In this Act—
The expression "occupier" means, in the case of land not occupied by any tenant or other person, the owner of the land.
The expression "land" includes any buildings and any other erection on land, and any sewer, drain or culvert in land.
I beg to move, at the end, to add the words, "The expression `mice' does not include dor-mice, wood-mice, harvest-mice, or shrew-mice."
540 I may explain that this is a naturalist Amendment, and, although a very small point, has behind it considerable strength and influence. These are harmless but useful species of mice, and it would be a pity to include them in the general denomination which is extended by the Bill to their more criminal relatives. The strongest case may be made for shrew-mice, I understand. I am informed by those more intimately acquainted with its habits than I am that a shrew-mouse is a positive friend of man, and helps us by consuming grubs and worms. The other species are simply species of interest to natural historians and scientific men. They do no harm, and it would be a pity to exterminate them. In our youth we have all learnt from the dor-mouse lessons of repose and contentment which serve us in good stead in later years. The wood-mouse is a distinct species, and the harvest-mouse is on the same lines as the wood-mouse, being of a species which does no harm. There is no protection asked. It is only a question of removing from the occupier the obligation actively to exterminate them.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
I have had no notice of this Amendment, and I have not studied the question, but I am informed that if we left out all these various kinds of mice, there would be no mice left to exterminate, and in that case the best plan would be for my hon. and gallant Friend to move to leave out mice altogether. Although they may be harmless to human beings, undoubtedly they consume a great deal of human food, and it is for that reason we think they ought to be included. I certainly could not accept the Amendment now. If on Report stage it is proved that these animals do not really consume a vast amount of human food, and if there are any other mice left besides those in the categories named, I will consider the question.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.