HC Deb 28 April 1909 vol 4 cc447-9

Order for second reading read.

Motion made and Question proposed: "That the Bill be now read a second time."—[Mr. Ellis Griffith.]


This Bill, I believe, is intended to exempt dogs from vivisection. It is always an unpleasant task for anyone to oppose a measure which is in any degree intended to prevent cruelty to animals. I should be the last man in the world to oppose this measure if it were merely a Bill for the prevention of cruelty to animals without any indirect effect upon any other question, but this measure touches a very large issue. It touches the whole question of whether or not experiments upon animals are legitimate in the interests of science. It has been my duty this evening to refer to one Royal Commission as a reason for not carrying out a particular proposal, and now similarly I have to refer to another Royal Commission, which is also sitting, upon the Question which the hon. Member has just raised. The Royal Commission upon Vivisection is also, I believe, not far from its conclusions.


May I call attention to the fact that this Bill is not printed and is not available in the Vote Office.


The fact that a Bill is not printed is not an objection which I can take against a Bill, but it may very probably weigh with the House. As a point of order I cannot use it for the purpose of stopping its progress.


I think it is very unusual for an hon. Member to move a Bill which no Member of the House can read for the reason that it is not printed, and I think invariably when it is found that a Bill is moved without having been printed it is customary for some hon. Member to move the adjournment of the Debate on that ground. I beg to move "That the Debate be now adjourned."


I recognise the difficulty that there is in discussing a Bill which is not printed, but at the same time I would point out that everyone who has taken any interest in the subject is perfectly well aware of the contents of the Bill. I myself have a Bill on this subject, which has been printed for the last two months, and which is identical with the Bill of the hon. Member for Anglesey. Therefore, I would suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that he should not persist in the Motion for the adjournment of the Debate, but that he should obtain my Bill, and in that way acquaint himself with the contents of the Bill of the hon. Gentleman, which, unfortunately, has not been printed. If the right hon. Gentleman has not time to go to the Vote Office to get a copy of my Bill, may I be permitted to tell him what is in the Bill? It is a Bill to exempt dogs from vivisection. I think that is a Bill to which hon. Gentlemen opposite will not object, and I am sure that will have the sympathy of a large number of people on this side of the House, and certainly the sympathy of hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway. It is a Bill which in no way attacks vivisection. It has nothing to do with vivisection in the ordinary sense of the word. All that it does is to exempt dogs from vivisection. There are many reasons, in my opinion, why dogs should be exempt.


The hon. Member is not entitled to discuss the contents of the Bill. He may give reasons for not accepting the Motion for the adjournment of the Debate.


Of course I agree with your ruling, but may I point out that I was giving reasons by which I hoped to induce the right hon. Gentleman to withdraw his Motion for the adjournment of the Debate. I understood the right hon. Gentleman to make that Motion on the ground that he did not know what was in the Bill, and, as there are exceptional circumstances in this case, I may be allowed to point out what is in the Bill. I do not know whether I will succeed in impressing on the right hon. Gentleman the advisability of adopting that course. The right hon. Gentleman would not run very much risk if he did so, and he might get a Division on the Question to-night. I will sit down in the hope that the right hon. Gentleman will accede to my appeal. I believe it is quite in order for him to change his mind and not proceed with his Motion.


Until I became a Member of this House I took very decided views on the question of whether animals should be experimented on or not. Since I have been a Member of one of the Committees—


The hon. Member is not entitled to discuss the contents of the Bill. The Question now before the House is the adjournment of the Debate.


I do not know whether I am to be allowed to argue against it or not; or whether I am to support the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman for the adjournment of the Debate. But at least I would like to ask for the adjournment of any Bill on the question of vivisection, for the reason that since I have been a Member of a certain Committee I have altered my view very considerably. I can conceive that there may be occasions when it may be necessary, and even advisable, to conduct such experiments by men who have the greatest sympathy with dumb animals, and who would not needlessly inflict pain upon them. At the same time, they have to choose between inflicting pain on animals or men, and under the circumstances I think a matter of that kind should be discussed.

And, it being Eleven of the clock, the Motion for the adjournment of the Debate lapsed without Question put, and the Debate on the second reading stood adjourned.

Debate to be resumed to-morrow.