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Control Of Dogs (Departmental Co-Ordination)

Volume 983: debated on Tuesday 29 April 1980

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asked the Prime Minister if she is satisfied with the co-ordination between the Northern Ireland Office, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the Department of the Environment, and the Home Office over the implementation of the inter-departmental report on the control of dogs.

Does the Prime Minister agree that it is appalling that, in a country of supposed dog lovers over 100 dogs a day have to be destroyed because they are straying in the streets? Is it not high time that the recommendations of the inter-departmental working party on the control of dogs were implemented?

I saw the report of the hon. Gentleman's effective Adjournment debate. Of course, we are extremely sorry that there are so many stray dogs which are not properly looked after and have to be destroyed. It is a long time since the inter-departmental working committee reported in 1976. However, I can give no assurance that legislation will be introduced in the near future.

Is the Prime Minister aware that 50 people a year and possibly more—mainly children—suffer severe eye damage as a result of toxicaracanis, a worm passed on from dogs? Would my right hon. Friend like to speculate on the public outcry if the same amount of human damage was caused by nuclear power? Does she believe that she should take strong action?

I am aware of the risk, but I do not think that we can obviate it through legislation. It is of considerable concern that people do not look after their dogs and that so many strays have to be destroyed each year. I much regret it.

Does the Prime Minister agree that this necessary measure should be applied to the United Kingdom simultaneously, particularly since it involves an increase in the licence fee? Does she agree that the recommendations should be implemented as speedily as possible?

A number of hon. Members will feel that action should have been taken before. I have made inquiries about the Northern Ireland position. I understand that legislation has often been different in Northern Ireland and has gone ahead at a different rate. I am told that action is more urgent there than in the rest of the United Kingdom.