HC Deb 11 August 1876 vol 231 cc1147-52

(Mr. Assheton Cross.)


Order for Committee read.

Bill considered in Committee. (In the Committee.)

Clause 1 (Short title) agreed to.

Clause 2 (Prohibition of painful experiments on animals).


in moving, as an Amendment, in page 1, line 2, to leave out "give pain," and insert "torture," said, that the clause created a new offence—the "giving pain" to animals. He thought the word "torture" ought to be substituted.


opposed the Amendment, and hoped that it would not be pressed.

Amendment negatived.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 3 (General restrictions as to performance of painful experiments on animals.)


said, that under the clause physicians and surgeons would not be permitted to perform operations on animals without the certificate of the Secretary of State. The clause would not give as good a security as was already given by the fact that those gentlemen had already gone through a complete course of medical and surgical study, and had received from a competent authority a certificate to practise their profession. He was surprised that medical men were not sufficiently alive to their own interests as to oppose the clause as much as possible. In his opinion it would lower them in the estimation of the public, if the clause was passed. He would therefore move the insertion of words confining the Secretary of State's certificate to persons who had not received a regular medical education.

Amendment proposed, in page 1, line 30, after the word "performed," to insert the words "by a physician or surgeon, or." —(Mr. Lowe.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."


said, he would infinitely have preferred to have seen the Medical Profession undertaking to regulate itself in this respect, and thus to have rendered any interference on the part of Parliament unnecessary. It ought to be borne in mind that not only had they refused to adopt any regulations of their own, but had protested against any interference whatsoever.


deprecated the remarks of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire as unfair, because the Medical Profession had no organization by which they could make regulations in the matter. The British Association Committee laid down certain rules, and the evidence taken before the Royal Commission showed that the principles laid down by those rules had been honourably carried out by the Profession.


opposed the Amendment.


contended that it was most unreasonable to propose that members of the Medical Profession, who had set up a number of institutions, guaranteeing that they were fit to deal with even infant life, should be assumed to be unfit to have the handling of animal life entrusted to their skill and care.


said, most of the arguments urged against it would have been more appropriate to the second reading of the Bill. The Bill was not meant as a slur upon the Medical Profession, for there could be no doubt of their care in dealing with human life, and the main reason why the present Bill was deemed necessary at all was, that it was thought advisable that the experiments to which it related should be performed under some regulations.


said, he was sorry the Government could not adopt the Amendment, as it implied a distrust of the Medical Profession, who did not deserve it. He looked upon it as a very strong measure indeed to call upon men who held so responsible a position in the country as the members of the Medical Profession to apply to a central authority for permission to make those experiments which they deemed to be necessary in the interests of humanity and science. If such a Bill as the present had been brought before the House early in the Session, he ventured to say it would have met with a very different fate from that which seemed to be now before it. It was another instance of centralization, against which he protested.


contended that the Bill was inconsistent in its principles, by vesting powers for carrying them into effect in persons who had no medical diploma, and who were to authorize or interdict those who had been performing experiments. It would be hard to adopt a proposal that would have the effect of preventing some of the most experienced physiologists in the country from practising important experiments except under conditions that would operate harshly.


reminded the right hon. Gentleman that the physiologists of the country had accepted the principle of the Bill. If the Amendment were adopted, the value of the Bill would be lost, and those who urged it might as well move its rejection at once.


contended that it was altogether too late in the present Session to pass a Bill of this importance, and he would therefore move that the Chairman do leave the Chair. He did so, as he had no character to lose.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do now leave the Chair."— (Mr. Whalley.)


hoped the Motion would not be pressed, as it could only result in a waste of time.


could not see why physicians and surgeons should not come under the same rule as other classes.


thought they might safely trust men who had been at great pains to qualify themselves for the pursuit 'of such a Profession in a matter of this kind. He could see no use in throwing upon the Secretary of State for the Home Department a duty additional to the many responsibilities which he was already called upon to assume.


assented to his proposal being negatived.

Motion negatived.


said, the question was a subject of considerable interest in the City, and he approved of and was prepared to support the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of London. As chief magistrate of the City of London, he had had very great pressure put upon him in this matter. He trusted that it would be considered that a man who had obtained his position as a medical man was worthy of all consideration, and he should not be obliged to obtain a licence from the Secretary of State before ho could make experiments.


thought that this elaborate praise of the Medical Profession was uncalled-for, as they already stood high enough in the opinion of the country. He thought, nevertheless, that the Bill was highly necessary. The question with the people of England was whether vivisection should be allowed at all in this country.


said, it was to be assumed that medical men were qualified, but how was the Home Secretary to know that they were?


trusted that the Home Secretary would adhere to the principle of the Bill.


did not think that the clause ought to pass. He earnestly hoped that the Home Secretary would accept the responsibility.


considered that experiments by vivisectionists on human beings were different from those upon dogs and cats, which had no will in the matter; but when human beings were told that it was necessary in their cases to submit to vivisection, they could choose their own man, and it would therefore be unnecessary for a qualified medical man to apply to the Home Secretary for a licence.

Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 27; Noes 82: Majority 55.

Clause verbally amended, and agreed to.

Clause 4 (Use of urari as an anæsthetic prohibited), agreed to.

Clause 5 (Absolute prohibition of painful experiments on dogs and cats).


in opposing the clause, said, he had a very strong objection to it, as it established an aristocracy of animals. Five animals were to be peculiarly favoured—the cat, the dog, the horse, the mule, and the ass. It was to him perfectly shocking that a selection should be made. Who were they that they should sit in judgment on these animals, and prefer one to another, inflicting pain on one and exempting. others. If these experiments were made, they ought to be tried on the animals best suited for them, and a few ought not to be specially exempted.


believed that objectionable Bill originated with the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate), and he suggested that country gentlemen who were in their sports ignorant, cruel, and prejudiced should be placed under surveillance.


explained that those animals were favoured because they were the most intelligent, and consequently the most sensitive to pain. It must be remembered further that they were only excluded from experiments which were carried out without anæsthetics.

Clause agreed to.

Remaining clauses agreed to, with Amendments.

On the Motion of Mr. ASSHETON CROSS, the following new Clause was agreed to, and inserted in page 8:

(Prosecution of licensed person with sanction of Secretary of State).

"A prosecution under this Act against a licensed person shall not he instituted except with the assent in writing of the Secretary of State."


moved another new clause providing that the Bill should not apply to cold-blooded animals.


(Act not to apply to certain animals.)

(This Act shall not apply to cold-blooded animals,) —(Mr. Assheton Cross,) brought up, and read the first and second time.


objected that the clause would exclude nine-tenths of the animals on which experiments were made.


moved that the Chairman should report Progress.

Motion negatived.


then moved to substitute the word "invertebrate" for "cold-blooded."

Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "cold-blooded," in order to insert the word "invertebrate."—(Mr. William Edward Forster.)

Question put, "That the word 'cold-blooded ' stand part of the Clause."

The Committee divided:— Ayes 20; Noes 57: Majority 37.

On Question, "That the clause, as amended, be added to the Bill?"


characterized the change as a breach of the understanding between the Home Secretary and the medical men, and he was quite sure the Bill would not have been accepted had it been known that the word "cold-blooded" was to be struck out.

Question put, and agreed to.


moved the following new clause:— (Penalty for torturing animals when there is no experiment.) Any person who, without submitting it to an experiment calculated to produce pain, shall cruelly abuse or torture any animal shall be liable, at the discretion of the Court before which he is tried, to a penalty not exceeding one hundred pounds, or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding three calendar months.

Clause (Penalty for torturing animals when there is no experiment,)—(Mr. Lowe,)— brought up, and read the first time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause be read a second time."


said, he must oppose the insertion of the clause as its intention was entirely foreign to the scope of the Bill.

Question put.

The Committee divided:— Ayes 22; Noes 51: Majority 29.

House resumed.

Bill reported, with Amendments; as amended, to be considered To-morrow.

House adjourned at Three o'clock.