Select Committee on Committee on the London Local Authorities Bill Minutes of Evidence


Evidence before the Committee (Questions 640-659)

WEDNESDAY 10 SEPTEMBER 2003

640.  They are not there for your members, are they, certainly?

(Mr Cavill) They are there for the use of the residents of the borough in all sorts of ways.

641.  And the local authorities have a duty to balance the interests of all, do you agree?

(Mr Cavill) I would agree with that.

642.  Do you have available the minutes from DLAG?

(Mr Cavill) I do not have them available.

643.  I would like to know which one of those that you identified considers that the beneficiaries of their care, animals, are going to be put at a disadvantage as a result of this Bill?

(Mr Cavill) I cannot give you a definitive answer to that in terms of what is in the minutes, I do not have the minutes here, but there was a general consensus of opinion that this was not legislation that was conducive to improving animal care and ownership.

644.  The only concern that you have expressed is that dogs may not be exerciseed, is that it?

(Mr Cavill) The prime effect of this Bill, if it was effective, could be that dogs would be less well cared for than they would otherwise be.

645.  Why?

(Mr Cavill) Because if you start to restrict the amount of exercise an animal gets compared with what it needs inevitably the animal is not as well looked after as it might be.

646.  That is not right because all this would achieve on the way you put it is a restriction to the number of dogs that can be walked without a licence to four. Do you appreciate that?

(Mr Cavill) No, that is not what the intention is of this at all. The intention is to restrict the areas in which dogs can be walked, the intention is to restrict the number of people who can walk them and restrict the number of dogs that can be walked.

647.  That is in a licence to walk over four dogs. Anybody could walk four dogs and under, do you appreciate that?

(Mr Cavill) Four dogs and under, I do.

648.  MR CLARKSON: I am going to put the other material to the next witness. Thank you very much, Mr Cavill.

Examined by the Committee

649.  JIM SHERIDAN: You dissmissed the photographs you were shown from the point of view that there was no-one else in them other than the dogs and the dog-walker. Could it be the case that other people would avoid walking next to a big group of dogs?

(Mr Cavill) It is an interesting point. I would ask you to look at the pictures again. There are some where you are seeing a very wide area, it is a very wide angled photograph. You can look way into the distance ----

650.  MR CAVILL: Mr Cavill, with respect, I think we have all agreed that the photographs are not the snappiest set we have seen for a long time. Can we just imagine the scenario where there is this group of dogs and where the public ----

(Mr Cavill) Yes, of course. There is no doubt that there will be many people perhaps who are intimidateed by a large number of dogs.

651.  Maybe four or five of these sweetheart Rottweilers.

(Mr Cavill) They do not appeal to many people, that is certainly true. My experience has been in London parks and in the areas that I have walked dogs - and I have been involved as a senior manager with Battersea Dogs Home, walking dogs in Windsor Great Park and by the river, generally speaking there is always plenty of room.

652.  Do you have an upper limit for how many dogs should be walked by one person?

(Mr Cavill) I do not.

653.  Do you have a recommendation?

(Mr Cavill) The person who is walking them should know that they are under control. A friend of mine lives in Wimbledon and he has got fourteen Chihuahuas. He could walk all of them out perfectly satisfactorily. I have a neighbour who has one Bernese Mountain dog and I have helped her control the dog because before it was not controlled.

654.  I also saw in the photographs that some dogs are on leads and others are loose. You seem to suggest that the ones that are running loose are the ones that the owner of a dog would refute they are in command of and they would respond to commands. If they do not respond to a command and they attack a child, how would you feel?

(Mr Cavill) I would feel terrible because I think it is awful when anything like that happens. What I am trying to say to you is that there is legislastion on the Statute Book that covers those sorts of situations and this will not make any difference to it.

655.  JOHN ROBERTSON: Do you think it is responsible to walk ten or 20 dogs altogether?

(Mr Cavill) It is not a question of responsibility.

656.  This is my question and I want you to answer it.

(Mr Cavill) I think if you have got a lot of big dogs you have to walk many fewer of them --- If you have got a small dog it is not irresponsible to walk ten.

657.  Let me help you. In this picture here on the bottom left, it is a nice wide angled lens. Would you say that these owners were behaving responsibly?

(Mr Cavill) They look to me to be acting perfectly responsibly.

658.  There are four of them talking together and the dogs are not on leads. You said that that number of dogs should have leads on.

(Mr Cavill) It is certainly true those are not. I suspect, because you cannot see, that those will be.

659.  So you think that is responsible behaviour?

(Mr Cavill) I would not have a problem with it.


 
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