§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ 11.11 a.m.
§ Lieut.-Commander Tufnell
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
I hope that this Bill will appeal to the House as an attempt to eradicate an evil and a form of cruelty which is being perpetrated daily on man's most devoted servant, the horse. Largely owing, probably, to the drive for fitness during he last few years, riding has become a very popular form of exercise, and thousands of men and women in the owns, many of whom had never taken any notice of horses before, have suddenly taken to riding. It is a form of exercise which, in my opinion, we ought to encourage, but not at the expense of the horse.
Largely as a result of this increase in riding, riding schools have been springing up all over the country like mushrooms; t is estimated that in the last few years he number of these schools has increased from 400 to something like 2,000. As a natural result, a number of these riding establishments are owned by people who n one way or another are totally unfitted for the job. Anyone who walks about in the parks during the week-end or on the outskirts of towns will see horses, emaciated and otherwise in an unfit condition, being ridden by inexpert riders; and if they would go further into he matter, they would find that these horses are being kept in the most appalling conditions—conditions for which the law to-day has no remedy. In he interests of health, legislation requires hat the byres in which cows are kept Should be scrupulously clean and well ventilated, but in the case of the horse, who at the week-end has probably to work extremely hard carrying riders who a many cases are inexpert, can be kept n any cold, draughty barn or stuffy, ill-ventilated shed with inadequate drainage. It is a disgrace that we should allow 798 these horses, very often quiet, decrepit but loyal animals, to be kept under such conditions, and that we should be unable to deal with the persons who practise this form of cruelty on the horse.
When I took up this Bill, I attempted to inspect personally some of these bad riding schools, and at the same time I managed to get an experienced horseman to visit riding schools all over the country. Out of 150 schools which were inspected by him in the South and Midlands, 43 percent. were good, 32 percent. were indifferent, and 25 percent. were thoroughly bad. His report showed the types of men who are running these schools. There is the type who buy up inferior horses, let them out on hire, and then, when competition or bad weather reduces the number of their clients, reduce the fees to something like 1s. or 2s. an hour, and, in some cases, 6d. a ride. In order to reduce expenses, they cut down food and staff, with the result that the horses get scant attention, and they deal themselves with injuries and sickness that should be dealt with by experts. Then, when the rush does come along, they let the horses out in an unfit condition. There is another type of person who is ignorant about horses, and lets the horses out in an unfit condition without knowing that they are suffering, who allows his clients to go galloping all over the country and bring the horses back in a distressed condition, without making any protest. There is another type of person who allows his premises to be kept by an inexpert groom, who gives the horses scant attention and leaves the premises in a filthy condition. I would like to read the report on some of these riding schools which were visited by this man. Here is a case where the visitor went to look at some horses. He was shown good ones in a moderately nice stable.Further investigation showed others which were kept in a back yard normally unseen by any visitor. The condition of these horses was appalling, as most of them were covered with lice, some had running sores, and all were painfully thin …. The general condition of the whole place was awful. The horses which could not be seen by a casual visitor were left to suffer every possible discomfort; poor forage, and very little of it, and often there was not time to give them all water. The establishment being hopelessly understaffed, the horses could not be properly looked after.799 Here is another case of an owner keeping about 15 horses in an old farmyard in various small buildings.All the horses, with the exception of two, appeared to be well fed, but they were definitely dirty and got no sort of attention. One horse, a big brown, was standing untouched after Saturday's hunting. He had badly cracked heels and swollen hind legs. He was very stiff, and could hardly move across the stall. He was out on Sunday morning and again Sunday afternoon, when he did quite a bit of galloping and jumping. Another bay mare had been badly kicked behind, and was very groggy. This mare also went on the ride, and she was obviously dropping badly as she trotted along. She was out three times on Sunday … The proprietor seemed to be of the rather rough type and seemed to be constantly shouting at his horses and inclined to treat them roughly … The staff consisted of a young inexperienced girl and a young boy of about 12 who came to give a hand occasionally.Another case is that of an establishment run by a man of the gypsy type:I found seven horses in here in stalls. One singe horse stall had two horses in it so tightly jammed together that they had no freedom at all. There was no bedding to be seen, and all the horses were very thin …. They were mostly ex-Army horses and pretty hardy …. Very rough hay was the only thing fed.I have many more case here, but I am sure the House would not like to be bothered with all of them. My hon. and gallant Friend behind me will, I know, bring forward other cases, and I am sure that when hon. Members come to examine these cases— and I am prepared to let anyone examine them— they will find them well substantiated. It may be said that a great many of these cases could be dealt with under the present law, but, as the law stands, it is extremely difficult to bring people who commit these cruelties to book. For instance, in 1937, Our Dumb Friends League had 133 cases, and in only one were they able to secure a conviction. In the last two years the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals have had 304 complaints, and in only 23 were convictions brought about. The difficulty in regard to a horse that is in an emaciated condition, in a scraggy condition, or showing signs of semi-starvation, is, apparently, in getting sufficient evidence to prosecute, owing to the fact that, under the Protection of Animals Act, 1911, it is necessary to prove that the horse is suffering unnecessary pain. As a result, one gets a great quantity of borderline cases, in 800 which there is a form of cruelty, but with which it is impossible to deal. Also, under this Act there is no power to inspect the premises in which these animals are kept. So, again, it is impossible to deal with a form of cruelty which is as bad as any apparent cruelty, that of keeping horses in an emaciated condition.
I feel that there is justification for further legislation to deal with conditions to-day which could not have been foreseen by the promoters and supporters of the Protection of Animals Act when it was passed in 1911. Therefore, when I had the fortune to draw a place in the Ballot for Bills, I gladly accepted the invitation of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Captain Heilgers) to introduce this Bill to deal with the forms of cruelty to which I have referred this morning. I would like to pay tribute to my hon. and gallant Friend for the drive and energy with which he has initiated this Bill, and for the co-operation which I have received in dealing with the immensity of problems which have arisen as regards the Bill.
Clause 1 (1) and (2) makes it imperative upon any person keeping a riding establishment, which is defined in Clause 5, to go to the local authority and apply to be registered, and, on payment of a fee of one guinea, he will receive a certificate which, under Clause 2, will entitle him to let out horses for hire for a period of one year. Sub-section (3) of the Clause lays down the conditions that the owner of the establishment must show that he is over 18 years of age and that he has not been disqualified by an order of the court.
§ Mr. Charles Williams
Can my hon. and gallant Friend say exactly what is the meaning of the words "other than a corporation'', which appear at the bottom of page 1 of the Bill?
§ Lieut.-Commander Tufnell
A corporation is a body of persons. The remainder of the Clause deals with the details of the 801 certificate, variation and transfer, and inspection, for which there are small fees. Clause 3 makes the premises of the owner of the establishment liable to inspection by a duly qualified veterinary surgeon appointed by the local authority who will have power to inspect, at any reasonable time, the riding establishment, or premises which he believes are used as a riding establishment. Clause 4 deals with the offences in respect of which the owner of the riding establishment is liable. He has to let out his horses in a fit condition, keep them in a satisfactory condition, and must not conceal his horses from the inspection of the veterinary surgeon. The Clause also provides for penalties. He will be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £25 for the first offence, and £50 for any subsequent offence, and complaint must be lodged by a qualified veterinary surgeon authorised by the local authority.
§ Mr. Turton
That is not right, is it? It says that the complaint should be made by a qualified veterinary surgeon in the two cases mentioned. Not only the owner of a riding establishment, but any person is liable who lets out horses, whether the owner of a riding establishment or otherwise.
§ Lieut.-Commander Tufnell
I think my hon. Friend will agree that the actual complaint has to be made by a duly qualified veterinary surgeon in the case of letting out horses in an unfit condition or keeping them in an unsatisfactory state.
§ Mr. Gallacher
If the veterinary surgeon should make an examination and find an injured horse on the premises that may just have come in, and that the injury has been done by the bad character of the rider of the horse, what is to happen to the owner of the establishment? Is the owner of the establishment to be held responsible or the person who has been wilfully injuriously riding the horse? Is there anything for dealing with that?
§ Lieut.-Commander Tufnell
The hon. Member must realise that we are dealing in this Bill with the owner of the riding establishment. If he lets out horses for hire for instruction, he is naturally responsible for the horses being properly ridden. There are additional penalties. His name can be removed from the register, his certificate suspended, or the court may 802 make an order imposing conditions as to the maintenance of the establishment. In Sub-section (3) of Clause 4 there is an appeal to a court of quarter sessions, and in Sub-section (5) the court can insist on the certificate being endorsed. Clause 5 gives the definition of "horse" and of "local authority," and, as this Bill would largely apply to the outskirts of large towns, we have included the London County Council, county councils, county boroughs and non-county boroughs or urban districts with a population of 40,000 or upwards. Paragraph (iii) of Sub-section (1) gives a definition of "riding establishment," and states to what the Bill applies.Riding establishment" means any stables or other premises whatsoever at which horses are kept for the purpose of being let out for hire for riding or of being used in providing instruction in riding for payment or in providing demonstration in riding, but shall not include any such establishment conducted solely for bona fide military or police purposes or by the London Zoological Society.
§ Mr. Watkins
With regard to the words in Clause 5, will the hon. and gallant Member explain them a little more clearly? Would the military authorities, the police authorities or the London Zoological Society let out horses for hire?
§ Mr. Turton
Why does it not include the London Zoological Society? I understand that you can ride elephants, llamas and camels there.
§ Sir Gifford Fox
Would this apply to the horses which are used by the Metropolitan mounted police? What would be the position if those horses had been worked for long hours in the streets of London and came back in an over-worked condition?
§ Lieut.-Commander Tufnell
The provision does not include horses' that are being used solely for police purposes. The Metropolitan police authorities are responsible for the horses in their Departments. Sub-section (2) of Clause 5 deals with expenses. Clause 6 applies to Scotland, but as Scotland does not wish to be in the Bill we propose to move an Amendment to delete that Clause.
§ Lieut.-Commander Tufnell
I understand that the authorities do not wish to deal with this matter, and that there is not a demand in Scotland to deal with these riding schools.
§ Lieut.-Commander Tufnell
Clause 7 deals with the register and the certificates of registration, details of which will be found in the Schedule to the Bill. The Bill has been very closely examined in all interested quarters. It was the subject of correspondence in the "Times" last May and June, and, as a result, a Bill was introduced by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds. The Bill has been scrutinised by all the people who would be involved in its operation, and the results of their examination and advice have been embodied in the Measure. We have had the support and the valuable help of the Institute of the Horse and the National Horse Association, who are representative of horsemanship in this country and have done a great deal in trying to raise the standard of the riding schools.
We have also had the support of welfare societies such as the League for the Protection of Horses, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Dumb Friends League, all of whom have co-operated in bringing in this Bill. We have had advice from the Royal Veterinary Association and most helpful suggestions and support from the County Councils' Association, the London County Council and the Association of Municipal Corporations. As a result of all this examination and advice I think we have produced a Bill which is sound in principle, and in detail a practical Measure. I recognise that there are many criticisms and that hon. Members will have proposals to make, which we should be prepared to consider. I 804 feel sure that with co-operation we should be able to improve the Bill on the lines which the House may think necessary.
This is a Bill which would help materially to reduce forms of cruelty to animals. The necessity of registration and the paying of a fee of a guinea and the threat of inspection would raise the standard of the bad riding schools, or drive them out. That would be for the benefit of the rider, because he would know that he was not getting his exercise at the expense of the horse. The majority of riding schools look well after their horses and have been asking for this Measure as redounding to their own benefit and the benefit of the horse. The Bill would also redound to the benefit of the riding school by removing blots which are a disgrace to our civilisation, and which vitally offend the conscience of any lover of horses, who hates to think of dumb animals suffering in silence. Therefore, I hope the House will give the Bill a sympathetic and unanimous Second Reading.
§ Mr. George Griffiths
Will the hon. and gallant Member give us a little further explanation? I do not quite understand the Bill. Will he go on a bit longer.
§ Lieut.-Commander Tufnell
My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds will further explain the Bill, and there are many others who wish to speak. Therefore, I need not worry the House with unnecessary details. I think I have explained the Bill fairly clearly. If hon. Members will read the Official Report to-morrow they will get all the necessary information.
§ Mr. McEntee
Will the hon. and gallant Member be good enough to tell us what is the definition of a horse? The Bill states that the definition of a horse has the same meaning as in the Protection of Animals Act, 1911. Will he give us that definition?
§ Lieut.-Commander Tufnell
I can give the hon. Member the definition of a horse:The expression 'horse' includes any mare, gelding, pony, foal, colt, filly, or stallion.I do not think that hon. Members have been unable to follow my explanation, but if they have they will be able to follow it better when they read the OFFICIAL REPORT. I have pleasure in moving the Second Reading of the Bill.
§ 11.45 a.m.
§ Captain Heilgers
I beg to second the Motion.
My first words must be to acknowledge my debt to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Cambridge (Lieut.-Commander Tufnell) for undertaking to sponsor and present the Bill. All naval officers when they come on shore take to the horse as a matter of course, and the hon. and gallant Member has proved no exception to the rule. He has had a bucking animal to ride this morning but he has not fallen either to port or starboard, and I should like to congratulate him on the finest speech I have ever heard him make. Over 600 riders go into Richmond Park every week-end. A few years back the number was 10. On the fringe of every mushroom growth you will find an undesirable element which tries to exploit that growth. We believe that certain riding establishments are being used to-day solely for money-making purposes, and in the Bill we seek to give the horse protection against that exploitation.
I should like to give the House an account of the origin of the Bill. It is a year old to-day. On 18th March, 1938, a constituent of mine, Mrs. Parry-Crooke, wrote to me and suggested that the conditions in some riding schools were not satisfactory. I thereupon wrote to Sir George Cockerill, a former Member of this House and an honorary director of the International League for the Protection of Horses, who had much to do with the preparation of the Exportation of Horses Bill, and suggested to him that legislation was necessary. He then wrote a letter to the '' Times '' saying that there was an enormous increase in the number of riding schools in this country, that a certain number were being conducted solely for profit-making purposes, and that in that case it was the horse which suffered. In his letter he also said that there seemed to be a case for control of these establishments by licensing and inspection. A lively correspondence in the "Times" ensued in which many men well known in the world of horses took part. Among these were Sir Percy Laurie, the late Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Major Faudel-Phillips, Sir Walter Gilbey, Sir Arthur Weigall, and, last but not least, Sir Frederick Hobday the veterinary surgeon. All these eminent contributors to the 806 "Times" emphasised the need for legislation, and they laid particular stress upon one feature. They said that it was not actual and flagrant cruelty which was the trouble, but rather the fact that in many cases the owners of these new riding schools were ignorant of their job; they had insufficient capital, and that, as a result of this, three things happened; Either the horse was over-worked, or under-fed, or the stable management was incompetent. It is these features which make the subnormal riding school, which we are trying to improve or suppress by this Bill.
§ Mr. Gallacher
The hon. and gallant Member has said that some of these schools were being run solely for private profit. Do I understand that some of these riding schools are not run for profit?
§ Captain Heilgers
The position is this. A well conducted school— the hon. and gallant Member for Cambridge has told us that quite half of the riding schools are extremely well conducted — charge a fee of 5s. or 7s. 6d. an hour, but they are faced with the competition of these new schools which charge 2s. 6d. or 3s. 6d. an hour. When you charge less than is necessary to enable you to look after the horses properly you find yourself almost inevitably in the position that you cannot afford to go on losing and so it is the horse which has to suffer in the end. Strong support to our case was given in a leading article in the "Times" which seems to sum up the situation so well that I ask the indulgence of the House to read a portion of it.
§ Captain Heilgers
This is what was said in this leading article:It is the increasing number of hirers of horses, and the consequent growth of riding schools throughout the country, in many cases owned by people who know little of horses, and merely look upon them as money-making machines, which has disturbed Sir George Cockerill and other correspondents to this Journal. The growth of riding establishments has been especially noticeable on the outskirts of London, and it is common nowadays to meet cavalcades, often startlingly clothed, at almost every daylight hour of the week in the parks, and on the commons, or even to see some equestrian of Jorrock's build, and perhaps style, pounding along the grass verge of a by-pass. No one can quarrel with so healthy a movement, but when as another correspondent has alleged, there are riding schools which charge as little as 3s 6d. an 807 hour, and there are riders who frequently gallop the animal to death for a whole morning, which performance it is stated is sometimes repeated in the afternoon, there seems to be every support for Sir George Cockerill's contention that competition and cut prices are reacting unfortunately on the horse.I submit the article seems to sum up the situation and presents the case very accurately. Sir George Cockerill wrote a letter to the "Times" after reading this article announcing that a Bill would be introduced by myself at a short interval. It then appeared that the hon. and gallant Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore), and also the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, had also been thinking upon the same lines and were contemplating introducing a Bill. The National Horse Association also was disturbed about the position. We then found ourselves faced with the rather extraordinary position that on the Order Paper there appeared two Bills, one promoted by the hon. and gallant Member for Ayr and the other promoted by myself. I am thankful that the hon. and gallant Member for Ayr realised that the important thing was the protection of the horse and a combination of all parties who were interested in the subject, and he very gracefully withdrew his Bill for which I offer him my personal thanks. He then collaborated with us in the framing of the Bill which we are presenting to-day. We have also had the assistance and co-operation of almost all societies connected with the welfare of animals. In particular, we have had the assistance of the National Horse Association, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, of which the hon. Member for Gillingham (Sir R. Gower) is Chairman, the Institute of the Horse and many other societies. We have also had the support of the Royal Veterinary Medical Association and the veterinary profession as a whole.
I can claim that the Bill which is presented to the House to-day is the result of a unanimous feeling among riding men and horse lovers that legislation is necessary, and indeed urgently necessary. We also have the support of a very large number of riding schools. I have had any number of letters from riding schools telling me that, in their opinion, legislation ought to be introduced. After all, it is in the interests of the better schools that there should be 808 legislation which would give them, as well as the horses, a square deal. One question that we were asked when we first produced the Bill was what proof we had. that these abuses existed in riding schools. I admit that that was not a very easy question to answer. One of the great difficulties is that, under the present law, we have no right of entry into riding schools. The law covers cases of cruelty and flagrant ill-treatment, but it is 27 years old, and I submit that it is not adequate to deal with the present situation, considering the very great increase in riding that has taken place. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Cambridge referred to the complaints that had taken place. He told us that one society had been able to institute a conviction in only one case out of 133 complaints. He also told us that certain prosecutions had been made at the instigation of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. I have a list of the prosecutions, and if anybody sees that list, he will make this observation—
§ Captain Heilgers
I have no idea. They were riding schools. In these cases, fines of £1, £2, £5 and so on for definite cruelty to horses are completely inadequate to deal with the situation which exists at present.
§ Mr. Petherick
How is it proposed, under this Bill, to improve the position? I agree that there is a maximum penalty of £25, but the magistrates may not impose a penalty of more than £1.
§ Captain Heilgers
If my hon. Friend will look at Clause 4, Sub-section (2), he will see that it is possible for a riding school owner to be disqualified. That is a penalty which does not exist at present. As my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Cambridge has said, we decided to send an investigator to some of the riding schools. We did not send a person like the Police witness who was quoted in the Press a few days ago as having said, "It was very early in the morning, and I noticed that the horse had not got its shoes on yet." We sent a man who was at the top of his profession, one of the best known men in the 809 country, and he has given a report which shows that 50 percent. of the schools are good, but that in his opinion 25 per cent are bad. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) seems to desire me to quote from the report. I am sorry for him, but I will gladly do as he wishes. Here is the report of one visit:I found five horses in very dark and dirty old converted cattle sheds. The whole condition of the place was dirty, there was no bedding, and the forage was this year's bad scrub hay. The owner does all the work himself. He is an old man of about 60 or more. The horses were unclipped and very dirty. They each had one old worn-out rug, with they exception of a chestnut mare which was in a very poor condition and definitely lousy, had rubbed bare patches on her quarters, and was rubbing herself on anything she could get near. This mare is in work. The other three horses were not so bad as far as condition goes. The fifth was a chestnut cob, he was thin and dirty and very stiff behind. I rode him in some fields for half an hour, and he stumbled very badly on the grass. He was definitely lame all the time. These horses were definitely not getting enough water.
§ Mr. R. C. Morrison
Surely, in a case such as that, it would be possible to prosecute under the present law.
§ Captain Heilgers
It would be possible, but one cannot get into the riding schools to see these things. That is the trouble. I will quote another case:This is a public house, and there are about eight ponies kept in the stable yard for the benefit of anyone who wants to ride. The charges are 6d. for a short ride, going up to half-a-crown an hour. There is a fairly respectable groom in charge,, but he has neither the time nor the wherewithall to look after the animals properly. They are very dirty and in a poor condition. The saddlery is in the same state—I would particularly draw the attention of hon. Members to the following paragraph in the report on this school:During a ride I had here, I was pointed out about 10 ponies turned out in a field at the top of a hill, with no shelter of any sort, not even a wind-brake. Those ponies were living on what winter grass there was, without any extra feed. I gathered that they were left there the whole winter and not used, but the moment there was a rush on during the summer season, they were brought down and put to work like the others. They were in a very poor condition and looked to me utterly miserable. I should think these ponies must have had a tough time this winter. It is wonderful that any of them have survived it.810 If any hon. Member wishes to see this dossier, I should be only too pleased to show it to him. I have not chosen the worst cases; and there are cases reported that would sicken the heart of any man who cares for' animals. I should like to say something about the riding school horses in their last stage. Last week, I came across the report of the Ada Cole Memorial Rescue Homes for Horses. In that report, there are these words:A sorry cavalcade of old riding school horses comes to us each year. The horses are old, worn, partially blind, broken-winded, and some with injuries. It is impossible to imagine how people enjoy riding on some of these horses. Many of them are lame and weary, and yet they are worked just the same and bring joy to callous riders. Many of these riding school horses have in days gone by been loved and cared for, and been kept to work until breaking point because they were said to be so reliable.We believe that by a system of licensing and registration, as is proposed in the Bill, we shall be able to check some of the abuses from which the horses suffer to-day. We do not want to check the great increase in riding. The spell of being on horseback in the open is a welcome antidote to the fumes and noise of our machine made age. We do not want to spoil the pleasure of the young women who lead the back to the horse movement. My hon. and gallant Friend the member for Cambridge attributed the revival of horse-riding to the national fitness movement, but I think it is probably due to the fact that it has been whispered abroad that riding is good for slimming. If it is possible to become a fairy on the back of a horse, at any rate the slimming must not extend to the horse as well.
The question is, are we going the right way in this Bill to prevent these abuses? Some of our friends tell us that the Bill does not go far enough. They tell us that it ought to be mandatory upon the local authorities to inspect the riding schools. I do not believe it is necessary to make it mandatory. As long as the power to act is there, I believe there are enough horse-lovers in the country to draw the attention of local authorities to the need to act, and I think it unnecessary to go further than we do in the Bill. Some correspondents have said, "You should have initial inspection of each riding school. Your Bill will be no good unless you inspect at the beginning and see what the school is like." That, at first sight, seems a reasonable objection, 811 but if you inspect the school at its start, unless it happens to be filled with old crocks, you are not likely to learn anything. Obviously the owner will have capital; when he starts his riding school, his horses will probably be in good condition and there will have been no chance to overwork them. We realise that the farmer who breeds horses is one of the mainstays of the horse-breeding industry, and we have no wish to interfere with him in any way. It has been pointed out, however, that farmers who let out horses for hunting might find this measure a burden to them in some way or other. For that reason, we are willing to accept Amendments in Committee excluding any bona fide farmer, fanning more than 50 acres, who has not more than three horses of his own breeding let out for hire for hunting.
§ Captain Heilgers
We are willing to consider whether an exception might be made as regards horses let out for hacking in the case of the genuine bona fide farmer, but we cannot find any suitable wording to meet the case. I gather from my hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) that they have wonderful horses in Yorkshire which can go to the plough one day and hunt another day. I congratulate Yorkshire on those horses, and I only wish that our Suffolk punches could do the same.
§ Mr. Turton
The Cleveland bay is a far better horse, and if my hon. and gallant Friend wants one, I will arrange to buy one for him at the earliest opportunity.
§ Captain Heilgers
I am perfectly willing to accept anything that comes from Thirsk and Malton as being of very good quality, but I would make this point about the question of hacking. Supposing that we did make an exception of the farmer with not more than three horses of his own breeding let out for hacking, we should be accused of putting the riding schools in a difficult position. They would be very jealous of an exception being made in the case of hacking, of a particular class of individual. The case of hunting is different. In the hunting field the horse is under the gaze of hundreds of eyes and no really bad horse could be put out to hunt. But in the 812 case of hacking, very often the horses are used only in by-ways, and their condition is not visible to the public to the same extent as in the hunting field. The promoters will give careful consideration to any Amendment designed to achieve what my hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton wishes, but we do not at present see how, without injustice to the riding schools, we could do so. I would point out, however, that we do nothing to prevent the farmer carrying on with his job as at present. All we ask him to do is to pay a licence fee, and if he has more than three horses let out for hunting then we propose that his stables should be open to inspection as well as those of the riding schools.
The suggestion has also been put forward that there should be a minimum charge for the hire of horses particularly in certain areas. That might be the best safeguard of all for the horse, but it is difficult to lay down a hard-and-fast rule of that kind. I hope and believe that the problem of the cut-price school will be solved by the method which we advocate of inspection, with severe penalties for those who do not come up to standard. I repeat that we want to see riding as popular as possible. We do not want to put it beyond the reach of a wider public. Our sole object is to see, first, that the public is not defrauded, and second that the horse is not defrauded. Under this Bill the brute who over-works, or the fool who is not competent to manage his horses can be permanently disqualified. I am no good at what is called "sob-stuff," but I feel intensely that dumb animals should not run any risk of exploitation. The National Horse Association inspects schools and gives its certificate of approval and in that way is doing great work, but no voluntary system can eradicate abuses as long as there is no legal right to go into the riding schools to see what is going on there. Some of the Press, to whom we are much indebted for their support, have gone so far as to call this Bill the "Horses Charter." I make no such extravagant claim, but I think the consciences of most horse-lovers will be lightened if this Bill is passed. It is a modest and humane Measure, it has the support of a great many horse-lovers and I appeal to the House for their support as well.
§ 12.13 p.m.
§ Mr. C. Williams
I beg to move, to leave out the word "now" and, at the end of the Question, to add the words "upon this day six months."
I move the Amendment out of no hostility to the principle of the Bill, and I begin by drawing attention to the curious position in which we find ourselves this morning. Here we are in the House of Commons discussing a Bill which has behind it a great humanitarian purpose. When we think of the state of affairs outside, this Bill may seem a comparatively small matter, but whatever else it shows, it shows that the people of this country in their respective institutions are able to carry on their normal business in the normal way whatever may be happening elsewhere. As I say, I am not opposing the Bill because of any dislike of the effort which is being made to improve the lot of these horses. I oppose it because I regard it as a great interference with public liberties. It goes far beyond what the two innocent and gallant Gentlemen who proposed and seconded the Motion ever imagined. Incidentally, I wish to congratulate my hon. and gallant Friend who moved the Motion on the courteous way in which he dealt with interruptions. I think that few people who were not in the British Navy could have taken those broadsides so calmly and so good-naturedly. I thought it was a little hard on his patience, although that was never broken, that one of the hon. Members whose name is on the back of the Bill should have mutinied on two or three occasions. I hope that an opportunity may be found for my hon. and gallant Friend to deal with that in due course.
My hon. and gallant Friend in his opening remarks gave us a series of very interesting figures. He offered some justification for the Bill when he referred to the number of these riding schools, or more or less riding schools—I am not sure that he was correct in calling all of them schools—and mentioned the recent tremendous increase in their number. For that reason alone we are justified in considering this Bill to-day. He went on to tell us how eminent people had been trying to find out the legal position under the Bill. I shall not contradict a word of the letters which he read. So my hon. and gallant Friend built up his case carefully and steadily. Then he went on to 814 a position in which I could not understand him so well. Apparently for some reason or other the present law is difficult to carry out. The great difficulty is that it is not possible to get into these establishments early in the morning in order to inspect them.—[HON. MEMBERS: "Or at any time."] That undoubtedly is a difficulty which should be overcome. I should have thought it was rather a matter for the local police, with powers of prosecution. If an establishment was run very badly there would be people who use the horses from that establishment, and a conviction might be got in that way.
Now I come to the speech of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Captain Heilgers). He told us that he was no good at sob stuff, but I thought he made a pretty good effort at the end of his speech. Naturally, as he and I belong to the same party we never exaggerate our qualities; we leave that for our opponents to do. My hon. and gallant Friend went into the history of the Bill, but I was no wiser at the end of his historical survey than I was before, though I understood that the Bill has been in process of framing for about two years. But I wonder how it was that this Bill, which seems to be an attack on agriculture, on the farmer and on horse breeding in many ways, has so many eminent agriculturists supporting it.
§ Captain Heilgers
The Bill will not interfere with the farmer in any way whatever, except that he will have to pay a licence fee if he has more than three horses that he lets out on hire for hunting. His stables will then be open to inspection in the same way as those of other riding schools, but the Bill does not affect his farming business in any way.
§ Mr. Williams
I understand that, but some of the Clauses of the Bill undoubtedly fail to carry out that purpose. I see present hon. Friends of mine who are great supporters of agriculture, and I wish to warn them that some one has sold them a pup this morning. They had better be very careful and try to find out who it is that is really at the back of this trouble. I am sorry that the Minister of Agriculture is not here to see what is being done and to give us guidance. If he were here, I feel certain that he would mention certain dangers 815 which I shall now point out. My first point is that the whole line of the Bill from beginning to end is not the line of those who wish to pass a moderate Bill in order to register riding schools and control horse riding. Under the Bill it is necessary for a fee of a guinea to be paid. There are 4,000 riding establishments and there will be many more licensed before long. Is it necessary to extract from them a guinea fee or anything like as big a figure? I should have thought that something very much on the lines of a dog licence fee would be adequate.
I see supporters of the Bill opposite. Some one has put into their Bill proposals which are fiercer and more calculated to tread down the ordinary citizen than they wish. The guinea fee is almost in the nature of a fine on this new industry, which is doing much for agriculture by taking some of the horses which do not now go into the Army as they would have done in the past. Then under Sub-section (5) of Clause 1 2s. 6d. has to be paid under certain conditions; under sub-section (6) 5s. has to be paid; and in Sub-section (7) the Bill deals with the widows and orphans. There is a whole series of suggestions in that Clause. They may be necessary, but the Clause seems to be the wrong way of carrying them out. If I was conducting a Bill which was to go to a Standing Committee I should cut it down as much as I could, for then there would be much less chance of people making changes in the Bill in Committee.
Let me pass to Clause 2. There it is laid down quite rightly that a riding establishment must be registered for one year. In Clause 3 there is the authorisation of an inspection by a duly qualified veterinary surgeon. What does that really mean? It means that a veterinary surgeon may be sent to inspect any of these schools, and that if he gives a bad report on it, subject to an appeal which is provided for later, the man or woman in charge of that school may be deprived of a living. He or she can appeal to the county court.
§ Mr. Williams
Obviously they can appeal, as is provided for in Sub-section 816 (3) of Clause 4. The whole point is this. It means that if they appeal, there is some cost, and who will bear that? The individual, I suppose. But it goes beyond that. It seems rather hard that before an individual has to go to an appeal he cannot have some kind of arbitration whereby he can say what the views of his own vet. are. I think you have a narrow position there. I have not had a lot of letters—
§ Mr. Ede
I think the hon. Member has misread the Bill. After a veterinary officer has made his report to the local authority, the authority itself has to prosecute the man before the local magistrates, and it can do nothing unless there is a conviction. The question of appeal is an appeal from the justices. If the keeper of the establishment is not satisfied with the decision of the court finding him guilty or with the penalty inflicted, he can appeal either against his conviction or against the sentence, but there is no power for the local authority to withdraw his licence except after a conviction.
§ Mr. Williams
I thank the hon. Member very much for his interruption, and I realise that although six months might be considered rather a long time, if it was meant in the kindest possible spirit, undoubtedly it would have, been helpful—
§ Mr. Gallacher rose—
§ Mr. Williams
I am sorry, but as far as I understand this Bill, it will not apply to Scotland, and I am trying to make my remarks in language such as I think English Members may understand. With regard to what the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) said, while I thank him for what he said, I think the position is no clearer than it was before he rose. The real point is that you have these prosecutions, and I think that under the existing circumstances it would be quite easy, before a prosecution takes place, to have the whole thing put right in many cases without these fierce prosecutions which are laid down under the Bill. We know that my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Ayr Burghs (Sir T. Moore) has had some part in this Bill. I am not attacking him as Member for Ayr Burghs, but we know that he is rather fierce on some matters. Now let me come to what I think is a fundamental mistake in the Bill, which hon. Members 817 will see in three different places. It is in connection with the use of the words "demonstration in riding." They occur in lines 21 and 33, on page 3, and also in the definition at the end of the Bill, where it says:Riding establishment 'means any stables or other premises whatsoever"—That is very wide—at which horses are kept for the purpose of being let out for hire"—I do not want anyone to think that I have not realised that that is so—for riding or of being used in providing instruction in riding for payment or in providing demonstration in riding.What exactly does "demonstration" mean there? We have already had the seconder of the Bill pointing out the position in regard to hunting, but what happens to the person who may happen to put in at a local horse show, which is clearly a demonstration? I have consulted one eminent lawyer on that point, and he agrees that it is. Suppose he lets out a horse or two—nothing in the shape of a riding school, but a person occasionally letting out a horse. It seems to me that under this definition you may make many people over a very wide area liable to this fine of a guinea, liable to prosecution under the Bill, and liable to all the trouble under that first Clause. It is a very wide definition indeed, and I deeply and bitterly regret that we have not the advantage of the presence of one of the Law Officers to give us guidance in this matter. I feel I should not be justified in voting for the Second Reading of a Bill which contained a definition as loosely drawn as that, a Bill which has already been admitted by my hon. and gallant Friend opposite to need Amendment. I do not see how you can pass a Bill that is so widely drawn as that.
Let me take up his proposed Amendment. The promoters of the Bill have been very long in preparing their Bill, and even before the second speech is made on it or any arguments have been raised against it, they point out the flaws in their own Bill, which shows great discretion on their part. Unless they amend the term "bona fide farmer," they will have a great outcry from the agricultural industry about this Bill, from a large number of farmers who are carrying on a perfectly reasonable business and who use their land for the purpose of breeding 818 horses and to encourage horse-breeding. I believe that under this Sub-section you have a very wide extension of the Bill to many thousands of people who do not at present imagine that they are coming under it at all, and I think that is a most excellent reason for rejecting the Bill.
Here is another point that I would like to make. Sub-section (2) of Clause 5 states:Any expenses of a local authority … so far as they are not covered by fees shall be defrayed … out of the general rate.Here is a supposition that your local authorities are going to have more cost than before, and that is the whole trouble of these private Bills which are brought in on Friday afternoons. They impose on the local authorities some duty or other which places a burden upon them. It may only be a very minute amount, but because some rather active-minded people get hold of some small trouble or other and put it in a Bill, every local authority, and the police, and all sorts of people throughout the country are compelled to take on a little more work. The other day I was down in Sussex, and I heard bitter complaints of the way in which the local authorities there are having more and more work forced on them. Here, again, is a little more on the rates. It may be only a very small part of a penny, but it is the continual imposition of these burdens in Bills such as this that causes the trouble. Some of us are justified in pointing out from time to time how these things add additional burdens to the authorities and the rates, and unless there is a clearer definition of the real purpose of the Bill and of how far the Bill runs, we are justified in rejecting it.
I am not saying anything against the kind-hearted people, amongst whom we can all be included, who hate cruelty in any form. We hate to think that these establishments are improperly conducted, but when a new industry of this kind springs up and brings pleasure to a large number of people, we do not want to discourage it with unnecessary rules and regulations. It provides a healthy form of exercise for people of comparatively small means. Surely the best way to deal with this matter it not by a cumbersome Bill of this sort, but by some tightening of the existing powers, which, I think, could be done easily. I am sure that if a Law Officer were here he would tell 819 us that there is no necessity for this Bill and that its object could be attained in a much simpler way. I hope that the promoters of the Bill will not feel that I think less of the welfare of horses than they do. That is not the point. The point is that this Bill provides a cumbersome and expensive method which deals harshly with the industry. The fines of £25, for instance, is surely out of proportion to the necessity; £10 would be ample.
§ Mr. Petherick
Surely my hon. Friend does not think that the fine of £10 is a sufficient penalty for a man who works a horse with sores under the saddle?
§ Mr. Williams
He could be prosecuted under the existing law for cruelty. I would welcome anything which can be done reasonably to secure that no horse is worked under bad conditions, but I do not think a Bill which goes so far as this Bill is necessary, for everything it seeks to do can be done under the existing law.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Sir Mervyn Manningham-Buller
I beg to second the Amendment.
The object for which this Bill is introduced interests me as one who has had to do with horses all his life. It is unnecessary, however, to achieve the object which the framers have in mind, which is simply to deal with the undesirable schools and riding establishments which exist. It seems to me quite unnecessary for that purpose to bring in fresh legislation affecting every man throughout the country who lets out a horse on hire. If that is really the object of the promoters of the Bill, it should have been possible to bring in a short one-Clause Measure to ensure that where there is a prima facie case that a particular riding school is badly conducted, on application to the magistrates power could be given for some inspector to inspect the school. That is all that is necessary.
§ Captain Heilgers
Is not that very similar to the present position, and is it not a fact that every society which is concerned with animal welfare has found it 820 difficult to achieve any effective prosecution under the present law?
§ Sir M. Manningham-Buller
A great many charges have been made by the mover and seconder of the Bill as to the conduct of these riding establishments, but the seconder admitted that when he was asked to provide evidence it was difficult to do so.
§ Captain Heilgers
When I was asked originally, I found it difficult; and therefore, for the purposes of this Bill, I sent an inspector to visit 150 schools in order to provide evidence. In a dossier here there is ample and sufficient evidence to show that all is not well with riding schools.
§ Lord Apsley
Is it not the case that the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals have powers of inspection of all these establishments? If they have not the power, there might be something to be said for the Bill.
§ Sir M. Manningham-Buller
If my hon. and gallant Friend's inspector was able to get into 150 riding schools, I do not see how there should be such an overwhelming difficulty in any other inspector getting access to these establishments. I do not think that what he has said alters my point. Surely the people who live in the neighbourhood of a riding establishment would soon know if there was any ground to think that it was badly conducted. They could see the horses out when they were being ridden and hear what took place. All that is necessary is to have primâ facie evidence that a school is badly conducted and to apply to two magistrates for power to have a proper inspection. Because one or two of these schools may be, and possibly are, badly conducted that is no justification for compelling every man who lets a horse out on hire for any purpose whatever to become subject to the provisions of this Bill. In most hunting counties there are a considerable number of farmers who can manage to get one day's hunting a week, or possibly more, and who may have one or two horses, or even more, which they let out to people who come down occasionally to join in the hunting. Why should those farmers be compelled every year to apply for a licence, and to be registered, subject to a penalty of £25 for the first offence and £50 for the second offence, 821 and be liable at all times to have their stables inspected by veterinary surgeons who have come from some other place?
There are many people who have a very strong objection to veterinary officers coming into their stables when they do not know where they come from. Veterinary officers are often called into a stable where horses are suffering from glanders or some other disease, and there is always a possibility, and it sometimes occurs, that a veterinary officer coming from such a stable may bring infection into another stable. I do not say that that often happens, but people who keep horses are very particular about the veterinary surgeons whom they allow into their stables, from the fear, and there are reasonable grounds for the fear, that they may bring in some infection from other stables. Why should any hunting farmer who lets out one horse—it was suggested that the Bill might apply only to those who let out, say, three horses, but I know of several hunting farmers who let out four, five or six horses—be compelled to register and to submit to these inspections?
I cannot see that there are any grounds whatever for bringing them under the provisions of the Bill. My hon. and gallant Friend said that he was prepared to consider putting that matter right in Committee, but at the same time admitted that he thought there would be an overwhelming difficulty in finding some phrase which would enable him to meet such a case. I am not prepared to support the Bill until it is clearly shown that it shall apply to riding schools and to riding schools only. Many of these schools serve a desirable and useful purpose in encouraging riding. The Mover of the Bill painted, I thought, rather a lurid picture. He said that one could go down to Richmond Park and see horses in an emaciated condition and working when they were lame, and that inside the stables diseased horses might be found. Surely the existing powers are sufficient to enable anybody who works a horse in that condition to be prosecuted. One has read over and over again of successful prosecutions for these offences. I do not follow my hon. and gallant Friend when he complains that a number of prosecutions have taken place but that few convictions have been obtained. Surely that shows, if it shows anything at all, that the vast number of those 822 prosecutions were unfounded, were frivolous. If they had been prosecutions based upon sound evidence convictions would have been obtained.
§ Sir Robert Gower
What my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Captain Heilgers) said was that there were a certain number of complaints, and that in consequence of those complaints a certain number of prosecutions were brought, and I think I am right when I say that in almost every one of those prosecutions a conviction was sustained.
§ Sir M. Manningham-Buller
With all deference I took some notes, and I think I am correct in saying that my hon. and gallant Friend said there were a very large number of prosecutions.
§ Sir M. Manningham-Buller
"Prosecutions" was the word used, of that I am convinced; and he went on to say that convictions were not obtained in many of those cases, and that many of them were cases dealing with riding establishments. I repeat that, in my opinion, the existing powers are sufficient to deal with a man who maltreats his horses or works them when they are in an unfit condition, and if any further legislation is needed it should be on the lines which I suggested at the outset of my speech, that is, take the form of a very short Bill dealing with riding schools and riding schools only and leaving alone those farmers, good sportsmen, of whom there are many in the hunting counties, who in addition to the business of farming keep one or two horses and let them out for hunting purposes. They should not be called upon to pay a guinea every year and to register every year and to allow veterinary inspectors to have access to their stables at all times for inspection. Unless the Bill is limited to one which deals only with the evils with which we are trying to deal, and which arise in only a minority of riding schools, I shall be unable to support it.
§ 12.50 p.m.
§ Mr. McEntee
I warmly support the Bill, not because I am satisfied that it is in every way satisfactory, but because I think it would bring about an improvement in existing conditions. With the rapid increase in the number of riding 823 establishments which has taken place recently there is need for some kind of control, and this Bill gives us at least a measure of control, and will, I think, lead to some improvement. I was somewhat surprised at the opposition to the Bill put forward by the hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams). Usually he is so clear in his reasoning that I have been under the impression that he was a lawyer. However, I now gather from him that he is not a lawyer and for that, at any rate, I am thankful. The Bill gives certain powers, but, in my view, it is not wide enough in its application. It compels registration, which is a good thing, and it gives duly qualified inspectors of local authorities the right to inspect riding establishments. I would point out to the hon. Member for Torquay that apparently he has not read the title of the Bill, because he spoke of riding schools, whereas the Bill deals with riding establishments, which are not necessarily the same thing. Inspection ought to be carried out at definite intervals and at frequent intervals.
The hon. and gallant Member who seconded the Bill referred to the great variations in the prices charged at these riding establishments for the use of horses. The charges vary from 7s. 6d., I think, down to perhaps 3s.—at any rate I know of a case in which the charge is 3s. 6d. This is what might easily happen. Someone who wanted to set up a riding establishment would buy one or more horses, and then, finding there was a similar establishment nearby, would naturally make inquiries about the prices they charged, and in order to secure business would cut his charges to 3s. 6d. or 4s. as against the 5s. or 6s. charged in the other establishment. At the beginning the new establishment might be well equipped and its horses might be in reasonably good condition, but because of the low prices charged the owner of the establishment would not be able to keep the premises up to a decent standard or the horses in good condition. The consequence would be that, although the establishment might, in its early stages, have been visited, inspected and found in every way satisfactory, in 12 months' or two years' time a gradual deterioration of the establishment and of the condition of the horses would have set in. For that reason there should be frequent inspections.
824 I believe that the Bill will become law. I am more optimistic than some hon. Members. It will undoubtedly eliminate much of the cruelty that exists. Neither the mover nor the seconder of the Amendment gave any evidence or made any suggestion to prove that cruelty was not being carried out, but anybody who knows riding establishments will be aware that there is undoubtedly much cruelty to the horses in some of them, and the Bill should have the support of all hon. Members if it prevents or eliminates some of that cruelty. The Bill proposes a penalty of £25, and £50 for subsequent offences. Those penalties will be useful. The hon. Member for Torquay thought that the fines were too heavy, but I think that they are, if anything, too light. Anybody who deliberately allows horses to be worked in bad condition—
§ Mr. C. Williams
I was referring only to fines relating to offences under the Bill. Offences for cruelty can be dealt with in other ways. I want to make it plain that offences for cruelty ought to be dealt with as severely as possible. I do not want the hon. Member to give the impression that I think a light fine is right for cruelty. The fine ought to be heavy. I am not sure that I would keep the punishment to a fine for the second offence and that I would not send the offender to prison. I feel very strongly on the matter. The Bill has nothing to do with cruelty but relates to registration, so far as I understand it.
§ Mr. McEntee
I am glad that the hon. Gentleman and myself are in agreement on something. We are not in agreement on very many things. The Bill enables local authorities to withdraw registration of riding establishments in certain circumstances if it is considered that they are not being run in a proper manner and that the horses are not being treated properly. I do not think it can be denied that certain establishments ought never to have been allowed to carry on the work that they are doing. The Bill will definitely improve the general state of riding establishments and the condition of the horses. I thought the statement made by the hon. Member for Torquay that the Bill would be detrimental in some way to agriculture was rather extraordinary, because I think it would in some respects improve agriculture. The charge was made and can 825 be sustained that many of the horses in riding establishments are not sufficiently fed, either in quantity or quality, and, in consequence, their condition deteriorates. If we can make a law compelling the owners of these establishments to feed their horses properly agriculture must benefit, because farmers will be able to sell more and better horse food. The Bill should improve the breeding of horses. I do not claim an intimate knowledge of either horses or horse-breeding, but, as a layman, I think the Bill would improve the breed of horses.
When the Bill goes to Committee I hope that the promoter will consider some strengthening of it. My complaint is not that the Bill is too strong, but that it is not strong enough. I would like to see horses that go out from riding establishments bear some distinguishing mark. A motor car has to have a registration number. Unfortunately, I live in an area where a great number of riding establishments have recently sprung up, and these people are doing a considerable amount of damage.
§ Mr. McEntee
For some of the people who ride the horses it would not be a bad thing if they had "L" on some part of their anatomy. I see these horses almost every day when I go into Epping Forest. If hon. Members would go there on a reasonably fine day they would also see them. There are scores of them, and miles of the Forest have, in my view, been destroyed to make paths for those horses. Riding establishments have sprung up in Woodford, Loughton and all round that neighbourhood. That part of the Forest comes almost right up to my house in Walthamstow. Wide tracks have been specially laid out by the Forest Commissioners at very heavy expense, and the appearance of the forest has been destroyed. It is definitely unsafe, particularly for children, and very much damage has been caused by these profit-making riding establishments. The local authorities in the area bordering on the Forest have made their protest at the damage done to the Forest and the danger to the people using it, as well as at the serious damage that has been done to the beauty of the trees.
§ Mr. C. Williams
Would the hon. Member prohibit those people riding in that great open space? Not many of us would.
§ Mr. McEntee
I was saying that it should be possible to impose penalties on the people who own these horses and who do such damage to public beauty spots and places which the public ought to be able to use without fear of the danger to which they are subjected to-day. Such penalties should be imposed.
§ Mr. Orr-Ewing
Do we understand that the hon. Member is charging the horses with doing such a tremendous lot of damage in Epping Forest? Surely the horses do not make the clearances down which they go.
§ Mr. McEntee
If anybody takes the trouble to go to Epping Forest or to enquire of any of the local authorities bordering on the Forest, he will find that a number of them have made the strongest possible protest to the Epping Forest Commissioners because of the use of the forest by these horses during the last two or three years.
§ Mr. Orr-Ewing
Is the hon. Member now saying that the charge is against the Epping Forest Commissioners and not against the horses?
§ Mr. McEntee
No; the charge is against the people who own the horses, and who, by the use of these horses, have made parts of the forest bordering on populous areas almost unusable by the general public. Any inquiry of the local authorities in the area will confirm that view.
§ Lord Apsley
Does the hon. Member realise that, if the authorities would close these rides for three weeks or a month in the year, preferably in the spring, not only would it be found that the horses had done no damage, but the grass would be immensely improved. It is common knowledge that land used in this way should be closed for at least a month in the year and the grass harrowed properly, when it will be found to be much improved.
§ Mr. McEntee
There is not very much grass where a number of trees are growing in any case, and as for harrowing, it is very harrowing for any of us to view these parts of the forest and to see children continually in danger. Up to the time when that stretch of forest was 827 taken away from the public and separated off by posts—very ugly posts—the galloping of the horses left the ground in a very uneven and dangerous state, and parents are afraid to allow their children to go there now because of these riders, who are mostly young people who care very little for the condition of the forest and not very much for the children who play in the forest. I am protesting against that. I think the Bill might be strengthened so as to impose penalties for any damage done to public property by the owners of these horses. I wish it could be strengthened in many ways, but, such as it is, it is an improvement on existing conditions. I wish it well, and will certainly give it any support that I can.
§ 1.8 p.m.
§ Mr. Turton
My hon. Friend the Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams) twitted me with being a mutineer. Certainly I find myself in a very unhappy position to-day, because, while I am one of those who backed this Bill, I find myself in disagreement with some of the provisions of the Bill. That, however, appears to me to be rather the fault of the House of Commons procedure. Members who back a Bill back the Title of the Bill, and the Title of this Bill is:To provide for the registration and inspection of riding establishments.When, however, one sees the Bill as drafted, one finds that it goes further than that. It defines riding establishments, and includes every person who uses a horse in any way, whether for letting out on hire or for demonstrating his or her prowess on a horse. For that reason I cannot congratulate those who drafted the Bill on their work. We are in general agreement except for the hon. Member for West Walthamstow (Mr. McEntee), that, while we want to do away with the cruel or bad riding school, we do not want to interfere with the very healthy exercise which the riding of horses provides for people of differing means. Riding is not only the privilege of the rich, but the enjoyment of people of all occupations. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh !"]. In London that may not be the case, but 'it certainly is the case in the rural districts.
§ Mr. McEntee
Does the hon. Member suggest that agricultural workers can pay 828 3s. 6d. an hour for the hire of a horse from a riding school?
§ Mr. Turton
Not at all; but in the country districts riding is not always done at a charge. In many cases the farmer who has his horse lets the agricultural labourer, and especially the agricultural labourer's children, ride the horse. Those who have knowledge of the country districts will agree that that is the position. We want that position to be preserved in the Bill, and I cannot think it is necessary to have all these penal provisions against those who keep horses for such purposes. In the first place, why should we charge a guinea for the registration of a riding school? I understand that later this afternoon the proposal is going to be made that it shall be possible to register a club for 5s., as is the case now. If a club—perhaps a very rich club—has to pay only 5s. why should a wretched farmer, or even a riding school proprietor, have to pay a guinea annually because he is going to let out one or two animals for hire in the course of the year? I think the promoters of the Bill should consider that point very carefully.
The Bill has two purposes. I was rather surprised that my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Cambridge (Lieut.-Commander Tufnell) did not explain the Bill to that extent. It seeks to do two things—first, to register all riding establishments; and, secondly, to lay down a penalty of £25 for all people, whether owners of riding establishments or not, who keep any horse in an unsatisfactory or neglected condition, or let out for hire any horse in an unfit condition. That would include everybody, whether they are excepted or not. I do not quarrel very much with the first part of the Bill as drafted; it would apply to riding establishments and riding schools only; and I think that, with a little alteration, the second part could be made satisfactory. We want to stop cruelty to horses, and it is admitted that the present law, as laid down in the Act of 1911, requires a certain amount of strengthening. At the present time it is not easy to get a conviction. But let us not, in the attempt to make that Act work, go far wider and use words which really are inoperable, such as:Keeps in an unsatisfactory or neglected condition any horse …829 My hon. and gallant Friend said that his inspector found 15 horses in an old yard, all of which were well fed, but were dirty and stiff. It is not surprising that horses that have had a certain amount of exercise are often, like the riders, stiff, and I have myself known what it is to be both stiff and dirty, but I hardly thought that I or my horse was committing an offence. I think the Bill goes rather too far. By all means let some provision be inserted that, if unnecessary suffering is caused, it shall be an offence—as, indeed, is the case under the Act of 1911—and that, if the offender is the owner of a riding school, he shall lose his licence.
There is a very curious gap in the Bill. As far as I can see, if a riding establishment is a licensed establishment and a prosecution is brought and sustained under the Protection of Animals Act, 1911, there will be no power for the court to take away the licence; but if the establishment kept a horse in an unsatisfactory or neglected condition the licence could be taken away. That seems to show that the Bill is ill drafted. I suggest that the Act of 1911 ought to be linked more closely with this Measure. We want to register riding schools, and then, if a riding school is found to have caused unnecessary suffering, that riding school should lose its licence, and a very heavy penalty—far heavier, I believe, than are put forward in this Billߞshould be placed on those persons. What is the position of farmers? I know, in Yorkshire, large numbers of farmers who in the Summer let out some of the horses kept on the farm—whether they are kept for the purpose of going to market or hunting—to those who lodge on the farm, in order to give people coming from the towns the delights of the countryside. There is a charge which is probably far less than 7s. 6d. a day, which has been mentioned—probably 2s. 6d., or something like that. It is an extra privilege of the farm.
§ Sir R. Gower
Will the hon. Gentleman allow me to call his attention to Clause 5, Sub-section (1) (iii) which defines riding establishments. If he will read that, he will find no reference to farmers.
§ Mr. Turton
The hon. Member for Gillingham (Sir R. Gower) has the advantage of being a lawyer, and I will ask 830 him, in that capacity, to read paragraph (iii). He will there find:'Riding establishment' means any stables or other premises whatsoever at which horses are kept for the purpose of being let out for hire or riding ….
§ Mr. Turton
I used to be a practising member of the senior side of the legal profession, and he is, I know, a very active member of the junior side—
§ Mr. Turton
The hon. Member for Seaham (Mr. Shinwell) probably does not know the curious relation that exists between barristers and solicitors in this country. I challenge the hon. Member for Gillingham to say that if a farmer lets out horses for riding he will not be brought under Clause 5 (1, iii). Both the Mover and the Seconder of the Bill take the view that he will, and I imagine they have had the advantage of the legal advice of those who have drafted this Bill. They have said that this Bill is intended to deal with farmers who let out horses for hire—
§ Mr. Turton
—those who let out their horses for hire as hacks, and that they intended, if they got a Second Reading to-day, to provide in Committee that the Bill should not apply to those who let out horses for hunting. I cannot understand why those who let out horses for hire for hunting should be exempted, when those who let out horses for hire for hacking are going to be brought within the penal provisions of the Bill and are to be made to pay a guinea a year. It is proposed to penalise the farmer who is going into this business, not for the sake of large profits and gains but to give pleasure to people who come to live in the country during the summer months, while the other farmer who gets large sums for letting out his horses for hunting is going to be exempt. I do not think that is fair.
I expect the House already knows of the very great prevalence of the Cleveland Bay mare in many parts of Yorkshire. It is used, where the land is light, in the plough and also for riding. The Cleveland Bay is, of its kind, the best horse in the world, and the Americans are buying it for several purposes. In 831 America it is extensively used for riding schools and clubs. Here it is the fanner's horse. He hunts it, works it, and in the summer he lets people ride it. Now you are going to make him pay a guinea a year for that. I do not believe that is the intention of the Bill, and I hope that if the Bill receives a Second Reading that matter will receive the attention of the Committee. I agree with the hon. Member for West Walthamstow that this Bill does not go far enough. We have a definition of a horse. It is very objectionable, because it entails legislation by reference. It is provided that:'Horse' has the same meaning as in the Protection of Animals Act, 1911.I should have thought that a horse could have been denned as' a horse—as it is in many other Bills. But if you are going to have a definition of a horse for riding establishments, you should include donkeys. (An HON. MEMBER: "And mules.") And mules. When I have looked at donkeys which are used for riding on the sands, I have been appalled at their condition and the way they are treated. If the hon. and gallant Member wants to diminish the sufferings of animals—as I am sure he doesߞand, in his own eloquent words, "to stop dumb animals from suffering in silence," I think he should include the donkey, which I can assure him is as dumb an animal as a horse, though perhaps more noisy, and suffers in silence just as much as a horse does. This question of the donkey should be considered.
I notice that this definition, perhaps rather surprisingly, includes the stallion. Personally, I should have thought there was not so much need for that provision. Those who let out a stallion for hire take their own risk, and anybody who rides a stallion for hire would no doubt be perfectly equipped to do so, and would not need any protection from this Bill after a short time. [Interruption.] May I make it quite clear? Under this Bill, the hon. and gallant Member wishes to ensure that those who keep stallions in a riding establishment, for the purpose of letting them out for hire, should be subject to the provisions of this Bill. I was maintaining that I thought the donkey was a more important object for protection than the stallion. I have not frequently found riding establishments letting out stallions for hire. I hope that 832 the promoters of the Bill will at some time explain to us any grave cases where stallions have been kept in an unsatisfactory or unfit condition, or in an unfit condition, whatever that may be from the point of view of a stallion. I do not think, on full consideration, that the Bill is as well drafted as I should like it to be.
§ Mr. J. Morgan
I am finding it extremely difficult to follow the hon. Member, because I see that his name is on the back of the Bill.
§ Mr. Turton
The hon. Member for Don-caster (Mr. J. Morgan) has no doubt been having a very good and happy lunch. When I got up, I explained in some detail the very peculiar position I was in, and I expect the hon. Member was then enjoying the food which I have not yet had the pleasure of enjoying. I am in favour of the purpose of the Bill as is contained in the long and short Titles of the Bill, but I am opposed to the Bill itself as at present drafted. I have been described by my hon. Friend the Member for Torquay as a mutineer, and I am now walking the plank.
§ Mr. C. Williams
Is my hon. Friend going to make a complete mutiny? Will he vote against the Bill, or for the Bill? We are entitled, before he sits down, to know precisely what he is going to do. Am I to welcome him as a mutineer?
§ Mr. Turton
My hon. Friend has asked me a very fair question. The object of a Second Reading in this House is, I understand, to vote for the long and short Titles of a Bill. There have been a number of Bills, especially this Session, which, after they have passed the Second Reading, have undergone miraculous changes, sometimes in Committee and sometimes even before the Committee stage. I take the view that by voting for the Second Reading I shall leave myself free to alter the Bill on the Committee stage, so that it comes back as unrecognisable as have been some other Bills on their return to this House. For that reason I cannot go into the Lobby with my hon. Friend the Member for Torquay. I believe that there is a real gap in the law as laid down in the 1911 Act in regard to the protection either of horses or donkeys kept in the riding establishments of this country, but I see no reason why we should widen the scope of the Bill so as to make the Measure 833 a burden upon every farmer who allows his horses to be ridden either for hire, or even, as my hon. Friend the Member for Torquay pointed out, in shows, or at point-to-point. That is going much too far. We are now in the point-to-point season, and in the terms of this Bill—and I invite the application of the legal acumen of my hon. Friend the Member for Gillingham (Sir R. Gower) to this point—if a farmer rides his horse in the farmers' race at point-to-point he will be deemed to be keeping a riding establishment under the provisions of Clause 5 (3).for the purpose of being … used … in providing demonstration in riding.Every time a farmer rides his horse in a point-to-point race, he will make himself liable to the guinea registration, and certainly any person who exhibits his horse in any show, or at any gymkhana, will be liable to a penalty of £25 if he has not registered his stables as a riding establishment under the provisions of the Act. I hope that if the House gives the Bill a Second Reading, the Measure will be so materially altered on the Committee stage that it comes back a very different Bill.
§ 1.30 p.m.
§ Sir R. Gower
I sincerely and cordially congratulate the Proposer and Seconder of this Motion upon the able and eloquent way in which they presented the case for the Bill. There can be no doubt at all that, if we consider very carefully the arguments they have used and the facts they have adduced, the House will have no hesitation at all in giving the Second Reading for which they ask. My hon. Friend the Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams) moved what is virtually the rejection of the Bill. I know my hon. Friend sufficiently well as to realise that there is no humane, kinder-hearted or more benevolently-minded Member of this House than he is, and I feel sure that, when he comes to consider everything which has been adduced to-day, he will not carry his opposition to the extent of asking the House to divide against the Bill.
I think that I am justified in claiming that, in all probability, I have more information with regard to the subject matter of this Bill than any other Member of the House, inasmuch as I have the privilege to be the Chairman of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to 834 Animals, a part of whose jurisdiction is the administration, as far as prosecutions are concerned, of the law affecting animals. I entirely agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton), that the existing legislation is not sufficient to enable the evils of which we are complaining to-day to be dealt with adequately. There can be no question at all that, if those evils are to be removed, it is necessary that there should be further legislation, and I suggest that the legislation adumbrated in this Bill is sufficient for that purpose. Several of the points which were raised by my hon. Friend are Committee points, and I can assure him, speaking on behalf of the promoters of the Bill, that all we desire to do is to cure the evils of which we complain. We do not want to do less, and we do not want to do more.
Reference has been made to the circumstance that a number of complaints with regard to riding schools have been received by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. We have received a large number of complaints, and where we have been advised that the subject matter of the complaint came within the existing law, we have instituted prosecutions, and in less than 1 per cent. of the cases have we not succeeded in obtaining convictions over a period of years. But in many cases in respect of which complaints have been received, and where we have received information, we have been advised that, although there could be no doubt at all that the position was unsatisfactory, the law was not sufficiently strong and did not go far enough to justify us in bringing a prosecution with any prospect of success. I assure the House, speaking from my own information—and I think the House knows me sufficiently well, having regard to the speeches which I have made in the past— that no one deplores exaggeration more than I do. I feel that in the past the cause of animal welfare has been very greatly prejudiced on account of the exaggerations which have emanated from over-enthusiastic people. I can assure the House, having regard to the information that I have received and the inquiries that I have made, there are many riding stables in this country where the conditions, without exaggeration, from the point of view of those who love animals or have anything to do with horses, are deplorable.
835 One of my hon. Friends who interrupted the speech of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Northampton (Sir M. Buller) stated that he was under the impression that the Royal Society have power to inspect riding stables. We have no such power. We have no right at all to enter private premises without the consent of the occupier of the premises. In many cases we have endeavoured to inspect riding schools but have been refused permission. Strange as it may appear, the law to-day is such that even the police have no power to inspect these riding establishments or stables unless it can be shown that there is a prima facie case that an offence under the existing law is being committed there.
I do not want to labour the point with regard to the conditions which exist in these riding stables. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Captain Heilgers) mentioned correspondence recently published in the "Times" with regard to this matter and quoted a letter written by Sir Frederick Hobday. I think the House will agree that I am right in describing Sir Frederick as a most eminent veterinary surgeon. In addition to being an eminent veterinary surgeon, he is editor of the "Veterinary Journal." Sir Frederick Hobday has great experience as a scientist and is not in the habit of exaggerating but is always extremely moderate in his statements. I should like to quote from his letter to the "Times," which was published on 28th June, 1938, and I hope the House will forgive me if I read the letter fully, because it puts the matter in a far better and more appropriate language than it is possible for me to do. He said:It is good to read that a Bill will, in due course, be placed before Parliament to make compulsory the inspection of the numerous riding schools which have sprung up like mushrooms all over the country.He goes on to say:In the course of my professional work I come across a large number of these places in all parts of the country.I would draw particular attention to Sir Frederick's words "a large number of places."and I am emphatically of the opinion that the mal-treatment of the horses complained of is due—in the majority of instances—to the ignorance of bad horse-mastership, as well as bad horsemanship. Quite a large proportion of the owners of so called 'riding schools'—836 I would again call special attention to the words "a large proportion" which Sir Frederick Hobday uses:—"do not know even the rudiments of feeding and stable management; and, in addition, the place of the good old style of groom who knew and loved his horses is nowadays often taken by a semi-scholarly amateur whose knowledge of stable hygiene and management of the saddle room and its equipage is deplorable. Unfortunately, it is the poor beast which bears the brunt of it all, and I hope that the Bill which Captain Heilgers proposes to bring forward will soon before law; for the credit of the English people whose name is always so prominently associated with all practical measures formulated to improve the condition of our animal friends. So far as my own profession is concerned, I can assure him that it will receive the strongest possible support.In corroboration of what Sir Frederick Hobday says I would point out that on the Council of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals we had up to a few weeks ago one of the most eminent veterinary surgeons of this country who informed the Council from his own personal knowledge and experience that it was highly necessary that some legislation should be passed to deal with the conditions which he saidexist in a large number of riding schools in this country.My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Cambridge (Lieut.-Commander Tufnell) said that a number of societies, not only those such as the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals who are primarily humane societies, but those which pay particular regard to the interests of the horse, and horse owners support the Bill. There is a unanimous appeal from all these societies that this matter should be dealt with. May I refer also to a letter which appeared in the "Times" on 27th June, 1938, from Sir Walter Gilbey, whose name is a household word in this country as one who has the interests of the horse at heart. In that letter he very strongly supported the suggestion that a Bill should be passed to deal with this question. When the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals decided two years ago that it would promote legislation to deal with this matter, it did so because it came to the conclusion that it was absolutely necessary in the interests of the horse itself and the interests of those who ride horses.
There has been some criticism of the terms of the Bill. Let me say at once 837 that all that the promoters desire to do is to deal in an effective way with riding establishments, particularly with those establishments which have sprung up in the last two years and which are controlled by individuals who, to quote Sir Frederick Hobday, know very little with regard to horses and have very little knowledge of horse mastership. The hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton mentioned the case of a farmer who has horses for the purposes of his farming business but who at times lets out those horses for hunting. In Clause 5 (3) a riding establishment is defined as:any stables or other premises whatsoever at which horses are kept for the purpose of being let out for hire for riding or of being used in providing instruction in riding for payment or in providing demonstration in riding.My hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton is a Member of the Bar, and I should be the last to quarrel with him in his interpretation of an Act of Parliament, but the promoters of the Bill are advised that the case to which he referred would not come within the scope of the Measure
§ Mr. Turton
If that is so, can my hon. Friend explain why the mover and seconder or the Bill said that they intended to move in Committee an Amendment to insert after the words "London Zoological Society" in Clause 5 (1) (iii) the wordsor any stables or other premises occupied together with not less than 50 acres of land by a person bona-fide carrying on the business of farming by reason only of the fact that not more than three horses kept thereat by and belonging to such person are used by such person for the purpose of being let out for hire for hunting.They explained that they were not including horses let out for hacking.
§ Sir R. Gower
The reason why there was an agreement that such an Amendment should be moved was to make it clear that where a farmer kept horses for the purpose of letting them out for hunting but not keeping them for any other purpose, that farmer would not come within the scope of the Bill. I am endeavouring to state the object of the Bill, and I feel sure that I am justified on behalf of the promoters in saying that if the words of the Clause do actually cover the case referred to by the hon. Member the matter can be considered in 838 Committee. If the hon. Member considers the meaning of this particular Clause he will agree that a farmer who has one or two horses which he rides to point to point, or which are ridden for him, it would be difficult indeed for a court of summary jurisdiction to say that such horses are kept for the purposes of demonstration, and I have very little doubt that if a court of summary jurisdiction did so decide, it would be upset by the higher court. It is a legal point, but I can assure the hon. Member that the Bill is not intended to deal with such a case as he mentioned. I do not think it is necessary for me to take up the time of the House any longer in putting the case for the Bill. We think it is necessary that these riding establishments should be subject to inspection. The hon. Member for Torquay suggested that if the Bill passed it would constitute an unwarrantable interference with the liberty of the subject.
§ Sir R. Gower
The right hon. and gallant Member agrees. But the Bill is so drawn that individuals who live up to their obligations in regard to the treatment of animals have nothing to fear from it. Speaking as Chairman of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals the only cases where facilities have been refused to our inspectors have been those in which the owners were afraid to allow inspection to take place. I would also point out that the only authority under the Bill which would have the power of inspection is the local authority. It can authorise in writing any duly qualified veterinary surgeon to enter any premises which are registered. I would suggest, on behalf of the promoters that, however desirable it may be that these riding establishments should be subject to periodical inspection, a local authority—I speak as one who was a member of a local authority for a quarter of a century— would only authorise in writing a duly qualified veterinary surgeon to make an inspection where there was cause to believe that the establishment was not being carried on in a satisfactory manner. To suggest that giving a local authority power to authorise a duly qualified veterinary inspector to inspect the 839 premises, not a policeman, or an inspector of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, but a fully qualified veterinary surgeon, is an undue interference with the liberty, of the subject is rather straining the point.
Under a good many Acts of Parliament local authorities have power of inspection. The powers of inspection on the part of the police and other authorities are far more drastic and far wider than the powers given in this case. It. is necessary that there should be a power for someone to inspect these establishments when there is reason to believe that conditions are unsatisfactory, and I can see no more unobjectionable way of carrying out this inspection than to give power to a local authority, acting undoubtedly as it would on information received, to authorise a responsible and duly qualified person to carry it out. Of course, it is necessary, if inspection is to be carried out that there should be provisions with regard to registration. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Torquay suggested that if the Bill were passed, the cost of these inspections would be thrown on the local authority. It seems to me that a registration fee of one guinea is not excessive, but if it is considered it is, that point can be dealt with in Committee, and if the Committee think it is too large they can decide that it shall be a lower figure. Those who are supporting the Bill are desirous that these establishments should be registered, because we are advised that it is the most satisfactory way of curing the evil of which we complain. Clause 4 has been referred to. It says:If any person—840 and so on
- (a)keeps a riding establishment when his name is not entered on a register under this Act; or
- (b)keeps a riding establishment which is not registered under this Act; or
- (c)lets out any horse for hire for riding or uses such horse for providing instruction in riding for payment or for providing demonstration in riding when such horse is in an unfit condition; or
- (d)keeps in an unsatisfactory or neglected condition any horse which is used for any of the purposes specified in paragraph (c)of this subsection; or
- (e)contravenes or fails to comply with an order of the Court made under this Act;he shall be guilty of an offence under this Act and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding twenty-five pounds-for the first offence and not exceeding fifty pounds for any subsequent offence.I think every hon. Member will agree that a person who is guilty of any of these offences should be convicted.
§ Mr. Turton
The point is that if you are found guilty of an offence under the Protection of Animals Act, 1911, as the present Bill is drafted you cannot have your named removed from the register.
§ Sir R. Gower
I entirely agree, and I think that is a matter which will have to be dealt with. If we are to achieve the end we desire it is necessary to give effect to what my hon. Friend suggests. I have no doubt that in Committee the promoters of the Bill will receive suggestions on this point not only with satisfaction but with cordiality.
§ Sir R. Gower
That paragraph reads in this way:Riding establishment" means any stables or other premises whatsoever at which horses are kept for the purpose of being let out for hire for riding or of being used in providing instruction in riding for payment or in providing demonstration in riding.I have already given to the House my opinion as to the construction of that Clause, I may be wrong. I endeavoured to make perfectly clear the evil we are attempting to cure and which we think, would be cured by passing the Bill, and is connected with a large number of establishments, what one may term "riding schools and riding establishments" which exist for the main purpose.
§ Sir R. Gower
I am explaining what is the purpose of the Bill, although I admit quite frankly that I may be wrong in stating what I consider to be the construction. I think the hon. and gallant Members who Moved and Seconded the Motion for the Second Reading will agree that I have properly stated what is the purpose of the Bill. However, these are all points that can be dealt with in 841 Committee. Today we are dealing with the principles underlying the Bill. I venture to suggest that there is not one hon. Member who is not in favour of the principles of the Bill and who is not determined to do everything he can to end this evil. I appeal to hon. Members —even those who have supported the Motion for the rejection of the Bill—to give the Bill a unanimous Second Reading, and to. do their best in Committee to make it into a workable measure, having regard to the object which we have in view, so that when the Bill returns to the House on Report Stage, we can all combine with that object in view.
§ 1.57 p.m.
§ Colonel Wedgwood
I am glad to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Gillingham (Sir R. Gower). I have the greatest admiration for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, over which he so ably presides, and I have very great admiration for him. I am certain that in bringing forward this Measure to-day, there is behind it his conviction that the Bill is right. I can only say that I am extremely sorry that the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has wasted our time to-day with such a Bill. After all, cruelty to animals is not the only question; there are other questions which are more important at the present time. But I quite understand that every society of this sort always have some Bill in their pigeon hole, and when they find that some inexperienced, unfortunate Member who wins a place in the ballot will take it up, they have got to bring the Bill out. We have suffered for it for three hours to-day.
To my mind, all Friday Bills are iniquitous. I have rarely come across any Bill introduced by a private Member which ought to have the approval of a deliberative assembly. You have only to look through the Bills we had last year and the year before that—and no doubt it will be the same with the Bills next year and the year after that—to find that they are Bills in which some Private Member finds some excuse for putting some completely innocent person into gaol. You have only to open the ordinary Friday afternoon Bill and turn over the corners until you come to the gaol clause, and then you know you are going to make somebody happy. It is taking a page out of the Nazi doctrines—the only way in 842 which you can make people decent in this world is by giving them a dose of a concentration camp. It is securing law, order and discipline in the normal authoritative way.
Take this Bill. In the first place, none of the hon. Members who have spoken has made out a case for the Bill. We have not heard of any cases of cruelty to horses in livery stables and riding establishments. Nothing of the sort has been brought forward; not a solitary case has been brought forward. I have no doubt there are some, but I am certain one could find others equally gross in establishments that are not riding establishments—of horses being driven up and down the slippery streets of London, for instance. There are plenty of cases of that sort. I should have had more respect for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals if they had brought forward a Bill to register and license and stop fox hunting. I do not think you can make people good by Act of Parliament. The only way to stop cruelty is by public opinion and education. No case has been made out for this Bill. It is a contemptible Bill. What does it do? It registers all riding establishments at a cost of a guinea. Last year, we registered undertakers; the year before we registered architects; and the year before that, dental surgeons. It is all registration, all a closing of the ranks, so that nobody can compete with the cherished few who have achieved the honour and dignity of registration.
There is something to be said for it in the case of architects and dentists, for they are performing a service which the public needs at some time or other, and in which the public requires that there should be some standard of education to guarantee that there will be efficiency. There is something to be said for registering nurses, so that you may get good nurses; there is something to be said for registering dentists, so that you may get a good architecture inside your mouths; there is something to be said for registering architects, although I have never discovered what it is. But when it comes to registering the proprietors of riding establishments, I think we have reached the limit. They are not even required to pass an examination as to whether they can ride or not, or whether they know anything about horses or not. 843 I wonder that there is not a Clause for that. Practically anybody can register a riding establishment; it is only necessary to pay a guinea. But I ask the House to observe what is the principle behind all these Bills for registering professions. It is to curtail competition, so that the cheap man cannot come in, so that poor men cannot take up the business, so that poor men cannot get a horse to ride, a coffin to get into, or become a doctor or a dentist, or whatever it is. It is to close the profession and get better fees for the people already in it. This Bill is to close the noble profession of riding establishments.
I do not want the House to think I am against this Bill because I am in favour of cruelty to animals. As a matter of fact, I suppose I am the only Member in the House who has shot no less than 72 foundered horses. During the South African War, I used to go out on trek with a rifle and shoot all the foundered bullocks and mules beside the track. The only decent thing to do was to save them from being pecked to death by the vultures, and having their hide cut off by the kaffirs for untanned leather. I know what a foundered horse is. I had to ride such horses. I do not believe for one moment that anybody can successfully carry on any sort of riding establishment and let horses unless he looks after them. I do not mean keeping them perfectly groomed, but unless horses are properly fed and treated you will not get people to ride them. There is nothing more unpleasant than riding a horse when you do not know whether he is going to stand up or drop on his knees. Riding foundered horses is as bad for the rider as for the horse, and I do not think that these establishments provide bad horses for their clients. The horses are not, of course, first-rate hunters but they are fit to take a man out for an hour's ride on a Sunday afternoon, and I think it unfair that this House should seek to stop people who like going out for a ride on a Sunday afternoon, from having the opportunity of taking that form of exercise.
In these proposals, I see the usual story of the old-established concerns trying to squeeze out the new concerns and the attempt to deprive poor people of a pleasure which the rich enjoy regularly—not that I myself enjoy it now because
844 it takes most of the skin off my back. But these proposals are all part of that wretched old tradition of "the butcher boy." When a man was riding badly he was always called "the butcher boy." I do not know why a butcher boy should not have as good a chance of riding as anybody else. I do not think that any proposal to restrict a trade, in the interests of those already in the trade, is in the interests of the community as a whole. I go so far as to say that politics is one long perpetual struggle between vested interests and the public interest.
If Bills of this sort, devised in the interests of a small group, are to be put forward under the plea of kindness to animals, and if an unsuspecting House is to be induced to support such Bills on that ground, then it is time for hon. Members to put a stop to it, not by the agreeable method of allowing a Bill of this kind to go to Committee, but by defeating it in the House. Both the Bills on the Paper to-day are the same in principle. They are both Bills to restrict to a smaller number of people already engaged in them, certain trades which at present are perfectly legitimate. They are both devised in the interests of a particular group of people dealing with a particular subject. They are both devised to keep up prices and to make it more difficult for people, in the one case to get horses to ride and in the other case to get beer to drink. I have no use for either of them, and I think it time that this House put its foot down firmly upon these Friday afternoon Bills which seek to put innocent people into prison, which close professions, which restrict opportunities to trade and increase prices.
§ Lieut.-Commander Tufnell
There is nothing in the Bill about putting people into prison. There is no offence under it which would involve the owner of a riding establishment in a sentence of imprisonment.
§ Colonel Wedgwood
But does not the hon. and gallant Member see that if you have registration at a guinea a head it means that nobody can go into this trade unless he has a certain number of horses. A man who has one horse cannot let it out for hire for riding. You confine the trade, by the very fact that you charge a fee and require all the trouble of registration, to a small number of people, and thus you restrict the number of horses 845 available for hiring and the opportunities of people for riding. At the same time, you enable existing proprietors to get higher prices.
§ Lieut.-Commander Tufnell
What we want to ensure is that opportunities for riding should not be at the expense of the horse.
§ Colonel Wedgwood
I have no doubt the hon. and gallant Member has the very best intentions. Hell is paved with them, and so is this Bill. The hon. and gallant Member wants to provide everybody with beautiful hunters for riding and to have everything nice in the picture, but he cannot do it under this Bill. The actual result of the Bill will be to prevent new riding establishments developing, to stop certain people from having riding exercise and to increase prices. If you have restriction in supply, you must increase the price of the article. That is elementary political economy. The hon. and gallant Member has the very best intentions and I daresay the House itself will be influenced by that, because there is an instinctive feeling in this House for any well-meaning person like the hon. and gallant Member. Hon. Members are inclined to say in regard to Bills of this kind, "After all, it can be put right in Committee; it will come out all right in the wash." But I think we must put our foot down upon this sort of thing. This is a vice which is growing and which ought to be discontinued. I do not think this Bill is as bad as the Bill which follows it on the Order Paper and which, I am pleased to think, has very little chance of getting through it, but I am anxious to persuade the hon. and gallant Member and the other good people who have put their names on the back of this Bill, that this is not the way for us to spend our Friday afternoons. A Friday afternoon spent in this way has only one advantage, namely, that it educates the people who bring forward Bills like this to see that the folly of trying to make people good by Act of Parliament is not confined to one side of the House, but seems to pervade the whole of humanity.
§ 2.12 p.m.
§ Mr. Lipson
I find myself in disagreement with the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) when he says this is not the way in which we ought to spend our Friday afternoons. We have before us a Bill which aims to carry out a very necessary reform and prevent considerable suffering and cruelty, and I can conceive of no better way of spending a Friday afternoon than in considering such a Measure. Certainly, to me, it seems that our time is being much more profitably spent this Friday afternoon than it was last Friday in the consideration of the revolutionary kind of Measure then proposedߞa Measure which it was well known the House had no intention of passing, and the time spent in debating which was, therefore, largely wasted.
§ Mr. J. Morgan
Does the hon. Member suggest that if municipalities were allowed to keep riding establishments they would keep their horses in the state which has been described to-day? He will remember that last Friday's Bill dealt with the powers of municipalities in such matters.
§ Mr. Lipson
I do not know whether the hon. Member was present at last Friday's Debate or even read the Bill, but there was no reference in it to municipalities keeping riding establishments.
§ Mr. Morgan
I have read the Bill, and it was a Bill to enable municipalities to undertake all kinds of businesses.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Colonel Clifton Brown)
I am afraid this is not an occasion on which we can discuss again a Bill which was discussed last Friday.
§ Mr. Lipson
I was under the impression when I came to the House to-day that this Bill was non-controversial, and I think a great deal of the criticism which we have heard has not been directed against the principle or the purposes of the Bill, but has referred to matters of detail which can be dealt with in Committee. I welcome the Bill because I regard it as a preventive Measure. What is wrong with the present law is that it is largely a case of locking the stable door after the horse has escaped. That is to say that you can under the existing law bring cases of cruelty into court But the cruelty has already taken place. If 847 this Bill is passed there will be registration of riding establishments and I think that that will have the effect in many instances of preventing cruelty from ever occurring.
§ Mr. Orr-Ewing
How does the actual registration of any riding establishment act as a deterrent? It would be interesting to know.
§ Mr. Lipson
I am very glad that my hon. Friend has raised the point, because under the Bill it will be possible for local authorities to give permission to veterinary inspectors to visit these establishments. A great deal of the cruelty to animals that goes on in riding establishments to-day is not due to any malice on the part of those responsible for the management but, as has been said, is due very largely to ignorance, and the visit of the veterinary inspector will be, not with a view of getting those in control into trouble, but will be of a friendly nature, to give them advice and guidance as to the treatment of the horses under their care.
§ Mr. Lipson
I do not know whether my hon. Friend means me to take his interruption seriously, but if he has knowledge of local administration he can rest assured that this matter will be left entirely in the hands of the veterinary inspector and that he will not be accompanied by members of the education committee. The visit of the veterinary inspector can be of an educative and helpful nature, in spite of the fact that he goes alone. Therefore, I think that the Bill is to be welcomed. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Cambridge (Lieut.-Commander Tufnell) is to be congratulated not only in using his success in the ballot in order to introduce the Bill, but also on the particular time when the Bill is under discussion. He could not have foreseen that we should be discussing this Bill at the end of a week of very great tension in the world. It has been one of the most dramatic weeks in recent times, and I think that at the end of such a week to be considering a Bill for the relief of suffering of animals is something in the nature of dramatic relief. There is the further fact that the Bill follows a Bill introduced yesterday by 848 my hon. Friend the Member for Gillingham (Sir R. Gower), which also has the interests and protection of animals as its concern. It does show that this House is still interested in the protection of the weak, and I hope it will demonstrate that fact by its vote this afternoon.
The hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams), who opposed the Bill, was obviously very impressed with the importance of it, because he thought that there ought to be quite a number of Cabinet Ministers present to advise the House on the Bill. He asked for the Minister of Agriculture; he asked for a Law Officer. I was surprised that he did not go on to ask for the presence of the Prime Minister. No doubt he found consolation in the fact that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty was present. In spite of the extremely able speech that he made, the hon. Member was not able to attack the principle and purpose of the Bill. The Bill is not devised in the interests of a small class of wealthy proprietors of riding establishments. It is intended solely for the benefit of horses, to prevent the cruelty which exists to-day. The hon. Member brought forward against the Bill certain charges which were quite unjustified. He said that there were unnecessary rules and regulations, that the Bill dealt a blow at agriculture, and he made charges of other kinds, but he did not give us any substantial proof of justification for his criticisms.
Mr. J. J. Davidson
Surely the hon. Member does not suggest that in riding establishments to-day there is consistent cruelty to horses? If so, is he aware that the great majority of proprietors of such establishments are supporters of the party opposite?
§ Mr. Lipson
I do not say that in the majority of establishments to-day there is consistent cruelty to animals, but quite sufficient evidence was given by my hon. and gallant Friend who seconded the Motion for the Second Reading to show that a considerable amount of cruelty exists, and that the only remedy under the existing law is to deal with the cruelty that does occur. We who support the Bill believe that by this Measure we can prevent a great deal of that suffering from ever taking place.
§ Lord Apsley
Surely it is the case that there is such an organisation as the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals? It is their job to see whether cruelty is in fact being practised or not, and if they do not find that out they are not doing their job, and the people who subscribe to the society ought to ask why.
§ Mr. Lipson
I am glad that the Noble Lord has so much faith in the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and I ask him to extend a little further his confidence in that society when I tell him that the Society is wholeheartedly behind the Bill, that it believes it requires the strengthening that the Bill will provide to enable it to carry out its function properly. Knowing how anxious the Noble Lord is to further anything that will ensure the well-being of animals, I hope he will decide to support the Bill. Those who are best qualified to judge, who have to deal with the protection of animals, have found out by experience that the existing law is not good enough. Therefore, they bring forward this Measure, and in principle it can receive the support of the House. If there are any points of detail about which hon. Members are not satisfied the proper place to deal with them is in Committee. I commend the Bill to the House because I believe it is a reasonable attempt to deal with an evil which undoubtedly exists.
The point has been made that it is no use registering riding establishments, because under the Bill no qualifications are required in those who are in charge of the establishments. The answer to that is that this Bill will enable local authorities to find out whether or not riding establishments are properly conducted, and I think that that test is a sounder and a better one than the possession of any qualifications of any kind. Therefore, because this Bill is a serious attempt to deal with an evil of the existence of which there is unfortunately only too much evidence, because there has been no serious criticism of the principles of the Bill and the objects that it has in view, I commend it to the favourable attention of the House.
§ 2.26 p.m.
§ Lord Apsley
I did not interrupt the hon. Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Lipson) again, because I did not wish 850 unduly to interrupt the most excellent speech that he was making on the Bill and because I was aware that the time was going on and that the House did not wish its time to be wasted by interruptions. I therefore thought I would wait until my hon. Friend sat down and then deal with one particular point in his speech. He said that the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is in favour of this Bill. It is not actually on the list that I have of those who support it, a list which includes the International League for the Protection of Horses, the National Horse Association, and the Institute of the Horse. If the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals does support the Bill, I am rather surprised, because it would appear to me that this Bill is taking directly out of its hands a matter which is within the province of that Society and putting it in the hands or veterinary officers. The procedure under the Bill will be completely different, and apparently any veterinary surgeon—I do not know how or whether they are to be selected—must inspect any registered riding school and see whether it comes up to what is his idea of being properly run, and, if so, he gives it his chit that the school is well conducted, and that is all that is to be said. There is no question of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals having any say at all, but it is really their duty, because that is what they are established for—to inspect these and other establishments and to see whether or not cruelty is practised. This Bill seems to take that out of their province.
The right hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) gave us the rather interesting suggestion that this Bill had been fomented and produced by those interests which conduct large riding schools, so as to crowd out the smaller ones, and he gave us some interesting examples of how this sort of thing had been effected in the case of other interests in the community and showed us, powerfully and well, how very much against the practice he was. I wonder whether he was right. I must confess that I think the hon. Member for Cheltenham was probably nearer the truth when he said that the Bill was brought forward from a purely sentimental point of view and with the idea of being kindly. I should like to pursue 851 that matter a little further and to see what the origin of the Bill really is. We have a reputation abroad, as Englishmen, of being a kindly, good-natured, slightly sentimental people.
§ Lord Apsley
The Scots are perhaps not quite so sentimental, but the English at any rate have that reputation abroad, and as most of the Members of this House represent England, probably it is only right to say that we reflect our constituents' characteristics in being a kindly, good-natured, and slightly sentimental collection of individuals. That being the case, we sometimes, I am afraid, through very well-meaning motives, pass legislation which is not properly discussed and for which we are sorry afterwards. I think the right hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme said that it is a bad way of spending Friday afternoons and he also said that the way to hell is paved with good intentions. But there is also a Chinese proverb on the same lines saying that "A well-meaning woman destroyed 12 cities." It may be that the House of Commons may also do a great deal of harm, and I have seen examples of that.
I remember one Friday afternoon when not only one Measure but two Measures were passed, almost without discussion, the one dealing with married women's torts and the other with wild bird's protection. Both Bills were passed in great haste, and hon. Members, through not having discussed them properly, did not see what damage might afterwards be done. So far as the married women's Bill was concerned, I am not sure—I am no lawyer—but perhaps my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford University (Mr. A. Herbert) could give us some information on that point. So far as the Wild Birds' Protection Act is concerned, it is due to that Act that wild birds are in a bad way to-day. Vermin is increasing in large quantities in all parts of the country, and if we are not careful and do not take measures to stop it, we shall have very few song birds left in this country in another generation, largely due to the passing of a very well-meaning, excellent, but slightly sentimental Bill, without proper discussion. I wonder whether we may not be doing similar 852 harm if we pass another Bill of a similar nature to-day without really going into the thing properly.
What is the origin of this Bill? The hon. Member for Cheltenham said that it has been introduced purely in order to be helpful and to prevent possible cruelty to horses. I see that it is fostered by the International League for the Protection of Horses, the National Horse Association, the Institute of the Horse, and, as the hon. Member said, by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, four institutions which are already collecting money from the public and are all dealing with the same kind of thing. I took the precaution, before this Bill was brought on, to examine the question and to get out a list of societies which are all collecting public money for dealing with more or less the same matter. This list might interest hon. Members. In the first place, it contains a number of homes. There are the Brown Animal Sanatory Institution, the Home of Rest for Horses, the Mayhew Home for Unwanted Cats and Stray Dogs, the Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough Association, the National Society for Aid to Sick and Wounded in War (Animals Branch). All those do concrete and good work and are collecting money for a good purpose, so that I have no complaint against them. We have in the list also the Council of Justice to Animals and Humane Slaughter Association, with an income last year of £2,928; we have the International League to Prevent the Export of Horses for Butchery, with an income last year of £2,466; we have the London and Provincial Anti-Vivisection Society, with an income of £2,586; we have the National Anti-Vivisection Society, dealing with the same matter, with an income of £1,018; we have the National Canine Defence Legaue, with an income of £20,530; we have Our Dumb Friends' League, with an income last year of £23,554, and with immense invested funds; we have the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals of the Poor, with an income last year of £61,518; we have the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which is supposed to be the active and the principal society for dealing with all these cases, but as I shall show later this matter is taken out of their hands by this Bill. Their income last year was £72,936. Then we have 853 the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, with an income of £7.197; there is the Society for United Prayer for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, with an income of £184—I do not know what they do with that—there is the University of London Animal Welfare Fund, with an income of £1,500, and there is the World League Against Vivisection for Protection of Animals, with an income of £509, which, I suppose, just about pays for the salary of the secretary.
§ Lord Apsley
That is what we ought to know. With the exception of those that provide homes or whose work we can see clearly, we ought to ask ourselves what all these societies are doing? An; they not collecting money from the public in order to keep their own organisations going and provide their own salaries? Then, to show that they are alive they periodically get a well-meaning Member of Parliament to promote a Bill. They do not mind whether the Bill is passed or not. Possibly they would rather it did not pass, because if it did not it would come up another year and there would be more publicity for the organisation.
§ Sir R. Gower
I would ask my noble Friend to withdraw the specific allegation which he has just made.
§ Lord Apsley
I am not making an allegation against any hon. Member. That is the last thing I intend to do. I do say, however, that hon. Members who promote such Bills are the well-meaning kind and simple people referred to. Once a society is started and gets a secretary and staff going, it runs round to various people, preferably aristocratic, well-meaning and worthy folk, and gets as many names as it can. There was a well-known retired international crook from America who wrote some articles in an evening newspaper, and he said he always thought the members of the aristocracy of this 854 country were the easiest ones to hoodwink. Mr. Punch suggested they were "mugs with handles." If you look up all those societies I have mentioned you will find that they have lists of the most imposing names and the most respectable people among their patrons. Peers and Cabinet Ministers' wives are included among them. Their idea is to keep on collecting money, and when they promote a Bill in Parliament they do not mind if it is not passed, because it will come up again another year. Then the organisation will be mentioned again in the papers and they will be able to send out further appeals for more money, and so the thing goes on. It is interesting to find that one society is able to collect £60,000 and another £72,000. It shows that' there is a lot of money in this business. They are very much like the Church in the days of old, when they used to make a point of being very careful in visiting elderly ladies on the point of death in the hope that they would leave something in their wills to the Church. There is an old Gloucestershire rhyme, "George Ridler's Oven" dating from Cavalier days one verse of which says:My dog has gotten such a trickHe visits moids when they be zickWhen they be zick and like to dieWhy thither goes my dog and I.This referred to the Jesuits' means of collecting money for the Jacobite cause.
These societies are very assiduous in keeping in touch with people who are likely to leave money. There comes a certain time with men and women, and more particularly widows, who have money to leave when, as they get older, they get an intense dislike of their relatives. The widow has the idea that her relatives do not go to see her because they like her, but because they hope she will leave them money in her will, and finally she leaves it all to a charitable organisation. I am on the boards of several charitable organisations myself. We have received money left to us by people of this sort, and while one feels very sympathetic towards the relatives, one cannot do anything about it. There was a case of an old man who had not even enough courage to let his two nieces know that he was going to leave his money away from the family. He led them to believe they were going to receive his money, and when he died it 855 was found that the had divided the whole of his fortune between the Morning Post Embankment House and the Church Army. The charities had to accept the gifts, for even if they had refused the money would not have gone to the relatives.
§ Mr. Petherick
I hope my noble Friend will correct an impression that may go round the House, that the fact that he is objecting to many of these societies whose names he has mentioned betting the money instead of it going to the charitable organisation of the board of which he is a member, is not due to any professional jealousy.
§ Lord Apsley
Oh! no. What I have said applies to all charities. The system exists, and if money is left to a society it has to take it. But as Members of Parliament our duty is to see that societies which collect money and have money left them in will use it in the right way and for the purpose for which the people who gave it to them thought it would be used.
§ Mr. Radford
On a point of Order. Is my Noble Friend in order on the Second Reading of this Bill to enter at this length on the question of various charitable organisations?
§ Lord Apsley
I hope that I am not unduly taking up the time of the House, but there are so many of these organisations, and any one of them may suddenly become active and say, "We have not been in the papers for a long time; we must promote a Bill." Then we shall have another discussion on a Friday afternoon on a Bill that will not do very much good. That is the point. Will the present Bill really do any good? Will it not merely mean extra red-tape, extra organisation and extra responsibility without being of any real benefit to the horses? The argument against the Bill is that there is, or should be, ample power existing to see that there is no cruelty. The main organisation for seeing to that is the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which has an annual income of over £70,000. That is the organisation which 856 should do it, and the other societies should amalgamate and put all their powers into one society so as to make the organisation really effective. Such a society should have the best inspectors, trained so that they can do their job properly. They should have a proper type of inspector. I have nothing against the existing inspectors, but they are often very hard to find.
§ Sir R. Gower
It is because our income is not sufficient that we are unable to have a larger inspectorate.
§ Lord Apsley
My suggestion is that if all these societies were amalgamated the income would then be very much greater. Much of the money is at present being dissipated and does no good at all, and it would then go to one society which could do more good work. As I have said, I should like to see a different type of man appointed as inspector. Retired members of the mounted police might be appointed. They are a most excellent body of men. If these inspectors could be provided with motor bicycles and sidecars, and in rural districts be given horses, they could get about the country and see things for themselves. There is one type of cruelty, one of the worst, and I am afraid it is increasing, which is seen on small farms. The fanner turns out his cart-horses into a field and on account of shortage of labour he never sees to it that they are properly brushed and groomed, and they get verminous. Those horses go wandering round the field, rubbing themselves against gates, knocking down stone walls and cutting themselves on barbed wire in their efforts to get rid of the vermin. An inspector who sees those verminous horses should be empowered to go to the farmer and say, "Those horses must be looked after better, properly groomed and brushed, and not left in a field where nobody knows how they are going on."
The next worst thing is the number of horses and ponies which are turned out in the sun even with docked tails and clipped manes, and no shelter from flies. The R.S.P.C.A. inspectors ought to look into questions like those. At present it is left to a neighbour to go into the matter, and the neighbour will not, as a rule, do it, first because it causes ill-feeling and secondly because he does not know where to report it, and if he does do anything he usually goes to the local police and 857 then has to give evidence before the bench. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals should deal with those cases. If they were given a proper amount of money and had the right men as inspectors they could undertake these highly important tasks, and include the inspection of all riding schools. The retired members of the mounted police, being good men, would soon get on friendly terms with everybody. The people would be glad to see the inspector, they would not regard him as a "nosey parker," but would be glad to get his advice and he could look into conditions in these riding schools.
§ Mr. Lipson
May I draw attention to the fact that it is not within the power of this; House to compel all the societies to amalgamate and for the money to go to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, whereas it is within the power of the House to carry out the proposals which are contained in this Bill?
§ Lord Apsley
I see the hon. Member's point, but there is a Bill for the registration of charities coming before the House, and it will be for hon. Members to see that that Measure is made effective and that public attention is drawn to the existing state of affairs. I hope that the list which I have read out will gain the attention of the public. It is an astonishing list of societies all dealing with much the same thing and half of them really not doing any good, except from time to time promoting a Bill like this, a Bill which in my view is not likely to do any good at all.
The horse gives us one of the few recreations left to us. A man or a woman can buy or hire a horse and enjoy riding it free from a lot of complicated regulations and instructions. If we pass this Bill it will be the beginning of a series of regulations and what the end may be we cannot say. The veterinary surgeons will be rejoicing at getting a job with a fee of a guinea a time, and we shall find that they will soon want jobs also for their nephews and cousins and other relations, and so further regulations will be demanded. In time there will be an agitation for a ministry of equitation to be set up and for everybody to register and number his horses. Horses will have to carry navigation lights at night, and a rider will have to get a licence, for which 858 he will pay 5s., and a doctor's certificate to say that he is medically fit for which he will pay a guinea, and he will have to do so many hours of equitation every year before being allowed to renew his licence. If this Bill is passed it looks to me as though, in a short time, with the further regulations which will come along, the poor man or woman, who at present is allowed to ride a horse free of all regulations will be treated as harshly as the owner of a private aeroplane. I would suggest, therefore, that the House should not give a Second Reading to this Bill this afternoon.
§ 2.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Ellis Smith
The first thing I wish to do is to congratulate the Noble Lord the Member for Central Bristol (Lord Apsley) on his informative, interesting and amusing speech. When I came to the House to-day I had no intention of taking part in the Debate, but I have sat through practically the whole of it, and the longer I have sat here the more bitter I have become when I have reflected upon the environment of the people interested in this Bill as compared with that of the people among whom we on this side live. I wish to make it clear that I would not harm any animal. I love animals and I accept the old saying, "From the meanest insect to man thou shalt not kill," but we are living in a world where we cannot put that view into practice. But much as I love animals I love men and women more. I have been noting those who are promoting this Bill and are behind it, and I find that nearly everyone who has his name on the back of this Bill and who has spoken in such a sentimental way this morning regarding the treatment of horses are the very Members who, when we on this side have raised issues which affect the people who made this country what it is, have refused to vote for improving the lives of those people. On Wednesday, 23rd November, my hon. Friend the Member for Maryhill (Mr. Davidson) moved a Motion asking that the Government should consider the position of the old age pensioners and the anomalies in the administration of the present law. On examining the Division list I find that practically every Member who has his name on the back of this Bill refused to vote in favour of that motion.
On the same day hon. Friends of ours moved a Motion to deal with the position 859 of the distressed areas, and, again, practically every Member who has his name behind this Bill voted against doing anything for the unemployed and their wives and children in those distressed areas. I admire the sentiment which would improve the lot of horses, but I am contrasting the attitude of these people towards horses and their attitude towards the unemployed of this country. We who sit on this side have not reached this House easily. We have only got into the House because of the sacrifices made by the men and women of this country during the past 100 years. The House of Commons which used to stand just a few yards away from where we now are was a small one, because the people were then represented only by barons and representatives of that class. But the people demanded the right to have a say in life and that House became no longer large enough to hold their representatives and we had to have the present building.
§ Mr. H. G. Williams
May I ask whether this allusion is not out of Order, particularly since the change was due to the fact that the building was burned down?
§ Mr. Smith
I do not mind that interruption. We have won the right to free speech in this country. I remember when first I came to this House listening with admiration to the words that you, Mr. Speaker, used. I am hoping that all Members in this House are going to preserve the spirit of what you said on that occasion, which was that you hoped that future Debates would be carried through on the principle of cut and thrust. I am trying to follow out that principle, and to keep in order at the same time. I remember how you listened and how generous you were to the Noble Lord, and when an hon. Member interrupted I thought you were quite right in the way that you ruled.
While I want to respect the Chair because it is only by so doing that we can preserve the proceedings of this House, which means so much to us ordinary people in this country now, and while I want to keep in order, I think I am justified in contrasting the treatment of the people for whom we speak with the way in which hon. Members have spoken on numerous occasions when we have been raising those issues.
860 We should not have been doing our duty this morning had we been prepared to sit here and listen to hon. Members, who are as sincere, so far as this issue is concerned, as we are on other issues, without pointing out that they belong to a section of the community which does not realise how our people are suffering. We ought to take advantage of every occasion to raise this issue and to contrast the treatment meted out to the people whom they represent with the treatment meted out to those whom we have the honour and privilege of representing in this House.
§ 2.58 p.m.
§ Colonel Clarke
Toward the end of a battle the combatants are apt to become dispersed; that is sometimes what happens too towards the end of a Debate. Perhaps I might therefore, be allowed to sum up the principal points of the Bill as I see them. I hope that the hon. Member who has just spoken will not think that I have not been listening attentively to what he said, but I am sure that he will see that the time is getting late.
It occurs to me that the Bill is necessary for two reasons—the increase in the recreation of horse riding, and, what is coupled with it, a simultaneous decrease in the knowledge of horse management, particularly among the newer people who do not ride their own horses. The first increase is very satisfactory, and I think we all welcome it from every point of view, including that of national health. We know that nothing in so good for the inside of a man as the outside of a horse. The decrease in the knowledge of horses and of stable management is very much less satisfactory; in fact, it is profoundly unsatisfactory. It really entails cruelty towards what Major Whyte-Melville has described as:Of all domestic animals the one most susceptible to anything like discomfort or ill-usage.I think that the ill treatment is unintentional, but it is none the less hard on the horses. A few generations ago horses were kept almost entirely for professional purposes and were used in the course of man's daily life. Those too who used horses for recreation had been trained from their earliest years in horse management.
All that is changed to-day. Riding a horse has ceased to be a means by which 861 man gets about to fulfil his daily tasks. Farmers, country doctors or professional men no longer ride to their work. Bishops still retain their gaiters, but I do not think that they often ride. Even the Cavalry to-day, except for four regiments, no longer ride. Therefore, the riding horse has become almost entirely what one might term a beast of recreation; in fact, a pet, and it suffers as pets so often do from being looked after in an amateur way. There are many cases of irregular feeding and irregular grooming. I do not think anyone will deny the importance of regular grooming. We all remember the private soldier's definition of a horse, which he said wasa four-legged quadruped wot is used chiefly for grooming.In the Army, as much time was spent in grooming a horse as in riding it. There is much less inducement now to keep a horse properly than there was, and fewer people know what keeping a horse properly means than was the case when most people knew something of horse management, and when it was in their interest to do so because the horse was used in daily life. In this mechanical age, too, people have less appreciation than they had of what flesh and blood can do.
The Bill provides what we have got into the habit of calling a sanction against the continuance of that sort of thing. Fines can be imposed, but a much stronger sanction will be that the licence to keep a riding establishment can be taken away. I do not suggest that ignorance is always to blame. The horse has always been known as one of the noblest of animals and it is curious that it should often seem to attract into its entourage a very ignoble type of man. If such a horse is badly kept it is not simply through ignorance, but through sheer neglect also. It would be in the interest of the riding public, and most particularly of the horses, that riding establishments of that kind should be closed.
I would now refer to one or two things that have been said in the course of the Debate. I thought that the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Gillingham (Sir R. Gower) covered the ground most admirably and I support strongly one thing which he said, which was that in the past the real interests of animals had often been prejudiced by too great an enthusiam for promoting legislation on their behalf. In the past I have often 862 voted against such Bills, and no doubt I shall do the same again. Those were not his words, but they represent the tenor of what he said. I want to support that. I do not, however, think it means that no Bill of this kind promoted for the protection of animals can be a good one. I believe that this Bill is an exception, and that it is a good one.
I should like to refer to two matters which were raised by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Northampton (Sir M. Manningham-Buller). The first was that this is unnecessary legislation. I wrote to four friends of mine who keep riding establishments, and sent them copies of the Bill. They are all people whom I know well enough for them to tell me exactly what they think of anything I say or write to them. Of the four, three answered and the other did not. The three answers were all favourable, and I should like to quote short passages from them. The first said:I have studied the enclosed Bill, and I am in complete agreement with the register.The second said:I think it would do a lot of good for the horses—some no doubt used for hire in an unfit state and not generally looked after properly. For myself, I welcome the inspection part. I can suggest no amendments, and I sincerely hope it goes through in some form.The third reply said:I have read most carefully the Riding Establishments Bill, and thoroughly agree with it. I consider the Bill is badly needed, and I trust it will become law.Certain minor points were raised, with which I do not propose to trouble the House, but, curiously enough, most of them were on the lines rather of extending than of contracting the provisions of the Bill.
The second matter that was raised by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Northampton was the possibility of prejudice to hunting farmers. If I felt that that was justified, no one would be keener to oppose the Bill than myself; no argument would weigh more with me. But I really do not see why the man with a dual source of livelihood, the man who is a farmer and at the same time makes a certain amount of money by hiring out horses, should be exempt from having a licence. I do not intend to pursue that matter, because I understand that the promoters of the Bill have 863 agreed to accept an Amendment on it, though personally I am not sure that they were right in doing so. The question was also asked: Why should those who let out horses for hacking have to pay for a licence, and not those who let out horses for hunting? That arose out of the proposed Amendment to which I have just referred. As I have said, I think that both should do so. Another criticism was that the Bill involved interference with the liberty of the individual. I suggest that in all trading concerns to day there is necessarily a certain amount of interference, and that this is not a case of interference with a private individual. A riding establishment is a trading concern, and I do not see why it should be treated differently from other trading concerns. Take the case of the man who keeps, not horses, but cows. He is visited constantly by inspectors from the rural district council, the county council and the Ministry of Agriculture—
§ Colonel Clarke
—and he has to fill up many more forms than those which appear at the end of this Bill. We know what some producer-retailers of milk think of forms. Moreover, ever since the Milk and Dairies Order, 1926, there has been a standard of accommodation for cows, and people are not permitted to keep cows unless that standard is observed. If that is required in the case of cows, I do not see that it is any great hardship to require it for horses kept for the purpose of a trading concern, particularly as I think the horse is a considerably more sensitive animal than the cow.
§ Mr. Orr-Ewing
If the standard of living of the horse is to be controlled in establishments which let out horses for hire, is it suggested by the promoters of the Bill that that standard should also be controlled in cases where horses are not let out, and that all private stables should be inspected to see if they conform to the standard?
§ Colonel Clarke
I understand that that is not suggested. I think the reason for distinguishing between the control of establishments that let out horses for hire and those in which horses are kept purely for private needs is that in the former 864 case there is a money interest in cutting the food and grooming and care of the horses, whereas that interest is not present in a private establishment. It was suggested that this Bill was a direct attack on agriculture—or on a branch of agriculture, the breeding of horses. But if hon. Members looked at this Bill in one of its earlier drafts they would find on the back of it, among other names, that of the present Minister of Agriculture. His name has had, of course, to be withdrawn. Although he was not then Minister of Agriculture, he had been President of the National Farmers' Union, and he would not have put his name to the Bill if, in the opinion of the National Farmers' Union, it was undesirable.
§ Colonel Clarke
It is not for me to explain the comings and goings of Ministers. There have been two representatives of the Government here, and no doubt that is considered enough. The question of whether a guinea is too high a fee for registration is one which, I think, would be considered by the Committee if it were raised. That is not an integral part of the Bill. If one has anything to do with the law one has always to pay for it. It was from that point of view that the guinea was put in; but, of course, if the scheme is self-supporting it will be all the better. The hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams) said that in Sussex there had been various complaints about the amount of work it would put on various local authorities. I am a member of the East Sussex County Council and the Agricultural Committee, and I have heard no complaints that extra work is likely to be put on us if the Bill is passed. I think it must have been in West Sussex that these complaints were made. I would like to touch on one other point connected with the financial side.
It has been suggested that the price which has to be paid for hiring horses to-day is higher than it should be, and that it is likely to be increased. That is a pity, because it will discourage people from riding. But if one hires a horse for a day's hunting, one pays three guineas for it, and there are very few people who could keep a horse on less than £100 a year; so I do not think that the price 865 mentioned is a very high charge for hiring a horse. I do not think people who had to pay a few pence more would mind if they knew that, as a result, there was no danger of any cruelty to the horse. There are many other points I would have liked to raise, but, time being short, I will not touch on them. I hope the Bill will have a Second Reading.
§ 3.14 p.m.
I confess that after the hon. and gallant Gentleman's vigorous defence of this Bill there are still one or two points on which I am not completely satisfied. I would first, as a Scottish Member, state that I would have desired that Scotland as well as Northern Ireland should be left out of the Bill, because there has been very little evidence submitted of cruelty to animals or deliberate mismanagement in riding establishments in Scotland.
§ Sir T. Moore
The hon. Member could not have been here at the beginning of the Debate when my hon. and gallant friend, who seconded the Motion, pointed out that an Amendment would be moved in Committee to exclude Scotland from the Bill.
I am dealing with the Bill as it is now presented. If the hon. Member has made the very unfortunate mistake in leaving Scotland in the Bill, it is all the more regrettable that sufficient attention was not paid to the Bill before it was brought before the House. I want to deal with one or two points particularly from the point of view of the local authority. I desire some explanation why the promoters of the Bill should desire, in almost every Clause of the Bill, to place extra responsibilities upon local authorities. It was pointed out by the Noble Lord opposite, and by other speakers, that considerable sums of money are granted to various societies in order to protect horses and animals in this country; therefore it is unfair to continue asking a susceptible public to grant funds to those charitable organisations and then, in this Bill, to place almost complete responsibility on the already overburdened local authorities for the operation of this Measure. It says, for instance, on page 2 of the Bill:The local authority shall give to every person whose name appears on the register kept by them a certificate of registration for each riding establishment.866 Candidly, as far as the local authority in Glasgow is concerned, it is a local authority which has proved definitely to this House and to the country that with regard to its administration it is one of the most progressive local authorities in the country. We have sufficient to do, and we have the ability to inaugurate our own riding establishments, as we did in Bellahouston Park, and to look after them carefully. No legitimate complaint has ever been made with regard to this particular riding establishment. Why are the promoters of the Bill prepared to place the whole burden of registration, administration and of inspection of private riding establishments upon the local authority when there are organisations in the country drawing money and asking the public for support for that particular purpose? If they desire to place this burden upon local authorities, they should make grants from their funds to the local authorities and remunerate them for the extra time and trouble involved with regard to the operation of this Bill. As President of the Scottish Labour League of Youth I have one further objection, and that is with regard to Clause 1 (3), which states:In the case of a person other than a corporation, is under the age of eighteen years.I know many young men of 17 years of age who know horses very well indeed. They have studied and lived among horses most of their lives, and know at least as much about the proper care of horses as any hon. and gallant Gentleman or hon. Gentleman in this House. I think this is tending to become an old man's protection society instead of a horse protection society, when you place barriers against the youth of the country taking an interest in these riding establishments.
I should like an explanation from the promoters of the Bill with regard to the expenditure that will be involved by local authorities, and what recompense will be given to them under Clause (5), which states:Any person entered on a register shall, subject to any order of the Court made under this Act, be entitled, on making application for that purpose to the local authority which keeps such register and on payment of a fee of two shillings and sixpence, to have the entry on the register with respect to him varied, and where any such entry is so varied the existing certificate shall be cancelled and a new certificate issued.867 This is a very serious question for the local authorities. What officer is to deal with all this complicated clerical work, and who will pay such officer? What organisation will recompense the local authorities for their expense in regard to this portion of the Bill? One hon. Member who spoke in support of the Bill denied that it would inflict penalties. He said there was no intention to inflict penalties on any person who violated the Act. Why should we pass legislation if the hon. Member was correct in saying that there was no intention to penalise people? Surely, if we pass legislation we must protect it by laying it down that those who act in contravention of the law shall be punished. Clause 4 provides very substantial punishment and penalties for individuals who commit offences under the Bill. We on this side of the House not only take an interest in human problems, but we recognise the need for the decent treatment of animals. We have taken every opportunity, very often opposed by hon. Members who are supporting this Bill, to alleviate or prevent cruelty to animals, but this Bill, in our opinion, does not serve that purpose. It sets out to protect a certain section of people. It gives them a little power, but not enough power. It will affect not the big owner of a riding establishment, not the racehorse owner, but the ordinary, medium-sized undertaking, where it is in the interests of the owner himself to see that his animals are treated with the greatest care and protection so far as his business is concerned.
I ask the House to reject the Bill. The promoters say they desire that riding establishments should be properly inspected. There has not been any statement that there is persistent cruelty in connection with these riding establishments. The statement is made that in certain instances cruelty can be seen taking place. I say that the law is adequate; that it gives adequate protection. If people see cruelty taking place they can report it to the proper authorities, who have adequate funds to make all the inquiries that are necessary and can prosecute the people who are guilty of cruelty, in this case they are but a very small minority. The primary purpose of this House is not to pass legislation dealing with small minority questions, but to protect the greatest 868 section of the community. Therefore, the legislation ensures that in the great majority of cases horses are carefully looked after.
I think that the record of the riding establishments which have grown up in the last few years shows clearly that the people who participate in this kind of recreation realise their responsibilities. As a matter of fact, it was a Labour magistrate of Glasgow who rode the first horse round the Bellahouston municipal riding track, and he is one of the greatest humanitarians in Scotland. Where you find such men connected with these establishments, you cannot have very much cruelty to animals. I should like, in conclusion, to refer to the case of a departed friend of mine who returned to this world as a horse. He was given a job below ground in a coal mine and met an old friend who did not recognise him. He said "Is that you Tom?"; and his friend said, "Good gracious, is that you Harry." He said "Yes, and I am having a terrible time pulling heavy loads. I am treated very cruelly." His friend said, "Well, if you can speak, why do not you tell your owner, "to which he replied" What! If he knew I was able to speak he would have me crying out 'Coal' as well." That is the kind of exaggeration which has brought about this Bill. I ask the House to recognise that the great majority of these establishments are run by men with good hearts who understand their horses and treat them well.
§ 3.29 p.m.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd)
After the unexpectedly lively discussion we have had on this Bill to-day the House may at this stage like to have the views of the Government on the Measure. It is not necessary for me to say that every hon. Member in the House, including myself, agrees with the view that we want to see cruelty to animals, in this case to horses, reduced to the lowest possible amount if not abolished altogether. That brings me to the question with which this Bill proposes to deal. It seems that one of the reactions from our urban civilisation to-day has been that one of the directions in which people seek exercise and fresh air in the country is by a very considerable increase in riding. As a result, the number of riding 869 establishments has increased very considerably, and of course, it might easily be the case—I am not saying it is at the moment—that some of those institutions might have been opened rather quickly to meet the sudden demand and might not be conducted on quite such sound principles as the older-established institutions.
Last Summer, there was a discussion in the Press in which this question was ventilated, and it was said that there was a good number of stables and riding schools in which the horses were not properly looked after and in which the horses, in the words of the official note which I have before me, "were liable to be over-worked by riders who were often inexpert." I cannot say that the Home Office has any very considerable information relating to this question. We heard from the Mover of the Motion for the Second Reading of certain instances which came to light as a result of an investigator being sent round, and my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Ayr Burghs (Sir T. Moore) has kindly furnished me with a number of examples from which it appears that there is a certain number of cases in which there are abuses in the conduct of these establishments; but I am not in a position to-day, on behalf of the Home Office, to be able to tell the House how great those abuses are.
Perhaps I might remind the House very briefly of the actual proposals by which the Bill seeks to deal with this problem. It provides that no person shall keep a riding establishment unless registered by the local authority. Registration can be claimed on payment of a fee of a guinea a year, but under Clause 3 the local authority may authorise duly qualified veterinary surgeons to inspect riding establishments and horses found therein, and under Clause 4, it is an offence, punishable summarily, to let out an unfit horse or to keep a horse in a neglected condition; and a person convicted may be struck off the register by order of the court, subject, of course, to an appeal to Quarter Sessions. We were reminded by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) and also by the Noble Lord the Member for Central Bristol (Lord Apsley) that we have to bear in mind, in considering proposals 870 such as these, whether or not the extent of the evil justifies the degree of regulation which it is proposed to put into force by Act of Parliament. I think the whole House will agree with that. Further, a number of hon. Members, including the hon. Member for Maryhill (Mr. Davidson), dealt with the question of registration under the Bill, and questioned whether in fact this would not in itself cause an amount of annoyance and what one might call a grievance to a large number of people which would outweigh any good that might be done by the proposal.
There are two parts to this question. On the one hand, there is the point made by the hon. Member for Maryhill, that this Bill imposes a considerable amount of work upon the registration authorities. We must not lose sight of that fact in these days when local authorities are already considerably overburdened. Other hon. Members raised the question of the individual, and particularly the question of farmers, under the Bill. It is a fact that the definition of "riding establishment" would include farm premises where horses were kept for the purposes of being let out for hire. That is a legal expression on which, no doubt, lawyers would have something to say as to exactly how far it goes in the inclusion of farm premises or the exact number of farm premises which would be covered. But a considerable number would be covered. It hardly seems necessary to require a farmer to register with the local authority and to pay an annual fee. My hon. and gallant Friend who seconded the Motion recognised this and offered to provide exemption for farmers letting out horses for hunting. Again, I think it is rather difficult to see why exemption should go thus far and no further, but my hon. and gallant Friend did point out the difficulties in which he would be involved if he made the exemption wider.
We are thus faced with the position that there is an evil of which we do not know the full extent and upon which we have not at present very accurate information and it is proposed to deal with it by a Bill which imposes a considerable measure of regulation and involves registration proposals, to which certain objections, to put it no higher, have been raised to-day. I wonder whether it would be of service to the House, if I put forward for their consideration two 871 suggestions which might meet the problem. Many hon. Members have questioned whether this Bill ought to apply to Scotland. The hon. Member for Maryhill said there was no demand for it in Scotland, and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland has asked me to say that, on his present information, he thinks the Bill ought not to apply to Scotland and I understand that the promoters have accepted this position. My first suggestion follows on that and is: Are we sure that the provisions of the Bill are needed everywhere? May it not be that these abuses are to a large extent concentrated round the great urban centres where there has been this mushroom development of riding establishments in recent years? I cannot say for certain that such is the case. I put it forward as a possibility, but if that is so, might it not be worth while considering, if we decided to approve of the registration system that the provisions of the Bill should operate only in areas where the Home Secretary has made an Order to that effect on the application of the local authority?
I would go further and ask whether such an elaborate Bill as this is needed to deal with this difficulty in general? There are considerable powers under the Protection of Animals Act, 1911. Under Section 1 of that Act it is already an offence to over-ride a horse, or for an owner to permit a horse to be over-ridden. It is also an offence, by wantonly or unreasonably doing or omitting to do any act, to cause any unnecessary suffering, or, being an owner, to permit any unnecessary suffering to be caused to any animal. Under Sub-section (2) of the same Section an owner is deemed to have permitted cruelty if he fails to exercise reasonable care and supervision in respect of the protection of animals from cruelty. The House will see that these are rather wide provisions and they may wonder why, if these provisions are now on the Statute Book, it should be necessary to seek further powers. But there is a reason, and it is this: The difficulty is that there are no powers of entry into riding establishments for the purpose of finding out whether offences are being committed. I am assured that that is a very real difficulty.
§ Mr. Orr-Ewing
Surely there is no real difficulty. It is possible for any keen inspector or any other interested person who goes to hire a horse for riding to enter into an ordinary commercial arrangement with the hirer in exactly the same way as an ordinary member of the public.
§ Mr. Lloyd
My hon. Friend will not be surprised to know that that was the first question I asked of my advisers, and the reply I received was that the police have very strong objection to that method. I shall not characterise it in a particular way, but they have objection to employing such a method, and as a result these powers are not very effectively used. Whatever may be the controversy about right of entry in certain instances in other spheres which we might have been discussing to-day if the House had not shown such a keen interest in this Bill, I do not think there will be any controversy on the question of allowing some reasonable extension of powers of entry with regard to riding establishments. The House, therefore, may wish to consider whether the needs of the case would not be met by provisions on the basis of Clause 3, paragraph (a), of the Bill, which enables local authorities to authorise a duly qualified veterinary surgeon to enter premises that are registered as a riding establishment; and of Clause 4, Sub-section (1), dealing with the obstruction of inspection. It would seem to be sufficient to allow local authorities to deal with cases of the riding of horses in an unfit condition or keeping a horse in a neglected condition under the general law relating to cruelty to animals, subject to a penalty not exceeding £25 or, in addition, three months' imprisonment.
I hope the House will not think I have exceeded my duty in mentioning these proposals as a possible means of dealing with a difficulty which does exist, without invoking elaborate statutory provisions to meet the need. Though it is possible to amend the Bill it is for the House to consider, on the basis of the evidence they have received of the evil, whether they wish the Bill to go further.
§ 3.43 p.m.
§ Sir T. Moore
My hon. Friends who are promoting this Bill very kindly asked me to deal with a few of the objections which have been offered to the Bill during the Debate. Happily I have been 873 impressed by the smallness of the number of objections. Naturally, as soon as my hon. Friend the Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams) got up, I seized a large sheet of blank paper as I realised that while his speech would be very interesting and informative it would also possibly be very lengthy. However, after waiting for a long time while he developed his arguments I found to my immense relief that there was nothing to answer. Indeed, if I might say so, the only points that he made were purely Committee matters, to one of which the Under-Secretary to the Home Department has referred, and that is the interference with what my hon. Friend called public liberties. I cannot find that there is very much interference with public liberties in this Bill, compared with the interference from which we suffer every day. Life is becoming increasingly a matter of interference. In this case liberty would be interfered with only for the benefit of those who cannot speak for themselves. Indeed, my hon. Friend made up his speech principally of irrelevant and dogmatic statements to which I personally found myself unable to provide an answer, since they obviously did not need an answer. I would remind my hon. Friend that a Second Reading Debate is on matters of principle and not on matters of detail, and as I imagine that the House will give this Bill a Second Reading, my hon. Friends the Mover and Seconder of the Bill are prepared to consider in Committee every point such as my hon. Friend the Member for Torquay made most of his speech about. They are all matters of detail and Committee points, and all will be given the most sympathetic consideration if they are brought up at the proper time.
Then I come to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Northampton (Sir M. Manningham-Buller), whose one really important contribution to the Debate was that if a prima facie case could be made out that a riding school was badly run, then we should prosecute, but he was evading the issue as to how you are to find that out.
§ Sir M. Manningham-Buller
What I suggested was that if there was prima facie evidence, there was power to go and inspect the premises.
§ Sir T. Moore
I accept the hon. and gallant Member's explanation, and, if the 874 Bill is passed, we shall have the right of entry. As the Under-Secretary pointed out, again and again under the 1911 Act, that has been the one weakness with which every animal society has been faced, that they have never been able to get definite evidence which would be accepted in a court of law. The police as he very properly said, do not like to force their way in, and, therefore, we cannot get evidence which any magistrate or court would accept.
§ Lord Apsley
Why cannot the Royal Society for the Prevention for Cruelty to Animals do it? There would be no difficulty in one of their inspectors going into a riding establishment, hiring a horse, riding it, and finding out everything he wanted to find out.
§ Sir T. Moore
I would point out that the Noble Lord is wrong in his idea that inspectors of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals have the right of entry. They have no right of entry into any establishment to-day unless there is the written authority of the local authority in the district. It has been suggested that they might go in as customers, but that is an expensive proceeding, which unfortunately our financial situation will not allow us to undertake. But I might point out that it was through the enthusiasm and self-sacrifice of one member of the community that we obtained all the information which has been mentioned by the Mover and Seconder of the Bill. This Gentleman did go as a customer and was therefore able to see matters for himself, and so we have these very drastic and in some instances terrible cases which have not been made public until to-day.
§ Sir T. Moore
We have not yet had an opportunity of prosecuting, because the facts have only been collected in the last few weeks.
§ Sir T. Moore
The matter has only been developed with a view to the Second Reading of this Bill, so that hon. Members should have the latest and fullest information on which to come to a decision. In regard to any prosecutions that may 875 take place, those will be considered by the legal advisers of the animal societies concerned in this matter.
§ Mr. Williams
This Bill was presented to Parliament on nth November last and originally in the previous Session. Do I understand that no evidence was available at the time and that there has not been sufficient time for prosecution?
§ Sir T. Moore
There was a great deal of evidence. Whenever Members representing animal societies come to this House with a Bill they want to make sure that their evidence is sufficiently water-tight to convince every hon. Member. Therefore, it was the view of the hon. Member promoting the Bill that every statement he made should be backed up by cast-iron knowledge and authority. Therefore, this information was acquired and is now available to any hon. Member who wants to see it. I do not want to take up time by reading through cases, but they are rather horrible. The hon. Member who seconded the Bill said that he did not indulge in sob stuff. I want to stick to that standard. I do not want to shock Members into voting for this Measure because their emotions are stirred. I know that they would if I gave them some of the facts which I have in this dossier. I want to rely purely on logic and common sense, and I am sure the House will accept that and give the Bill a Second Reading.
With regard to the question of the fee, my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Northampton (Sir M. Manningham-Buller) quarrelled with the fact that under the Bill there was a guinea charged for registration. If, as he said, a farmer was in a position to have five or six horses for hire and they were put out at an average cost of 4s. or 5s. an hour per horse, the farmer would be in receipt of £5 or £6 a day while he was hiring them out.
§ Sir M. Manningham-Buller
I did not raise an objection to the charge of one guinea. I objected to the farmer having to be registered at all. I said that the Bill should not apply to him in any way. I cannot see why a farmer who lives in a hunting country and hires horses for the purpose of hunting should be registered.
§ Sir T. Moore
I thought that my hon. and gallant Friend was objecting to the charge and I must apologise if I misunderstood him. I understood that he objected to the cost to the farmer and that he should have complete liberty to hire out his horses if he desired. I feel the same way, but I am making the point that a guinea a year is not much if the farmer is making £5 or £6 a day by hiring. My hon. Friend went on to ask why it was not possible to know that horses were being ill-kept or ill-treated or kept in unsatisfactory conditions. As I have pointed out, we have to rely on either the police or a common informer as to what is happening outside establishments. We cannot see what is happening inside. My Noble Friend the Member for Central Bristol (Lord Apsley) made an irrelevant attack on the charitable animal societies and asked what they were doing for their money. If my Noble Friend had gone a little further into the information which he had received as to the work of these societies and had read what they were doing with that money and what suffering and cruelty they were eliminating, he would have made his argument more balanced if not more convincing.
§ Lord Apsley
I did not say that all of them were doing nothing, but that there were far too many of them, and that it would be better if all their activities could be amalgamated into one society which would be able to deal with the question as it should be dealt with.
§ Sir T. Moore
I thank my Noble Friend. His next point was that we should, as far as possible, recruit our inspectors from ex-members of the mounted police. We already do that as far as we can, and I know that my Noble Friend's next contribution to the R.S.P.C.A. will enable us to take on a few more.
I am eliminating my replies to certain objections which have been made, because time is getting rather limited. Mechanical transport has to a large extent replaced horses in our large towns, particularly London, but we have been happy to notice that the horse is not in danger of extinction, because riding has been taken up by a section of the population which has never been attracted to it before, and while this new development is taking place we want to ensure that the establishments which supply riding 877 horses shall be regulated to the extent of securing that there is no unnecessary suffering or cruelty to the horses. Many of the new riders are young and inexperienced and may not be particularly well up in horse mastership or the care of a horse, or give a horse the good comradeship that he needs. It is for that very purpose that we want to ensure that riding establishments are so regulated that young people who are taking up riding for the first time shall be instructed by trained and qualified people and that the horses which they ride shall be able to carry them.
I come at the end of my remarks to the observations of my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary, who has made two or three very useful and sympathetic suggestions, and I should like to thank him for the helpful way in which he has approached this Bill. He prefaced those remarks by referring to the fact that we had undertaken to remove Scotland from the scope of the Bill. The reason for that is that in Scotland the S.S.P.C.A. and the other animal protection societies have their inspectors appointed as justice of the peace constables, and that gives to those inspectors the right of entry. That is why it was unnecessary for the Bill to extend to Scotland; and furthermore, as, of course, every Member of this House knows, there is no ill-treatment, or at any rate very little ill-treatment, of animals in Scotland. We have a different quality of mind, a different outlook on the matter from English people, and after a long experience it has been found practically unnecessary to do anything to
§ induce the average or normal Scotsman to be kind to animals since that is his natural characteristic.
§ My hon. Friend went on to say that it might be sufficient of the Bill were still further restricted, and if it were to operate only in those areas where the Home Secretary made an Order upon the application of the local authority. I think there is a lot to be said for that suggestion, and although I cannot give any actual undertaking about it I would assure my hon. Friend and the House generally that when the Bill goes to Committee we shall ensure that the very fullest and most sympathetic consideration is given to that suggestion. If the right of inspection is. given, that satisfies the fundamental issue in this Bill, because the right of inspection means registration, otherwise local authorities will not know where the establishments are.
§ Mr. H. G. Williams rose—
§ Sir T. Moore rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
§ Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 119; Noes, 68.879
|Division No. 68.]||AYES.||[4.0 p.m.|
|Adamson, Jennie L. (Dartford)||Crooks, Sir J. Smedley||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)|
|Adamson, W. M.||Daggar, G.||Hume, Sir G. H.|
|Balniel, Lord||De Chair, S. S.||Hunloke, H. P.|
|Barrie, Sir C. C.||Dobbie, W.||Hutchinson, G. C.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Duncan, J, A. L.||Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)|
|Beauchamp, Sir B. C.||Edmondson, Major Sir J.||Latham, Sir P.|
|Beaumont, H. (Batley)||Elliston, Capt. G. S.||Law, R. K. (Hull, S.W.)|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h)||Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Leighton, Major B. E. P.|
|Bellenger, F. J.||Entwistle, Sir C. F.||Leslie, J. R.|
|Bevan, A.||Evans, Capt. A. (Cardiff, S.)||Lipson, D. L.|
|Blair, Sir R.||Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H.||Lloyd, G. W.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Fox, Sir G. W. G.||McCorquodale, M. S,|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||McEntee, V. La T.|
|Briscoe, Capt. R. G.||Gledhill, G.||Macnamara, Lieut.-Colonel J. R. J.|
|Brooke, H. (Lewisham, W.)||Goldie, N. B.||MacNeill Weir, L.|
|Brown, C. (Mansfield)||Gower, Sir R. V.||Maitland, Sir Adam|
|Browne, A. C. (Belfast, W.)||Grant-Ferris, R.||Makins, Brigadier-General Sir Ernest|
|Campbell, Sir E. T.||Granville, E. L.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.|
|Clarke, Colonel R. S. (E. Grinstead)||Groves, T. E.||Marshall, F.|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. J R.||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Mathers, G.|
|Cooks, F. S.||Hammersley, S. S.||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.|
|Colfox, Major W. P.||Hannah, I. C.||Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)|
|Collindridge, F.||Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton)||Messer, F.|
|Cooke, J, D, (Hammersmith, S.)||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel Sir T. C. R.|
|Cox, H. B. Trevor||Hicks, E. G.||Morgan, J. (York, W.R., Doneaster)|
|Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.)||Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)||Thomas, J. P. L.|
|Muff, G.||Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury)||Thurtle, E.|
|Nall, Sir J.||Salmon, Sir I.||Touche, G. C.|
|Nathan, Colonel H. L.||Samuel, M. R. A.||Viant, S. P.|
|Parker, J.||Sanderson, Sir F. B.||Walkden, A. G.|
|Peake, O.||Sandys, E. D.||Walker-Smith, Sir J.|
|Petherick, M.||Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree)||Watkins, F. C.|
|Ponsonby, Col. C. E.||Silkin, L.||Watt, Lt.-Col. G. S. Harvie|
|Pownall, Lt.-Col. Sir Assheton||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Radford, E. A.||Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees-(k'ly)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.|
|Raikes, H. V. A. M.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)||Wood, Hon. C. I. C.|
|Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)||Sorensen, R. W.||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Rayner, Major R. H.||Storey, S.|
|Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Ridley, G.||Summerskill, Dr. Edith||Commander Tufnell and Captain Heilgers.|
|Ropner, Colonel L.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.)||Gretton, Col. Rt. Hon. J.||Seely, Sir H. M.|
|Apsley, Lord||Grimston, R. V.||Silverman, S. S.|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||Guest, Lieut.-Colonel H. (Drake)||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn's)|
|Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.)||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Sir D. H.||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)|
|Batey, J.||Hambro, A. V.||Smithers, Sir W.|
|Beit, Sir A. L.||Harris, Sir P. A.||Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J.|
|Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W.||Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Stourton, Major Hon. J. J.|
|Boulton, W. W.||Kerr, Colonel C. I. (Montrose)||Thorneycroft, G. E. P.|
|Bull, B. B.||Kimball, L.||Wallace, Capt. Rt. Hon. Euan|
|Caine, G. R. Hall-||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G.||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Lancaster, Captain C. G.||Waterhouse, Captain C.|
|Channon, H.||Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L.||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. J. C.|
|Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston)||Llewellin, Colonel J. J.||Wells, Sir Sydney|
|Courthope, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir G. L.||MacLaren, A.||Whiteley, W. (Blaydon)|
|Cove, W. G.||Manningham-Buller, Sir M.||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Croft, Brig.-Gen. Sir H. Page||Moreing, A. C.||Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill)||Nicolson, Hon. H. G.||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Orr-Ewing, I. L.||Winterton, Rt. Han. Earl|
|Dugdale, Captain T. L.||Poole, C. C.||Wise, A. R.|
|Dunn, E. (Rather Valley)||Pritt, D. N.||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|Eastwood, J. F.||Remer, J. R.|
|Foot, D. M.||Sandeman, Sir N. S.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Gallacher, W.||Sanders, W. S.||Mr. Ellis Smith and Mr. Tinker.|
|Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Scott, Lord William|
Bill read a Second time, and committed to a Standing Committee.
§ The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.880
§ Whereupon Mr. SPEAKER adjourned the House, without Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No. 2.
§ Adjourned at Nine Minutes after Four o'Clock, until Monday next, 20th March.