some default text...

Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page


Baroness Wharton: My Lords, I wish to pay tribute to my friend in another place, Mr. Roger Gale, who has persevered with this Bill for a number of years. He has never lost faith. This morning, at 2.15, there he was on his feet pushing through these amendments. On that note, I also thank the Minister for her quiet encouragement and support over time and other noble Lords who have also lent us their support.

Lord Harris of Greenwich: My Lords, I shall be very brief. I merely wish to thank my noble friend Lord Falkland for having persevered with this measure, and for eventually, with Mr. Gale in the House of Commons, having brought it very near to the statute book. That reflects credit on a large number of people, including the Home Office--given the fact that it was faced with the undoubted embarrassment of this excessively foolish Bill, passed in 1991. Belatedly, we now have a significant improvement to the 1991 Act. As I say, that reflects great credit on all concerned.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, if noble Lords, like me, believe in the life hereafter, then it is possible to believe that the doughty animal-lover, the late Lord Houghton of Sowerby, will be looking down on our proceedings today.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords--

Baroness Blatch: I know that the noble Lord is not a believer in these matters. I speak personally; I did make that point. He may be looking down on our proceedings, perhaps--if I know him well enough--with a characteristic, impish scowl for me, perhaps even for my noble friends Lord Courtown and Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish and for my ministerial colleague, Mr. Timothy Kirkhope, all of whom have represented the Government on this issue over the seven years.

20 Mar 1997 : Column 1143

I understand, as a result of a whisper in my ear, that it was in fact my noble friend Lord Ferrers who introduced this Bill in the first place.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Before the Minister leaves Lord Houghton of Sowerby, it is not my beliefs that matter; Lord Houghton was to his dying day a devoted atheist.

Baroness Blatch: You have spoilt my line, my Lord! He was too saintly to be that. I think something else will have happened since he passed from this House.

Perhaps I could say to the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, that the Act was passed at that time in rather difficult circumstances with all-party support.

If I may continue my reference to Lord Houghton of Sowerby, I also think that he may be looking down with a rather warmer satisfaction on the Home Affairs Select Committee, on Mr. Roger Gale, of course, and on the noble Viscount, Lord Falkland, who have arrived at this happy position.

I should like to congratulate the noble Viscount, Lord Falkland, on all his work in relation to the Bill, which will amend the 1991 Act. He set out clearly what the Bill does. I should confirm that, in amending the Bill in another place, the Government sought to follow the key recommendations of the Select Committee on Home Affairs in giving the courts discretion on the outcome of the proceedings about individual dogs, allowing something other than a destruction order to be made. The discretion will apply only when it is clear that the dog would not give rise to a danger to public safety.

The Government have a responsibility for public safety and to take account of public concern about dangerous dogs and dogs that are out of control. Additionally, the Government introduced an amendment to address those cases where no proceedings are contemplated but the dog has not been returned to its owners under current law. The Bill as amended will allow the courts to consider such cases and to make a decision about whether a dog can be released under certain conditions or whether a destruction order should be made.

Those are the two main areas in which the new Bill before us differs from how it left your Lordships' House. Other changes take account of drafting problems, such as lack of a commencement date. With these amendments, the Bill now has the support of the Government and I hope that your Lordships will agree that the Bill is improved by the changes.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

COMMONS AMENDMENTS


2Clause 2, leave out Clause 2.
3Clause 3, leave out Clause 3.
4Before Clause 4, insert the following new Clause--

Destruction orders


(" .--(1) In paragraph (a) of subsection (1) of section 4 (destruction and disqualification orders) of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 ("the 1991 Act"), after the words "committed and" there shall be inserted the words ", subject to subsection (1A) below,".

20 Mar 1997 : Column 1144


(2) After that subsection there shall be inserted the following subsection--
"(1A) Nothing in subsection (1)(a) above shall require the court to order the destruction of a dog if the court is satisfied--
(a) that the dog would not constitute a danger to public safety;
and
(b) where the dog was born before 30th November 1991 and is subject to the prohibition in section 1(3) above, that there is a good reason why the dog has not been exempted from that prohibition."
(3) In subsection (2) of that section, the words "then, unless the order is one that the court is required to make" shall cease to have effect.
(4) In subsection (3)(a) of that section, the words ", where the order was not one that the court was required to make" shall cease to have effect.")
5Before Clause 4, insert the following new Clause--

Contingent destruction orders


(". After section 4 of the 1991 Act there shall be inserted the following section
"Contingent destruction orders.4A.--(1) Where--
(a) a person is convicted of an offence under section 1 above or an aggravated offence under section 3(1) or (3) above;
(b) the court does not order the destruction of the dog under section 4(1)(a) above; and
(c) in the case of an offence under section 1 above, the dog is subject to the prohibition in section 1(3) above,
the court shall order that, unless the dog is exempted from that prohibition within the requisite period, the dog shall be destroyed.
(2) Where an order is made under subsection (1) above in respect of a dog, and the dog is not exempted from the prohibition in section 1(3) above within the requisite period, the court may extend that period.
(3) Subject to subsection (2) above, the requisite period for the purposes of such an order is the period of two months beginning with the date of the order.
(4) Where a person is convicted of an offence under section 3(1) or (3) above, the court may order that, unless the owner of the dog keeps it under proper control, the dog shall be destroyed.
(5) An order under subsection (4) above--
(a) may specify the measures to be taken for keeping the dog under proper control, whether by muzzling, keeping on a lead, excluding it from specified places or otherwise; and
(b) if it appears to the court that the dog is a male and would be less dangerous if neutered, may require it to be neutered.
(6) Subsections (2) to (4) of section 4 above shall apply in relation to an order under subsection (1) or (4) above as they apply in relation to an order under subsection (1)(a) of that section." ")
6Before Clause 4, insert the following new Clause--
Destruction orders otherwise than on a conviction
(". --(1) After section 4A of the 1991 Act there shall be inserted the following section--
"Destruction orders otherwise than on a conviction.4B.--(1) Where a dog is seized under section 5(1) or (2) below and it appears to a justice of the peace, or in Scotland a justice of the peace or sheriff--
(a) that no person has been or is to be prosecuted for an offence under this Act or an order under section 2 above in respect of that dog (whether because the owner cannot be found or for any other reason); or
(b) the dog cannot be released into the custody or possession of its owner without the owner contravening the prohibition in section 1(3) above,
he may order the destruction of the dog and, subject to subsection (2) below, shall do so if it is one to which section 1 above applies.
(2) Nothing in subsection (1)(b) above shall require the justice or sheriff to order the destruction of a dog if he is satisfied--
(a) that the dog would not constitute a danger to public safety: and
(b) where the dog was born before 30th November 1991 and is subject to the prohibition in section 1(3) above, that there is a good reason why the dog has not been exempted from that prohibition.
(3) Where in a case falling within subsection (1)(b) above the justice or sheriff does not order the destruction of the dog, he shall order that, unless the dog is exempted from the prohibition in section 1(3) above within the requisite period, the dog shall be destroyed.
(4) Subsections (2) to (4) of section 4 above shall apply in relation to an order under subsection (1)(b) or (3) above as they apply in relation to an order under subsection (1)(a) of that section.
(5) Subsections (2) and (3) of section 4A above shall apply in relation to an order under subsection (3) above as they apply in relation to an order under subsection (1) of that section, except that the reference to the court in subsection (2) of that section shall be construed as a reference to the justice or sheriff."
(2) In section 5 of the 1991 Act (seizure, entry of premises and evidence), subsection (4) (which is superseded by this section) shall cease to have effect.")
7Before Clause 4, insert the following new Clause--

20 Mar 1997 : Column 1145

Extended application of 1991 Order

(".--(1) Where an order is made under section 4A(1) or 4B(3) of the 1991 Act, Part III of the Dangerous Dogs Compensation and Examption Schemes Order 1991 (exemption scheme) shall have effect as if--
(a) any reference to the appointed day were a reference to the end of the requisite period within the meaning of section 4A or, as the case may be, section 4B of the 1991 Act;
(b) paragraph (a) of Article 4 and Article 6 were omitted; and
(c) the fee payable to the Agency under Article 9 were a fee of such amount as the Secretary of State may by order prescribe.
(2) The power to make an order under this section shall be exercisable by statutory instrument which shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.")
8Clause 4, page 3, line 16, leave out ("passing") and insert ("commencement")
9Page 3, line 17, leave out ("passing") and insert ("commencement")
10Page 3, line 22, leave out from first ("shall") to end of line 25 and insert ("cease to have effect and the case shall be remitted to the court for reconsideration.
( ) Where a case is so remitted, the court may make any order in respect of the dog which it would have power to make if the person in question had been convicted of the offence after the commencement of this Act.")
11Clause 5, page 3, line 27, at end insert--
("( ) This Act shall come into force on such day as the Secretary of State may by order made by statutory instrument appoint.")

20 Mar 1997 : Column 1146

The Viscount of Falkland: I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 2 to 11 en bloc.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 2 to 11.--(The Viscount of Falkland.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.


Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page