HC Deb 02 March 1915 vol 70 cc767-9

(1) There shall be inserted between Sections twenty-four and twenty-five (relating respectively to deficiency in and injury to equipment, and to the falsification of documents and false declarations) of the Army Act the following Section, mamely:—

(Ill-treatment of horses.)

24A. Every person subject to military law who commits any of the following offences, namely:— Wilfully, by any act or omission, ill-treats any horse in the public service, or causes any such horse to be so ill-treated, or permits any such horse of which he is in charge or has supervision to be so ill-treated; shall, upon conviction by court-martial, be liable to suffer imprisonment for any term not exceeding six months, or such less punishment as is in this Act mentioned.

(2) Paragraph (5) of Section twenty-four (relating as aforesaid) of the Army Act is hereby repealed.

Proposed Clause brought up, and read the first time.


I beg to move that this Clause be read a second time. As the Act stands now Section 24 provides that every soldier who commits any offences, including the following:— (5) Ill-treats any horse used in the public service, shall, on conviction by court-martial, be liable to suffer imprisonment, or such less punishment as is in this Act mentioned. By Section 44 imprisonment may mean two years' imprisonment. My Clause would repeal Sub-section (5) and substitute a separate Clause which would come in between Sections 24 and 25. It repeals paragraph (5) of Section 24, which includes every person under military law and does not confine the offence merely to the soldier. It provides a reasonable form of punishment, namely, six months' imprisonment or something less. I do not know that there can be any objection to the Amendment.


I am sure everybody will have great sympathy with the object my hon. Friend has at heart, but I am advised by those who are cognisant of what takes place now that there is really no necessity for the proposal which has been made by my hon. Friend. So far as the soldier is concerned, that is already provided for by the Act. If my hon. Friend will look at Section 40 he will see it is provided that:— Every person subject to military law who commits any of the following offences, that is to say, is guilty of any act, conduct, disorder, or neglect to the prejudice of good order and military discipline shall on conviction by court-martial. I am informed that cruelty or ill-treatment of horses is at present very heavily punished under the existing law, and therefore there is no necessity for the additions proposed by my hon. Friend. In these circumstances I trust this proposal will not be pressed.


My right hon. Friend has quoted Section 40. I only want to ask if cruelty to animals would come under those words?


Yes; the answer is in the affirmative, because the word "conduct" or "neglect" would cover it.


I ask leave to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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