On Tuesday 18th November Lord Trees spoke to an amendment we had tabled on the Committee Stage of the Deregulation Bill. The Government proposal was to repeal the requirement to keep prescriptive dog breeding records under the Breeding of Dogs Act 1973 on the basis that compulsory microchipping will be introduced in April 2016 and the microchip database will contain most of the information kept on the aforementioned records. Local authorities would have the option to require further information to be kept as they consider relevant. Amendments to the Breeding of Dogs Act will form part of the law of England and Wales only. They will come into force on a day to be appointed by the Secretary of State in a commencement order.
Our argument is that in the light of concerns about the welfare of breeding dogs and puppy farming, this was not the time to relax regulations designed to assure the welfare of breeding bitches and that the microchipping regulations as currently drafted do not require any information about the breeding history of female dogs. Our view was supported by the the British Veterinary Association, The Dogs Trust and the Advisory Council on the Welfare Issues of Dog Breeding (to whom we are grateful for alerting us to this issue).
The amendment (prepared with the assistance of the Advisory Council) meant that paragraphs 34 and 35 of the Deregulation Bill would be left out and no changes would be made to the Breeding of Dogs Act 1973.
Whilst the amendment was ultimately withdrawn (as there are no divisions at Committee stage), but the Government conceded at the end of the debate to consult post-hoc on the concerns raised:
“If there is enough evidence to support retaining the requirement for licensed dog breeders to keep records, the Government will not commence the repeals contained in paragraphs 31 & 32 of Schedule 20.” HL Deb (2014-15) 757 col. GC 154
Subsequently, Lord Trees has spoken with the relevant Minister (Lord Wallace of Tankerness) and it is likely the consultation will go out in February or March 2015. The Minister advised us that it was never proposed that these measures would be enforced (unlike the rest of the Bill) until at least April 2016. Should the results of the consultation persuade the Government not to proceed then they will not lay a Commencement Order and these proposals will lapse.
You can find a full transcript of the proceedings of the Deregulation Bill Committee Day 7 in Hansard: Grand Committee.