HC Deb 21 March 1919 vol 113 cc2455-60

Order for Second Reading read.


I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a second time."

In the last Parliament this Bill passed its Second Reading on the first occasion without any opposition, and on the second occasion by a majority of forty-two The object of the Bill—


On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker. May I ask why the War Cabinet is not represented in connection with this important question?


The object of the Bill is to prevent experiments upon dogs. It has no other object. I am bringing in this Bill because of the position which dogs occupy as against other animals. I should like to remind the House that a Royal Commission reported some six or seven years ago upon vivisection. In their Report the Commissioners say: The representations made to us for the complete exemption of any class of animal from all experiments under the Act has been strongest in the case of dogs. They went on to say: In view of the variety of practice and the divergence of opinion as to the necessity of em- ploying dogs for experimentation and demonstration, we find some difficulty in deciding upon this important question. Some of us regard the provisions of the existing law as sufficient. Some of us would prefer that in the case both of experimentation and demonstration the further protection given to horses, asses, and mules"— for there is such at present— should be extended to dogs, while some of us would exclude the use of dogs altogether. Lord Lambourne, who was a member of the Commission, speaking at the Westminster Palace Hotel after the publication of the Report, said: I can tell you all by what a narrow majority the cause of the dog's exemption was lost on the Royal Commission. It was lost by the very, very narrowest majority possible, and if my friend Tomkinson—(the late Mr. J. Tomkinson, M.P.)—had been alive, I think that one of our recommendations would have been in favour of the exemption of dogs. The object is so simple and the issue so clear, that I think I can finish my speech recommending the Bill by reading an extract from a speech made by a very much more eloquent man than I am: The best friend a man has in the world may turn against him and become his enemy. His son or daughter that he has reared with loving care may prove ungrateful. Those who are nearest and dearest to us, those whom we trust with our happiness and our good name may become traitors to their faith. The money that a man has he may lose. It flies away from him perhaps when he needs it most. A man's reputation may be sacrificed in a moment of ill-considered action. The people who are prone to fall on their knees to do us honour when success is with us may be the first to throw the stone of malice when failure settles its cloud upon our heads. The one absolutely unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous, is his dog. A man's dog stands by him in prosperity and poverty, in health and in sickness. He will sleep on the cold ground where the wintry winds blow and the snow drives fiercely if only he may be near his master's side. He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer. He will lick the wounds that come in encounter with the roughness of the world. He guards the sleep of his pauper master as if he were a prince. When all other friends desert, he remains. When riches take winds, am reputation falls to pieces, he is as constant in his love as the sun in its journeys through the heavens.


We have just been discussing a Bill asking for a chance for men. We have not received that amount of consideration to which we thought we were entitled considering the importance of the subject. We are not going to return good for evil against those hon. Gentlemen who marched into the Division Lobby against giving the man his chance. We are going to support the Dogs Bill in order that the dogs may at least get a dog's chance as compared with the poor chance which the unemployed members of the class to which we belong have been denied by the vote that has just been given. The right hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London is very keen on dogs. I only wish that he would express the same amount of sympathy when we ask him to deal with the ordinary vicissitudes of life to which some people who cannot afford even to keep dogs have in life. You have to pay 7s. 6d. a year for the privilege of keeping a dog. A very large number of people in this country in the past, and in the present, unfortunately have not been, or are, able to afford the luxury of a dog. A large number of them have never been able yet to spend as much upon the maintenance of their children, because of their lack of economic opportunities, as some hon. and right hon. Members of this House have been able to spend upon the weekly maintenance of their dogs. We are against cruelty expressed against either dogs or human beings. We cannot, however, understand the philosophy which expends itself upon dogs and forgets the suffering of humanity. I listened with very great attention to the hon. Baronet when he made that quotation, and it reminded me of another, which is, "The more I see of man, the more I love my dog," and the more I see of some hon. Members of this House, the more I can understand their sympathy for the dog. We want, if we can, to support the abolition of cruelty, whether exercised against a dumb animal or against those inarticulate people who cannot speak for themselves. The average workman has been inarticulate up to now, and he has been neglected, but if he could only bark and bite like a dog he would have got a good deal more consideration from some Members of this House. We do not think it is right, even in the interest of science, to experiment on those who are not able to protest against the injuries inflicted upon them. Although vivisection and scientific research may be necessary, we think it ought not to be imposed upon those least able to help themselves, and it ought not to be imposed without strict investigation as to its absolute necessity. Therefore, on broad, humanitarian grounds, just as we support the bottom dog in every case, we support the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues the dogs.


The hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Lieutenant-Colonel Guinness) said the other night that he seized the opportunity of speaking because it gave him great pleasure for once to be able to agree with the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood). It gives me great pleasure now to find myself even for once on the same side as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury). A few years ago it was the custom to have performing animals on the stage, which used to give pleasure to people, but gradually this has died out because a feeling grew up that there seemed to be a certain amount of cruelty in the training of those animals. This shows that public opinion has gone in the direction of kindness towards animals at all times. Most hon. Members of this House, and most women folk probably have a dog, or have had a dog, and each dog has added greatly to the happiness of their lives. Since we would never desire that a dog to whom one has looked almost as a friend, who could almost talk, to go through the cruelty of vivisection, we desire that all dogs should not be subjected to this cruelty, and I have great pleasure in supporting this Bill.

The remaining Order was read, and postponed.

Whereupon Mr. SPEAKER adjourned the House, without Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No. 3.

Adjourned at Ten minutes before Four o'clock.