HC Deb 07 July 1904 vol 137 cc947-8

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware that during the Committee stage of The Coal Mines Regulation Act, 1887, words were inserted requiring the Government inspector to examine and inquire into the case of animals used in the mine; whether his attention has been drawn to a case of continuous cruelty to a number of horses in a mine at Fenton, in North Staffordshire, belonging to the Staffordshire Coal and Iron Company, in which, upon a prosecution by Mr. Colam at the instance of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty, at Longton, last Wednesday, the stipendiary magistrate, in sentencing the manager of the mine to two months imprisonment with hard labour, expressed his surprise that any Government official could go into the pit and not see the condition of these horses; whether the Home Office have received reports showing that the mine inspectors throughout the country are actively carrying out the provisions of the Act in connection with animals; and can he say how many, if any, prosecutions for cruelty have been instituted at the instance of a Government inspector.

(Answered by Mr. Secretary AhersDouglas.) The case to which I understand my hon. friend to refer was reported to me by the Inspector of Mines last month, and I at once instructed the Treasury solicitor to take proceedings. Before they were instituted, however, the inspector learnt that the matter had already been taken up by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. He reported this to me, stating that he thought it would be best to await the result of these proceedings. The magistrate, I imagine, could not have been aware of these facts when he made the remarks mentioned in the Question. Instructions are given to inspectors of mines to examine into the care and treatment of horses. I have every reason to believe that these instructions are obeyed. During the last three years seventy-seven prosecutions have been taken for cruelty to animals in mines; of these twenty-five were proceedings by inspectors, in the remainder the proceedings were taken by the owners of the mines.