Protection of Livestock Bill Comes One Step Closer

Union briefs MSPs ahead of first stage debate tomorrow

NFU Scotland has briefed MSPs ahead of the Scottish Parliament debating and voting on the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Bill at Stage One tomorrow (21 January).

Given that livestock attacks and dog fouling are two of the biggest issues that farmers, crofters and landowners face through the irresponsible actions of dog owners. The Union is urging MSPs to support and strengthen the measures.

NFU Scotland has worked closely with Emma Harper MSP, the Member in Charge for the Bill in bringing forward proposals which would significantly increase penalties and powers for investigation.

Stronger penalties should act as a better deterrent; and when paired with the investigative powers granted by the Bill, this should increase the number of prosecutions that occur for livestock attacks. With the issue continuing to blight the countryside, this would be a significant step forward.

NFU Scotland welcomes that the Bill has been recommended for approval by the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee, which is charged with scrutinising the Bill, and supports its findings that looking further ahead there should be a wider consolidation of law governing responsible dog ownership and the compensation provisions for victims of attacks on livestock.

NFU Scotland President Andrew McCornick said: “We encourage MSPs to support the legislation at its first parliamentary hurdle. If approved, this will ensure this important Bill for Scotland’s farmers and crofters is one step closer to becoming law before the Scottish Parliament is dissolved in advance of the elections in May.

“The progress of this bill is crucial if we are to send out a clear message on this matter.  NFUS has spent considerable time, effort and resource on this blight on the countryside over many years. Efforts have been focussed on awareness raising amongst dog owners of their responsibilities, raising awareness amongst livestock keepers of their rights and lobbying Local Authorities and Police Scotland to use control mechanisms available to them.

“It is clear there is a need for more robust legislation, stronger penalties and appropriate compensation to hammer home the responsibility and liability of dog owners who do not exercise their pets responsibly on agricultural land. This Bill would be a big step forward.”

Emma Harper MSP, who has introduced the Bill, said: “My Protection of Livestock (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill has received unanimous backing from Scotland’s leading agricultural, animal welfare and outdoor access bodies. It received over 800 responses to the consultation from farmers, dog owners and those involved with the agricultural community who agreed that the current legislation is outdated and who were supportive of the principles of the Bill.

“Following the report by the Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee and after meeting with the Minister, I have agreed to a number of amendments to the Bill which will be taken forward at Stage 2 in February. These include a technical amendment to include an affirmative procedure for regulations regarding the definition of livestock, increasing the maximum available penalty to 12 months imprisonment or a fine of £40,000, or both, which will be taken forward by the Scottish Government, removing provisions authorising inspecting bodies other than the police to carry out investigation, and finally, removing the power for entry to non-domestic premises without a warrant.

“I look forward to hearing all the contributions to the debate on Thursday and thank all who have been involved with the Bill thus far.”


Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Author: Bob Carruth

Date Published:

News Article No.: 08/21

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