Dangerous Dogs

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:26 pm on 15th June 1989.

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Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department 7:26 pm, 15th June 1989

I fully understand the reasons why the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. McAllion) has chosen to raise the subject of dogs tonight. The whole country was shocked by the attack that two rottweiler dogs made on Kellie Lynch on 14 April. She lived in the hon. Gentleman's constituency, and I ask the hon. Gentleman to take back to her parents the sympathy of the House. I know that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has already written to express her sympathy to Kellie's mother and grandmother.

My right hon. Friend asked for a review of legislation relating to dangerous dogs within a very short time of learning of Kellie's death. That review was quickly conducted, and the hon. Gentleman knows that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary made a statement yesterday as to his conclusions, to which I shall refer shortly.

First, I shall respond to the hon. Gentleman's points concerning the Guard Dogs Act 1975, because he may be under a slight misapprehension as to that statute's nature and purpose. That Act is primarily aimed at the use of guard dogs on commercial premises. It specifically excludes farms and domestic dwellings and is framed in terms of the function of the dog rather than, for example, the breed of the dog.

The Act is concerned solely with working dogs that are carrying out the functions of a "guard dog": that is, a dog being used to protect premises, property or, in very narrowly defined circumstances, a person. The Act ensures that those dogs are securely held. It does not control dogs while they are being kept as family pets.