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Dangerous Dogs

Volume 563: debated on Thursday 16 May 2013

8. What recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for the Home Department on the forthcoming legislation on dangerous dogs. (155341)

May I congratulate the hon. Lady again on both the tenor and content of her Adjournment debate speech on this subject last night? As she will know, there have been several discussions between DEFRA and Home Office Ministers on how the new measures contained in the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill will apply to low-level incidents involving dogs.

My constituent, 14-year-old Jade Lomas Anderson, was the most recent person to be killed by dangerous dogs. Despite the Minister’s assurances, the Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, all the animal welfare charities, the British Veterinary Association and the Communication Workers Union still believe we need dog control notices to prevent dog attacks and do not believe that the current proposals will do enough to prevent injuries to people and other animals by aggressive dogs. Will the Minister please reconsider his position so that we can do more to prevent tragedies such as the one that befell Jade and her family from occurring in the future?

We certainly need to do everything we can to avoid that sort of tragedy. The fact is that nine children and six adults have been killed in dog attacks since 2005 and 12 of those took place on private property. On the question of what species of injunction we use to prevent irresponsible dog ownership, I believe, as does the Home Office, that its proposals provide the flexibility we need. I do not think that having a proliferation of different measures with different labels, which I am afraid was a characteristic of the previous Government’s approach, is necessarily the right way forward. We will be able to discuss this, however, in the context of the Bill, and I hope we will come to a satisfactory conclusion.

I believe that assistance dogs are wonderful selfless animals as well providing an invaluable resource for individuals with an impairment. Will my hon. Friend confirm that, as a result of this Government’s proposals, future attacks on assistance dogs will be considered to be an aggravated offence?

That is absolutely right. It is contained within the Home Office proposals and the Home Office Bill, and I think it will largely be welcomed across the House.