HC Deb 11 June 1947 vol 438 cc1066-7
52. Mr. Peter Freeman

asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware that 30 head of cattle, carried in three trucks, recently spent 37 hours on a railway journey from Fakenham, Norfolk, to Aldershot; that this journey took much longer than it should have done; that on arrival at Aldershot one beast was found to be dead and all showed a great degree of fatigue and distress; that due to the filthy state of the 'trucks the battens fitted to prevent the animals slipping were ineffective; that there is no evidence that the animals were fed and watered during the journey; and whether, to avoid such cruelty to cattle in the future, he will arrange to slaughter the animals at the markets and distribute the carcases.

Dr. Summerskill

I presume that the Question relates to 30 cattle despatched from Fakenham to Aldershot on 8th May. These were watered and received attention at Feltham, and there is no evidence to show that the trucks used were not in the usual clean condition when the animals were loaded. The time spent in transit was too long, and my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport is examining, with the Railway Executive Committee, what steps can be taken to avoid a recurrence. I am afraid that the suggestion that animals should be slaughtered at the market, and the meat distributed in carcase form, is impracticable.

Mr. Freeman

Is my hon. Friend aware that in one of the other trucks some cattle were lying on the floor, and were trampled on by others, causing considerable cruelty? This is not an isolated instance. Would she instruct the police to take more effective action, and ask the railway companies to take steps to prevent incidents like this?

Dr. Summerskill

This is a matter for the railway companies; we are awaiting their report.