Animals Bill, 1985: Second Stage (Resumed).

Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time".

I have very little to add to my contribution of the last day here. I mentioned the position regarding old graveyards and that in some of these there was a custom to have yew trees or trees which would be poisonous to animals. In that situation farmers ensured that there would be no trespass on the graveyard. This Bill does nothing for that situation. Since then I have been told of a very old cemetery, Cruicetown, which is of national importance because it is connected with the Cruises, particularly Bridget Cruise who had close association with Turlough O'Carroll and the last of the bards. I believe that cattle have broken into that old cemetery and they have broken down some of the tombstones and monuments. There is a very important 12th century cross there which, fortunately, has not been interfered with. I know of other cases where cattle have broken into old cemeteries. Section 2 deals with straying on the public road. It is a pity a Bill of this kind does not take into consideration the position regarding old cemeteries and old monuments.

On the last occasion also I mentioned, with regard to coursing and people who are opposed to coursing, that it seemed strange that muzzles were never suggested for greyhounds. Indeed, I could say the same for fox hunting. There are many people opposed to fox hunting. If muzzles were provided for the hounds the killing of the animal, which is what most people object to, would be prevented.

With regard to the fox population, I thought it was very unfair that what might be called modern methods of enticing the fox to be trapped were used until recently. Tapes were played to reproduce sounds which brought the fox to a particular place to be caught. However, the fox population does not seem to be in danger of extinction. A few weeks back when I was travelling home, just inside the Phoenix Park, about 200 yards in from the city, a fox ran across the road. It was fairly close to the Zoo. Possibly it was one of the inmates on a midnight stroll or maybe another animal who had been taking a stroll to the Zoo. It is sad to see the number of badgers killed on our roads. These seem to be increasing in the recent past. Finally, I would like to say how reprehensible it is that the alleged sport or pastime of badger baiting has been carried on in some parts of the country because we are all very concerned about kindness to animals.

This Bill which has been welcomed by everybody, with some reservations, is very short and has one section which deals with dogs. Like many other people I think it is a pity that a separate Bill was not prepared to deal with the problems which we have with dogs. At present there is considerable damage being done by dogs and dogs are a considerable danger in many situations. We were told that up to 75 per cent of the dog population remains unlicensed. It seems that this is a situation which needs attention and we could have a self-financing position here. It seems untidy to bring in this one section to deal with that problem. I believe it is not right to shoot a dog and farmers who find themselves in a position where dogs are worrying their sheep are not entitled to shoot a dog. I am not ever sure if they are entitled to capture or detain the dog. It seems to me from reading through the old Acts that they are not entitled to do so.

With regard to section 2 and liability for negligence — I referred to this on the last occasion — it seems that the position at present is that if an animal wanders on to a public road and is the cause of an accident the owner of that animal, if the animal is killed, is entitled to compensation for the animal. Through this Bill the position is being reversed. In a situation where a farmer could prove that the animals got out through no fault of his, for example if he had a gate locked and the lock was broken or damaged to let the animals out on the road, surely then the farmer would not be liable. It seems that a situation which is now more or less clear-cut through this Bill will be made not so if a farmer can prove that he was not negligent in letting the cattle wander on the road. It seems that the Bill will be the cause of costly litigation.

Finally, regarding animals which trespass, I mentioned on the last occasion that one morning about 30 big bullocks broke into my garden from another garden. Somebody who has been in that position realises that there is no time to think what is best to be done. These huge, strong animals do not wait around looking for orders. There will not be much time for somebody in that position to consult the Animals Bill, 1985. In this situation where animals break into a person's property, is the property owner entitled to put them out on the road? Does this impose a serious obligation on somebody? If animals break into a garden, plot or site, does this impose an obligation on the owner and has the owner the right to drive them on to the road? I understand from the reply that has been given that the owner is entitled to put them out on the road provided that in doing so they do not cause an accident or they do not interfere with somebody. Strictly speaking, has he a right to put them on to a public road? In this area I could see some sense in strict liability because if an accident occurred through putting them out on the road — and they do not go out in a very orderly way — it seems unfair to blame the man who owns the garden or plot or site and surely the liability should revert to the owner? Again I can see that in this situation the result could be costly ligitation. I agree that in any Bill it is not possible to cater for every contingency and every situation. Nevertheless I believe this should be taken care of to a greater extent in the Bill. I have some comments to make and some questions to ask on Committee Stage. With those few remarks I also welcome the Bill.

I welcome the main sentiments in the Bill. While there are certain aspects of the present legislation that change we hope that in the practicalities of the Bill the working of it will actually change on the ground. What appears in the Statute Book and what actually happens on the ground, in my belief, all too often are completely different things. Heretofore when a person reported wandering animals, he was frequently sent from Billy to Jack. The Garda would not take responsibility in some instances and neither would the local authority take responsibility in the majority of cases. If action was taken and the stray animals were rounded up and impounded that is when the farce started.

The facilities most local authorities have for impounding animals are negligible. Indeed, having succeeded in impounding them, the farce continued even further in so far as if a sale resulted and if the owner showed up and made an offer, no matter how ridiculous, he got the animals back. On occasion the owner is pleased to have the animals rounded up. Certainly this is the case in my own county where travelling people own substantial numbers of horses which wander great distances. The owner is eventually notified that they are in a certain pound and that a sale is taking place. All the owner has to do is to turn up at the pound. For a nominal bid at an auction or a recovery fee he gets the animals back. No sooner are they released from the pound than they are allowed to stray as before. It serves no purpose other than a herding exercise for the owner.

The facilities now existing within local authorities cannot change dramatically for the purpose of this Bill until there is an absolute obligation on the local authorities to provide very substantially improved impounding facilities. I would ask the Minister when he is replying to tell us whether local authorities will be compelled to provide adequate and proper facilities for impounding animals. If it has been in the past the obligation of local authorities to do so they have failed miserably.

The increase in the fine from 50p to £150 is substantial. I hope it will act as a deterrent. In most cases people say that deterrents do not work, but such a substantial fine, particularly if it were repeated, would amount to the value of the animals themselves. If the fine has to be paid it will mean that people will take better care of their animals and prevent them from wandering.

The section dealing with a developer who has a partially completed development seems harsh. In normal circumstances it would take several months or one year for site developments to be completed. It is inevitable, therefore, that if there were stray animals in the area they would wander into this area. If the developer is living off-site or does not provide a caretaker, in all probability animals would rest in those areas rather than in the more populated areas or areas of high activity. This section is a bit harsh on the developer who might find that animals had caused damage on the site and he becomes the owner as proposed in the Bill. It is rather harsh. That damage might take place during the night when work would not be in progress on the site. The provisions in that section are very harsh on many people who would be developing sites for houses or industrial purposes adjacent to towns where very often travellers camp. These are the areas which attract temporary camping. It is rather harsh that the developer would become responsible for the animals who would wander on to that site.

In the past, the tracing of owners has been very carelessly carried out by the authorities. Cattle, in particular, can be readily identified by the herd number on their tags. There certainly has been a notable lack of co-operation in the speedy provision of information to the Garda or to private individuals when they sought information from district veterinary offices. They were slow in forthcoming with the information. I would hope that under the provisions of this Bill the co-operation, when sought, by private individuals or by the gardaí, would be far more speedily and readily available than it has been heretofore.

The section dealing with dogs seems to have drastic changes in it, probably severe changes in some instances. It was recognised that every dog was entitled to a first bite. That no longer seems to be the case. A dog may be provoked by children playing in densely populated areas. He may be cornered and become vicious in certain circumstances. There could be a rash of very costly court proceedings. There is nothing as bad as to see mongrel dogs savaging young children. One particular case was highlighted in the media within the past year when a child was probably maimed for life and there seems to be no real recourse to the child or the parents to get satisfaction from any source.

At the other extreme, provocation can take place and it is very difficult to prove that a dog was vicious. It all boils down to the fact that many local authorities, particularly outside the urban areas, have been very careless and have been found wanting in the provision of proper facilities for the collection and control of stray animals. I would ask the Minister to see that orders are made that every local authority should have within their jurisdiction some facility for impounding stray dogs. At various times during the year we see that wandering dogs have caused very substantial damage and losses to farmers, mainly adjacent to urban areas but like crime in general it is no longer a case of just being adjacent to urban areas. The problem has gone right out into the countryside. Dogs have tended to wander very great distances in pursuit of sheep and cause great destruction. I would ask the Minister to build into the Bill the safeguard that he would have the authority to direct local authorities to establish proper pound facilities for stray animals.

I welcome the general provisions of the Bill. I believe, however, that it will be very difficult to implement them unless there is a far greater effort by the authorities to implement them and greater co-operation between the local authorities and the Garda which was not, I must say in my experience, forthcoming heretofore. There was no co-operation and one was passing it to the next. One group said they had not the power to do anything and the other said they had not the facilities to do anything. It is time to call a halt to that and to make sure that if this legislation becomes law the facilities necessary for the people to implement the law will be provided.

I want to welcome this Bill which, for the first time, covers this whole area of wandering animals, whether they are horses, dogs or any other large animal likely to cause damage to property and to beings. It has taken a long time to get all this set down in legislation. It is something that many of us at local authority level have been talking about for many years. I welcome the fact that the Minister and his advisers have applied themselves to the problem of wandering animals. In built-up areas, in the Minister's own constituency in Limerick and, indeed, in the town of Tipperary and in many other large towns and centres of population extraordinary damage has been done by large animals, particularly horses, the owners of which, as Senator Burke said, are difficult to identify. In this regard I want to compliment the Garda. In spite of the difficulties associated with identifying the owners of wandering horses, without proper legislation to assist them, they have been very vigilant in areas where widespread damage has been caused. The Garda are also extremely vigilant in tracing lost, stolen or wandering animals.

In spite of the best efforts of the experts in the Department in designing ear tags, there is no doubt that quite a lot of tag switching still goes on. In the absence of proper ear punching it is quite difficult to trace the ownership of some of these animals. In spite of that, I am aware of the efforts that the Garda have made in trying to ascertain the ownership of animals through a system of application of tags to animals ears and the issue of tags to veterinary surgeons in particular sequences. The Department of Agriculture are aware which tags were issued to certain veterinary surgeons. In that regard they usually can trace through a veterinary surgeon a particular tag sequence, even if that tag was initially attached by the vet to another animal. The Department of Agriculture officials are to be complimented for their efforts to overcome tag switching. It is still very difficult to come up with a tamper proof tag which would make all our efforts in disease eradication much easier and would indeed make the efforts of those responsible of the maintenance of order in large animal movements on roads and into people's property much easier.

This is quite an emotive subject in urban areas. In spite of that, this legislation has created some cause for concern in the minds of rural dwellers, the owners of livestock, who to the best of their ability, always try to keep thim in safe custody. In spite of that there are times when for various reasons, large animals wander on to the public road at night. They constitute a death trap for motorists. They can do a great deal of damage both to life and to property.

The various sections should be explained in the Minister's reply to this Second Stage debate and they will probably be teased out further on Committee Stage. The Minister would want to reassure people that normal accidental wandering of animals will not become a common law liability. Section 2 (1) reads:

So much of the rules of the common law relating to liability for negligence as excludes or restricts the duty which a person might owe to others to take such care as is reasonable to see that damage is not caused by an animal straying on to a public road is hereby abolished.

Then it goes on to deal with other subsections of that section. This is an area that needs to be explained to people.

There are so many things that happen in a rural area which the landowner and stockowner does not welcome. There are outbreaks of certain diseases, like grass tetanus, which is a magnesium deficiency. It leaves the animals without control over what they are doing. They are actually crazy animals at a certain stage of the disease. They will break down anything from a gate to a stone wall. They will burst out on to the public roadway at any hour of the day or night when they are afflicted with this deficiency disease. It is in areas like this, where the landowner or the stockowner could exercise no control whatsoever, that I would be worried that he might be penalised by the legislation. I would not deny anybody's right in common law to try these matters in the court. I am sure the court would have to make a judgment on whether the owner was negligent in not having the animals under proper control or, indeed, if his fences were deficient in any way. It is an area that needed to be tided up a lot because people have lost their lives and a lot of damage has been done to property.

The area of marauding dogs is one that concerns all of us. The Animal Health Council have set up a special sub-committee to advise the Minister for Agriculture in this area. I do not think that either increasing the licence fee or trying to apply a proper licensing system for dogs is the answer to the problem. One of the answers to the problem is addressed in this Bill, putting the liability on the owner of the dog. Section 3 (1) reads:

The owner of a dog shall be liable in damages for damage caused in an attack on any person by the dog and for injury done by it to any cattle; and it shall not be necessary for the person seeking such damages to show a previous mischievous propensity in the dog, or the owner's knowledge of such previous propensity, or to show that such injury or damage was attributable to neglect on the part of the owner.

The media have rightly portrayed the widespread damage that has been caused to flock owners throughout the country. In mountainous areas, in lowland areas, in my area, in Wicklow and in many other areas widespread damage is caused by marauding dogs without the owner either being aware of the risks that his dogs have created for livestock, sheep and lambs, but would almost deny that his dogs could be associated with that kind of happening. We all know that dogs tend to travel in packs. I suppose normal quiet, efficient farmhouse dogs could probably be misled into joining a pack. They have been known to cause tremendous damage. The section in this Bill will put the legal liability on the owner of the dogs to ensure that they are kept in proper custody, particularly at night.

It amazes one, when canvassing — as we all are nowadays at every possible moment — to notice the number of dogs in the country. It is unbelievable. I wish every dog had a vote and then the electorate would be extremely plentiful. There are probably more dogs than people now. I have seen and heard many dogs and have been threatened by many dogs over the past three weeks. I am glad the electorate are not quite as vociferous. The dogs are quite dangerous. In every farmyard or house, even in urban areas, the number of dogs is frightening. There are six and seven dogs in a yard.

I hope that this legislation will do something to ensure that this whole area of responsibility for these kinds of animals will rest with the owners. If people are given that responsibility they will ensure that any animals under their control are properly looked after. My voice seems to have suffered because of the campaign. I cannot even bark back at the dogs any more.

I commend this Bill as making a good effort at tidying up this whole area of responsibility of wandering animals, whether they are dogs or larger animals.

I would like to welcome the opportunity which the House is getting to review the law as it relates to animals in this Animals Bill. I think that the Minister in his Second Stage speech set the stage on the background to this legislation and the need for it. Some Members have gone into detail with regard to different aspects of the Bill, what is in the Bill and what is not in the Bill.

In my case I would like to pay particular attention to a section of the Bill — which is one of the shortest sections in it — which has the most far-reaching effects on the relationships between the farming community and the motoring community in particular. The Minister correctly identified the fact that the House was indebted to the Law Reform Commission for their report on Civil Liability for Animals, 1982. It was published in May 1982 and forms the background to this review of the legislation. It is very helpful indeed to have it when considering this legislation. It is very handy, indeed, for the Members of the House to have the objective and independent advice of the Law Reform Commission on these matters.

It is also true to say that the Minister is correct in not assuming that their recommendations must automatically be followed and in subjecting those recommendations to the kind of examination necessary to see whether in any way they fall short of the practical criteria which should apply in new legislation. In this area, in the report to which I have already referred, the Law Reform Commission dealt with the matter under chapter 2 of their report. That chapter is headed "Liability for Damage caused by Animals straying on to the Highway". In order to understand the report in detail one would have to revert to the Working Paper No. 3, of the Law Reform Commission, on which this report was based. In chapter 2 (1) of the report, the Law Reform Commission made the following statement:

In Working Paper No. 3 the immunity from liability given to the keepers of animals which stray on to the highway was criticised as anomalous. It is out of step with modern legal developments, current conceptions of responsibility and, in particular, present-day traffic conditions.

And it goes on to say that:

No compelling argument, against the abolition of this immunity have been advanced to the Commission.

Now, in order that the records should be set straight, it is only right to say that the degree of immunity which the keepers of animals have at present is extraordinary. It certainly does not reflect the reality of a country in which farming is an activity which is pursued to the edges of very busy highways.

At present the law is that it is virtually impossible for an owner of an animal to be held responsible for that animal causing damage to passing traffic. This immunity extends even to cases where the farmer inadequately fences his property and where he overstocks his property, bearing in mind the fencing arrangements which he has. It is true to say that the only situation in which the owner of an animal which strays on to the public road, or goes on to the public road, can be liable for the actions of that animal is where the animal is under the immediate, and very immediate, control of the owner or his representative. In other words, you have the rather extraordinary situation that the farmer who was taking care and herding his cattle along the road was, in fact, liable for any damage which his cattle did during the course of that operation, while on the other hand the farmer who allowed the cattle to come home without any person in attendance was not responsible for any damage caused. Now that is a rather extraordinary rule of law. I suppose it could be understood in the context of a situation where there was virtually no traffic passing on the road and the roads really only existed for the local traffic, but nowadays with the greater mobility of the population the number of people traversing any area, who would not have intimate knowledge of the activities carried on in that area, has increased rapidly. That has given rise to a situation where there is no longer a balance of reason between the immunity of the animal owner on the one hand and the compensation for any damage caused to the pas-sers-by on the other hand.

We then come to the actual suggestion of the Law Reform Commission. The Law Reform Commission suggested in their working paper, and confirmed in their report, that the immunity conferred on keepers of animals which cause injury while straying on to the public highway should be abolished. During the course of the brief consideration which this legislation got in the Committee on Legislation that matter was considered. I have the privilege of being a member of that committee. It strikes me that the strict liability which the mere abolition of that immunity would confer is something which is quite easy to defend. I can well understand why the Law Reform Commission arrived at the conclusion at which they did arrive. The keeper of an animal, surely, should be under an obligation to ensure that animal is fenced properly or is kept under control and does not cause any damage.

Leaving aside the exceptional case in the Bill, and in the Law Reform Commission report, which deals with animals straying from land which is normally unfenced, there is a lot to recommend the Law Reform Commission's report in this regard. I understand the Minister's point of view, that he has to amend the law practically as he finds it. The transition from a position where there was virtually no liability to a position where there would be strict liability is something which, I suppose, the owners of animals find very hard to grasp. I understand that the Minister had a practical political problem in that regard. I think it is the way in which the law is developing. I think it is the way in which this legislation will, in future, be amended.

Those who have the responsibility for the keeping of animals should recognise the inevitability of that process. The proposal of the Minister in section 2, and which no doubt we will get an opportunity of considering in detail on Committee, is to reduce or to eliminate the immunity and to substitute for it the ordinary rules which apply in the case of tort. The Minister's justification for that is contained in his Second Stage speech. I think the Minister is probably right in coming to the conclusion he has arrived at. In coming to that conclusion, I think the actual way in which the law will be interpreted by the courts is something that this Minister or any future Minister will have to consider carefully.

In my view the operation of section 2 will lead to an uncertain state of law which, no doubt, will be clarified over a period of time by court cases. It is something about which the Minister and his Department will have to be careful.

The other point to which I would like to refer is the question of liability in respect of dogs. Different influences come to bear on this point. On the question of dogs a stricter liability is being imposed. That stricter liability reflects the fact that the owners of animals who are keeping them for farming purposes have found that the potential for destruction of the dog population is considerable. They feel aggrieved in regard to the damage which they have suffered over the years. They now wish to ensure that the owners of dogs will keep them under strict control and that in the absence of them being kept under strict control their owners should be made responsible. If that is the view of the owners of farm animals in relation to dogs, you can understand how aggrieved people are when an animal kept for farm purposes strays on to the road and causes damage even though that damage is not caused by any negligence on the part of the driver of a vehicle. They are aggrieved that the owner of the animal is not strictly liable. Even under new legislation there will be a substantial issue to be fought as to whether or not a person will be liable.

On Committee Stage I would like the Minister to give consideration to the practical effects of the other portion of subsection (2) which deals with straying from unfenced land on to a public road. I imagine that there is going to be quite a problem in defining what unfenced land is. A lot of land will acquire an unfenced definition where necessary. That is a possibility. The Minister might give some consideration to whether it should be necessary to register one's land as unfenced land or whether a register of unfenced land should be kept for this purpose and whether there should be an obligation on the person who owns the land, prior to any accident, to say that the following portion of his land — or the following portion of the land that he uses if it is commonage — is, in fact, unfenced. In the event of any dispute arising at a later date a register can be consulted which will clearly identify a portion of land as being unfenced. Otherwise, the difference which will arise between the treatment of torts in respect of animals coming from fenced land and animals coming from unfenced land will give rise to substantial legal disputes.

With regard to the other portion of the Bill — the portion which deals with the question of wandering animals and trespassing animals — I would like to commend the Minister for his diligence in pursuing this matter. It has become a feature of Irish suburban life that certain elements of the community seek to keep animals in suburban and urban conditions which are totally unsuitable for such animals. The additional powers taken by the Minister and the powers being given by the Minister to the various authorities, and the various increased penalties to which the Minister has referred and which are set out in the Table at the end of section 7 of the Bill, will all contribute to the eradication of this problem. Very many of these animals are kept not really for any profit motive but almost in a sense of defiance of authority and in a sense of increasing the capacity of certain elements to carry their weight around with them. There is a certain element in it in that they are almost like "walking" wallets. A person of a particular type with spare cash invests in these animals in the hope of being able to maintain the value of the investment, rather than actually getting the animals to do any useful work either of a recreational or other kind.

For these reasons, I welcome the Bill. The Minister is to be congratulated on it. I look forward to the explanations of the various problems which might arise from the Bill which, no doubt, the Minister will consider and deal with during his reply to the Second Stage and during Committee Stage.

Limerick East): I would like to thank all the Senators who have contributed to this debate. I understand that there has been a constructive, helpful debate. I am glad that the House is facilitating me in this matter.

The Bill, as indicated in the opening speech, deals with two main areas of law relating to animals — the law as to civil liability for damage which they cause, and the law as to the impounding of animals. So far as the liability for damage caused by animals is concerned, the Bill proposes two changes in the law. First, it proposes the abolition of the immunity which occupiers of land adjoining the public road have enjoyed in relation to damage caused by their animals straying onto the road. Secondly, it proposes that there should be strict liability for damage which dogs cause in attacks on persons. Senator O'Leary is drawing attention now to this and indicating that there is a divergence in the provision here from what was recommended by the Law Reform Commission. Both proposals, in so far as liability for damage is concerned, are moving in the direction of putting a stronger onus on the owner. In the case of land, the immunity which has existed for a long time is being removed.

In the case of an attack on a person by a dog, while the dog is no longer entitled to one bite the requirement in law to prove vicious propensity in the animal is being removed so that it will now be an offence to bite the first time. The movement is in the same direction. Whether we have gone far enough or not is debatable. It would have made it a very controversial Bill if if we had proposed stricter liability on the owners of property or animals straying from the property. The change which is proposed is reasonable as a first step. That, taken together with the other provisions of the Bill, will go a long way towards solving the problems of wandering animals and horses, in particular, in our cities and towns.

Senator O'Leary is correct. The movement is in one particular direction, and I am sure a successor of mine will come back into the House at a future date, either shortly or in the distant future, and propose stricter liability along the lines of the proposals of the Law Reform Commission. As Senators are aware, changes took place in the law in Northern Ireland and in Britain. Section 2(1) of the Bill is the same formulation of words as used in the British legislation and in the Northern Ireland legislation. That is the change that took place there — removing the immunity. It has got the general support of people who are the victims of injury and also the general support of landowners. Senators are probably aware that I had consultations with the farming organisations when we set about drafting this legislation. The main farming organisations are happy with the proposals in the Bill.

The other area dealt with in the Bill is the provision strengthening the law for impounding in section 4 to section 8 of the Bill. Some individual points were raised in the course of the debate, and I should like to deal with them.

Senator Durcan commented adversely on the drafting of section 2 and referred to the simpler form of drafting in section 4 of the Law Reform Commission's draft Bill. Section 2 of the Bill now before the House is identical with section 8 of the Commission's draft Bill but includes a definition of "fencing" taken from section 2 of the Commission's draft. The wording of section 2 has been very carefully examined, and the draftman is satisfied that it is appropriate to meet the object of the section.

Section 4 of the Law Reform Commission's Bill, to which the Senator referred, proposed that there should be a general principle of strict liability for any damage caused by any animal. As was indicated in the opening speech, it is not proposed to adopt that recommendation.

Senator Durcan also referred to damage caused by animals such as badgers. I should say in this connection that there is no liability in law for damage caused by wild animals not reduced into captivity. Mules will come within the definition of "animal" in section 1 and accordingly the impounding provisions in the Bill will apply to them.

Senator Durcan and Senator Fitzsimons referred to the insurance implications of the Bill. These arise in relation to sections 2 and 3. I agree that it will be desirable for landowners and owners of dogs to insure against the new liability being imposed by these sections. Inquiries have been made from insurance sources but it has not been possible to say what, precisely, the increase in premiums will be. As far as landowners are concerned, it appears that the provisions in the English Animals Act, 1971, which corresponds to section 2 of the Bill, has not given rise to any considerable increase in the premiums for landowners in England and Wales. It is expected that, as far as section 3 is concerned, the increased premium for dog owners will be limited in amount.

The strict liability imposed by the Dogs Act 1906 applies in relation to injury to sheep, in view of the definition of "cattle" in section 7 of the Act. In that section we are accomplishing the change by restating the section from the Dogs Act. While it looks as if it is a significant proportion of the Bill, it is a re-enactment of the existing provisions which makes it look so extensive.

Senator Durcan pointed out that section 8 of the Bill repeals paragraphs (7) and (8) of section 19 of the Summary Jurisdiction Act, 1851. The Senator inquired as to how the remaining provisions in section 19 of the 1851 Act can stand. The position is that section 19, apart from paragraphs (7) and (8) has already been repealed by the Pounds (Provisions and Maintenance) Act, 1935 so that the effect of section 8 of the Bill will be to complete the repeal of section 19 of the 1851 Act.

Senator Durcan also referred to the provisions of section 20 of the 1851 Act. As was pointed out in my speech, there have been few complaints over the country as a whole about the operation of these provisions in the 1851 Act, relating to the impounding of trespassing animals by private persons. The Senator suggested that the power which section 20 gives to the District Court to order the repair of fences, in certain circumstances, should be strengthened. I consider that a provision of that nature would raise issues which might extend beyond the scope of the present Bill. The objectives of the Bill are limited, and I would be reluctant to accept any amendment of the kind suggested to section 20 of the 1851 Act as this might complicate the achievement of those objectives.

Senator O'Toole suggested that the effect of section 2 would be to shift liability from road users to persons occupying land adjoining the public road. This is not correct. The effect of that section will be to make the law of liability in negligence apply equally to road-users and occupiers of land, with special provision for areas where fencing is not customary.

Senator O'Toole also raised the question of the adequacy of pound accommodation. Inquiries have been made from all local authorities in this connection. The replies indicated that this accommodation, generally is adequate. Section 5 of the Bill makes special provision for any short term inadequacy of public pounds after the Bill comes into effect. The Bill makes no change in the existing law for cases such as those of damage caused by animals where a hunt crosses a farmer's land. As to the manner in which the law of negligence will apply on the coming into effect of Section 2 it will be for the court to decide in each case. It would not be correct to say that section 2 will complicate the law. It will simplify the law by removing the existing anomaly.

Senator O'Leary also referred to this point. The Senator is correct in that it will take an initial number of cases before it will be certain how the courts will view that particular section of the Bill.

Senator Hourigan asked how the Bill will affect persons who have to drive stock across the public road. The Bill will not affect the existing law in such cases. The provision in the Bill which is most nearly relevant is section 2, but that relates only to cases where animals stray on to the road, and not to cases where animals are driven on to the road. Senator Hourigan and other Senators referred to the situation where animals stray across land adjoining the public road from land which does not adjoin it. It will be a matter for the court to decide liability in such cases, but it appears unlikely that the occupier of the land adjoining the public road could be held liable for damage caused in such cases.

Senator Kiely referred to the damage caused by marauding and unlicensed dogs. The Bill does not seek to deal generally with this problem. This problem, and the associated question of dog shelters, is a matter for the Minister for Agriculture, who is now considering a report made by an inter-departmental committee on the subject. The Senator also commented adversely on section 6 of the Bill. It would not be correct to say that this imposes liability for damage caused by stray animals on occupiers of development sites generally. The statutory liability will be imposed only where the local authority has made a designation order in relation to the particular site, and even in such cases the occupier of the site can escape the statutory liability by authorising the Garda and local authorities to remove and impound animals straying on to the site.

Senator Fitzsimons referred to the question of obliging owners to muzzle dogs. Any provision of this kind would be outside the scope of this Bill. This suggestion, as well as the question of licensing dogs, might be appropriate for consideration by the Minister for Agriculture, who is considering the general question of dog control. The Senator referred also to the liability occurred by occupiers where their dogs injure trespassers. The position is that, under the Bill, the ordinary rules of negligence will apply. This is secured by the proposed new section 1 (5) of the Dogs Act 1906, the effect of which is that the occupier will not incur strict liability in such cases.

Senator Fitzsimons also mentioned the question of compensation for damage caused by animals straying on to the public road. This will be a matter for the courts to decide in each individual case. I can assure the Senator that where the owner of the animal is not negligent section 2 will not have the effect of ensuring that damages are to be awarded against him. The Senator also referred to animals trespassing on private property. As far as urban areas are concerned, trespassing by large animals is a comparatively recent phenomenon deriving from the acquisition of such animals by persons who have not got adequate facilities for them. These animals are allowed to wander on public roads and on open spaces and they occasionally enter private gardens. This problem would arise in rural areas to a much more limited extent. In so far as animals wandering on the public roads and in public spaces are concerned, I am confident that the problem will be met by the measures now proposed in the Bill. These should have the effect of considerably reducing the number of intrusions by large animals onto private property. In rural areas, where cases have arisen over the years of livestock straying from one person's land onto another, the position is adequately met by the existing statutory provisions which were probably designed to avoid breaches of the peace that could occur when the occupier of the land trespassed on was allowed to detain the animal.

Senator Burke expressed concern about the adequacy of the impounding facilities and the related financial arrangements. As I have said already, I have made inquiries from local authorities and the general impression is that existing facilities are adequate. However, I will have this aspect of the problem pursued in any instance where it transpires that the facilities are inadequate after the coming into effect of the impounding provisions of the Bill. The general intention is that these impounding provisions should be self financing so far as possible through increased fines, higher pound fees and where necessary the sale of impounded animals. I would also refer Senators to the provision in section 5 of the Bill where in order to meet any short term demands for impounding facilities following the coming into force of the Bill local authorities may arrange for animals to be impounded in private pounds. This would save the necessity for providing permanent impounding facilities that might rarely be used once the legislation has full effect.

I hope I have dealt with the points raised, though necessarily in a general way. I thank the Senators for their contribution and I am sorry I could not be in the House at 2.30 p.m. I had questions in the Dáil at that time.

Question put and agreed to.
Agreed to take remaining Stages today.