§ 34. Mr. RENNIE SMITH
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware that, owing to there being no humane killer on board the cattle ship "Manchester Producer," attempts were made to kill the animals by repeated blows on the head with a small hammer, and that the cattle went down under the blows but stumbled up again; and whether he will make regulations compelling all cattle ships to carry humane killers?
I am informed that the "Manchester Producer" did not carry a humane killer, but the captain was provided with a revolver for the purpose of killing any animals which it might be necessary to slaughter on the voyage. Under the weather conditions prevailing it was impossible to use a revolver without danger, nor could a humane killer, which is in effect a pistol, 1207 have been employed. The storm met by the "Manchester Producer" was of exceptional severity and the losses of cattle in consequence were without precedent. Since 1910 approximately 850,000 cattle have been carried across the Atlantic with a total loss of 1,705, or approximately two per thousand. Exceptional as the circumstances may have been, they suggest that the conditions under which cattle are brought across the Atlantic are not entirely satisfactory, and I am instituting an inquiry into the Regulations governing the trade.
§ Mr. BUXTON
Even without waiting for a prolonged inquiry, and in view of the liability to very serious breakages of the barriers, would it not be reasonable forthwith to insist that humane killers should be carried?
I understand that the liners concerned do carry humane killers, but as a matter of fact in this case a revolver would have been equally humane. The difficulty is that when the ship is in a very heavy sea, out of control, and water breaking over the decks it is impossible to secure the animals. The crew cannot get the necessary foothold to use any method of slaughter.
§ Mr. BUXTON
Yes; but is it not the case that on this occasion the complaint is that the humane killers were not to hand or they would have been used? As we know, they are much safer to use than a revolver.
My information is that the conditions were such that humane killers could not have been used. It. is absolutely necessary to secure the animals.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us whether it would be possible to use the ordinary mediæval system of the hammer when they could not use the humane killer?
It was not a question of the mediæval system of the hammer: it was a question of using the revolver.
§ Sir JOSEPH NALL
Would the right hon. Gentleman have regard to the great difficulties under which the crew laboured in view of the conditions indicated?
Yes, while I am as anxious as any one to avoid suffering, I must remind the House that this was the same storm in which the "Antinoe" was lost, and that human beings were unavoidably put to even greater sufferings than those of the animals.