HC Deb 05 March 1917 vol 91 cc14-5
42. Mr. W. THORNE

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether, in view of his prohibiton of oatmeal for hounds, he has also considered that each time a horse is used for hunting increased oat rations, amounting to half a bushel a week, have to be given; that there are 203 hunts in the United Kingdom; that if only twenty subscribers still remain active in each of these there is thereby consumed an excess of 2,030 bushels of oats weekly beyond needful and normal consumption requisite to keep the animal in average working condition; that oatmeal has gone up 150 per cent. among the poor of East London and in Glasgow and Edinburgh, where it is a staple food of the population; and what steps he proposes whereby to stop this extravagance?


Any undue consumption of oats by horses of this description is to be deprecated. As a matter of fact, merely the nucleus of the various hunts is kept in being; the majority of the hunt servants have already joined the Army, and the few followers consist of those ineligible for military service. Consequently, the number of horses kept for hunting has been very greatly reduced. At the close of the hunting season, which is now approaching, a large number of these horses will be utilised in work of greater national importance.


Is he aware that many hunts have been arranged for the month of March and can the hon. Gentleman see his way to prohibit them altogether during the War period?


No, Sir. I cannot believe that such a course would be in the best interests of the Army.


In view of the hon. Gentleman's statement that these horses are going to be used for Army work, why not use them during the hunting season?


It is recognised that hunting keeps these horses in condition, and they are kept available to supply a reserve of horses for the Army.


Is the hon. Gentleman aware that most of the horses referred to have been rejected by the Army authorities?


I believe that is so.

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