HC Deb 15 July 1898 vol 61 cc1211-2
COLONEL SIR H. VINCENT (Sheffield, Central)

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Agriculture if he has been able to give effect to the prayer of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in the framing of regulations calculated to diminish the cruelty to old and worn-out British horses conveyed from British ports to the Continent for labour or for human food; and particularly if, in conjunction with the police and the officers of the Royal Society, the inspectors of his Department and of the Board of Trade can frustrate the shipment of the lame and diseased horses unable to bear the voyage, whose condition excites such pity on the roads in Belgium and Holland, and concerning which the Governments of those countries, in conjunction with the local societies for the prevention of cruelty and the municipalities of Antwerp and Rotterdam, take such measures as are possible?


Since I received the deputation from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which waited on me in March last, I have caused a careful investigation to be made into the conditions under which the trade referred to by my honourable Friend is carried on, and I have been in communication with the society on the subject. Our experience in regard to the conveyance of animals brought by sea to this country goes to show that much more can be done at the port of landing to prevent and punish cruelty and unnecessary suffering than is possible at the port of departure, and I trust that the Belgian Government may be disposed to take action in this direction. But I think it possible that some advantage would also be gained by the issue here of regulations of a general character with regard to the equipment of the vessels in which the horses are exported, and a draft of such regulations is now in course of preparation. It is also my intention to arrange, if possible, for our inspectors to make occasional voyages on vessels in which horses are carried. With regard both to the conveyance of horses to the place of shipment, and the shipment of animals which it might be cruelty to convey by sea at all, it is clear that there is need for special supervision by the police and the officers of the Royal Society, and I shall, of course, be glad to afford any assistance in my power to render such supervision more effective.


Has the right honourable Gentleman seen the answer of the Belgian Minister to those who interviewed him on the question, that the cases of cruelty should be dealt with at the places of embarkation?


Yes, I saw that reply, and I am bound to say that I cannot agree, with the Belgian Minister. We have found that the only effective means of dealing with the cruelty is by action when the animals arrive. That is the only time to judge the mode of treatment.