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Dangerous Dogs

Volume 536: debated on Thursday 24 November 2011

2. What recent discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for the Home Department on the consultation on dangerous dogs. (82270)

My noble. Friend Lord Taylor, who leads on the subject of dangerous dogs in DEFRA, has been working alongside Lord Henley at the Home Office to see how the proposed antisocial behaviour measures can be best applied to such behaviour relating to dogs. DEFRA has also been developing proposals on reducing dog attacks and promoting more responsible dog ownership. This is now at an advanced stage and, subject to ministerial clearance, we will be able to make an announcement early in the new year.

That is a very helpful reply, because while the Government have been divided on this matter—DEFRA and the Home Office share this responsibility—and dithering, quite frankly, yet another very serious attack on a postman has been reported by the Communication Workers Union. Someone nearly lost most of the fingers on one hand in an attack by a dog, which was clearly vicious, in a private property. We need to deal with that problem quickly because members of the postal services who go into private property must be protected from people who keep vicious dogs.

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. The issue of dangerous dogs on private land is very important and it is one of the issues we are discussing closely with the Home Office because, as he will know, it would require amendment to primary legislation.

Further to that reply, one of the consequences of the dangerous dogs debate has been the stigmatisation of an entire breed, the Staffordshire bull terrier, which makes up a huge percentage of the abandoned dogs that Battersea Dogs and Cats Home takes in and a vast bulk of those that are hard to rehome. Yesterday, Battersea Dogs and Cats Home launched a campaign in Parliament to reclaim the good name of the Staffordshire bull terrier. May I invite the Minister to endorse that campaign?

Yes, I am happy to endorse that campaign, having been brought up as a child with bull terriers, as my parents had them—[Interruption.] I said “with”, not “by”. I entirely accept my hon. Friend’s contention that the vast majority of that breed are perfectly harmless.