Select Committee on Unopposed Bill Committee Minutes of Evidence

Sections 740-759

London Local Authorities Bill [HL]

Wednesday 19 February 2003

740. A lot of these people want dogs. A lot of them have dogs and this is the open space for them to exercise them. They want a dog walker who can take their dog out, I am very happy with that, and I see that as being a responsible dog owner that the dog is exercised during the day. What I am not happy about is irresponsible people taking dogs out and letting them off the lead in the park.

741. I had sixteen dog walkers together at a meeting I chaired two years ago and I said, "The time has come, you have to have a voluntary code of conduct otherwise we will go further". They signed this voluntary code of conduct and within weeks they were flouting it. I told them again, "If you do this I will take much firmer action".

742. One are two are excellent, some are cowboys. I want them to come up, accept our rules, abide by our rules, get a licence and when they prove they can handle 4 or 5 dogs maybe we can let them have some more. There are 1 or 2 that can handle more and would never let the dogs off the lead. What I fear is a child or an adult is going to get mauled, and I think that is going to happen soon.

743. CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much you, Mr Stratton, having said originally I thought this was a minor problem you have now assured me, anyway, that you have a serious case here. I for one are content for this to happen. I have a couple of small questions, one is trivial, (a) is a professional dog walker, what happens if a private individual owns 5 dogs?

(Mr Stratton) We had a person, and sadly she has very recently died, who had 10 dogs, she was admirable. A person who has that number of dogs in their house tends to exercise them and be very responsible with them. We are looking at responsible, dog ownership, not irresponsible professional dog walkers. Yes, they get a licence, yes we give them advice, yes we make some ground rules of where they could and could not go and yes I would certainly say if you see another group of dogs avoid them like the plague, we do not want large packs together.

744. CHAIRMAN: They would still have to get a licence.

(Mr Stratton) I would have no qualms giving them a licence, if I did I am sure they would go to their elected member.

745. CHAIRMAN: The other question is that you refer to training in subsection 2 (f). Who is going to decide on the training? Who is going to give the training? Who is going to test it? What are you going to require?

(Mr Stratton) My dog control officers are a very professional team. The parks police also have 6 parks police dogs. The dog control officers are very, very able at giving a small amount of training that they need, it is not so much training, it is dos and don'ts, "This is where you can go in the park, this is a bottle­next you must avoid, these are the things you can and you cannot do". They will sign up to it but once they have signed I do not say you have them because they have to abide by it, they have agreed to fulfil the rules.

746. LORD ELTON: In your additions apart you have a rather charming phrase, "the method by which the person walking the dog progresses himself is immaterial". If you are going to train people I think you do need to know if they are going to be on a bicycle or on a skateboard because the actual control over the dog is going to be different from those exercised on foot. I wonder if that was material after all?

747. MR LEWIS: As a matter of drafting the reason the addition is there is to ensure that those who are exercising their dogs on a bicycle or on skateboard or whatever else are actually caught by these provisions, that is the reason for the use of those words.

748. LORD ELTON: On drafting, if I may, on page 12, line 17 designated under subsection 7 should I think be subsection 8.

749. MR LEWIS: We have been given notice of your two small drafting points and I agree with both of them.

750. LORD ELTON Good.

The witness withdrew

751. CHAIRMAN: That really concludes our consideration of the Bill now. We will return at 2.15 and I hope I am right in saying that all we need to do at that stage is to give our decision on the Police Clause?

752. MR LEWIS: In fact on the whole Bill and prove the preamble.

753. CHAIRMAN: We will now adjourn until 2.15.

After a Short Adjournment

754. CHAIRMAN: Good afternoon, we are nearly at the end of proceedings. First of all I will give our pronouncement on Clause 32. Our conclusion on Clause 32 is as the follows, we agree to the recommendations of the Secretary of State that the Clause should not proceed, it follows therefore that Schedule 6 to the Bill will also fall. Can I invite you, Mr Lewis, to do the preamble proceedings, please.

755. MR LEWIS: I will ask Mr Kerrigan to take the oath.


Examined by MR LEWIS

756. MR LEWIS: Perhaps before I start, my Lords, I would just like to mention that this is the last occasion that Mr Kerrigan will be swearing a preamble in this House at least, probably the last time full stop because he is retiring in June. He has become a bit of a serial preamble swearer.

757. Unfortunately Private Bills do not come by as often as they used to. Mr Kerrigan has done this now since the first London Local Authorities Bill, so it is his eighth time in the London Local Authorities Bill, he has also done three City of Westminster Bills and it brings to a conclusion a long career in this particular field.

(Mr Kerrigan) I hope I get the answers right this time.

758. CHAIRMAN: On behalf of us can I wish you a very happy retirement, Mr Kerrigan. I am sorry in a way that these Bills are not as frequent as they once were, I think we have all enjoyed the last day and a half's proceedings.

759. LORD TORDOFF: Can I say, it is terrible to see people retiring so young.

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