HC Deb 05 May 1913 vol 52 cc1642-3

asked the President of the Board of Agriculture if in the sixteenth century, owing to the excessive slaughter of calves by so-called covetous persons, a Statute of Henry VIII. forbade the killing of all calves for three years between the 1st January and the 1st May; and whether, in view of the same process being carried on in the twentieth century in the supposed interests of milk-producers and causing a serious and alarming shortage of both store cattle and milch cows, the Government will consider the advisability of re-enacting the same Statute?


My attention has recently been called to the Statute in question. Before giving a definite answer to the latter part of the question, I should be glad to consider any evidence with which the hon. Member may be able to furnish me showing what was the effect of the Statute when it was in operation.


Will the right hon. Gentleman confer with the authorities with a view of preventing immature calves being sold for food?


That is practically the question put to me by the hon. Gentleman opposite. I should require a little more information on the subject before I took any action in the matter.


asked the President of the Board of Agriculture whether, in view of the number of calves too young to be fit for veal which are now slaughtered soon after birth, the consequent shortage of store cattle and increasing dearness of beef, and the ease with which calves may be inexpensively reared on boiled linseed and other milk substitutes, he will consider the desirability, until the bovine population is substantially increased, of making it punishable to kill any sound calf under the veal weight of 114 pounds or 14 stone?


I sympathise with the object which the hon. Member has in view, but the restrictive measures which he suggests would be difficult and costly to enforce. There have been many references recently, both in this House and in the public Press, to the shortage of store cattle resulting from the indiscriminate slaughter of young calves, and I hope that these warnings may have the desired effect without recourse being had to legislation.