asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware of the serious problem created for farmers by sheep-worrying by dogs; and whether he is satisfied that the regulations in force provide sufficient powers for dealing with it.
Yes, Sir. I am well aware of the problem, and I think the existing regulations go as far as is practically possible in dealing with it. The main difficulty is, I fear, that of tracing dogs responsible for worrying sheep.
Would the right hon. Gentleman try to bring about something like "pairage" between dogs and sheep?
asked the Minister of Agriculture if, in view of the damage to farming and the cruelty caused by the destruction of sheep by dogs not under proper control, he will introduce legislation conferring power upon the police to seize and destroy such dogs if a court order has been made for their destruction.
Section 2 of the Dogs Act, 1871, already gives power to any court of summary jurisdiction, where it is satisfied, on complaint, that a dog is dangerous, to make an order directing the dog to be kept by the owner under proper control or destroyed.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the police apparently have no power, where a dog has been proved to be dangerous to human beings—for instance, has bitten children—or has tortured to death sheep and lambs, to seize that dog, and destroy it, in cases where a contumacious person continues to keep it? It is true that the person is liable to a fine, but will the right hon. Gentleman have the law altered so that a dangerous dog can be seized and destroyed?
The magistrates have power, once it has been proved that a dog is dangerous to man or beast, to insist upon the dog being placed under proper control or destroyed. If the decision is in favour of destroying the dog, the owner has the right to appeal to quarter sessions.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there have been several cases where the owner has been fined, but has refused to have the animal destroyed? Would not the simple and sensible way be to give the police power to seize the dog?
Some persons have continued to keep their dogs, despite an order of the court for destruction, but they have had to pay a very heavy penalty for keeping the dogs alive.
Is the right hon. Gentleman prepared to consider the registration of dogs through the police instead of through the Treasury and the Post Office, in order that the police may secure more adequate control?
I am not prepared to introduce more forms at this moment.