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City Of Dundee District Council Order Confirmation Bill

Volume 413: debated on Tuesday 7 October 1980

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My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill he now considered on Report.

Moved, That the Bill be now considered on Report—[ The Earl of Mansfield.]

My Lords, I am sorry to have to detain the House for a few moments and I must particularly apologise to the noble Earl, Lord Mansfield, that I have to raise these points at this moment. Somehow or other this Bill escaped me when it went through this House earlier, and it is only since a number of alarmed citizens have drawn my attention to certain parts of the Bill that I have wished to ask him to elucidate them. I am referring of course, as is my usual wont, to the control of dogs.

As to paragraph 3 of the schedule to this Bill, there is some doubt in the minds of some people, including my own, whether this is drawn correctly. My reading of this is that if a person has a dog which goes astray and it is seized, if it has a collar with a name on it then the owner or keeper must be notified and if the dog is not claimed within seven days it can be either sold or destroyed. Paragraph 3(1) does not, however, say that. It merely says that the dog may be seized and may be detained until its owner has claimed it and paid all expenses incurred by reason of its detention. Does that in fact mean that if somebody puts out his dog when he goes to work in the morning, and it is seized because it has not got a collar with its name and address on it, that dog has to be kept by the authority in perpetuity? If so, it is very surprising.

The second point I wish to raise is on paragraph 4 of the schedule. I must confess total ignorance of Scottish law so I may be asking questions to which there are very simple answers. The principle of paragraph 4(b) and (c) is virtually to ban dogs from the foreshore in a designated area. The principle that dogs should be banned from beaches was not permitted by your Lordships' House in the County of Merseyside Bill and it is slightly alarming to find that the City of Dundee is applying for the same powers.

The words "in a designated area" are used, and I have been given to understand from certain people who have inquired about this that these by-laws have to be confirmed by the Secretary of State and they have also been assured that a "designated area" not only on a beach but in a park, or anywhere else, is an area which is fenced off. It would be nice to know, if the noble Earl can let me know at some time convenient to himself, whether in fact this is a true interpretation. Can the Secretary of State object to these by-laws and does a "designated area" mean that it must be fenced off? The principle of fencing off cultivated areas, children's playgrounds, orchards, et cetera is completely acceptable and highly desirable and it would be a great help to a number of people if the noble Earl could give me an answer.

My Lords, when my noble friend rose I divined that he would not be interested in paragraph 5 of the schedule to this Private Bill, which deals with the provision of alcoholic refreshments in baths. But having said that, and forewarned as I was, the balls that he has bowled have been reasonably fast and I think in some degree I shall have to consider the matter and write to him.

The position is that this is one of a great number of provisional orders which have gone through your Lordships' House (if that is the term) in the last year or so and the purpose of this, as of all the others, is to give district councils in Scotland powers to do various things. In paragraph 3 of the schedule the power is given to the district council to appoint dog wardens to assist the police to control stray dogs. I suppose the noble Lord might have said that the general duty of rounding up stray dogs belongs to the police, so why is this necessary? If he had asked me that question I should have said to him that the police have a number of calls on their time, energy and resources and it is felt appropriate that this kind of activity had best be undertaken by the local authority as, for instance, has occurred in Edinburgh, at not very much expense to the public. I think they have taken on two dog wardens for their service. At any rate we say that local authorities are free to determine their own priorities. The establishment of a dog warden service does not involve any noticeable additional aggregate of Exchequer support although it might have a marginal effect on grant distribution.

Paragraph 4 of the schedule makes it an offence for owners or keepers of dogs to allow their dogs to foul any part of designated protected areas, and I think my noble friend really asked me whether an area can be protected if it is not enclosed. I think that is what it comes to. I am hesitant about pronouncing on this, but I would just remind him that paragraph 4(2) of the schedule says that,
"'beach' means any bank, dune, fiat or other land adjacent to the foreshore".
By implication, I would imagine that that, at any rate, could not be enclosed.

Nevertheless, I will study what the noble Lord has said when I see the Official Report tomorrow and on the two points which he has raised—that is to say, on the dogs and their collars and the effect of their being rounded up, and also the enclosure of beaches and other designated places—I will write to the noble Lord.

On Question, Bill considered on Report.

My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now adjourn during pleasure until eight o'clock.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

[ The Sitting was suspended front 7.20 to 8 p.m.]