HC Deb 05 July 1910 vol 18 cc1495-6

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was the nature of the operation not authorised by the certificate which was performed by a licensee holding Certificate B, as recorded by the inspector in the Return showing the number of experiments on living animals during the year 1909; what is the name of the licensee in question; whether there is any reason why such licensee, should not be prosecuted under the Cruelty to Animals Act, 1876; and whether he will give his assent to such prosecution as by that Act required?

The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. Churchill)

The operation consisted of cöphorectomy of two rabbits, of course under anæsthetics. It was brought to the notice of the Home Office by the licensee sending a paper published by him in which the experiments were described. Even had it been a case for prosecution it was then too late, the statutory period of six months within which any proceedings must be taken having expired. I do not wish to minimise the serious nature of the offence, but I may mention that the licensee in question held certificates in previous years authorising this very experiment, and, as he explained, failed to notice that his certificates, at the time when he performed the operation, were so worded as not to include it. He is a distinguished man of science, to whom the refusal of a licence is a very severe penalty, and I think the House will agree that, in these circumstances, I am not called upon to disclose his name.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that under certificate B the animal, although put under an ænesthetic, is allowed to come out of it, and have its life prolonged, that the effect of the experiment may be watched after the ænesthetic has ceased to operate; and is there any other Department, mines or factories, where, if the inspector detects an offender against the law, he keeps the name of the offender concealed, or does the conspiracy of silence apply to this alone?


My hon. Friend has answered his own question; but, so far as concerns his expression "conspiracy of silence," I cannot admit any conspiracy of silence, and I think I am fully justified in this case in not disclosing the name.