The Prime Minister made a decision about introducing the proposed ban on American XL Bully dogs, recognising the horrific consequences of recent dog attacks and the disproportionate amount of those being undertaken by such dogs. We are working at pace on the legislation, and importantly on how it will be put into practice, and I hope to say more on that soon.
I thank the Secretary of State for her answer. As a veterinary surgeon, I strongly agree with the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary and the Secretary of State that we need to ban the dangerous American XL Bully dog as soon as possible to keep people and other animals safe. Does my right hon. Friend agree that in parallel to this necessary urgent action, we need to undertake important work with the public on responsible dog breeding, responsible dog ownership and better training and socialising of dogs as part of a holistic, long-term solution to dog attacks?
My hon. Friend has great credibility in this field, given his professional experience as a vet. I understand that many owners of XL Bully dogs are passionate about their animals—their pets. That is why we are working at pace, but taking our time to get right the definitions and the transition period that we anticipate. It is important that all dog owners work to make sure that their dogs behave and have appropriate training. That is why we established a taskforce that includes dog welfare charities. We expect it to respond to us by the end of the year, and we will potentially take forward some of its recommendations.
As someone who has had a pet dog all my life and still does, I am conscious that some of those who own American XL Bully dogs think that their dogs are integral and safe, but many in the general public see them as a danger and have fear. Is the Secretary of State’s intention, as this process goes forward in Westminster, to engage with the Northern Ireland Assembly and the police, in particular, to ensure that the law and the recommendations that come out of this place can be shared with them?
The hon. Gentleman is right to recognise owners’ concerns where they believe that they have very good dogs. That is to some extent accommodated already in the legislation that has evolved since 1991. On working with other nations, the law—the primary legislation—will apply in both England and Wales by default, but we are working with the Scottish Government and the Northern Ireland Administration on potential moves to make this a UK-wide approach.
I listened carefully to the answers the Secretary of State gave to both hon. Members, but I am still not reassured that she has the planned legislation in place to ban XL Bully dogs effectively. Is she satisfied that we have the kennel space across the UK, enough vets to make assessments, and clear rules and legislation in place to make the ban effective?
The hon. Lady asks a fair question. The legislation has evolved since 1991, with amendments made to the primary legislation in 1997 and in the Dangerous Dogs Exemption Schemes (England and Wales) Order 2015. In that, there is a combination of work with the police in particular and with local councils and, of course, the judicial system. We have been working closely with my right hon. Friend the Minister for Crime, Policing and Fire to take the matter forward. I want to ensure that the legislation is right. I am expecting to present two statutory instruments to make it effective, with one bringing the ban into effect and the other providing the transition element and some of the finer details that still need to be completed.