a licence of three litters.
33 Subsection (5) makes clear that a person is not deemed as carrying on a business if there was no sale or advertisement for sale during the period in question.
Clause 7: Extent, commencement and short title
34 The extent of the Act is England and Wales. The Wales Act 2006 gives the National Assembly for Wales devolved powers in the area of agriculture, including animal health and welfare. Since the Bill relates to devolved matters, the consent of the National Assembly of Wales would be required.
These Explanatory Notes relate to the Welfare of Cats (Breeding and Sale) Bill [HL] as introduced in the House of Lords on 8 June 2015 (HLBill 33).
Ordered by the House of Lords to be printed, 9 June 2015
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