§ Mr. MACQUISTEN
I beg to move, in page 1, line 6, after the word "swine," to insert the words "sheep or calves under three months old."
This is a Bill which seriously affects one of the most vital things in this country, and there is a great division of opinion upon it. The trade concerned is, to a very large extent, against the provisions of the Bill. I have here a memorial by the Scottish Chamber of Agriculture, the National Farmers' Union of Scotland, the Sheep Exporters' Association. the Scottish Meat Traders' Association, the Edinburgh Master Butchers' Association, the Scottish Federation of Meat Traders' Associations (incorporated), the Glasgow Wholesale Meat Salesmen's Association, the Glasgow United Fleshers' Society, the Glasgow Retail Fleshers' Society and the Cheviot Sheep Society. I am addressing myself mainly to the question of the inclusion of sheep in this 1934 Bill, though I have also included in my Amendment young calves, because there is the same difficulty in dealing with them as there is in dealing with sheep. There are 1,250,000 young hill lambs slaughtered and sent to England from Scotland throughout the year, and to the men who kill these animals, it is a matter of their daily bread. They know what they are about, and they are opposed to this Bill.
When one realises that in a busy 24 hours a man may have to fire anything from 500 to 1,000 shots, it is bound to be a great and continuous shock to the slaughterer's nervous system, and it is liable to lead some time or other to serious injury to him. There is no use talking about laboratory experiments with a few score sheep, about which we hear so much. I am talking of the men who are in the trade and who know the business. When you realise the bad effects it may have on the slaughterer, who is a working man, to have this continuous concussion going on, I think you will realise on which side the balance of humanity is weighted. It is a very hard task that you are gutting up to these men, and I submit that, although this Bill professes to be urged in the interests of humanity, you are asking something that it is not very humane to do. Even in regard to the animal itself, there may be more risk of pain and suffering than by the ordinary methods of slaughter. I think the people who promote this Bill are not themselves very familiar with the habits and practices of dumb animals. They might not know that a sheep, above all animals, is a very difficult animal to keep stationary in order to fire a shot at its head, whereas, when it is held and the knife is used, one man can manage it. It will always take two men to operate this thing, however, [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] Well, try it.
§ Mr. MACQUISTEN
When I was a boy it used to be the habit to buy so many sheep, and I used to look after them and have the care of them, and I made them my friends. They all answered to their names. I had a number of little lambs, and I had them so tame that they answered to their names and 1935 followed me about, and, when the demand came periodically to slaughter them, I was asked, after a few occasions, if I would not catch the lambs for them. I used to say, "No," because it seemed to me to be a treacherous thing to do, but they pointed out to me that to chase them with a dog and terrify them before catching them and, then killing them was far more inhumane than for me to catch them. So I used to do it regularly. I saw the animal killed, and it was killed without any trouble and without any pain, as far as I could see. I was very fond of these animals. In my younger years, I used to shed tears of pity about them. I have always been an exceedingly humane man, all my life, and more humane than those who promote this Bill. I have always been fond of dumb animals and made them my friends. There are hardly any animals in this country that I have not made my friends. I have had at different times ferrets, rabbits, a tame hawk, guinea pigs, and all sorts of animals.
§ Mr. MACQUISTEN
I have not seen a sheep killed by a humane killer, and I hope I never shall. I have here a beautiful picture, in which you see the animal standing quietly. It has to be tied up and laid on a stool and held. Is not that a far more terrifying thing than keeping it between your knees to cut its throat? It is the same with the pig, of which I have another picture. It is far too plain, and it was taken apparently when no hon. Member knew anything about pigs. Look at it. Do you imagine that any pig stands quietly and lets people take it by the ear and put a pistol to its head? Of course not. It grunts, and away it goes squealing. No pig will allow you to hold it by the ear, unless it is a pig out of a circus. This is either a composite picture or a very unusual picture altogether, and these a-re the sort of childish things with which this House is being treated. I am surprised that the Iamb is not standing quietly waiting to be shot. It appears to be either tied up or stunned, because it appears to be half dead already. I say that it is going to be a great hardship on these people, whose daily bread it is. This is a conflict affecting people's daily bread, and 1936 there is the daily bread of other people involved in the promotion of this Bill.
The firing of a bullet into a, sheep's head is always liable to error. If a man is firing from 500 to 1,000 shots a day, the time will come when he will make a miss, and somebody will be hurt. There are cases where burghs have made bye-laws, as they have power to do, but I understand, from a memorial which I have here, that there are no cases in which these by-laws have been extended to cover sheep. The memorial says:There is no practice or experience in Scotland to warrant the inclusion of sheep in the present Bill. On the contrary, several corporations and numerous private individuals have experimented with mechanical weapons on sheep and satisfied themselves that they are not efficient or satisfactory.It would be quite possible to kill a few sheep by a mechanical killer, but when you get to the wholesale business, it is dangerous, and, moreover, it is costly. You need special men, who require some training. The ordinary slaughterman does not want it, and the cost would be very material. The promoters of the Bill say that it would cost 1d. a sheep, and the opponents of the Bill say that it would cost 3d. a sheep. Suppose we divide it and say it is 2d. a sheep. When we get into millions of sheep that is a heavy burden on the industry, and the export trade from Scotland, says the memorial,is conducted on a small margin of profit and is in keen competition with imports from overseas.You have also this to consider, that if you damage a sheep's head by firing a bullet into its brain, in the first place you are liable to cause blood splash, and you get a sort of bloody mutton that will not sell well, and in the next place you smash its brain. You will have to take the heads off and pack them, and they will be much more liable to putrefaction. You will also have this difficulty, that you will have to behead the animal for greater security in keeping, and when you have it in the butcher's shop, you will have no means of distinction between Scotch mutton and foreign imported mutton.The disadvantages would be accentuated in dealing with small hill lambs, which now form a large part of the sheep trade. Hundreds of thousands of these lambs, weighing from 23 to 25 lbs. are killed be- 1937 tween August and October yearly. They are restless little animals with small heads, and to kill them with a mechanical weapon under satisfactory conditions would be impossible.These are the words of skilled gentlemen representative of these agricultural industries. They have no interest in humanity; their one idea is to get on with the business with as little pain and suffering as possible, and with as little cost as possible, because that falls on the consumers. After all, animals are killed for the benefit of the people. The object is to provide good, sound food at as cheap a. rate as possible, and the people who put obstacles in the way of that are not humane people. The Glasgow Corporation were the very first authorities to get power to use the humane killer quite independently of the meat trade, and probably no corporation in Scotland has had a wider experience. They have power to impose it on all animals, but they have never applied it to sheep, because they know it is unworkable on sheep. The slaughtermen, as I have said, are entirely opposed to it. The memorial says that the workers are opposed to the use of these weapons.
§ Mr. MACQUISTEN
It is a memorial to the Secretary of State for Scotland from the Scottish Chamber of Agriculture, the National Farmers' Union of Scotland, the Sheep Exporters' Association, the Scottish Meat Traders.' Association and other associations—all people interested in the trade. They are the people who really know. I want to make this appeal to the Scottish Members. Why is it that this Bill is being foisted! on Scotland and not on England? Why not have a Bill for the whole country? Do not victimise Scotland. Fancy the absurdity of just crossing the Border to find that in Carlisle the practice does not obtain.
§ Mr. MACQUISTEN
But they have not used it for sheep. When the humane killer was introduced, the original intention was to secure safety for the men. Nobody eats oxen, but they do eat calves' 1938 head, which, with brain sauce, is one of the best dishes in this House, and I always take it. But no one would want to eat calves' head if the brains were destroyed by a bullet; therefore, it is damaging the food of the people. I do want Scottish Members to realise that we are being victimised by a society which is mainly an English society. When this Bill first came before the House, I paid very little attention to it, but when exaggerated speeches were made, I began to think there was something wrong, and I asked what people were at the back of these proposals? I have since discovered that it is the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. That Society has done a great deal of good, and has interpreted the view of the Anglo-Saxon people, which is kindness to animals. But, like all these organisations, it has to go on, and it must have a hare to chase to interest subscribers, and that is why they are going to deal with England and Scotland at different times.
I suggest to the promoters of the Bill that they should introduce one Bill applicable to the whole country. I am very much surprised that the hon. and gallant Member for Dumfries (Brigadier-General Charteris), representing as he does a sheep country, should bring in a Bill of this sort which is bound to injure his own constituency. I am sure that all sheep farmers throughout the country are opposed to it. I ask the promoters of the Bill not to act as if they were the Scottish Office, and penalise Scotland first. Let the people who are promoting this Measure make it one for all the country, at any rate, and then we shall have equality. Do not make costly experiments which will make it difficult for the industry. Think of all the money that has been spent on these experiments! The real point is to get testimony like that in this memorial, which is presented by people who are engaged in the business. It is for Scottish Members to realise that their constituents will not thank them for passing a Measure which will have detrimental effects upon one of the leading industries in Scotland, while the English are being carefully left alone. When it comes to killing animals for the food of the people, there is very little choice with regard to humanity. There is no real difference whether the animals are killed by knife or hammer.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. and learned Member is introducing into his speech a great deal that is not in his Amendment on the Paper. He is making something in the nature of a Second Reading speech.
§ Mr. MACQUISTEN
I just wanted to point out that, in the matter of cruelty, there is no particular choice between the one and the other, and that this Bill will very seriously affect the farming industry in Scotland. They are the people who ought to be listened to, and not those who really cannot justify this on solid grounds of humanity, or of the interests of the food supplies of the people.
§ Brigadier-General CHARTERIS
I am sorry that on this occasion, almost for the first time, I should find myself in opposition to the hon. and learned Member for Argyllshire (Mr. Macquisten). His speeches are always witty, and always amuse the House in the way that one would expect from the Don Quixote of our Debates who is often tilting at windmills. His speech makes two things clear. The lack of attention which he confesses that he gave to the Bill when it was introduced has not ceased; and he has obviously not studied the literature that has been generously provided, nor taken the trouble to investigate the actual facts of the slaughtering of animals, either in England or Scotland. When the hon. and learned Gentleman talks about sheep standing between the knees of the slaughterers and having their throats cut, one wonders that the hon. and learned Member should be so ignorant of what is the custom in the slaughter-houses in Scotland. He talks about pigs being held by the ear and having their throats cut; I am aware that there is a picture in one of the numerous pamphlets issued by a society with which I have no connection, but, when he talks of that as a custom perhaps to be introduced in the slaughterhouses of Glasgow, I can only say that my knowledge of what is happening in Glasgow is greater than that of the hon. and learned Member. The Amendment proposes to exclude sheep and calves. The main question is that of sheep, and what are the main arguments that have been advanced in favour of the Amendment by the hon. and learned Gentleman? 1940 The Seconder advanced no arguments. The only arguments were that there is not any humanity in the mechanical killer; that there may be a disturbance of trade and an extra imposition on the industry, and that Scotland may be put at a disadvantage in comparison with England. I will deal in no great length but in some little detail with each of these contentions.
Let us take, first, the humanitarian argument, whether or not there is extra pain in the use of the knife for slaughter than by the mechanically actuated implement which is known as the humane killer. When the Bill was in Committee, a deputation came to the House of Commons, representing the meat trade, and addressed Members, not only of my own party, but also of the other parties, and they said, with apparently great sincerity, that the whole objection to the inclusion of sheep was that of humanity. They said that they would pass any loss involved, either on to the supplier of the sheep to the slaughter-houses, the farmer on the one hand, or to the consumer on the other. Because that was their main objection, I took great pains to find out what substance there was in the arguments for and against the humane killer from the humanitarian point of view. My first proposal was that there should be an experiment on a thousand animals in Glasgow. I should like to have seen that experiment, and I did all that I could to have it carried out. It was not carried out, because the proposals from Glasgow were made at such a late hour that it was impossible to have the experiment on a day that Glasgow first suggested, the 9th April. I offered any other day at the end of May or the beginning of June, and ultimately there was an experiment, but on a much smaller scale than I wished to have. The result of that experiment convinced me, from actual though unscientific observation, that on the humanitarian side of the question there was undoubtedly a balance strongly in favour of the mechanically actuated instrument. That was not by any means conclusive.
Subsequently, on the 14th June, there was an experiment at Edinburgh conducted at the instance of the Chief Veterinary Officer of Edinburgh and attended by two independent scientists of Edinburgh, both men of high scientific 1941 attainments. They made the most carefully controlled experiment with the knife and the mechanically operated instrument on 60 animals. Members of the House have had the result of the experiment, but in case there may be any Member who has not had time to peruse it, I will summarise the result. These two scientific gentlemen, after a controlled experiment—and they were not in any way concerned either in the industry or, as far as I know, with any of the numerous humanitarian societies—examined this question purely from the scientific point of view. They made the decisive and conclusive recommendation that, from the humanitarian point of view the humane killer is superior to the knife. They added to that a scientific statement of the pain involved, and they said that from the time when the first incision of the skin is made by the bullet from the captive bolt of the mechanically contrived instrument, there elapses no more than four-fifths of a second until complete unconsciousness supervenes. With the knife the time was 33⅕ seconds. This means that with the humane killer unconsciousness is, for all intents and purposes, instantaneous. One may fairly say that 32⅕ seconds is the time which may be taken by an inefficient dentist in extracting from one's mouth a difficult tooth without the use of a local anæsthetic. There can be no doubt, from the humanitarian point of view, that the experiment conducted in Edinburgh proved conclusively that there can be no possible doubt that the mechanically impelled humane killer is superior to the knife in every respect.
May I turn to the utilitarian point of view, to the argument which is advanced that, by the use of the humane killer, we shall put in the way of the trade financial and industrial difficulties which should outweigh all humanitarian considerations. I am no humanitarian fanatic, and I can realise that there may be considerations in modern life where, because of competition, it may be necessary to abandon for economic reasons a course which may be advocated by humanity. That is in no way the case which we are considering at present. Let us take the question of cost involved in the actual slaughtering. At the Glasgow experiment I took occasion to find out from the authorities of the slaughterhouse what would be the expenditure if 1942 no extra establishment were involved to meet the maximum pressure to which that slaughter-house would be put under the most extreme conditions, and I was told that six men, in addition to the present staff, would be able to kill all the animals that might be brought into the slaughter-house, and, as there would be additional men, there would be no loss of time. I do not say that it would be necessary to have that particular organisation. I have taken the worst possible case. The pay of those six men would be £3 10s. a week each, but I have calculated on a wage of £3 15s., to be safe. Six men at £3 15s. a week for 52 weeks would be round about £1,200 a year. I have the actual figure here, and it is £1,174. That is the maximum number which would be required for any one day at the greatest pressure. If you add to that figure of £1,174 the sum of £500 to represent incidental costs—and I do not think they would be anything like that—you will get a figure not far from £1,750. I would add to that another £250 to make my figures as conservative as possible. That gives a figure of £2,000 a year as the maximum cost involved as regards sheep slaughtered at the Glasgow slaughter-house.
Hon. M embers may say that is not the same figure as appears in the memorandum issued in connection with the Glasgow case, which puts the cost at £3,000, but I am told that this figure includes the cost of the slaughter of all animals, Lot only sheep, because already in Glasgow the humane killer is used for the larger animals. But to get back to the figure of £2,000. The total number of sheep killed in Glasgow in a year is 400,000. If you apply those figures to one another you will find that the extra cost per sheep cannot under any circumstances be more than slightly in excess of one penny. Let us apply that cost of 1d. per sheep to the actual income derived from the sheep in the market. In the London market sheep fetch, approximately, and on the average, not less than something like £3 each. The cost, therefore, is a penny on an animal which is sold, including the offal and everything else, for about £3. Very elaborate calculations which have been made show that if the whole of the cost of the use of the humane killer for every animal in England and Scotland were distributed amongst the whole population 1943 the total cost could not exceed one farthing per head of the population in the year.
I am quite aware that the calculations which had been submitted with regard to Glasgow do not exhaust the financial aspects of the case. The different conditions which operate in different areas must obviously make a difference in the calculation of costs, but I submit the figures in regard to Glasgow because, so far as I am aware, most of the opposition from the trade has come from Glasgow. Speaking from my own knowledge, and I have no doubt it can be confirmed by the Scottish Office, I think it is remarkable that neither the Corporations of Edinburgh nor Glasgow, nor, so far as I know, any of the great corporations, have sent petitions to the Scottish Office—certainly not to me—protesting against the inclusion of sheep in the Bill. The objections are confined to the trade. Quite obviously the corporations are not going to suffer in any way financially by reason of the slightly extra cost on the slaughter of the sheep. Can the farmer suffer? The hon. Member who moved this Amendment argued that whatever the extra cost involved in the slaughter of sheep in the slaughterhouse it would be passed on to the farmer, whether it were 1d. or 6d. I venture to disagree. As regards the butchers' side of the case—I am not arguing for the moment about the export trade—it is entirely impossible for the trade to pass it on to the farmers. The price the farmer gets for his sheep is governed by economic forces. It is not in the power of the butcher to say "I will pay you ld. less for your sheep because it will cost 1d. more to slaughter."
I will turn now to the export trade. Here, I admit at once, is to be found the only argument against this Bill to which I think the House need give any serious consideration. The argument is that during the flush of lambs in the late autumn, when they are exported from Scotland to England, if there is an extra charge it will place the Scottish farmer and the Scottish dealer at a disadvantage with his English confrère in the markets in England. Extreme opponents of the Measure put the figure at. 3d. I say at once that if 1944 I believed that figure were correct, and if I believed that the Scottish farmer would suffer a disability of 3d., I should have to give very careful consideration as to whether it would not be desirable to make this Bill and the English Bill operate simultaneously. But as far as I can make out from my investigations among those engaged in the trade, that will not be the case. One of the best informed men engaged in the trade stated in my presence this morning or last night that any estimate of the cost involved is at best only an estimate. The maximum figure he quoted in his statement to me was 4d. As far as we can see, the maximum can be nothing like that.
§ Brigadier-General CHARTERIS
He mentioned 4d. to me. He put it at from 2d. to 4d., and we took the middle figure. He gave 4d. as the maximum. If that figure of 3d. is to be accepted it would appear that there might be some slight balance of argument in favour of deferring this measure until we could get simultaneous legislation for England. As far as one can judge, the passage of this Bill, if it is to be passed to-day, as I hope it will be, will in all probability be followed by the passage of the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman on the Opposition front bench extending similar provisions to England. At any rate, I very much hope that will be the case, both in the interests of humanity and also because I should dislike to have at the back of my mind the idea that there might be some inequality which would place the Scottish industry at a disadvantage in competition with the English.
I think I have covered most of the grounds of objection to the Bill. The argument that the nerves of the butchers are going to he disturbed by the constant rattle of musketry if these animals are slaughtered by the humane killer need not, I think, be treated seriously. I think the nerves of butchers are made of sterner stuff.
§ Brigadier-General CHARTERIS
I only mentioned that in order to reply to what has been said. Another objection raises 1945 the question of whether the carcase and the head will not be damaged. On the question of the carcase, there are at the present moment 268 corporations in England which have passed by-laws requiring sheep to be killed by the humane killer, and I have figures which prove to me conclusively that the number of sheep slaughtered there is not less than 200,000. Even more remarkable than that, I have in my hand testimonials from a very large number of butchers using the humane killer who distinctly testify that the carcase of the animals is not in any way damaged.
Now let us turn to the question of the head; and I think I shall be within the Rules of Order in dealing with the elusive bluebottle which the hon. and learned Member for Argyll said would settle on the brains of the animal. The opponents of this Bill have urged one objection after another against it, and as fast as conclusive proof is brought to dispose of any one objection they produce another. The elusive bluebottle was brought to my attention yesterday for the first time, and I have not, therefore, had an opportunity of finding out whether the bluebottle which is presumed to perch on the brain instead of on the blood really has a preference for a brain diet or for a blood diet. I would, however, point out that the time when we get the flush of lambs in Scotland is October, and my observations lead me to say that in October there are not many bluebottles in Scotland. I have spent many years abroad, and possibly my knowledge of the bluebottle is pretty extensive, but I have never yet observed a bluebottle showing a preference for any form of diet except blood. I think we may reject the idea that there is going to be any damage done to the carcase when it is killed by the humane killer. We also have evidence showing that the heads of the animals destroyed by the humane killer sell as readily as those killed by the other method.
§ Mr. MACQUISTEN
In England, it is usual to have the sheep's head without the brains, and in Scotland the brains are always used.
I do not think the arguments which have been used by the hon. and learned Member 1946 for Argyllshire are such as should influence the House to such an extent as to induce hon. Members to omit sheep from the Bill. Reference has been made to the practice in Glasgow, and it has been said that it was rather remarkable that the Glasgow Corporation had not introduced sheep under the Provisional Order which they have obtained. May I point out that that Order is not yet in force in Glasgow. In the interests of humanity, I think it is desirable that we should enforce the use of the humane slaughterer in the case of sheep. I do not believe there is any commercial difficulty about taking this course, aid I believe that the passage of this Bill will result in the passage of a similar Dill for England, with sheep included within a reasonable time. I hope the House of Commons will pass this Bill to-day and I commend to the House the importance of retaining in this Bill a provision providing for the slaughter of sheep by the humane killer.
§ 12.0 n.
§ Mr. MACPHERSON
The hon. and gallant Member for Dumfries (Brigadier-General Charteris) has furnished a complete answer to the speech made by the hon. and learned Member for Argyllshire (Mr. Macquisten), and consequently it will not be necessary for me to add much to what has already been said. I do not wish on this occasion to give a silent vote. Like the hon. and learned Member for Argyllshire, I represent an agricultural constituency, but, on this occasion, I reserve to myself the right to exercise my own judgment. I understood the hon. and learned Member for Argyllshire to say that, he would have been willing to support this Measure in toto had it been applied to England as well. The only justification for the Amendment put forward by the hon. and learned Member for Argyllshire is that the Bill does not apply to England. That does not appear to me to be sufficient justification to impede the progress of a Bill for Scotland which is being put forward in the interests of humanity. The Amendment we are discussing would destroy the Bill, and I do not think there is a single hon. Member of this House who would like to see the Bill destroyed. I shall oppose the Amendment, and, if necessary, I shall go into the Division Lobby against it.
§ Dr. DRUMMOND SHIELS
If the House adopts the Amendment, it will have a very serious effect upon the Bill. The hon. and learned Member for Argyllshire (Mr. Macquisten) is always entertaining, and I enjoy listening to his speeches, but I must confess that I have never heard him less convincing than he was to-day. The fact that he had to admit that he had never seen a sheep killed by the humane killer was very damaging to his case. To my mind, sheep require the use of the humane killer almost more than any other animal. The somewhat complicated operation of slaughtering sheep at the present time undoubtedly gives many opportunities for inflicting pain, and I think, if any animals deserve to have the benefit of a humane killer they are sheep. The promoters of this Bill, in deference to representations which have been made to them, have already consented to exclude swine from the Bill. I am very sorry that that has been done, and I confess that I never heard any good reason for it. It was done because it was the desire of the promoters to meet what was supposed to be a good case from the commercial point of view for the exclusion of swine.
The promoters have also met the opposition in the very fairest way in another respect. During the Committee stage there was a difference of opinion as to the inclusion or exclusion of sheep. The promoters, thereupon, in conjunction with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, arranged for two demonstrations with the humane killer in Glasgow and in Edinburgh. I would like to pay my tribute to the valuable work done by the humane slaughter expert, Mr. Paddison, of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Professor Dryerre, one of the two judges of the demonstration in Edinburgh, is an old teacher of mine. He is a man of high scientific attainments, and he gave a most emphatic declaration as to the immediate loss of sensibility after the use of the humane killer. He says that the loss of sensibility occurs 33 seconds later by the ordinary method. It must be remembered also that in these two experiments in Glasgow and Edinburgh, expert slaughterers were employed, and we know that many sheep are killed by men and boys who are much less expert. In such cases the time that pain would en- 1948 dure would be very much longer. The promoter of this Bill has made out such a good case and has met the few objections which were raised by the hon. and learned Member for Argyllshire so effectively that I do not think it is necessary for me to say any more.
1 do hope, however, that the hon. and learned Member will withdraw his Amendment, and will realise that in this case Scotland, instead of being in the position of being the first victim, is in the position of being the pioneer, which should appeal to the ultra-Scottish sentiment of the hon. and learned Member. I hope that, looking at the matter in that light, he will withdraw the Amendment and allow us to be united on this question of the inclusion of sheep in the Bill.
§ Mr. WESTWOOD
I desire to add my appeal to those which have been made to the hon. and learned Member for Argyllshire (Mr. Macquisten) to withdraw his Amendment. I want my position in connection with the Amendment to be quite clear. If I had to cast a vote on the question of humane slaughter, my vote, undoubtedly, would be cast in its favour, but I think it is right that it should be pointed out that, of all the experiments which have been carried out, and of all the demonstrations which have been made, there has been none which could really give us a proper idea of the manner in which sheep are going to be slaughtered, particularly in South Lanarkshire, Peebles and some other counties. The best demonstration that has been given up to the present has been with 100 sheep, but in one slaughter-house in my constituency there were actually slaughtered from 400 to 500 sheep in one day in the month of August. I was rather interested in the statement of the hon. and gallant Member for Dumfries (Brigadier-General Charteris), that he had never see a bluebottle in November. I accept that, but he evidently does not know that in my constituency the slaughter of sheep and lambs for the London market begins in August, and there are bluebottles in August.
§ Mr. WESTWOOD
With kilts on them, in Scotland. I am merely pointing out 1949 that it is no argument, if these carcases are sent to market in the month of August—
§ Brigadier-General CHARTERIS
I knew, of course, that they began in August, but I thought, though I may be wrong, that the time of pressure came at the end of September and the beginning of Octobers
§ Mr. WESTWOOD
Quite so, but in my constitutency, as I have already said, the slaughter is begun in August, and goes on till March, and in one slaughterhouse alone they slaughtered last year 35,000 head of hill lamb, which is between what I may call a proper lamb and a sheep, and is the type which really gets the market so far as London is concerned. Again, no demonstration has yet been made, no experiment has been carried out, which conclusively proves to us that no danger could happen to those engaged in the slaughter-houses. The Bill does not make it clear that a captive bolt will have to be used. I think I am right in saying that the instrument will have to be licensed by the local authority, who may decide whether a captive bolt or a loose bolt shall be used, but I think it right to point out that no demonstration has yet been made under the same conditions under which sheep are slaughtered in these slaughter-houses in Peebles-shire, South Lanark, and some other areas in Scotland. With regard to the very able statement which has been sent to Members of the House by the hon. and gallant Member for Dumfries and the hon. and gallant Member for Ayr Burghs (Lieut.-Colonel Moore), the remarkable thing is that the letters in the appendix attached to that statement are written mostly by one individual, though, unless you are very careful, you are apt to think that they are from three very important individuals. I notice that a Mr. John Robertson is satisfied that the same Mr. John Robertson is satisfied that exactly the same Mr. John Robertson is satisfied with the use of the mechanical killer. There are three letters which are all from the same firm, and signed by the same individual; it is merely the dates that are different. I do not think it is quite good enough to palm off on Members of the House of Commons a thing of that kind as evidence in favour of the humane killer.
Surely, the hon. Member is aware that there are some hundreds of satisfied butchers throughout the country. I can give him their names and addresses and statements in a few minutes if he requires them.
§ Mr. WESTWOOD
I also accept that statement, but in no case are they butchers supplying the London market.
§ Mr. WESTWOOD
I submit that the same conditions have to be fulfilled as in the case of Peebles-shire and South Lanarkshire in particular. I am merely pointing out these things, not because I am hostile to the inclusion of sheep, but because I think it is fair that we should know exactly where we are in connection with this matter. Personally, I have been convinced almost at the last moment that there is more humanity in the slaughter of sheep by the use of the mechanical killer than by the knife, but I do want to protest against what appears to me to be a farce, a sham and a hypocrisy in connection with this agitation. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals sent out documents to Members of this House advocating the inclusion of sheep in this Bill, but is it not sheer hypocrisy for an organisation of that kind to interest itself in the inclusion of sheep in this Bill when they themselves absolutely refuse to take action against the cruel blood-sports that are carried on in this country? Again, while the four hon. Members whose names are on the back of the Bill are desperately anxious to save a sheep 33 seconds so far as pain is concerned, they supported the addition of 60 minutes of intense pain and agony to the miners of this country every day in the year. I submit that that is sheer canting, hypocritical humbug on the part of Members of this House to plead for humanity to animals when they refuse to give ordinary common decency and humane treatment to human beings. I think it only right, as representing a constituency which is both an agricultural and a mining constituency, to make clear to the House my detestation of the advocacy of those who, while they are so desperately anxious to save pain to four-footed animals, yet sought to impose 1951 intense pain and misery on two-footed animals of our own kind, particularly in the mines.
I sincerely hope that the hon. and learned Member for Argyllshire will withdraw his Amendment, because I realise that, if it be carried, it will really destroy the purpose of the Bill, and I believe that there is a sincere feeling in the House that, even although we have not, as a House, been prepared to give a fair deal to human beings, we at least are determined to-day to give a fair deal and fair play to animals so far as humane slaughter is concerned, and, accordingly, are prepared to include in this Bill sheep, one of the mildest and tamest of animals, which certainly goes to give us good food. In providing that good food, let us be as humane as possible so far as the slaughter of the animals is concerned.
§ Mr. BARR
I wish to go back for a moment on the history of this subject. When it came to the Committee this year, we found that swine were already excluded. That, I believe, was under an arrangement made in connection with the previous Bill. At any rate, we did not contest that as much as we should have desired, and I still think, that swine should have been included. This matter of the exclusion of sheep came forward as an afterthought. It came forward after the Measure was through Committee. While mention was made, I think, of the possible exclusion of sheep, there was nothing approaching any strong or organised body of opinion insisting on it. As was indicated by the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Dumfries (Brigadier-General Charteris) who has put forward a strong case and put it forward well, we have had deputations representing the meat traders and the Farmers' Union and so forth. We were ready to give all due weight to their opinion. I am a farmer's son, and I am inclined to do anything that I can to support anything that they bring before us. I had an open mind until these experiments were made, but I think they are quite conclusive, and that, however much we respect the opinions that were brought before us by the meat traders and the farmers, we find ourselves as humanitarians and as practical men bound to press for the inclusion of sheep. If you exclude sheep, your ex- 1952 ception is going to be far bigger than your rule. The statistics for live stock in one of these memoranda is something like 27,000,000, and 12,000,000 cattle. More than half the mutton that comes to Smithfield is from Scotland; therefore if you exclude swine, as you have done, and then exclude sheep, you are leaving a mere skeleton of a Bill which is hardly worth passing.
I differ from one remark of the hon. and gallant Gentleman, that, after all, whatever might be our humane consideration, if you found there was even a small deflection from economic results you might have to forgo your humanitarian principles in the economic interest. I believe the humanitarian instincts should always get the first place, and, if you are not true to them, you will in the end find that you are the losers in any economic sense. But the economic adverse influence is negligible and can well be disregarded in view of the large humanitarian advance that is made. We are not entering on an untried path. I think some 268 local authorities in England, under Clause 9 (b), under which they have powers, have adopted humane killers. I think I saw it stated that in 24 large cities or towns in England there are already 160,000 sheep being killed by the humane killer, and we have ample and un-answerable testimony from all parts that it is being successfully carried out. Even in Scotland, under the by-laws of the Scottish Board of Health, there are 73 local authorities and 23 county authorities practising these humane methods. Of course, one argument is that accidents are possible, and have occurred. I can well believe it, but in every new effort in human progress you have to run risks and you have to meet with accidents. With other Members last evening, I heard Sir Alan Cobham giving an account of his air trips. But a few years ago we know what absolute danger attended the mounting of an aeroplane or anything of that kind. I am surprised that there have been so few accidents in this matter and that on the whole it has been so safely carried through.
§ Mr. MACQUISTEN
Does the Hon. Member suggest that Sir Alan Cobham was compelled by legislation to fly?
§ Mr. BARR
It does not seem to me that the element of compulsion enters 1953 into it. I would give two answers to the hon. and learned Gentleman. The first is that, even with flying, you will introduce, and have introduced, and will continually introduce, by legislation methods to make flying safer than it has been. The other argument is that, whatever may be the voluntary efforts of man in the path of progress, this House has from time to time to come in with the strong hand of compulsion, so that what has been proved in a voluntary way to be carried out successfully will be, under compulsion, brought to serve the common good. It is true it is voluntary at present, but, just because it has proved so successful in a voluntary way, we are introducing the element of compulsion and applying it to Scotland as a whole instead of giving power to local authorities. That is a sufficient answer to the hon. and gallant Gentleman's interruption—[Interruption]—the hon. and learned Member. As far as our debates are concerned, he is gallant. Even in his opposition to-day he is gallant, and he is brave enough in taking up the position he has done. The suggestion has been made that we are doing for Scotland something that is not being done for England. It is not the first time Scotland has set a good example to England. To-day, we have two Bills, both of modest proportions, applicable to Scotland. Surely you will give us something—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. Member must not encourage a Second Reading Debate. We must stick to sheep and calves.
§ Mr. WRIGHT
I do not want to give a silent vote on this question. I failed to vet into the Debate yesterday against the inhuman slaughter of many of my fellow men and I should like to say a few words on behalf of this Bill. I have, perhaps, an advantage over the hon. and learned Member for Argyllshire (Mr. Macquisten) inasmuch as I have seen the humane slaughter method in force, and, in my judgment, it is absolutely conclusive. I do not think one need say very much 1954 more on the question after the very excellent speech of the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Dumfries (Brigadier-General Oharteris), with which I am in entire agreement. I was a little surprised at the hon. and learned Member for Argyllshire. He quoted evidence which he has received from various societies, but he makes a point of ignoring entirely the evidence which he has probably received on the other side.
§ Mr. WRIGHT
The hon. Member did not refer to the documents which he has probably received from the co-operative societies, and which would have been deadly from the point of view of his own argument. There is a further point with regard to the export of mutton and lamb to Smithfield. The hon. and learned Member and his colleagues, to some extent, are responsible for that, because we have over 4,500,000 people in Scotland with something like a third of them at the present time in a state of semi-starvation because they cannot afford to buy the food produced on the Scottish hills. The hon. and learned Gentleman is apparently partly responsible for that state of affairs as far as the industrial areas are concerned. If we are going to talk upon these lines, charity and justice should begin at home, and we should not trouble about the export of sheep as far as Scotland is concerned. I will conclude with this observation, that I have always regarded the man who puts his foot needlessly on a worm as a slightly inhuman being. I am entirely in favour of humanitarian principles. I have, as I have already said, and I wish to emphasise the fact, had the privilege of witnessing the humane killer at work on one day this week, and if all hon. Members here could have seen it at work they would have been absolutely convinced as to the value of the machine.
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for SCOTLAND (Major Elliot)
Before the House goes to a vote, I think that it is necessary to say a word as regards the attitude of the Government on this subject. It is a private Members' Measure, introduced by private Members and discussed by them, and the Government do not, of course, take up an official attitude 1955 upon the subject in the way of putting on the Whips. It is left to a free vote of the House. As hon. Members know, Friday is a private Members' day and it would be most injudicious for the Government to interfere with the official weight of their organisation either on one side or the other. The opinion that the Secretary of State for Scotland has on the subject and that we in the Scottish Office have has been made perfectly clear by the Secretary of State on more than one occasion, and I wish to reiterate it again at this Box this afternoon. The Bill has been before us now for some considerable time in one form or another. It was brought up a year ago and passed through the Committee stage, although it was unable on that occasion to pass through any further stages. When it was brought up again, had its Second Reading, and came before the Standing Committee on Scottish Bills, the Secretary of State for Scotland, speaking on 1st March, 1928, said:I think the opinion of the public outside is broadly in favour of progress in this matter, and I believe that to be the view of the House of Commons as a whole.—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee on Scottish Bills, 1st March, 1928, Col. 19.]It seems to me that the course of the Debate shows that the particular Amendment before the House does not meet with the approval of the majority of the Members. I am not quite certain whether the hon. and learned Member for Argyllshire (Mr. Macquisten) realises that in the terms of his Amendment it applies only to sheep as well as to calves under three months old. I do not know whether that is his intention or not, but, if that be so, the case for the vast majority of sheep has been abandoned by him altogether. I do not know whether that is the intention with which he moved the Amendment, but, as it reads now, it would leave all sheep to be slaughtered by the mechanical method except sheep under three months old. It is quite clear to us, that whether purposely or inadvertently, that that would mean that the vast majority of sheep in Scotland would, according to the hon. and learned Member's own Amendment, have to be slaughtered by use of the mechanical method.
§ Mr. MACQUISTEN
If that is the interpretation put upon it by the hon. and gallant Gentleman's department, it is not the interpretation that I put upon it. It applies only to calves and not to sheep. I could put in a comma if necessary.
§ Major ELLIOT
I do not think that the introduction of a comma will make any difference one way or the other. It says "sheep or calves under three months old," and this would be read in the Courts as meaning sheep under three months old and calves under three months old. Another point which was raised, and one of some substance, was: What is the position of Scotland as against England? Is Scotland going to be prejudiced with regard to England? We understand that similar legislation for England is to he introduced by one of the right hon. Members sitting on the Front Opposition Bench. We therefore consider this as an instalment of legislation applicable to the United Kingdom. If that be so, I see no reason, from the temper of the House this afternoon, to judge that the English Members are in any way desirous of making any reservations for themselves. If it be true that this piece of legislation is merely an instalment which will be completed and rounded off by a Measure applicable to England, it will therefore become a system of legislation applicable to the whole country. Accordingly, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland, who is prevented from attending owing to a Cabinet Meeting, has asked me to convey his regret to the House that he is not able to be here himself, asks me to say to the House that he would be opposed to the exclusion of sheep as provided for by this Amendment.
§ Mr. MACQUISTEN
It is being suggested that this Measure is an instalment of what is coming to England. If my hon. and gallant Friend, the Member for Dumfries (Brigadier-General Charteris). the promoter of the Bill, will agree that this Bill is to come into operation under the rules and resolutions of the Secretary of State for Scotland, then this Bill can wait till the English Bill comes on, and I do not see why that should not be done.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ The following Amendment stood upon the Order Paper in the name of Mr. MACQUISTEN:
In page 1, line 8, at the end, to insert the words:
Provided that the local authority may from time to time resolve that the provisions of this Act shall not apply to any class of animals for such period or periods as they think fit.
§ The LORD ADVOCATE
I beg to move, in page 1, to leave out from the word "second," in line 25, to the word "pounds" in page 2, line 2, and to insert instead thereof the words:conviction to a fine not exceeding twenty pounds or on a subsequent conviction to imprisonment for a period not exceeding sixty days or to a fine not exceeding twenty".We had considerable discussion in Committee and, indeed, we had it discussed on the previous Bill a year ago, with regard to the form of the penalties. As the Bill stands at the moment, there is a differentiation between the first and subsequent offences, and considerable discussion arose as to how far it was fair on a second offence to give a power to imprison without the option of a fine. I think that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland undertook to consider this matter further, and the result, at any rate, is the Amendment which is on the Paper, Hon. Members will see that we are only dealing here with the maximum, and what is possible, and, in considering the maximum, we want in a sense to consider the worst cases, and not the trivial cases, which latter can adequately be dealt with within the maximum. In view of the opinions that were expressed, my right hon. Friend has taken the view that it will be fairer to postpone the harder sentence until the third or subsequent conviction, and the Bill after the Amendment is inserted will, in effect, read a maximum fine of ten pounds for the first offence, a maximum fine of twenty pounds for the second offence, and, on a subsequent conviction, imprisonment—hard labour has been dropped out—not exceeding 60 days 1958 —it is 60 days instead of three months; that has also been reduced by a month—or a fine not exceeding £20. After full consideration, we think that that will not be an unreasonable maximum because the person we are most anxious to catch is the gentleman who thinks it is worth his while to go on committing a breach of the Act. We want to prevent it being worth his while to do that. I hope that the Clause with this Amendment will meet generally the views of the House.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ The LORD ADVOCATE
I beg to move, in page 2, line 28, at the end, to insert the words:( ) The provisions of this Section shall apply to any licence granted by the local authority for the purpose of the provisions of this Act, with regard to the Jewish method of slaughter.The object of the Amendment is to provide that although the Jewish method of slaughter is to be a special method provided for by Clause 7 the slaughterers who are operating the Jewish method of slaughter, and who are selected primarily by the Chef Rabbi, shall also require to pass the qualifications of the local authorities. This new Sub-section provides for that necessity.
§ Captain FOXCROFT
In regard to the Jewish method of slaughter hon. Members will note that under Clause 7 the Chief Rabbi is to be the sole authority for licensing the Jewish slaughterers. I am not a Jew and I do not know a great deal about Jews but I had a talk with a Rabbi yesterday and he informed me that the Chief Rabbi does not represent all the Jews. There are two wings besides that section of Jews represented by the Chief Rabbi; there is the right wing and the left wing, each of which elects a Chief Rabbi to represent itself. I have been wondering whether it would be possible in another place to insert in place of the words "the Chief Rabbi" the words "a Chief Rabbi," which would then include not only Dr. Hertz, the present Chief Rabbi, but also the Chief Rabbis who represent the right wing and the left wing of the Jewish religion, who are not at present actually represented by the Chief Rabbi.
§ Brigadier-General CHARTERIS
I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Amendment, in line 3, to leave out 1959 the word "method" and to insert instead thereof the words "and Mohammedan methods."
The purpose of this Amendment to the proposed Amendment is primarily to meet the case of shipping which comes into our ports manned by Mohammedan crews. The Mohammedan religion does not, I understand, lay down so stringently—as does the Jewish religion, in regard to food consumed by Jews—that the food consumed by Mohammedans must be slaughtered actually by a Mohammedan, but it does lay down that the food shall be prepared by method prescribed by the Koran, and the only way of ensuring that is to say that it shall be prepared by a Mohammedan. This is an agreed Amendment between the shipping community, who brought to the notice of the Scottish Office and the promoters of the Bill the position of their Lascar crews, and it has also been agreed to by all the corporations concerned in the ports where these particular ships come. Food may be slaughtered on the ship by Mohammedans, but that does not come under the Act. In certain ports it is impossible for the food to be slaughtered on the ships, and in regard to the crews who are waiting for another ship and have to be on shore it is proposed to ask the local authorities to licence a Mohammedan to slaughter for the Mohammedans. The shipping community have, I understand, requested that, as far as possible, the man who is to receive the licence should he a member of the crew. That is not actually included in the wording of our Amendment but there is no reason to anticipate, nor is it the intention, that the custom which obtains in any of the ports as regards a partiular Mohammedan who does slaughter for the Mohammedans should be departed from in any way. That is to say that in any port where the slaughterer has been a member of the crew, in all probability he will continue as the slaughterer under the licence of the local authority, when the Act comes into operation.
§ Mr. LOUGHER
I beg to second the Amendment to the proposed Amendment. This provision is to meet the cases of Mohammedans who come to Scottish ports on board ship. I do not think there are a large number of permanent resident Mohammedans in Scotland but, certainly, 1960 there is a considerable floating population of Mohammedans. The number of Lascars who come into the ports of Glasgow, Leith and Dundee total very many thousands during a year. I think the average number of Lascars in port is about 600 to 800 per day in Glasgow and about 100 per day in Leith, and it is necessary to make some special provision for them. I do not think there can be any objection to our doing that. It would be a very serious matter if provisions were not made in this respect, because it would deprive the Lascar crews from having their food prepared in the manner to which they have been accustomed, and it would not tend to a smooth working of the Act. If and when the Act becomes law, and I hope it will pass, we want to see it work effectively and smoothly. On these grounds, I hope the House will agree to the Amendment to the proposed Amendment.
§ The LORD ADVOCATE
My right hon. Friend was approached, after the Committee stage, by the shipowners, who brought this point before him, and he was satisfied that it was a point that ought to be met. The same provision applies here as to the Clause which applies to the Jewish methods. Therefore, we are prepared to ask the House to accept the Amendment to the proposed Amendment. The slaughterers in this ease, as in the case of the Jewish slaughterers, will require the licence of the local authority.
§ Dr. SHIELS
I do riot like this Amendment to the proposed Amendment, and I am sorry that it has been found necessary to move it. There was no question in regard to the Jewish method of slaughter, but I do not want to increase the number of these exceptions. Although I am not familiar with the details of the Mohammedan method of slaughter, I understand that it means cutting the throat in a very crude sort of way. I should like to know whether this crude method of killing is to be preceded by stunning with a mechanical killer in the same way as in the case we have just considered. While we are sympathetic with any special case of this kind we must be careful not to make too many exceptions, and they should not be made unless they are absolutely necessary. I should be glad if the promoters of the Bill will explain 1961 a little more carefully the religous necessities, because I have never understood that there was the same religous significance attaching to the method of slaughter in the case of Mohammedans as in the case of Jews.
§ Brigadier-General CHARTERIS
I will try arid deal with the point raised by the hon. Member for Edinburgh East (Dr. Shiels). It is quite true that I cannot say that Mohammedans in India would refuse to eat an animal which has been stunned first and then had its throat cut according to the Mohammedan method as that happens frequently when shooting animals, but while that is true in the strict interpretation of the Mohammedan religion it is not in accordance with their principles, and we have to be extremely careful when we are dealing with their religious principles. The Lascars, who are Mohammedans, are a very grave class of men and, while they are not authorities on the niceties of their religion, they are very sincere and might resent having to eat food which they were convinced had not been killed according to the strict interpretation of the Koran. Anyone who has had to deal with Mohammedans knows that they will grumble, and their grievance is liable to find expression in different ways. A ship comes into port and the crew of Lascars, discontented because of some action on the part of the captain, may be expressing their grievance by finding fault with the way the food was prepared. We cannot be too careful in dealing with the religious beliefs of what is a somewhat important section of the Empire's population. I think we should have some regard to their prejudices.
§ Amendment to the proposed Amendment agreed to.
§ Proposed words, as amended, there inserted in the Bill.